One more on the Ascension.
It’s too easy to pass from the resurrection to Pentecost and the coming of the Spirit and how he works in and though us, and sure that plays a huge part in redemptive history, but we do need to keep the whole story together. The result of such thinking is that when we read the book of Acts we jump to the Spirit’s role to quickly. Ah, the gospels were all about Jesus, it’s all about the Spirit now. It would be good to remember that Jesus said the Spirit wouldn’t glorify himself but Jesus – not that we shouldn’t talk about him and what he does.
The book of Acts begins by picking up where Luke left off in his Gospel account which he wrote to someone by the name of Theophilus, “I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up…” The first narrative was the Gospel of Luke, a comprehensive detailing of the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Now as he starts his second book the clear implication in Luke’s writing is that that is not all, it didn’t end there, there’s a sequel!
Yes, Luke has got a whole lot more to say about what Jesus is up to – the continuing ministry of Jesus – but on a much broader and grander scale. If we don’t get this the danger is that it becomes about us, what we do, and so we end up magnifying human personality. That’s not how the book of Acts works. As Jesus fulfilled his ministry in constant response to the Father, so the Spirit fulfils his ministry in constant response to the Son. It is about the continuing mission of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The book of Acts then, is not so much the Acts of the Apostles or the Acts of the Holy Spirit, but rather the Acts of Jesus Christ through the Gift of the Spirit via the People of God. The ministry of Jesus goes on. The incarnate Son continues his ministry from Heaven’s throne, loving, saving, forgiving, delivering, healing, reconciling, transforming, empowering, enabling….