The Sequel: Reading Acts 1:1-5

Our lives are written in chapters.  Sometimes it takes years to recognize when one ended and the next one began.  At other times those chapters are more definitive; a graduation, a baby, a job change, marriage, or loss.  The message is clear, it is time to move on.  Most of the time new chapters merely represent a change in scenery.  We have learned our lessons, gained some wisdom, taken on new responsibilities, but a new chapter is simply another story of a slightly differing version of us - maybe older, wiser, or jaded, the scenery is somewhat different but at the core of who we are, new chapters represent little change. 

Sometimes we need to quit writing chapters.  We need a chance to create the sequel.

In literature and film, sequels may present the same set of characters in the same environment, but there is a sense of newness to the journey.  Yes, there are connections to the previous plot lines, but a sequel, in many respects, can stand alone as its own epic story.  The Book of Acts is the sequel to the life of Jesus.

In verses 1-5 of Acts 1 Luke creates the initial plot connections for the first reader of his story, Theophilus.  In the previous volume Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared alive on different occasions to various witnesses.  The resurrection was not a nostalgic hallucination of a grieving loved one, nor was it a conspiracy story fabricated by a few.  People do not hallucinate in mass.  Conspiracies never walk in the openness of the obvious.  Post-resurrection Jesus made appearances over several weeks for all to see.  Luke ends volume 1 of the story with a brief mention of the ascension.  Jesus told them to wait for the promise of the Father, he blessed them and then he was gone (Luke 24).  Like all good movies Luke leaves us with a cliffhanger indicating to Theophilus, there is more to come.

 Peter blew it in volume one.  What becomes of him?  What about the rag tag, eclectic circle of followers that bolted when Jesus was crucified?  What will become of them?  It is as if Luke is saying to Theophilus, “You need this story as much as you needed the first one.”  The most important question of all, Jesus is alive, now what? 

The resurrection of Jesus does not give us an opportunity to merely attach another chapter to our lives, the resurrection is a chance to live the sequel.  Just as Jesus’ incarnation and birth began volume 1, the Gospels, an incarnation and birth of another sort will spawn volume 2.  The Holy Spirit is coming.  A new season of salvation is nearing dawn.  The church will soon be born.  Just as Christ was in Mary, so through the Holy Spirit, Christ will be in each of them.  In the same way, the Book of Acts is the story of what happens when Christ is incarnate in each of us. 

I do not know why Theophilus deserved to be the first to read the sequel.  Was his faith wavering?  Was he simply curious?  Was there something else?  I am more familiar with our circumstantial universe than I am with his.  I know faith can be difficult.  I know, like them, we need proof (1:3).  I know, above all else, that we are tired of adding chapters to the same old story that we know is lurching toward the same tired ending.  We live, we blow it, we pay for it.  We do not need another chapter, we need a sequel. 

The Book of Acts begins a new epic story in the life of Jesus.  For those of us who care to read it and receive it, this begins our sequel.


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