Welcome Home – 40 Day Fast Devotion #1

The Beginning

Matt Destry – Communications Pastor

Scripture
Acts 1:1-2 (NIV)

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

The Acts of the Apostles, or “Acts”, opens with an address to the same recipient as the Gospel of Luke. Both Luke and Acts are written by the same author (Luke), and naturally, as a two-volume set, are addressed to the same recipient. The addressee of the book is a man named Theophilus (Greek – ‘one who loves God’), most likely a high ranking Roman official and also possibly the one in charge of publishing and distributing these writings on Luke’s behalf.

Luke begins Acts with some context on his first work, his Gospel: “In my former book… I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and teach…”. It is striking that Luke did not say “In my former book, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught”. After all, Acts was written to tell the story of the time after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, should it not be in past tense, ‘did and taught’?

Right from the outset, it is clear in Luke’s mind that as we begin this story, a story about the empowerment, evangelism and invitation of the early church, this is still the work of Jesus, not just the work of people. While the Acts of the Apostles are certainly documenting some acts of some apostles, there is clearly Someone here at work beside human beings.

Jesus continues ‘to do and to teach’ today. Jesus continues to minister through his followers in the present day. The acts of the church are really the acts of God, as men and women of faith allow Him to bring healing, forgiveness and restoration to those who are far from Him. For He is not far from any one of us.

As we begin this time of 40 days of prayer and fasting together, let us be mindful of the heart of God and his compassion for people, as he continues to do works of mercy and teach as he did 2000 years ago. Also, let us prepare our hearts to obey his leading as Jesus ‘does and teaches’ through us, his church.

Reflective Questions:

  1. Fasting creates spiritual hunger in our lives. What will you be fasting in these next 40 days?
  2. If Jesus ‘began to do and teach’ in the Gospels, how might he continue to ‘do and teach’ through you?
  3. ‘Theophilus’ is a Gentile name (that is, not of Jewish decent). What else might Luke be saying by addressing his book to a non-Jewish man? (hint: read tomorrow’s post to find out)