“Word for Today” – Acts 1 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

September 21, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

Carpenters 1It is one of the most oft quoted statements of Jesus.  The setting is the Last Day.  The Lord has returned and is going about separating his faithful sheep from Satan’s reprobate goats.  To the sheep he says:

Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 25:34-36)

The sheep, unaware of the kindnesses they had shown to Jesus, are befuddled by Jesus’ commendation.  They ask:

When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? (Matthew 25:36-39)

Then comes Jesus’ marvelous answer:  “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

What we do, we do for the Lord. This is a cornerstone of Christian theology.  As Paul writes to the little church at Colosse:  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).

As true as it may be that as Christians, we are called to work for the Lord, there is even more to our Christian work than this.  In our “Word for Today” readings, we begin studying the book of Acts.  Like the gospel of Luke, which we have just finished reading, Acts too is written by Luke, a careful historian, respected doctor, and skilled rhetorician.  Luke opens his second theological volume thusly:

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. (verses 1-2)

The word “began” in verse 1 has long intrigued me.  What does Luke mean when he says that he has written in his gospel “about all that Jesus began to do and teach?”  I’ve read Luke’s gospel and it pretty much sums up all of Jesus’ life and work – from his birth to his ascension, from his beginning to his end.  What more is there to write about Jesus’ work?  How can Luke claim to have written only a beginning?

As we read through Acts, we quickly find our answer.  Jesus’ work continues through his people.  Indeed, Jesus’ thirty-three short years on this earth were truly only a beginning.  For his work has continued through all those Christians who feed the hungry, give the thirsty something to drink, invite the stranger in, clothe the needy, and visit the prisoner.  And this is the other side our Christian life.  It’s not just that we do things for Jesus, it’s that Jesus does things through us.  His work has just begun.

One of my favorite songs growing up was a 1970 hit by the brother and sister duo, the Carpenters.  It was titled, “We’ve Only Just Begun.”  Originally a jingle for a bank commercial, Richard Carpenter turned it into one of the Carpenters’ most successful singles.  The lyrics sing of a newly wedded couple and how their life together has only just begun.

As Christians, we believe and trust that whether we are at the beginning of our earthly life or nearing our end, our life in Christ has “only just begun.”  Even as Jesus’ incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension was only just the beginning of a mission that has continued for some 2,000 years, our temporal lives are only just the beginning of our eternal ones.  And so, just as we will for all eternity, we continue our work for Jesus.  And Jesus continues his work through us.  And praise be to God, this is only just the beginning.  There is so much more life in Christ to come, for there is an eternal life in Christ to come!

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Luke 24 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Acts 2 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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