June 2, 2011

Friday after Rogation Sunday

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 15, 108:1-5, Rom. 8:31
Evening - Ps. 20, 29, Is. 12, Acts 1:12

Commentary

The book of Acts rarely receives the attention it deserves, and what attention it does receive is often limited to passages referring to speaking in tongues. This is unfortunate because the book of Acts is really about what happens after the promised Redeemer accomplishes the salvation so long awaited by a dark and broken world. It is about the advent of the era of fulfillment, when the promises of a new world and a new community and new people dwelling in a new Covenant relationship with God become reality. In Acts we see the new order inaugurated on the earth. We see the era foretold by Micah begin to take visible form (Micah 4:1-7). We see the Kingdom of God reach into the world, bringing people into it and into God.

The Church is the Kingdom of God on earth, and the founders of the Church were the Apostles. It was they who walked with Christ during the days of His flesh. They were taught by Him, and from Him they received the doctrines and practices of the Church. Christ taught the Christian faith to them, they, in turn, taught it to the Church and recorded it in the Scriptures under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we see in tonight's reading the calling of the twelfth Apostle. Judas, having betrayed our Lord and fallen away from Him, was never an Apostle. That calling, by Divine appointment, went to Matthias (1:26).

Now the stage is set. The Messiah has accomplished His redeeming work, the Apostles have been taught, and the people are waiting in one accord and in prayer (1:14). Everything is ready for the revelation of the new era, which the Bible often calls, "the last days."

Having noted the Apostles as the founders of the Church, let us remember that this in only true of them from the perspective of human agency. They were simply agents through whom God worked. "Instruments" or "tools" might be better words to describe their position, for the real founder of the New Israel is God, and the book of Acts is not really about the Acts of the Apostles; it is about the continuation of what Christ began to do and teach (Acts 1:1). What Jesus began in His earthly ministry is now continued by the Holy Spirit through the Church. The book of Acts records His continuing work.