Speak the Words of This Life (Acts 5:17-32)
Journey with Jesus to ... the Resurrection! (Easter Saturday, April 23)
Read Acts 5:17-32
Congratulations! Today we complete our Journey with Jesus. Thank you for taking this trek with us as we’ve walked with Jesus through the Gospel of Luke. We close our journey by taking another glance at Luke’s sequel, the book of Acts.
Acts 5 describes the church while it is still in its infancy. The religious authorities put the apostles in jail, hoping to discourage their rapidly expanding movement. In the middle of the night an angel rescues them from prison and says, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life” (20).
“Speak to the people all the words of this Life.” It’s a curious phrase, used only in this text. It suggests an important truth about Christianity, and a fitting one for us to close our journey – or, better yet – kick off the next phase of our journey.
“The words of this Life” reminds us that Christianity is not a set of beliefs to affirm. It is a way of life to be lived.
What kind of life is it? Specifically, it is the life that emerges out of the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. When Jesus defeated death, he opened up a brand new way of living. Once he ascended to his throne, he could freely offer his Holy Spirit to all who would place their faith in him (32). The life of Jesus now lives within his followers, thus enabling us to live a new way in the midst of this world.
Another writer (Paul) would say it like this: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Two questions emerge out of this text. First, have I ever received the new life which Jesus offers to me? Second, am I living the new life I have received from Jesus?
As to the first question, we receive new life from Jesus simply by responding to him in faith. We place our trust in him in much the same way a woman responds to the proposal of her beloved. She takes him at his word, responds to his invitation, and commits her life to the one who has offered himself to her. She takes his name and they begin a new life together. If you sense Jesus inviting you to take this step, by all means, do it today! New life begins when you say “Yes” to Jesus.
As to the second question, we begin to live like new creation when, having responded in faith to him, we carefully cultivate the life of Christ within us. We do not make new life grow in us, but, like a gardener, we cooperate with the life already present in the seed by making sure it is carefully nurtured, watered, weeded, and given proper sunlight and nutrients. How do we do this? As we’ve learned already this week, we sustain this life by nourishing ourselves with the teaching of Scripture, the breaking of bread, and the fellowship of believers.
But we don’t do this merely to get fat and happy with one another. We do it so we can learn to live a new way in the marketplace, in the neighborhood, and in our homes. We do it so that we may serve others the way that Jesus served us. We do it so that, in a world which would seek to conform us into its mold, we are transformed so that we are free to “speak to the people all the words of this life.” Alleluia.
“Lord, I want to say ‘yes’ to the new life you offer me. Thank you for giving me new life. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and teach me how live a new way in the marketplace, in the neighborhood, and in my home.”