Yesterday (June 17) I promised to blog a summary of the sermon–and right now I am fulfilling that promise. I finished our sermon series, and indeed our treatment of Acts for the year (About half of the sermons for this year have been form Acts in one way or another) by highlighting what I saw as things that were missing in the book–things we might expect to be there. It was essentially a list sermon.
- Nicodemus–You would expect someone who had contact with Jesus at the beginning, middle, and end of his ministry and who helped bury him to be present in the early gatherings in Jerusalem.
- Joseph of Arimathea–Like Nicodemus, I expect the one who asked for Jesus’ body and who owned the tomb to be a part of that first gathering. One caveat-what if this Joseph is the same Joseph we know better as Barnabas? One from Cyprus the other from Arimathea, but maybe a rich man had two homes? Just wondering out loud.
- The Other 8–Peter, John, Judas and James are the only ones from the 12 who get mentioned beyond ‘lists’ and James really does nothing except die off camera as a footnote to a miracle story about Peter. Luke likewise skips missions to Egypt, Syria, India, Ethiopia and everywhere else these apostles may have engaged in.
- Mary Magdalene–The faddish figure of mystical, gnostic, and alternate Christianity is absent. Why? Because she just wasn’t that important. She is probably not the Mary from Acts 12, might have been with “the women” of Acts 1 but Luke couldn’t care less. Other women are more interesting to him such as Tabitha, Lydia, and Priscilla.
- Convictions–Bluntly put no Roman magistrate ever convicts a person for a crime for being a Christ-follower.
- Jerusalem Mission–We know nothing from Acts about how James the half-brother of Jesus, who didn’t even believe until after the Resurrection, became the leader of the Jerusalem church. Nor are we told what happened to the “myriads” of Jewish followers.
- The Death of Paul–We expect Acts to end in Paul’s death. It does not. It ends with him alive and well preaching the gospel freely in Rome. This is likely done intentionally by Luke to avoid parallels to the story of Jesus.
Luke leaves out a lot from his work. I believe he does so because it does not fit his agenda. His agenda is to demonstrate the spread of the gospel form Jerusalem to the uttermost parts of the earth. The outline of Acts is found in 1:8. Luke begins by emphasizing the empowerment and filling of the Holy Spirit and from there the book takes shape as the gospel’s travel itinerary from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth–Rome!