In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
This text (which we take to be from the author of the gospel of Luke since they are both addressed to Theophilus [see Luke 1:1-4]) begins just as Jesus’ ministry on the earth comes to a close. In the parallel account in the closing verses of Luke we learn that Jesus was blessing his disciples as he was taken up into heaven (see Luke 24:50-53).
How poignant that the last act of Jesus as he leaves this world in bodily form is one of blessing. Jesus doesn’t end on a note of instruction. Nor one of threat of judgment. Nor one of offering or cajoling a decision.
Jesus is the ultimate evangelist. Evangelism literally means sharing the good news. Jesus communicates that good news by speaking blessing to those who are following him.
So often we have turned sharing the faith into something that we do. We ask thoughtful questions or we hand out tracts or we invite people to choose where they will spend eternity. Or others share those things with us. Faith really isn’t something that we can generate, muster, sustain or provoke. As well intentioned as these efforts are they can fall flat.
Perhaps rather than working so hard to share the faith with techniques and self-generated intensity we can be more like Jesus. We can bless others with the blessings we have ourselves received from God. We don’t do this with our own wills or strengths but as the Holy Spirit blows through us.
Pentecost is coming soon in the church year when we remember how God still blows life into the dust and speaks profound words from ones such as us. Thanks be to God.
God, help us to be lovers of God (aka “Theophilus”-es [maybe “Theophili”?]). Inspire us to receive every good blessing from you and to share them in winsome and authentic ways. Amen.