The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,…
The introduction to this narrative of" the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" suggests to us truths concerning the mission of our Divine Lord and also concerning our own.
I. THE MISSION OF CHRIST. We gather front the opening words of Luke that this was fourfold, and may be included under these heads:
1. Miraculous works. He "began to do (ver. 1). The mighty works" of Jesus were far from being mere "wonders:" they were
(1)deeds of pure beneficence,
(2) acts called for by the circumstances of the hour, malting an irresistible appeal to the heart of love and the hand of power,
(3) illustrations of the Divine principles which he came to establish, as well as
(4) incidental proofs of heavenly origin and almighty power.
2. Teaching. He began "both to do and teach (ver. 1). The teaching of Christ covered all the ground on which we most urgently need enlightenment. He taught us all that we want to know concerning
(1) the nature and disposition of God, including his attitude toward guilty souls;
(2) the real nature of man, his true heritage and the way by which he could return to God;
(3) what constitutes moral excellency in God's sight: how man can do and be that which is due to himself and to all by whom he is surrounded;
(4) the truth respecting the future world.
3. Endurance. The story of his passion" (ver. 3) is the story of his life. In the case of all other of the children of men, the narrative of the last hours is felt to be but the necessary closing of the chapter. In his case alone the relation of the Passion is felt by us all to be the supreme and culminating point the one indispensable feature of his whole career; that to which everything led up, for which everything prepared, compared with which everything else was unimportant. Never, at any period of his ministry, did the Son of God so truly and so largely fulfill the mission on which he came, as when he was "putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself," as when he was betrayed and smitten and reviled, as when he was "lifted up" on the cross and "poured out his soul unto death."
4. Life. He came to be the holy, loving, patient, truthful, reverent One he was. The historian does not speak here of this his exemplary life before his Passion, but we may have it in our mind as a complementary thought; he does, however, refer to his life after the Passion (ver. 3). This is divisible into two parts.
(1) The forty days on earth. Then he bore witness to the reality of his work and the genuineness of his mission: he "showed himself alive... by many infallible proofs."
(2) Everlasting life in heaven. He is now doing the work of administration. "Jesus began both to do and to teach" when he was below; he continues now the great work he then began. As he arrested Paul on his way to Damascus and charged him to enter his service, as he inspired and directed his servants so that the "acts of the apostles" are his acts through them; so now he is administering the affairs of his blessed kingdom by enlightening, inspiring, governing his Church by his Spirit (see ver. 2).
II. OUR MISSION. We have here indications of the kind and method of service which it belongs to us to render. We are:
1. To look expectantly. We too are to "wait for the promise of the Father" (ver 4); often in our Christian life, from its very beginning to its very end, asking and waiting. We are to ask, to seek, to knock - if need be, again and again; not impatient to receive, but remembering that God knows when as well as how to bestow.
2. To receive gratefully. We too "shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost" (ver. 5, and see ver. 8). God will come to us in rich effusion if only we ask earnestly and wait patiently; then we shall receive joyfully, and our hearts will fill with sacred and happy gratitude.
3. To submit cheerfully. Our Lord ofttimes says to us, "It is not for you to know" (ver. 7). We long to know many things not revealed, and this is his reply to our vain curiosity. Or we long to effect impossible things, and then he says to us, "It is not for you to do." He imposes limits to our action as well as to our knowledge, and within these bounds we must be content to move, rejoicing that we are permitted to know anything of him and do anything for him; rejoicing, also, to believe that soon the circle of understanding and accomplishment will be immeasurably enlarged.
4. To testify faithfully. "Ye shall be witnesses unto me" (ver. 8). It was a far higher function for the apostles to bear witness to Christ - to the greatness of his person, the beauty and tenderness of his spirit, the fullness and joy of his salvation - than to be the depositaries of heavenly secrets as to dates and places. There is nothing we should so earnestly aspire and so strenuously strive to become, as faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ. We cannot conceive of a nobler work than to be, by life and lip, bearing testimony to him, constraining our fellow men to realize his readiness to receive, his willingness to forgive, and his power to bless and to ennoble them. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,