The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,…
I. JESUS PREPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE. In the work of God all is continuous. As in nature there is no pause, but in autumn we find the new petiole or leaf-stalk already formed when the old leaf is detached, so in the kingdom of God. There were ages of preparation for Christ's coming; and when he came, his life-work was a making ready to go. Full of blessing was the ministry of his visible presence; fuller still was to be that of the invisible Spirit. He must go that the Spirit may come (John 16:7). The progress is ever from the visible and finite form to the eternal and infinite spiritual content.
1. Preparation by special instruction. (John 14:15; John 15:12-17.) These parting commands were charged with the holiest unction; were breathed forth in spiritual power, with the deep earnestness and tenderness of a Divine farewell. All his commands are summed up in the great word "love." They were issued to a select band, and ever remain in the select keeping of the true Church. Obedience to Christ is, in one word, the unfolding of love in all life-relations. Christian duties and graces are but the various forms which Divine love would stamp on conduct.
2. By manifestations era risen life. His appearances were firmly accredited as red, says St. Luke, using, a word not elsewhere found in the New Testament denoting valid proof (cf. Luke 24:31, 39, 43). This firm persuasion of the reality of the Lord's risen life is the inspiration of the early Church; it cannot be explained away without raising more difficult problems. The appearances were accompanied by appropriate activity. He discoursed on these occasions, and on the supreme theme, on religion, on the kingdom of God. Christianity is not sensation - wonder for wonder's sake; its principle is intelligence; its method is teaching. "Go and teach is the great word of the risen One.
3. By a particular direction. The apostles were to remain in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49). Here were all the conditions of unity provided for: place and time and a common attitude of soul. Spiritual force must be collected in centers, that it may be diffused through the body of the world.
II. THE CHURCH IN THE ATTITUDE OF WAITING.
1. It was for something definite - the fulfillment of a Divine promise. Promise attends all obedience; and perhaps the highest blessings belong to the patient attitude of the soul, the unhaste of perfect confidence in God. It was the promise of a blessing foreshadowed in past experiences. A baptism, therefore a revival and refreshing from above like John Baptist's ministry; yet unlike that in that it was to be more excellent.
2. There was something indefinite, therefore, in the promise. A good not yet tasted, and so not yet conceivable. So is it with all coming good. We know something of that to be expected from past experiences of Divine grace; but the half has not been told us." The future is ideal, and never exactly imitates the past; while it rests upon the past and elicits its meaning. Obey, trust, wait this is a grand lesson of the Christian life which comes back to us from this page. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,