The explosive growth of the church in Jerusalem led to the first threat of division between two groups, as recorded in Acts 6:1-7. Wisely the apostles recommended that the church choose a few good men to handle the urgent need that had arisen. These seven men freed up the apostles to preach and pray, and the church grew even more. The threat to unity and the way the church handled it can teach us how we also can maintain unity and promote continued growth in our church.
Before he returned to his Father, Jesus told his followers to wait in Jerusalem until they received the promised Holy Spirit. About a week later, as recorded in Acts 2:1-24, Jesus poured on his Spirit on his people, and they began to proclaim the mighty deeds of God in different languages. After some from the crowd made fun of them, Peter explained that the gift of the Spirit indicated that the last days had arrived!
In our summer series, we will be looking at critical events in the book of Acts, starting with Jesus’ commission of his “sent ones” in Acts 1:1-11. The goal is for our church to become more like the original Christian church. We first need to reorient ourselves to the task that Jesus gave us for the time between his departure and his return: to be witnesses to the end of the earth.
If you have ever compared your life to someone else’s (who hasn’t?), you need to hear Jesus’ reply in John 21:20-25 to Peter’s curiosity about Jesus’ plan for another disciple. Also in this gospel’s final section, the author finally but partially identified himself. He was one of Jesus’ closest disciples and a reliable eyewitness to everything he reported, so we can know that it is all true.
In a painful conversation with Peter recorded in John 21:1-19, Jesus asked him three times if he loved him. Peter answered by declaring his love for Jesus three times. In response, Jesus charged Peter to take care of his people and to follow him. The question and the charge are for us as well.
In John 20:19-31, Jesus appeared to his disciples twice, once to commission and equip them and a second time to show himself to Thomas. In response to seeing Jesus, Thomas made an astounding declaration about Jesus, calling him “my Lord and my God!” After this declaration, the author spelled out his purpose in writing this book: for you to believe.
There is a stubborn fact of history that no one has been able to disprove, although many have tried. Jesus’ tomb was empty, and no one has ever produced his body. Hear in John 20:1-18 about the first ones to encounter the empty tomb. Come, see, and believe!
All through the Gospel of John we have been hearing about Jesus’ coming glorification. In John 19:16-42, we finally reach it and discover that it took place on the cross. In this familiar account, the author of the gospel included fascinating details that point us to the meaning of the death of Christ and the response it requires from us.
Only in John 18:28-19:16 do we find details of Jesus’ trial before Pilate. We hear Jesus’ opponents making statements about him that are much truer than they understood. Putting these statements together, we have a clear although unintentional declaration of who Jesus is and why he came.
In his narration of Jesus’ arrest in John 18:1-27, John alternated between scenes focused on Jesus who acted in complete control, and Peter who was losing control of himself. We will likely be able to find ourselves in the story in couple of different ways, once because of our similar need and another time because of Jesus’ provision for our need.