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out of the shadows and into the world
By Scott Dawson Jay Strack
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 Jay Strack
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLESSON 1
out of the shadows
In the very last chapter of his gospel, Luke wants us to know that God came into history through the Person of Jesus Christ, in order that we might see and investigate the God who performs the supernatural as He reaches out to His creation.
Luke wants us to know that in order to save the world Jesus chose not to save Himself from the pain and suffering of the cross. Jesus lived the only perfect life, impacting us two thousand years later. He invested His life into His twelve disciples and other followers by teaching, equipping, and mentoring them. Luke ends his gospel with an account of those who were eyewitnesses to the miracles of Christ. They hid behind locked doors, burdened with fear, doubts, and uncertainties after the world turned on Jesus. As they remembered the words of Christ, these believers emerged from the shadows and found confidence. (Adapted from the Impact Bible)
"This ending point becomes the starting point for Luke's sequel, known as the Acts of the Apostles. The story isn't really over; it's just begun. The life and ministry of Jesus that Luke has just recounted is the mustard-seed stage of the kingdom of God that continues to grow and grow and grow. Now it's time for this Kingdom to fill the world. If Luke's gospel is about what Jesus began to do and teach, then Luke's sequel is about what the risen Jesus continues to do and teach through His followers for millennia." (The Voice, page 1285)
Luke: The author of the Book of Luke; a physician and a co-worker with Paul. An educated man who interviewed those who were eyewitnesses of the life and works of Christ, then wrote their stories for the generations to come. He was not one of the original disciples.
Mary Magdalene: Healed by Jesus of seven demons.
Mary, the mother of James and wife of Clopas: Possibly a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Joanna: The wife of Chuza, Herod's finance minister.
The Disciples: Eleven of the twelve men who traveled with Jesus and were eyewitnesses to His power. They personally saw the miracles and were discipled by Jesus' words.
Jesus: The resurrected Christ; He appears three times in this chapter.
Angels: Messengers of God sent to the women to announce the Resurrection.
>> THINK: PUT YOURSELF IN THE STORY!
Early in the morning, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary of Clopas went to the tomb, but they found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Two angels came and told them, "He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.' And they remembered His words" (Luke 24:6–8).
The women took this message to the disciples, who were hiding in the shadows behind closed, locked doors, and then Peter ran to see it for himself. He saw the empty tomb, but doubt and uncertainty ruled him, even though Peter had seen the miracles and power of Christ firsthand.
Two of the early followers traveled to a nearby town called Emmaus, and as they walked, Jesus appeared, but they did not recognize Him. Jesus asked the men why they were sad, and one answered, "Are you the only person in Jerusalem who doesn't know that the chief rulers delivered Jesus, a prophet mighty in deed and word, to crucifixion? We thought He was the one who would save Israel. Now His body is missing and they say He is alive." Jesus patiently began to teach them, again, all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures concerning Himself. They asked Him to stay for dinner, and as He blessed the bread, their eyes were opened and they knew Him.
Immediately, they returned to Jerusalem, found the other disciples, and told them, "The Lord is risen indeed!" (Luke 24:34). As they were telling them this news, Jesus appeared out of nowhere and said, "Peace to you" (v. 36). Instead of rejoicing, the disciples were afraid, and Jesus asked, "Why do doubts arise in your hearts?" (v. 38). He showed them His hands and feet, and then reminded them again: "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things" (vv. 46–48).
>> DREAM: JUST IMAGINE IF ...
1. The disciples focused on His death (the negative shadow), not on the words that promised His resurrection (the positive emergence). What they saw—His death—became more powerful in their minds than the truth they knew—His resurrection. Is there something you "see" (for example, insecurity, rejection, family pressure, gossip, loneliness) that is stronger in your mind than the truth you already know?
What sin habits do you see that are so rampant they seem normal even though you know they are not?
Give an example of something in media or music that teaches a different view of sexual intimacy than what the Word of God does. How is it made to look normal or mainstream?
Read the instruction in 1 Peter 5:8 to be sober-minded. How would you compare this command with culture's much more casual attitude toward drug and alcohol use?
2. Describe a time when you felt confused or scared. It could involve a family situation, peer pressure, health issue, money problem, friendship, or anything else.
With that in mind, is there any biblical principle or Bible verse you remember that would change how you feel about your confusion and fear? What is it? Write it here as you remember it.
3. Have you heard that women were not valued in biblical times? Maybe you have even been told that women are devalued in today's churches?
Read Luke 24:1 and 10. Who was first told of the Resurrection?
Why do you think were they were the first ones Jesus entrusted with the news?
What do you think this shows about Jesus' attitude toward women and His level of respect for them?
>> LEAD: EARN THE RIGHT
1. In Luke 24:25 Jesus called the disciples slow of heart. What do you think this means? How does it affect leadership?
In this digital age, with Scripture readily available on your phone, tablet, or computer, why is it still important to memorize Scripture?
King David, a man after God's own heart, said this: "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:11). You cannot remember what you don't know!
2. In Luke 24:31–33 distraught disciples making their way back home to Emmaus had an experience with the resurrected Christ. They emerged from the shadows of sadness and guilt and engaged with other believers to encourage them. The slow of heart became filled with excitement and [their] heart[s] burned within [them] (v. 32). Why? What happened?
How long has it been since your heart "burned within" as the Spirit revealed the Son through His Word? Too long? Pause now and ask the Lord to meet you in His Word, bringing revelation and life. Ask Him to join you often and open the Scriptures to you, making them come alive by His Spirit. (Adapted from the Impact Bible)
3. Notice that the disciples' past experiences, even though they were eyewitnesses to Christ's power, were not enough to empower them with boldness or confidence. Jesus had to remind them and teach them, once again, the Word of God. Why do you think people tend to "save up" or rely on their spiritual experiences from various events rather than find power in God's Word daily? Has this happened to you?
Does checking in with God once a week at church give you enough power to live a godly life all week long? Why or why not?
Think again about the difference between having access to Scripture and knowing Scripture.
4. Luke 24:18–21 reveals that the disciples' desire to stay in the shadows was caused by hoping in something Jesus never promised them. He never said He would redeem Israel, at least not in the way the disciples thought; He told them He would be crucified for the sins of the world. They wanted revenge against the Romans; He came to give victory in their own personal lives. They wanted a better life; He came to give new life.
Leaders may long for an easier life, one in which standing for truth is not so difficult; but Christ died, rose again, and filled us with His Spirit to give us the strength to walk in the midst of difficulty with confidence in His Word and bring others along with us.
>> The circumstances of life don't change; we do!
>> A leader's first thought and first action step is positive.
>> He or she is willing to do the hard thing.
Why does verse 7 say Jesus must be crucified?
How would you explain that to a friend who doesn't understand Christianity or is having a hard time believing?
Where does your "Jerusalem" begin (v. 47)?
DID YOU KNOW?
>> There are twenty major religions in the world; thousands of sects of those religions; millions of pagan gods and idols.
>> There is only ONE who resurrected Himself from the dead!
Then He said to them, "Thus it is written and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day."
Chapter TwoLESSON 2
into the world
Acts 1 and 2
If we do the possible, God will do the impossible. Jesus told the disciples to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), but first He said, "Wait in Jerusalem for the gift my Father has promised" (Acts 1:4). Going out to all the world was not physically or financially possible for the disciples at the time, so we see in Acts 1 and 2 that God brought the world to them.
The Bible is filled with miracles. Three of those miracles, the greatest events of history—the resurrection of Christ from the dead; His bodily ascension into heaven; and the fulfillment of the promise on the Day of Pentecost—changed the world forever. God brought people from every nation in the world that day to witness a miracle that only He could perform so that He could go home with them as they spread the good news around the globe.
It might seem silly to some to believe in miracles. After all, we have technology and science that can invent and reveal an ever-expanding amount of knowledge, and most things can be "explained." Remember that only God can create; the rest of us work with what He has already made.
Some liberal biblical scholars have attempted to dismiss the reality of miracles by explaining them away with science. But what they and we need to remember is that the evidence should form our conclusions, instead of our conclusions shaping the evidence. Without the basic foundational element of God's existence, one will always search for a naturalistic answer that can explain away the miracles. The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ form the greatest evidence for the miraculous. God came into history through the Person of Jesus Christ in order that we might see and investigate the God who does the supernatural. (Adapted from the Impact Bible)
Theophilus: His identity is a mystery. He might have been either a new convert in need of discipleship or an interested Greek whom Luke hoped to convert through his researched life of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke and now further evidence of His resurrection power in the Book of Acts.
The risen Christ: Jesus, the crucified Christ, has risen from the dead.
Disciples: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James, Matthias (who replaced Judas).
Mary, the mother of Jesus: Jesus' mother, who was often present with Him throughout His ministry; here she is with the disciples awaiting His next instruction.
Brothers: The half-brothers of Jesus; they thought He was crazy while He was on the earth, but after the Resurrection, they came to believe.
Prophet Joel: Minor prophet of the Old Testament, he wrote the Book of Joel, which teaches of the "day of the Lord" approaching and the importance of repentance.
Luke: The author of the Book of Acts, a physician and eyewitness to the missionary thrust of the early church.
>> THINK: PUT YOURSELF IN THE STORY!
Jesus had told His followers to wait for the promise of the Father at Jerusalem. And yet, even as Jesus stood before them in His resurrected body—the miracle of all miracles—they continued to ask Him when He would restore the kingdom of Israel! He answered, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:7–8).
After He said this, the disciples literally watched Him be physically, bodily taken up to heaven in a cloud. Two men, probably angels, stood by and said, "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go" (Acts 1:11).
Obviously stunned, but also encouraged, the disciples went to an upper room of a house and stayed there praying and praising. They organized their leadership, choosing to replace Judas with Matthias (Matthew).
When the great Day of Pentecost came, they were all with one purpose and in one place and suddenly there came a sound of rushing mighty wind that filled the whole house. The disciples were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues. Hearing the commotion, a crowd gathered, and the people from every nation under heaven heard preaching in the language of their country and even the dialect of their particular region. They were amazed and said, "How is it that we are hearing our own language spoken by men who do not know our language?" Some were excited, but others said the disciples were just drunk.
The apostle Peter stood up and said, "[We] are not drunk ... But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ... 'I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath.... And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved'" (Acts 2:15, 16, 18, 19, 21).
Peter went on to expound about Jesus being rejected and crucified, and raising victoriously from the grave. When the crowd heard this, they were cut to the heart over their actions and asked, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).
Peter answered, "Repent ... be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). He continued on preaching truth, and about three thousand people gladly received his word (v. 41). All who believed were joined in a common purpose and sold their possessions and goods to give to those in need.
Excerpted from out of the shadows and into the world by Scott Dawson Jay Strack Copyright © 2011 by Jay Strack. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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