Jesus Continues to Do and to Teach2
Act justly; love mercy; walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).
Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-37
As we enter this fourth and final week of our Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly series, we want to explore how the early church began to walk out the Jesus way. We’ll use two passages from early in the Book of Acts, Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-37.
Luke authored both our Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. It’s clear Luke intended them to be read together, as two interdependent and interconnected books. He begins Acts with these words: “In my first book (i.e., our Gospel of Luke), I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and teach … (Acts 1:1). In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus “began to do and teach”; now, in Acts, Jesus continues to do and teach—but now he does so through his body, the church. When Jesus ascended to heaven (understood as his enthronement, not his vacating), he doesn’t merely leave the disciples with memories, teaching, commands; instead, he pours himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit, into them, into us, continuing to do and to teach through his people.
Let’s use our two passages to see how Jesus was continuing, through his church, to do and to teach. And let’s use Micah 6:8 as something of a lens for our examination of these passages.
Where do we see the believers acting justly? First and foremost, they proclaim and demonstrate the Good News of Jesus. Have we ever thought of “evangelism” as an act of justice? It is: the King of Kings wants everyone to know that he has removed every obstacle between us and him, and wants everyone to get right with him and his kingdom. The goal of kingdom justice is the restoration of righteousness.
Secondly, the early church certainly saw connections between the Good News of Jesus and what we now think of as “economics”: there was voluntary sharing and pooling of resources, the result of which was that “there was no needy person among them.” This means, thirdly, that there was a special concern and care for the littlest and least among them, the justice of God’s Kingdom on display.
How do we see them loving mercy? All the merciful things that Jesus did, they are now doing, too! Healing for the sick and demon-afflicted: “Many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles” (verse 43); hospitality that welcomes and embraces everyone (verse 46); and great joy, gratitude and gladness, some of mercy’s sweetest fruits.
Walking humbly with their King, Jesus? Well, if they were continuing to teach and to do all that Jesus had taught and done, taking their cues from their King despite the misunderstanding and opposition they experienced, wouldn’t that fit the bill?
What do you find most attractive in Acts 2:42-47? How could that shape your prayers for our church?