When?! When does this isolation conclude?! When can we get back to work?! When is there an effective treatment?! When do we get a vaccine?! When??!! Well, let’s turn to an authority on schedules for more insight….we welcome into the Eastertide Reflection studio today “Mr. Jesus.” Mr. Jesus serves as Lord and Savior of the cosmic collective called “the Kingdom of the Heavens,” and brings an extensive travel resume to his position of Senior Co-President for Salvation. Mr. Jesus, welcome. So when do we get these things?! When do you see us returning to normality?!
Luke is laughing all the way from Heaven right now! Can’t you just hear him?! They never learn. Read the primer, it’s all in there!! Today we (sadly) close our reflective survey of Lukan resurrection with his second volume we call the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1. Even long-time bible readers miss a fascinating textual conundrum Luke presents us as he opens Acts by repeating the final visits the resurrected Jesus enjoys with His disciples. He even repeats Jesus’ ascension, which here serves not as the climax to the story but rather as the launch pad for the Body of Christ. Take a moment to read Acts 1:1-11, and tell me if you caught the inexplicable re-visioned schedule?! Did you see it?! Re-read if you must. Now?! What the deuce?! In his gospel the crucifixion-resurrection-ascension arc is completed over three days total, the last day being quite long in text (Luke 24 has 53 verses) while here Luke explicitly details a 40 day period between resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:3 in case you missed it) during which Jesus visited with best friends numerous times.
Welcome to the early church! Making biblical sausage looks just like this! Luke is wedged between two Easter traditions both seeking expression within the evolving late 1st century church. The first tradition is the 40 day schedule, more associated with Jerusalem and perhaps Peter’s churches. The second is the same day chronology, perhaps associated originally with Paul and John outside of Jerusalem. Luke waves his literary magic wand, conflating the two by including both in his two-part work, and Bob’s your uncle! Ironically, the early church evidently assigns 10 days for Peter to get things sorted out in Acts 1:12-26 so that by the Jewish feast of Shavuot (which I mentioned earlier), or Pentecost, the Twelve are ready to go!
Further irony….this final Lukan resurrection text (outside of the Pauline encounter much later) is all about when God will fulfill His divine plan for reconciliation of Heaven with earth!! Jesus’ reply is not just for them but for us right now: It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority! We are in sales not management. We are not in control. Ever. God’s got that figured out already. We are to wait patiently, receive power from on high, and witness to everyone we ever meet about the great purposes of God! We aren’t to stand around looking up, but to move. We don’t get to know when. One day? 40 days? 50 days? Who cares? Luke didn’t, and neither should we. Being faithful today is plenty enough!
Well, we thank Mr. Jesus for this fascinating conversation today in studio, even though He leaves us with more questions than answers about when we return to normal. And when we come back, Mr. Luke-Acts will give us a power workout so invigorating we’ll be able to speak another language too! Be right back!
Photo credit: Greenville Post