The very first lines of Acts tell us the connection between the mission of Jesus and the mission of God’s people. Luke tells us that in his former Gospel he wrote “about all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). The obvious inference is that in Acts, Luke is going to write about all that Jesus continues to do and teach by the Spirit and through his community of disciples. Continuing the life and mission and Jesus is not just one more task given to his disciples. Rather, it defines their very identity and purpose in God’s ongoing story.
Jesus tells them that they will “receive power when the Holy Spirit” comes upon them, and that they will be his “witnesses,” telling people about him everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:7-8). After spending years with Jesus — walking beside him, learning from his teaching, watching his actions, and witnessing his death and resurrection, the apostles’ own lives and teaching would witness to Christ and invite others into his story.
In fact, the first thing to which Jesus’ followers commit themselves is “the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42), which would be, as NT Wright observes, “the story of Jesus, particularly his life, death, and resurrection, told as the climax of the story of God and Israel, and thus offering itself as both the true story of the world and the energizing force for the church’s mission.” At the heart of the apostle’s teaching is the good news of the story of Jesus. Together they devoted themselves to Christ, persisted in learning his ways, and diligently practiced his teachings. Through these channels Jesus works by the Spirit to create the new life of the kingdom in the church’s midst. Out of their shared life arise words and deeds that point others to Jesus and the Spirit as the source of their new life.
Like that first community of followers, we are entrusted with the story of Jesus and given the vocation of bringing it to life in the world. He is our teacher; we are his disciples. Our job is to watch and listen, ask questions, seek answers, and put them into practice. Then and now, Jesus is working with people who have begun the journey, and he wants us to take the next steps. This is a life we can live.