From now until the end of the month we will be re-releasing highlights from our Wake-Up Call Acts journey together. Join us on December 1 when we begin our new series celebrating Advent—Protagonist by Matt and Josh LeRoy.
PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.
Jesus, we belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Acts 3:7–11 (NIV)
Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.
Acts chapter 3 is the big moment. It is the ultimate test. We know it would be no problem for Jesus to do this miracle. We saw him do it before. We also have it on good evidence Peter and John participated in miracles during their pre-crucifixion discipleship training period with Jesus. If we transport ourselves back to what I call the day after the day of Pentecost, we must locate ourselves in the place of not knowing what is going to happen. Here’s the test: Would the apostles be able to do the work of Jesus in the way of Jesus in the absence of Jesus being physically present?
And even as I write this last sentence, the mind-bending epiphany hits me. It’s one of those moments when I feel like I finally, or at least more fully, actually believe what I believe. Look at that question again.
Here’s the test: Would the apostles be able to do the work of Jesus in the way of Jesus in the absence of Jesus being physically present? There’s the problem . . . “the absence of Jesus being physically present.” That’s precisely wrong. Jesus is actually physically present. Remember our biblical cosmology meets physics class conversation the other day about the ascension of Jesus? Jesus did not move from the visible realm to the invisible realm. He moved from the seen realm of the earth to the unseen realm of the heavens. Just as he was physically raised from the dead, he physically ascended into heaven. Remember, a Jewish carpenter sits at the right hand of the throne of God in the heavens and rules the cosmos.
Here’s the epiphany: By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit the unseen albeit physical presence of Jesus is made physically present in the actual bodies of his agents—on this occasion Peter and John. Because of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is physically present and active in the physical and active presence of his followers. Remember our working definition of the church—the presence of Jesus in the people of God for the sake of the world.
This is not a warm and fuzzy “spiritual” experience kind of thing. Otherwise, why did the Son of God tell us to eat bread and drink wine as though it were his body and blood? And here we envisage the full and true theology of the Eucharist, instituted in the upper room—not in a doctrine of transubstantiation wherein the physical properties of bread and wine turn into literal flesh and blood—but as the sacrament of kingdom transformation enacting the real and physical presence of the body of Jesus inhabiting the real and physical bodies of his followers turned agents. It’s not the bread and the wine that are transformed. It’s the people!
Back to our question: Would the apostles be able to do the work of Jesus in the way of Jesus in the absence of Jesus being physically present?
The answer, as we will see this week, is no. The apostles will not be able to do the work of Jesus in the way of Jesus in the absence of Jesus being physically present. Jesus is not physically absent. Because Jesus is physically present in and through the physical bodies of the apostles, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will be able to do the work of Jesus in the way of Jesus through the apostles. The whole notion and imagery of the church as the body of Christ is not a neat metaphor. It is a quite literal and physical reality.
I know. I know. This is a lot. I feel some of you getting frustrated. But aren’t you tired of benign theology? Aren’t you weary of going through the motions? Don’t you want to know and deeply understand what the Bible is actually saying? What if this is part of why we aren’t “getting” it? Aren’t you ready to see Acts chapter 3 come to life in your life and in our time? Aren’t you ready to do the things Jesus did and even greater things than these because he has gone to the Father? Friends, this is not a once upon a time story; nor is it a one-off occurrence reserved for the first-century church. This is the right here, right now reality of the New Testament church. We’ve just been in an incredibly long period of hibernation. This is why it is said,
Wake up sleeper! Rise from the dead! And Christ will shine on you!
THE PRAYER OF TRANSFORMATION
Lord Jesus, I am your witness.
I receive your righteousness and release my sinfulness.
I receive your wholeness and release my brokenness.
I receive your fullness and release my emptiness.
I receive your peace and release my anxiety.
I receive your joy and release my despair.
I receive your healing and release my sickness.
I receive your love and release my selfishness.
Come Holy Spirit transform my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my consecration becomes your demonstration; that our lives become your sanctuary. For the glory of God our Father, amen.
Are you seeing the difference between the wispy sense of Jesus being spiritually present among us versus Jesus being physically present in our actual physical bodies? In other words, Jesus is not invisibly present in the air or next to us on the couch. He is physically present in our physical bodies. Are you seeing the myriad implications of this for our actual physical bodies as a living sacrifice?
Today we will sing the great majestic hymn, “O Worship the King.” It is hymn 11 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt
P. S. Would You Share a Word Back?
Please take two minutes to give us some feedback on the recent Wake-Up Call series. I would greatly appreciate it. LINK HERE.