Scripture:So when the apostles had come together, they asked Jesus, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth.” (Acts 1:6-8)
Reflection: The author of Luke’s gospel is also the author of the Acts of the Apostles. The two volumes work together to present what the author understands to be God’s plan of salvation for the whole world. The apostles are struggling to understand this plan, as seen in their question to Jesus about restoring the kingdom to Israel. They want to know when the ancient Davidic realm will be restored. Jesus, as he has done before, explains that that information in known only by God the Father. What they need to know is that they will be given the authority they need to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Then, the Lukan Jesus lays out the plan, what Biblical scholars call a programmatic text. They are to witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the Earth. In Lukan geography, the apostles begin proclaiming the resurrection in Jerusalem. Then, they take it throughout Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth or Rome. About a third of the way through the Acts of the Apostles, the reader meets Paul, who after his conversion, takes the message of the resurrection to the Gentiles. At the end of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul is under house arrest in Rome, witnessing the resurrection of Jesus and the salvation of God that has been brought to the Gentiles. In other words, in Lukan understanding the plan has been accomplished.
While most people do not prepare a written plan for their whole lives, they do make short-range designs. For example, most people plan to graduate from high school. Many plan to graduate with a degree from college. And still a few others plan to graduate with a master’s degree or doctoral degree of some kind. Plans also involve career, home, marriage, children, and so forth. It is only near the end of one’s life that a person can see the big picture of the plan, that is, how the various parts formed the whole plan of one’s life. By reflecting upon the plan of one’s life, a person can see how the Holy Spirit empowered it.
Journal/Meditation: What has been the plan of your life? How was the Holy Spirit behind it? What were you commissioned to do?
Prayer: We cannot know the times or periods that you, Father, have set by your own authority. But you give me power with the Holy Spirit, and you make me a witness of Jesus’s resurrection wherever you send me. Keep me faithful to the commission I have received from your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.