up and down and out

Into the margins of my life I am trying to squeeze assignments for my DMin. My focus at the moment is on the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. I am loving it for all sorts of reasons - not the least being the parallels between it and my favourite story of Jesus on the Road to Emmaus.

This morning I have been captured by some quotations in the Ben Witherington commentary on Acts (Eerdmans, 1998).

On page 293:
A major theme of Luke-Acts is the "universalization of the gospel - that it is for all people from the last, least, and lost to the first, most, and found."

A footnote took me back to his introductory pages where I found these words on page 69:
Luke is interested "in the universal spread of the good news not only up and down the social scale but geographically outward to the world ... one can say then that the Gospel of Luke focuses on the vertical (up and down the social scale) universalization of the gospel, while the Book of Acts focuses on horizontal universalization (to all peoples throughout the Empire)."

That really gets me going!

nice chatting



Mark Maffey said…
Hi Paul

Another aspect of Acts that gets me going is the preparedness of God's servants to listen to his direction and then ACT on it.

Whether it be Philip being prepared to speak to the Eunuch, Peter being prepared to accept table cloths with forbidden food, Ananias being prepared to help Saul, Paul seeing the man from Macedonia and being prepared to change plans.

I wonder if these were not prepared to listen and ACT on God's instruction would the Church as we know it be like it is today?

Perhaps the challenge to us in the fast paced world in which we live is to "Be Still", To do the best thing, God needs more Mary's and less Marthas's

Luke 10 vs. 38-42
Jesus Visits Martha and Mary
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.
She was all ears, totally focussed on one thing, learning what she could, trying to understand what he did mean
In the first century for a woman to sit at the feet of a rabbi was unheard of, so for Mary this was a chance sought
She didn’t want to miss the opportunity, she knew Jesus and of his teaching and his healing power she had seen
To have him in her home was an amazing chance to listen and learn from him that couldn’t be sold or bought
So she ensured she focused on him and on what he was saying oblivious to all around her so she could glean
All he was saying, holding onto his every word, absorbing like a sponge, absolutely listening to what he taught

But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it Seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
Martha was fulfilling the expectation of her in her society to be the perfect hostess fussing so all was just right
Preparing a feast, wanting help from her sister she was drawn away from what God wanted her to see
Sometimes we can be so busy wanting to please, to be involved, that we are distracted, God is out of sight
When he is actually right there waiting for us to come and sit with him, to listen and just relax and be
But we’re too consumed by what we think is important, the tyranny of the urgent, that we of God lose sight
Life seems unfair, no one else is helping us and like Martha we call out “Tell her to come and help me”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Be still and know I am God, stop rushing around, I want you to know me, that is your priority number one And once you know me, you can know my purposes for you, what I call you to do, when and where You can tire yourself out trying to please me, striving to be perfect, in the process life has no sun or fun My desire is that you have life, life in all its abundance, remember this I on the cross your sins did bear In order that you might be freed from sin and death, to bring your soul out of prison, make me your number one Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything, know my peace I am for you always there.
Christina said…
Hi Paul,

Haven’t chatted for a while, so have just seen your thoughts on Acts. I had the pleasure of studying Luke with Mark K first semester this year, (and Acts as a major part of NT with Mark K a couple of years ago) and I too use Ben W’s Acts commentary. Luke-Acts is my favourite bible book I love Luke’s way of writing, and his attention to women and gentiles particularly appeals to me. Most of all I have been delighted to discover the narrative flow that links Luke-Acts into one story. I found reading these books, as one has been a key to really appreciating the narrative flow of Scripture as a whole, as Luke purposely links the beginning of his Gospel to the OT. Then Acts flows and links into the Pauline letters, leaving the reader with a strong picture of an eschatological community. Yet there are many people in our churches who are not even aware that Luke-Acts was written by one author, and when it is not taught as a whole we miss all the delightful little links in the story. The overall emphases and themes like the vertical and horizontal spread of the gospel are lost. Overall we miss the art of writing that hooks the reader into the overall scriptural narrative, and delights with its complexity and unfolding nature. It leaves me pondering how we can teach the bible in a non-reductionist manner so that it delights and grips the hearers/readers with its unfolding narrative.


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