Acts of the Apostles: A Hollywood Story
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
A new phrase in modern times is called binge-watching. A new television series comes out and we watch all the episodes from beginning to end, sometimes in one sitting or perhaps two or three. It makes me think of how worthy some of the books of the Bible would be to binge-watch. Certainly, Genesis with its great stories like Noah’s ark, Joseph in the well or the intrigue between Jacob and Esau. A book filled with subplots, hero’s and villains. Certainly, The book of Acts is the same.
In Acts, we have jail cells collapsing. A missionary braving dangers and wanders for close to twenty years to spread the good news about Christ. We have the Holy Spirit teaching people to talk in tongues. And a story of the first Christian Martyr. Hollywood could easily make this book into a series. I know I would binge watch it in one sitting.
Some have asked me why does Acts exist or what is its purpose. Simply, it is the bridge between the Gospels and the great Christian Epistles in the New Testament. It is also the history of the early church and its development from 33AD to 60AD. A support system to moving from the Gospels to the letters written by Paul and other great early Christian writers. Without it we would have to rely on circumstantial evidence to get the whole story.
Acts is the second half of the letter to Theophilus written around 80AD. The first half of the letter is Luke. This entire manuscript, as the author says, was to write an orderly account. And it certainly is, from Jesus’s birth to the resurrection, to Peter becoming the leader of the early church, to Paul’s wonderfully successful but dangerous journeys, all spanning the first 60 years of Christianity.
Let’s go to the drama scenes and intrigue. Imagine yourself in Jerusalem and Jesus is standing in front of you. Know that he has just risen from the dead to save us from all our sins, and in an instance a cloud takes him out of sight. And while he is going up two men stand by you in white robes, telling you not to worry. A few days later, you hear a rushing wind and all-around people start speaking in other tongues. Is this a Marvel comic book story or the Bible?
Later Peter organizes the church and begins converting thousands at a time. The authorities getting nervous and throw him in jail, only to be released by an Angel.
Then we have a Paul, the chief persecutor of Christians, traveling to Damascus to murder and capture early Christians, only to be dramatically struck down by Jesus. Jesus revives and converts Paul, who goes on to become the ambassador for Christianity.
But we also have political intrigue. The early believers want new believers to comply completely with Jewish traditions. But Paul says no, knowing that it is only important that you believe and have faith in Jesus. On one side you had James the Just arguing vehemently for compliance to the Jewish traditions and on the other, the skilled orator Paul arguing against. In the middle was Peter, who has a vision that tells him that it is okay for the Gentiles not to have to comply.
Next Paul travels over ten thousand miles and preaches to all who can hear, the story of Jesus. He as well, ends up in jail. Likewise he is released through supernatural and divine intervention. On these journeys Paul is beaten and ridiculed. But he never gives up. Staying the course, he creates followers throughout the Roman Empire. Even in Rome, which would centuries later, become the center of Christianity.
Paul later returns to Jerusalem as he had promised, having firmly entrenched Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Only to encounter more drama, and is arrested, and sent to Rome for trial.
Certainly, we have popular television series made up of less dramatic events airing every week. But they’re right in front of us, is a story even Marvel or Disney couldn’t replicate. We don’t need to watch TV or visit the local cinema. The story is there for us to read in the Bible. A wonderful historical account of our faith.
The story of our faith is written in God’s technicolor for us all to see. Maybe we can’t binge read it one sitting, perhaps in two or more.
The Acts of the Apostles, an orderly account, is for all to believe and read.
Listen to the Full Podcast – A Hollywood Story – Acts of the Apostles
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
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