Dear Hope Family,
During the season of Advent we mined the genealogy of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew in order to appreciate the depth and the width of God’s mercy. We marveled that rather than shine a spotlight of praise on his forebears, Jesus came to save them, to meet their deep need for healing with his finished work on the cross. We also were impressed that the five women deliberately and strategically included in the genealogy showcase the width of God’s mercy – how it extends to all sorts of people, even those on the margins, even the unusual candidates for redemption, and even those who have been on the wrong side of power and influence. Jesus is heralded by Matthew as the “Son of David” and the “Son of Abraham”. He means to emphasize that Jesus came not only to the covenant people of God, the descendants of David, but also to all the families of earth, who God promised Abraham would be blessed through God’s keeping of his promises all the way back in the book of Genesis.
As we turn from Advent to the new year, we shift our focus from the birth of Jesus to the continuing ministry of Jesus by his Spirit through his people in the New Testament book of Acts. The last word of Acts (which we will eventually work our way towards in the coming months) is the Greek word akolutos, “unhindered”. Luke uses this word to describe the ministry of the Gospel that has reached all the way to Rome, the capital of the known world, the end of the earth, at that time. The irony is that Paul in chains under house arrest awaiting trial and eventual execution while he is in Rome, and yet the ministry of the Gospel, the spread of the good news of Jesus the rightful King and Redeemer, gets traction and lurches forward without obstacle, unhindered, even in the midst of such circumstances.
My prayer for our church is that we would more eagerly embrace and give ourselves to this “unhindered” ministry of the Gospel, that we would witness the power of the Spirit equipping us for participation in the mission God is carrying out, and that we would be able to witness to the grace of God drawing people to himself to know him and trust him as King and Redeemer.
Pray with me that the ministry of the Word through the book of Acts would captivate us and equip us to engage the world by the power of the Spirit!
Grace and peace,