Dear Hope Family,
The Swiss-German theologian, Karl Barth, author of numerous theological tomes, was world-famous in the mid-1900s. On April 23, 1962, Karl Barth spoke at Rockefeller Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago. Many have reported that, during the Q & A time, a student asked Karl Barth if he could summarize his theology in a single sentence. As the story goes, Barth responded by saying, “In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'” The statement itself is one of the most profound biblical and theological truths: the simple, full, free grace of Jesus revealed in the Scriptures.
As we enter into our consideration of Acts 14 this Sunday, this simple, full, free grace of Jesus once again takes center stage. That much is not unique; we have come to expect it in Luke’s orderly account of the Resurrected Jesus building and maturing his church. What is unique and captivating is that the good news of Jesus is equally necessary for three distinct groups of people within the chapter: the religious, the unbeliever, and the faithful converts. Each group does not need something novel and distinct. Each group needs exactly the same thing.
As the passage progresses, Paul and Barnabas first enter the synagogue at Iconium and preach the good news of Jesus Christ as the vindicated Messiah. Met with sharp resistance and threats of violence, they make their way to Lystra and preach the good news of Jesus as the living God to folks mired in superstition and idolatry. When the threatened violence actually was inflicted upon them, Paul and Barnabas retrace their steps and return to Iconium, Lystra, and Antioch to strengthen the disciples and encourage the faithful converts with the good news of Jesus as the King. Three distinct groups of people. Three distinct experiences of Jesus. One abiding, enduring, and powerful message of Good News.
There is so much to learn and experience and engage in the Christian life, but we must constantly come back to this core message, this astoundingly good news of the simple, full, free grace of Jesus Christ revealed to us in the Scriptures. We never outgrow our need of it. We never get beyond or over the wonder of it. We never overdraw Christ’s supply of it.
This Sunday we will gather in worship to celebrate and make much of this timeless truth. Please join us!
Grace and peace,