Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Story Continues

N.T. Wright speaks of Scripture and the unfolding of God's mission in history as a Five-Act play. According to Wright, Act One is creation and the covenant-promise with Abraham. Act Two is the Exodus. Act Three is the building of the nation in the Promised Land. Act Four is the punishment of the nation for their stubborn refusal to submit to the will of their Father. Act Five is the coming of Jesus and the promise of his second coming. As N.T. Wright notes, Act Five is incomplete; as the time between the two comings of Jesus, act five is still being written by those who faithfully follow the Savior.

What Wright suggests is our lives, our witness, and our testimony are helping to finish the script.

Tonight, I begin teaching a new Bible class on the Gospel of Luke that really excites me. Luke's Gospel story of Jesus has been my passion this spring, with reading on and about Luke nearing 2,000 pages. I've always been drawn to Mark; in fact, I preached through Mark in Hot Springs Village for over a year back in 2002-03. That study changed my life and ministry as the message of the Suffering Servant of God, as told by Mark, took root in my heart.

But Luke is closing fast in my mind and heart as a personal favorite. Why? Because Luke writes in a way that draws in his readers as participants in the story. In writing to Theophilus, Luke brilliantly invites his readers to become Theophilus -- to read, to evaluate, and to respond.

Brendan Byrne writes, "the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels is the risen Lord active in the community today. The whole aim of the narrative is to engage the reader in the drama in such a way as to effectively communicate the sense of being a participant, not a spectator, in what is going on. I am Peter overcome with confusion in the boat, I am the widow whose son Jesus raised, I am the woman who touched the fringe of his cloak, I am the leper who returned to say thanks...We would not read the Gospel of Luke at all if we did not recognize that it is in some sense 'our story' too. The hopes and longings for liberation voiced by characters in the Gospel remain our hopes today. Like them, we stand between promise and (ultimate) fulfillment. The 'day' of salvation is 'far spent,' but it is by no means fully achieved. (We must hear the Gospel) as 'our story' today -- to help become the Theophilus for whom Luke says he is writing" (The Hospitality of God, p. 7-8).