My dear friend Dr. Luke tells me he has comprised a second letter to his friend Theophilus, to explain what happened to all of us after Jesus went back to Heaven. But I don’t need his notes; I remember those days so well. I remember the healings, the miracles, and the days of “Peter’s shadow.” Those were amazing days, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: energy, clarity, and a creativity we had never known before. Days of surprises and adventures – and not a few close encounters with the Sanhedrin.
But that was thirty years ago. At this point I am an older man and death cannot be far away. When one sees his end approaching he cannot help but reflect on his journey through life. And what a journey it has been. A journey of learning to live without Jesus with me in the flesh, but with the Holy Spirit. This is the purpose for my writing to you today.
My end is near. The Lord has made this clear to me. So in my remaining time I feel a growing urgency to share my experiences with you. But not just my experiences; I want you to see what was happening both inside me, as well as the other apostles, and what was happening behind the scenes. The parts you may not have heard about.
The parts about the Holy Spirit. And how he changed everything.
Perhaps you have heard parts of Dr. Luke’s excellent account of these last thirty or so years. Some have taken to calling it, “The Acts of the Apostles.” Personally I find it unnecessary to name it anything, but if Luke’s history needs a name, it should be, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.”
We apostles were only the Holy Spirit’s conduits. He did everything. He changed everything. We did only our part.
I know Luke’s account tends to make me look like some super apostle, or a super Christian, as those of us who follow Jesus are now being called. I would laugh at this idea, if it were not so dangerously inaccurate. No, I’m no super anything, and that is why I want to put my musings to pen, to set the record straight. I’ve even heard some whisperings that the great Peter is to be immortalized. The First Bishop, the First … what is the word they are using? Pope!
I regret this, both because it is misguided to lift me up as anything special, but also because I am so unworthy. So allow this old man to enlighten you on how the Holy Spirit was working to set the world on fire with the good news Jesus came to bring. Luke has done an excellent job in his second letter keeping the Holy Spirit front and center. He accurately depicts everything that happened as directed by, and powered by, the Spirit.
For we could have accomplished nothing, not one thing, in our own power. That should be obvious from Mark’s, Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of our four years with Jesus. What idiots we were! It had to be the Holy Spirit. If you knew what we now know, you’d certainly understand this. So to correct my earlier statement about my journey: it’s really not my journey, it’s our journey, yours and mine.
What I hope you will allow me to do is to show you how we grew from those days of such ignorance and self-absorption, to living with the power of the Holy Spirit. Because I fear this power that is available to all of us, available to you, is already being overlooked; yes, overlooked and ignored, and therefore missed and lost.
If this continues I can only imagine one day a whole world of Christians who know nothing of the power that is in them. They will know nothing of the love, the joy, the peace and the confidence Jesus lived so vividly himself, and gifted to us through his Spirit.
That simply cannot be allowed to happen. It would be tragic. It would be such a waste!
Jesus told us one day, “I have come so you may have life, and have it to the full.” Listen closely as I share with you my journey, our journey, your journey: from having no understanding at all as to what Jesus meant by “life to the full,” to actually living this life filled and powered by the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you will learn to live the same.