The End of Psalms – Psalm 150

The journey through Psalms is a difficult yet rewarding one. It has highs and lows, ups & downs. There are the valleys of soul-crushing darkness & death and then peaks of majesty & glory. The journey is filled with lament, protest, questions followed by praise, refocus, and declaration of the character & redeeming acts of God. 150 chapters, and a single verse simply won’t do justice to the conclusion of this trek. In fact, it is going to take 5 psalms to wrap this whole book up. The final 5 psalms serve as a doxology for the whole book focused on “Hallelujah,” a transliteration of the Hebrew for “Praise YHWH.” 36 times this word appears in these final 5 psalms. God is worthy of praise from everyone & everything. Psalm 150 is the finale of this grand spiritual concert.

Doxologies for Each Book

A doxology is an exclamation of praise & blessing. Each book in Psalms end with a doxology.

Book 1: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.” (Psalm 41:13)

Book 2: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!” (Psalm 72:18–19)

Book 3: “Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.” (Psalm 89:52)

Book 4: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 106:48)

Book 5: “My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.” (Psalm 145:21)

Celebration to End the Book

Celebrating the Creator (146): “Who made heaven & earth” – the Creator, unlike earthly princes who die (v.2-3); He executes justice for His creatures (7-9), watching out for the little guy. So praise Him!

Celebrating the Greatness & Goodness of God (147): The one who named every star (v.4) is good to the weak and the meek (6). He’s so great, yet He is good to the little guy. Not only individual; He’s good to Israel with kindness that He doesn’t show to any other nation (12-20, esp.20). So praise Him!

Celebration High & Low (148): We know this one because we sing it. The whole cosmos, universe is called upon to muster praise for God. From the highest heights of the heavens to the lowest regions of earth and everywhere in between; animate & inanimate, people & things – cry out in praise. Praise Him!

Celebration from His People (149): YHWH takes pleasure in His people, so let them rejoice in Him and praise Him. He has been merciful to His people and will issue future justice & vengeance upon His enemies (which are the enemies of Israel). Thru God’s help, His people will conquer their enemies. God protects & takes pleasure in His beloved. So praise Him!

Final Hallelujah (150)

Note: Praise (the verb) is used 12 times in 6 verses, 11 of them are commands with the one being an invitation (Let us praise…).

Where (1-2)? 1) In Heaven (1): in the heavenly “sanctuary” although the Temple courts would no doubt be a reflection of what is happening in heaven. 2) On Earth (2): God accomplishes His “mighty deeds” on earth, in the world.

How (3-5)? Notice that there is no content to the praise except verse 2 about His mighty deeds. Of course, the preceding four (4) psalms provide ample material for praise. But notice also, all the instruments and instrumental music which is praise to God. An interesting note: the Law only gives directions concerning the trumpet & the horn. But there are several other instruments listed here, brought in by David.

Who (6)? Everyone that has “breath.” All living beings. He gave them breath, let them breathe His praise. Cf. Revelation 5.13. Just as God gave breath at the beginning, so He expects us to use that breath to worship, praise, adore Him. All of the faculties are called upon to worship God: The breath is needed to blow the trumpet; fingers are needed to pluck the stringed instruments; the hand is used to beat the tambourine; the feet move in dancing – everything, every part of the person is engaged in this excited state of worship.

Let me first begin by reminding us that we are the temple of the Lord today. We are reflection of what is taking place in the heavenly realms, even in the very throne room of God. We are seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Our every step, our every move ought to be a reflection of God’s holiness & glory. Our every breath ought to be a praise to God.

Second, how’s your worship brother/sister? Is your worship mostly just a mental appreciation? “I praise you.” I know some people get carried away with the emotions of worship, but worship ought to have emotion as well. Look at this Psalm: if were transported back to this time when the Israelites were singing & praising God, we couldn’t get out of there fast enough. “Who are they worshipping?” YHWH.

One is virtually breathless when you get through this psalm! The end of Psalms is an invitation to bold, loud, exuberant, excited, enthusiastic worship to YHWH. “Hallelujah” – every breath is both a cause & an invitation to praise Him. It must become praise itself. Our whole life must become a psalm.  We merely join in the chorus that reverberates throughout the cosmos. Scientists think they are hearing residual sound from the big bang; nah, that’s the cosmos singing the praise of King YHWH.

Advertisements

Growing in Your Walk with Christ, part 7

Ephesians 5.15-21 contains a verse much disputed in the church. Verse 19 is a passage used to prohibit the use of musical instruments in worship services. Intensive word studies, exhaustive exegetical articles, and not a few early church essays have been written on that single verse. Frankly, it is a tragedy that the rest of the context surrounding this verse tends to be ignored. It is rich with how to wisely navigate life in the Spirit.

A Wise Walk (5.15-21)

Living with Christ means seeking His wisdom & will.

15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,

Look carefully…walk: Then indicates that Paul is continuing his exhortation to these Christ to be what they are in Christ. They do that by walking carefully or “circumspectly” (NKJV). A careful walk is one which includes strict attention to detail & complete obedience to the standard.

To “walk…carefully” carries the idea of accuracy, precision, & diligence. It is a life lived in strict conformity to the Christian ethic. Half-hearted or lackadaisical discipleship is more in line with the unwise behavior of the world than it is with the heart & desire of God. A Christian’s walk is to careful not carefree.

Not as unwise but as wise: This is once more a contrast in cultures: the heathen culture is unwise whereas the Christian ethic is wise. Cf. Colossians 4.5

We teach our children to “Stop, look, and listen” when crossing the street. How much more is this true when living the Christian life? We must be intensely vigilant as we walk with Christ knowing that there are deadly consequences to evil actions. Armed with that knowledge, we can wisely navigate our lives.

One word of caution: There may be a threat toward legalistic rule keeping. This is not what Paul is advocating at all. He is saying, “Do not walk loosely, without fixed principles of actions; but make sure that you rules are of the true kind” (Pulpit Commentary 210). Many people are very strict & rigged but they are not wise in that rigidity. They have rules, very strict rules, but they are not good rules. So that is a key difference between what Paul is exhorting us to and legalism which Paul would never be in favor of.

16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Making…the time: Lit. “Redeeming the time.” Several scholars see here an allusion to the marketplace: a merchant would buy up the good articles & products. So the Christian must seek the precious pearls of time and purchase those, i.e. use every opportunity for good.

And so we sing, “Your empty, wasted years/ He will restore;/ and you iniquities/ remember no more.” As Longfellow has said, “Life is real; life is earnest/ and the grave is not its goal./ ‘Dust thou art, to dust returnest,’/ was not spoken of the soul.” Life is urgent! We must consider how we spend our time, what little we have left. Paul seems to be saying, “embrace every opportunity to glorify God, save your own souls, and do good to men.” (Clarke) “How wise, then, to seek to make out of every passing moment eternal gain!” (PC 236) Why?…

Because the days are evil: there was trouble & temptation all around. These Christians lived in a very pagan world with much immorality.

The more things change, the more they stay the same – the days are still evil! In fact, as Paul says elsewhere, “evil people go from bad to worse” (2 Tim 3.13). Or as one country preacher once put it – “evil people go from worse to worser!” So in 2,000 years since Paul penned these words, our world has gone from bad to worse, worse to worser. Society progresses further into secularism. Evil is good and good is evil. Religious formalism where the letter of Law stifles the Spirit of the Law permeates much of Christendom. Philosophical skepticism which for the most part is anti-God, anti-Christian, and anti-supernatural has a choke hold on many people. So if ever there was a time when Christians need to make the best use of their time, it is now.

17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Therefore, do not be foolish: Therefore here has a summation quality of the foregoing context. Since you are to be imitators of God (1-2), children of holiness (3-7) & light (8-14), do not be “senseless” or “unthinking.” Again, this is old self & “outsider” behavior.

But…Lord is: But (Gk alla) is a strong, sharp contrast. Those “in Christ” make it their career to understand (pres. Imp.) the Lord’s will. This is more than just hearing and knowing. Involved in understanding is careful consideration and private pondering so as to take it to heart.

Here is the purpose-driven life – understanding God’s will and walking accordingly. Any other life is “foolish” & “unwise,” purposeless & aimless. But a life devoted to the pathway of God which He has marked out by His stated will revealed by His word has purpose, direction, and progress. We will spend the rest of lives seeking to “understand what the will of the Lord is.” The present tense indicates this is a lifelong pursuit, the ongoing practice of every wise saint.

18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

Do not get drunk with wine: Some pagan religious cults would become intoxicated during their worship (ex. Dionysus) in order to express spiritual elation (usually in erratic behavior). That kind of pagan revelry should not mark the Christian. In fact, we have a better way (i.e. the Spirit).

“Intoxication with wine has a degrading effect; intoxication with the Spirit (cf. Acts 2.13) can have an uplifting effect upon Christian community” (Patzia 264). We are to be filled with the Spirit not drunk on spirits. Getting drunk is not wise (Proverbs 20.1).

For that is debauchery: “Both the wastefulness and the lack of self-control implied by [debauchery] are things which should not be seen in the lives of those who have found in Christ the source and the way of wisdom” (Foulkes 158).

A word about drinking: Drunkenness is categorically condemned in Scripture (Deut 21.20; 1 Cor 5.11; Gal 5.21). Especially if you were a leader in the church it is condemned (1 Tim 3.3, 8; Titus 1.7; cf. 2.3). Granted, total abstinence is not mentioned except in the case of special vows (for example the Nazarite vow, Num 6.3). Hmm… but aren’t we people who have taken a special vow? Drinking is a habit which sends everything to wreck and ruin.

But be filled with the Spirit: In typical fashion, Paul replaces the negative with the positive. Be filled (present passive imperative) indicates 1) this should be the ongoing lifestyle of the Christ, 2) it is God (with the Holy Spirit) who fills the Christian, 3) every Christian must be filled with/by the Holy Spirit.

19addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

Addressing one another: One another indicates that this “speaking” (NASB) is an expression of our being filled with the Spirit. Though some are quick to apply this to the worship service (almost exclusively), “the meetings would seem to have been for social Christian enjoyment rather than for public worship of God” (PC 211). Context bears this out since the overall lifestyle of the Christian is what Paul has been discussing (5.1-18).

Psalms…spiritual songs: Some have found subtle distinctions between these words, however, Jimmy Jividen says, “There is no evidence in the New Testament or the writings of the early church that distinction is to be made between psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” (Worship in Song 11).

Singing…your heart: All worship (in the assembly or not) is always directed to the Lord. Jividen finds no distinction between singing and making melody, both referring to the melodic utterance of words. He does note that your heart is the only instrument for our singing (Worship in Song 11, 62).

While certainly applicable to the assembly of the saints every Lord’s Day, what is view here is any expression of worship in which saints engage in. Our whole lives are music of a specific kind to the Lord. Be it a small group study, and in-home Bible study, or just sitting around the campfire, we can address one another and worship our Lord in song from the heart. It is the heart not the harp which is the appropriate instrument for our worship.

20giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Giving thanks…Jesus Christ: Contextually, we do this by and in our singing. However, that is not the only avenue by which we give thanks to God. It is always (at all times) and for everything (all things) that we give thanks to God the Father, Who is Himself the source of all blessings. Our Lord Jesus Christ is our mediator to the Father.

“Spirit-filled Christians live in a continual attitude of gratitude for everything” (Patzia 264). At its core, sin is basically ingratitude. We need to affirm that all that we have is from God. When we truly give thanks, from that will flow ethics and right behavior. Further, thanksgiving has a transformative effect. It is nearly impossible for a person to be both spiteful (harboring resentment) and grateful, giving thanks unto God. When we realize we have been set free from our old self and have been infused with the life-giving Spirit, how could we not be thankful?

21submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Submitting…for Christ: The habitual practice of Christians is willing submission to each other. Mutual Christian submission is born out of  “fear” (Gk phobos, respect & awe) for Christ.

Here is still another key factor to living a Spirit-filled life. Pride in a Christian is an oxymoron. Pride is the heart leaves no room for the Spirit of God. Pride kills fellowship. Thinking of ourselves as better or too highly is destructive to true, authentic Christian fellowship. “In humility count others more significant than yourselves” and look “to the interests of other” (Phil 2.3-4). So humble mutual submission is the key to unlocking how to live as husband & wife (5.22-33), parenting effectively (6.1-4), and how to behave on the job (6.5-9).

Submission for all Christians is the divine calling upon our lives to honor & affirm Christ’s leadership and serve Him according to grace He has given to each one of us. The word “submit” was a military term used to describe the various soldiers under the command of their leader. It is interesting that Paul ends this epistle utilizing the military motif (6.10ff). Further, this word had a non-military usage for voluntarily giving in and cooperating to carry a burden. It is to voluntarily yield ourselves to Christ in love. This kind of mutual submission is illogical when disconnected from Christ. Only through the cross can we proper express submission. By uniting with Christ and dying to self we can submit as we ought to His lead.

It’s a Religion! Part 3

I hear it quite often. In fact, just the other day Dr. Fredrick K. C. Price in his weekly television program harped on it. “Religion is an abomination.” Thus, God hates religion. I wonder if these “theologians” (and I use that term loosely for televangelists) have ever read their Bible! Christianity is very much a religion. To be a Christian is to put one’s religion on display. “The cult of Christianity is the religion of the life, and the ceremonial cleanness is cleanness of conduct and heart” (Pulpit Commentary 27).

Admittedly, religion can be bad. Scripture talks about “worship of angels” (Col 2.18) where the same word for “religion” (Gk. threskeia) is used. Also, there is “self-made religion” (Col 2.23). However, just because religion can be perverted does not mean that religion should be completely abandoned. To the contrary, Scripture speaks of “pure and defiled religion” which one performs “before God” and which He apparently accepts. So instead of abandoning religion, should not Christians today be working to recapture the essence of true, pure, undefiled religion before God?

James has been moving his readers along in this section to this point. The focus has been on the “word of truth” (v.18), “the implanted word” (v.21), “the perfect law, even the law of liberty” (v.25). The call has been for the Jewish Christians to not only be hearers of the word but to do what it says and put it into practice. What does this obedience look like? In verses 26-27, James gets intensely practical by pointing out that the Christian’s religion is tied up in several actions he/she does before God.

James 1.26-27

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

The words used here for “religious” and “religion” are threskos and threskeia respectively. The first word appears nowhere else, either in the New Testament or in extra-biblical material. James appears to have coined a new and unique term. The latter word is used elsewhere in the New Testament and in various Greek works. It means piety, God-fearing, and also touches on the outward acts of worship in which one engages. James presents a staggering conclusion: the true test of religion is to be found in obedience to the heard word. Flowing from the discussion about doers who act or work, James presents both the good and bad side of religion.

Worthless Religion (v.26)

Worthless religion is work-less Christianity. The Christian is God’s workmanship “created in Christ Jesus for good works” in which he/she is to walk (Eph 2.10). The Christian is saved by grace through faith (Eph 2.8); this is a faith which works the works of Christ. Without these works, our religion is “worthless.” This word worthless is no doubt chosen on purpose. This word is used constantly in the Septuagint (LXX) to speak of the gods of the nations; these gods are “worthless” or “vain.” They stand juxtaposed to the one true and living God. So too religion that is lived not in accordance with the revealed word of God is likewise “worthless” or “vain.” Truly, it is a form of idolatry, indeed, the worst kind of idolatry – self-deification. God and His standard have been abandoned and man and his standard have replaced Him. One may think wrongly that he is a religious, pious, God-fearing person. But if his actions run contrary to the word of God, in reality his religion is empty, void of the power of God’s word. It has become nothing more than worthless idolatry.

Specifically in this context, James addresses one aspect of the Christian’s religion that if absent makes it worthless: control over speech. This has already come up with James (v.19, “slow to speak”) and will come up again (3.2-12; 4.11-12). This is a key component to living like Christ. It is an ingredient to obedience to the word of God. If one does not “bridle his tongue,” a metaphor picturing a horse being lead by a bridle, then his religion is “worthless.” There seems to be an allusion to Psalm 39.1 here which speaks of muzzling the mouth. In addition, this person is self-deceived. He is lying to himself! The importance of taming the tongue is seen here. Here is a very vital component to living life in accordance with the word of God.

Too many Christians today wreck their religion by failing to bridle the tongue. In fact, far too often our speech mimics the world’s rather than Christ’s. How many among the brethren show up Sunday morning and sing praise to God only to revert to “sailorspeak” Tuesday afternoon? Thus, they have an appearance of godliness but deny its power (2 Tim 3.5). “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works (Titus 1.16). “My brothers, these things ought not be so” (James 3.10b). Christian, clean up your mouth lest your religion be found to be worthless.

Worthy Religion (v.27)

James points his brethren to worthy religion. This religion is worthy because it is able to be “before God.” The reason it can be before our God and Father is because 1) it is in accordance with His and therefore 2) is pure and undefiled. These words have to do with precious stones or gems. “Pure” is to be from anything which would soil the appearance (i.e. with a stone, dirt). “Undefiled” is to be free from deformity or defect (i.e. in a gem, blemish). Hence, this religion is presented both positively and negatively. But it is also religion “before God.” The Greek word for “before” (para) can also mean “beside.” In this instance, it seems to indicate that this is religion “with” God and from His perspective. He is right there beside us, with us as we seek pure and proper piety patterned after the Prince of peace. Two areas of concentration are presented for the Christian to pursue. Note that our duty to our fellow man is placed before our duty to self.

Pure religion consists in the exercise of active benevolence in a world of suffering. “To visit orphans and widows in their affliction” (ESV). Here is imitation of the Father. Indeed, even in Jesus ministry He spoke to disciples, urging them to “be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6.36). God has always been concerned for the orphans and widows. In the Law, the Israelites were instructed not to reap the edges of their fields, go back for a sheaf left in the field, or beat the olives from their trees for these were for “the poor,” “the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow” (Lev 19.9-10; Deut 24.19-21). When the Israelites neglected to care for the fatherless and widows, God pronounced judgment and called for repentance (See Isa 1.16-17; Micah 6.8). Thus, God has always been concerned about the orphans and the widows (Psa 68.5). Under the Christian dispensation, this has not gone away and James reminds his brothers of this important fact. In fact, to exercise this religious function is to imitate Christ who “went about doing good” during His earthly ministry (Acts 10.38).

Truly, then, obedience to the word and to be a “doer that works” (v.25) is to take care of the widows (those bereft of husband) and orphans (those bereft of father or mother or both). But what does that mean? Digging even deeper, the word which James uses here for “to visit” is also used in his speech in Acts 15 (verse 14). “God visited the Gentiles” and Simeon (Peter) related how God did that: by sending Peter to preach that they might hear and believe the gospel, ultimately resulting in their reception of the Holy Spirit. Hence, God visited the Gentiles by sending part of Himself, the Holy Spirit, to be with them. In the same way, James points Christians to service beyond proxy (i.e. sending money and gifts, etc.); physically go and be with the orphans and widows. Examine their plight. See it with your own eyes. Be there with them and for them “in their affliction,” that is, suffering. Suffer with them (see Rom 12.15). As a shepherd of the church, no doubt James had suffered with many widows and cared for many suffering orphans. Out of that experience, he calls for his brethren to unite around the suffering ones of their number. Note that orphans come before widows. Adam Clarke says, “This is the religion of Christ. The religion that does not prove itself by works of charity and mercy is not of God. Reader, what religion hast thou? Has thine ever led thee to cellars, garrets, cottages, and houses, to find out the distressed? Hast thou ever fed, clothed, and visited a destitute representative of Christ?”

Pure religion consists of the maintenance of personal purity in a world of sin. “To keep oneself unstained from the world” (ESV). “To keep” is a military term for when a prisoner was kept under guard by soldiers. James calls his Christian brothers to fortify themselves and be ever watchful for pollutants from the world (cf. 1.14-15). This present tense infinitive carries the weight of something like “keep on keeping on being free from spot.” The Christian’s habitual practice is to be free from stain from the world. This is more than dirt of course; James is speaking metaphorically about moral purity. This fallen world is full of dirt and dust, grime and grease, slime and sludge which bespatters the best of men. But a life which seeks to imitate Christ’s moral uprightness and be free from the vices of mankind practices a worthy religion with God.

So James calls Christians to live in the world an unworldly life (see John 17.11, 14). This kind of religion is pure in the eyes of God. It seems clear from these verses that James was writing to a people who believed in Jesus but did not practice their devotion in their lives. They were deceived, even self-deceived about the true nature of Christian religion. They believed they were saved without the practice of true Christian religion. How many today believe the same thing! James will reach the pinnacle of this thought in chapter two when he writes “faith without works is dead” (2.26). Or to borrow the language this context: religion without action is worthless.

The Ascension

You may or may not be familar with the illusionist Criss Angel. He has a television program on A&E (Mindfreak) on which he is regular putting his illusionist skills on display for millions to see. Should you watch his show, you will see him perform illusions using cards, coins, and cans. He is famous, though, for his illusions where he walks on water, vanishes in plain day light, and levitations. While interesting and intriguing (one is left asking, “How’d he do that?”), with all due respect, Criss Angel “ain’t got nothing” on Jesus. The ascension of Jesus is not slight of hand or an illusion – He didn’t levitate and then float back down to earth. When He “was carried up to heaven” there were no special tricks; it was the final demonstration of the power of God in the life of Jesus. Luke records the ascension not only at the of his gospel account (24.50-53), but also in his second volume, Acts. He is the New Testament writer who gives the most attention and detail to this final event in the life of Jesus. In fact, Mark and John give only brief mention of it and Matthew does not devote any of his gospel narrative to the ascension. Conversely, Luke is also the writer who gives none of the meetings between Jesus and His disciples “in Galilee” which Matthew, Mark, and John give. Nevertheless,  here, at the close Luke’s gospel, is a very precious offering of sacred history concerning our Lord’s ascension back to the Father.

The Eulogy

It has been forty days since the resurrection (Acts 1.3). This is not Easter Sunday! This is forty days after that first Sunday when the tomb was found empty. First, Jesus takes His disciples to Bethany. “Bethany was on the eastern declivity of the Mount of Olives” (Barnes) and therefore, once the Lord was taken up, the disciples would return to Jerusalem “from the mount called Olivet” (Acts 1.12). Bethany means “house of sorrow” or “affliction.” This is a key villiage in the life of Jesus; He often frequented there since this was the hometown of his friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. One writer says it was probably from “the remoter uplands which lie above the city” from which Jesus, in full view of His disciples, made His depature.

Before the actual ascension, though, Jesus has one final thing He desires to do with and for His disciples: bless them. Like Jacob (and the other patriarchs) of old (Gen 48.8-20; 49), Jesus lifted up his hands to bless them. Like Aaron the high priest (Lev 9.22), Jesus, the High Priest of the new covenant, lifts His hands and blesses His people. Some commentators think that also inherent in the act of lifting the hands was the intent to lay them on their heads. Perhaps, but the text is silent concerning this. This blessing is the assurance of favor, even the favor of God. When Jesus blesses His disciples, that is what He is communicating to them.

The Embarkment

As He expressing the divine favor upon them, “he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.” That is, He intentionally separated Himself from them and stood apart from them. Then he was taken up, lifted. The language is very passive, as if this were something being done to Him rather than by Him. In Acts, Luke further records that a cloud comes and acts as a chariot escorting the King into the throne room of God and out of the sight of men’s eyes.

One wonders what it was like once Jesus was gone. “And just like that he was gone.” That’s it? Now what? In Acts, Luke records the angelic testimony that one day, just He left, Jesus is coming back. And so the disciples will wait do what Jesus said to do (Luke 24.49; Acts 1.8) and wait in the city for the promise to be fulfilled.

The Exultation

In the meantime, life must go on. The first thing the disciples do is worship Jesus. Do not overlook this too quickly for its theological significance is huge. The only Being worthy of worship is God – this is the testimony of Scripture (Ex 20.3-4; Deut 5.8-10; 6.13-15), Jesus (Matt 4.10; Luke 4.8), and angels (Rev 19.10; 22.9). Only God is to be worshipped and yet Jesus is worshipped and it is acceptable. Why? Jesus Christ is God. Those who rob of Him of this do not serve the same Jesus the apostles knew. Everything they had experienced with the crucifixion, resurrection, and, now, the ascension testified to them that Jesus is God. And so they worship Him as God.

Once worship is over, they go back into Jerusalem to wait for the promised Holy Spirit to come. But the attitude and atmosphere is different. They are now joyous, full of joy because of what had just happened. This has been a common theme in Luke (1.4; 2.10; 8.13; 10.17; 15.7, 10; 24.41). There is no grief, though it might have been present inasmuch as Jesus, their friend and Teacher is gone. But whatever grief could have been is swallowed up in joy.

While in Jerusalem, they frequent the temple to engage in “blessing God.” Regularly, perhaps even daily, these disciples made trips to the temple to praise God. Fittingly, Luke concludes his narrative where it all began: in the temple. From Zechariah’s fearful encounter with an angel to the disciples faithful exulations to the Almighty, Luke brings us full circle concerning the “narrative” compiled from “eyewitnesses and ministers” of “the things [we] have been taught” concerning the man named Jesus.