1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
Acts 1:1-3, ESV
According to Luke 1:1, many sought to provide a narrative of the life of Jesus. The penman of the book that bears his name saw himself as one of many. The penmanship of the Gospel of Luke is attributed to him because of the certainty by which it is believed he penned Acts. If he wrote Acts to Theophilus as a continuation of “the first book,” then he would be responsible for Luke as well. I don’t deny this.
Luke traveled with Paul. He was a physician (Col. 4:14) and the only Gentile penman for the New Testament. I don’t know why, but the work of Luke through divine inspiration appeals to me. There’s something about his life that appeals to me.
Despite his not having been the visible, eyewitness to Jesus that others were, he still was a man of incredible faith in Jesus. This is attested to by the prologues of the books he penned (Luke 1 and Acts 1).
Consider the certainty with which he writes Theophilus. No hesitation. No couching his words with: “I think…” or “It’s my opinion…” There is no question in his mind. “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” His is a strong affirmation, as strong an affirmation as there is without belaboring the point, of the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4) and his faith in it.
These first three verses are a strong statement, a testament of faith that echoes through 2000 years of history right to our hearts. Nothing can quench the echo; no one and no thing can stop its reverberation.
The testament of faith lies in the ability to see with the heart’s eyes (Eph. 1:18). That’s how Luke saw. I love how Peter, one who spent three years in intimate connection with Jesus, writes to those who weren’t afforded his privilege: “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8, ESV). Peter saw Jesus’ life with his physical eyes and was impacted. Others see his life through spiritual eyes and are no less impacted.
We, too, are able to stand with Luke in firm conviction. Being lost in Jesus makes it possible. I need not see him in the flesh. I need not have a vision that takes me into the 3rd heaven to believe. I believe because I sense his presence on the inside, giving me the fullness of God (Ephesians 3: 17-19), and no one can take that away.