We were originally going to pick up illustration from the 2002 publication “To the Ends of the Earth”. (Copyright 2002 by Purposeful Design) But as this project developed it became clear that the art style was far more hard and aggressive than the light cartoony style of that previous work.
Acts 1:3, 7-8, 10-11
“To these (Jesus) also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of things concerning the kingdom of God.” “(Jesus) said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” “And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He (Jesus) was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the skies? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’”
Joel 2:28, 29 (Acts 2: 17, 18)
“It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”
Acts: “To the Ends of the Earth”, is a major transition from one section of this pictorial series to the next.
Christ’s presence changes from His physical incarnation in the bodily form of Jesus. His presence would now be evident in His Spirit that comes to indwell the disciples and those who come after them.
The Disciples change. They are no longer a rag-tag band of students. They are now Apostles who have their own mission. They are to tell what they have seen and known of Jesus to everyone; starting in Jerusalem and working outwards.
The word “Act” is a great word!!! The apostles have witnessed the “actions of Jesus, and now they are experiencing the “action” and will of the Spirit as it indwells them. Then comes a choice; the apostles must choose to “act” too! The Spirit can prompt and prod but only you can put your foot forward and start going.
I think this becomes evident in the testing and searching of the apostles. Do they accept Saul, who once hunted them and then claims to preach Jesus? When the work load becomes too much, how do they deal with it? What these first ones do impact the next generation and that generation impacts the next, etc.
The Gospel recordings are, in effect the fulfillment of the book we’re discussing now. The Saints wrote down what they remembered of Jesus. I read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and believe what they said and embraced Christ. For these first ones, the Great Commission is fulfilled when I changed my mind and said, “Jesus is Lord.” Now the Commission is passed to me, and I have to listen to the Spirit and find my way to pass the Good News on as well. Shall it be through acts of mercy in the community? –Generosity? –Teaching? –Service? Such things bear witness to the person of Jesus too. Maybe it will be telling the Good News as those ancients did.
Pity that I dislike writing so much! Maybe I’ll draw a picture or something! –Humor me, if I can’t make fun of myself what’s left?!!)
About the Picture
The illustration begins at the top by introducing a symbolic theme; Spirit Wind. It swirls behind the disciples. I imagine the blowing wind and the changes it brings; fragrances, weather, whatever it can carry in the direction that it’s going. I think of the changes the Spirit Wind brings to the inner person and how it manifests itself in the outer person.
Pentecost: the birth of the Church. In from of the Spirit wind is a collection of silhouettes. They are the joined community of Christ, God’s new people. They are represented further by the three leads in the center. John is on the left and we saw him as a net bearer back in Mark. His arms are outstretched and his mouth is speaking to the people. His actions are outward to the earth/community. He is preaching and ministering. Perhaps this is the first “act” of the Spirit; that the average bystander would have witnessed in the streets of Jerusalem after the Apostles burst from that upper room. Peter is in the center with his body outstretched in an open act of praise and worship. Perhaps this was the first “act” of Spirit when indwelling the saints. All of Peter’s attention is God-focused and heavenward. He looks up with love and hope, for it is here in this book that Peter and his friends grasp that Jesus will return again through the sky. This theme will continue through the series and gather strength and intensity as the New Testament Story unfolds. Mary, and yes, I was imagining the Lord’s mother, is in the inner world. Her posture is humble and tender. She speaks softly, treasuring the Spirit in her heart and deriving peace and comfort from that Presence. The sword has pierced her heart through the sufferings of her Son. She has survived to see her own salvation and walk in the company of the Rescued.
Now the image breaks in two. The people fade into the sunlight that reveals the arc of the sea, and the planet. Viewed one way you see the shore leading to the sea and the horizon. Viewed another way and you see the major continents on either side of the page. This suggests Good News to all peoples and nations’ baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How? I went with first century transportation (feet, beast of burden and boat) as I wanted to introduce Paul. He is a major catalyst for spreading the Gospel wild fire over the Roman Empire. Paul is leading a group of dispersed saints heading to who-knows-where. They look for new homes and new communities. They bring the Word with them. Note the scrolls; you’ll see those again too! Paul is talking to Luke, the author of Acts, as they walk around. It’s nice to show the good Greek doctor.
The three ships just show the scope of what those early folk did. With no engines, phones or computers the story of Jesus infiltrated the near East, parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Despite history and all misunderstandings, mistakes and honestly, atrocities that have been done, the Good News is still being told. Say what you will, but two thousand years later, and oceans away from where Jerusalem lay, a little English speaking woman hears, believes and is now telling you…as the Spirit moves her.