Breaking the Silence: The Gospels
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, announcing the coming of Jesus the Messiah—Israel’s promised savior—it had been four hundred years since the people of Israel had received a prophecy from God. They waited not knowing when he would come, surely wondering if he would come at all. So when Gabriel, echoing the words of the prophet Malachi, declared that in a few months’ time Zechariah would have a son and that his son would be the one to prepare the way for Messiah, it was almost more than Zachariah’s faith could handle (Luke 1:17; cf. Malachi 4:6). After all, he was an old man, and his wife was barren (Luke 1:18). It seemed impossible. But as the Gospels teach us, “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37 cf. Matthew 19:26).
The Gospels continue the story recorded in the Old Testament. Every book, from Genesis to Malachi, foreshadowed the coming of God’s Messiah. In the Gospels, we finally get to meet him in Jesus. And this is the good news the Gospels proclaim, that God loved the world—humanity and all of creation—so deeply that he sent his Son to rescue us and set right every broken thing in this world.
From his birth, to his life, his teachings, his death, and finally to his resurrection, the Gospels bear witness to a God who is gracious and merciful, who is slow to anger and whose unwavering love and faithfulness has no end. He is true to his promises, and the good news—the best news—is that, because of Jesus, we can have a relationship with him.
God’s Continuing Saga: Acts
But it doesn’t stop there. Where the Gospels show us what happened when God stepped into our world, the book of Acts gives us a front row seat to experience what happens when people transformed by Jesus are empowered by the Holy Spirit. It may be helpful as we study the New Testament to think of Acts as a bridge between the Gospels and the letters. It’s in Acts where we see the apostles— who we first meet in the Gospels—be transformed into teachers and leaders. And it’s in Acts where we see, for the very first time, the Holy Spirit take up permanent residence in the lives of believers.
Up until this point, God’s Holy Spirit only came to believers for a time. After he completed his work he would depart (see 1 Samuel 16:14). But in Acts, everything changed. Luke tells us that when the Spirit indwelled the believers, they were compelled to go to the streets and preach the good news about Jesus. Because it was Pentecost, Jerusalem was filled with people from every nation. As the disciples began to preach, the people heard them, each in their own language (Acts 2:6). It is here that we see the very crux of the entire book of Acts: the birth of the church—one new, multi-ethnic community.
In the Gospels, we see God’s fulfillment of his promises to his people Israel. In the book of Acts, we come to understand that those promises were always meant to bless all the peoples of the world. We are the recipients of the work of the Spirit through the apostles. Just as the Spirit guided the believers in the first century, he guides us now in the twenty-first.