The Gospel of Luke was Jesus's story. Acts belongs to his apostles, right? Kind of. Even though Jesus is busy sitting at the right hand of the Father for most of the tale, he's still ever-present in the lives of his followers. You just can't shake this guy.
Jesus makes a quick appearance in the beginning of Acts. He's just risen from the dead (exhausting) and he decides to hang out with the apostles for forty days. Of course, Luke only tells us a few tid bits about this time:
Yup. That's forty days worth of knowledge right there. After Jesus lays all that wisdom on the apostles, he's lifted up and a cloud takes him up into Heaven. Ever heard the old saying, "He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father"? Well, you can thank Acts for that.
So, that's the end for Jesus? Peace out, Lord!
Not quite. Jesus is pretty much the reason for every little thing everyone does in the story. The disciples are willing to travel far and wide and risk imprisonment, beatings, and even death just for the chance to convince some folks that Jesus is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Why? We already know why thanks to Luke's Gospel. Jesus is the Messiah (9:22). The Son of God (9:20). The Chosen One. The Big Cheese.
Everyone keeps retelling his story—especially the part about how he died and rose again. This story illustrates the disciples's main point about Jesus. He is "the stone that was rejected by […] the builders [but] has become the cornerstone" (4:11). He came to shake things up. Through Jesus, God showed the world what real power was. Maybe that's why hardly any of the folks in Acts who are in positions of power decide to believe in Jesus. Go figure.
But Jesus isn't just some rando off the street who invented a whole new way of looking at God. No way. Acts is very clear that every little thing about Jesus has said and done has already been foretold in Jewish scripture. Jesus is the continuation of thousands of years of Jewish tradition and history. He's the Messiah that the Jewish people have been promised. In short, he's kosher awesomesauce.
The bummer part is that lots of Jewish people aren't jumping on the Jesus bandwagon. Though the disciples try to argue that Moses, David, Samuel, and all those super important Jewish prophets were actually talking about Jesus when they wrote the Bible (2:25-36, 18:28, 28:23), not everyone is convinced enough to toss aside their thousands-year-old beliefs based on this. Weird, right?
Jesus is great. But just how great is he? Well, even the mention of his name is enough to get stuff done:
It's clear from all this that Jesus is still with his followers even though he's moved onto bigger and better (and more heavenly) things. They can just invoke his name and he's got their back. The guy is solid.
Jesus also makes a couple post-ascension appearances to his followers. Stephen sees him sitting up in Heaven right before he's about to die (7:55). Impressive. Jesus speaks to Paul personally (9:5). Oh—and he even sends Ananias to heal Paul (9:17). That's thoughtful.
So even though Jesus has left the building, he's still very much a player in this story.