|"Jesus appears to His disciples" - Alexandre Bida|
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Acts 1:1-11
TO CHEW ON: "…to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Acts 1:3
How I would love to have been present in the room with the disciples during Jesus' post-resurrection teaching sessions!
Matthew describes the disciples meeting with Jesus on the mountain in Galilee. He left them with the assignment we call the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
Mark describes Jesus meeting the eleven disciples for a meal when he rebuked them for not believing the word of previous eye-witnesses. Mark ends His gospel with another version of the Jesus' Great Commission - Mark 16:15-18.
Luke's gospel has the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus where Jesus says to the two (after they have told Him their tale of grief over Jesus' death and disappointment over dashed hopes that He would have redeemed Israel): "'O foolish ones … Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?'" And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them an all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" - Luke 24:25-27.
When these same two disciples hurried back to Jerusalem to tell the others, Jesus appeared among them and again ended up teaching: "He opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures" - Luke 24:45.
And here in Acts, author Luke talks of Jesus "speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."
Even so, some didn't get it. For they ask, "'Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?'" Jesus' answer gently turns their attention away from immediate national concerns to the next step. It's not your business to know what God has planned, he tells them, but you will receive Holy Spirit power to witness to Me everywhere (Acts 1:7,8).
Jesus' teaching does eventually sink in. I know of no record in the New Testament or tradition that tells of any of the eleven disciples defecting from faith because the political scene didn't change.Their protegé Paul, who wrote many of the New Testament books, was clear on the place of Jesus in the continuum of God's plan and explained it explicitly. So it's obvious that these disciples came to understand what Jesus was talking about. Still, it would have been wonderful to hear Jesus explain it firsthand.
The challenge to us is, do we believe the rich body of evidence we have? Do we take advantage of the many resources that help us coordinate the Jesus of history with the Jesus of prophecy? Do we understand our place in history? Or would Jesus' rebuke of some His disciples of having hard, unbelieving hearts, way too often fit us?
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your rich word—the story of Your plan to save humankind from sin. Help me to understand it, believe it, and myself become part of the story of the kingdom of God. Amen.
MORE: Ascension Day
Today the church celebrates the ascension of Christ into heaven. The Ascension Day liturgy begins with this collect:
Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.