A marvelous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat. (St. Athanasius)
Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. He said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. Look, I’m sending to you what my Father promised, but you are to stay in the city until you have been furnished with heavenly power.” (Luke 24:44-49; context)
Day eight of ten of our celebration of the Resurrection and our last day with Luke’s account of the Gospel. The verses above are the hinges that link the Gospel according to Luke with the Acts of the Apostles, which is Luke’s sequel. (This gets confusing when looking at the way the Bible is laid out because John interrupts Luke’s story.)
Notice here that Jesus links the past with the future through his words. He reminds the disciples that he let them know what would happen way back before any of it went down. But they didn’t understand then, so he makes sure they understand now. In the Gospel’s version of the Vulcan mindmeld,* Jesus opens their minds to all the stuff about him (just as he had down with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus).
Then he gives them a charge to preach forgiveness to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem. He echoes this charge at the beginning of Acts (since the last chapter of Luke and first chapter of Acts overlap). This charge happens in the present.
Then he moves to the future: “Look, I’m sending to you what my Father promised, but you are to stay in the city until you have been furnished with heavenly power.” With these words, Jesus lets them know that the Holy Spirit is coming to empower their lives – but not until after Jesus ascends to heaven.
With this passage, Luke links his two books, which are really just one long story. There’s the past, the present, and the future. And then there’s us – followers of Jesus spiritually descended from those first followers. We, too, are Jesus’ witnesses. We, too, have the “heavenly power” within us. We, too, are called to preach forgiveness and reconciliation. So let’s get out there and go.
Dear God, your Son gave us a mission and the power to fulfill it. Help me to live everyday of my life with your call pulling my heart where you would lead. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, rejoicing that you raised your Son from the dead and showed me that nothing in all of creation can separate me from your love.
* Mindmeld. Sorry, non-Trek fans for throwing that bit of vocab at you.