A number of years ago, we had the privilege of living and serving God in Jerusalem for a few months. What a faith-enriching experience it was to walk where Jesus walked and to see what we read in the Gospel accounts of Jesus come to life as we spent time in Galilee, in Nazareth, at the Mount of Olives, in Gethsemane and in many other places where Jesus said and did miraculous things.
The highlight of our time there was being at Jesus’ tomb—it really is empty! We tried to imagine what it was like, and the shock it was, for the women and the disciples in the days after Jesus’ death when, in their grief and disappointment they tried to understand all that had happened. Such a blessing it was for us to experience resurrection joy because, “He is not here, He is risen.”
This is where we join Luke, in chapter 24, as he finishes off this gospel, and what an amazing ending it is! There is so much jam-packed into this last chapter confirming who Jesus is, the hope we have as His followers, and the Good News we have to proclaim to all the nations.
Luke shares the account of Jesus’ resurrection (which is so foundational to our faith because of the certainty and hope it gives us), then goes on to tell us about Jesus’ final appearances to the disciples and finally of Jesus’ commission to His followers as witnesses to share the Good News of the gospel.
I love the story of Jesus’ appearing on the road to Emmaus to these bewildered believers as they struggled to comprehend the events of the previous few days. In the midst of their sadness, unanswered questions, doubt and despair, “Jesus himself approached and began to accompany them” (Luke 24:15).
What comfort this is for us to know that in our trials and sorrows, in the times we cannot understand what God is doing, when all hope seems lost, Jesus walks with us.
If this is the reminder you need today, take heart. Whatever you are facing, God sees and knows and cares. We have the assurance of the presence of our powerful, compassionate Savior walking with us, listening to our doubts and fears, speaking peace to our troubled hearts, and pointing us to the promises in His Word.
In Jesus’ last meeting with the disciples, He strengthened their faith by pointing out how He had already told them that centuries of prophecy had been fulfilled in Him—by His birth, life, sufferings, death, and resurrection. Imagine being there with them, realizing how all that Jesus had said had come true, but still not really grasping it all.
Is this not the same for us today? How wonderful then, that just as Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scripture and see how it is all about Him, we, too, have His Holy Spirit as our teacher, to open our eyes and illuminate our minds, pointing us to Jesus as we read His Word.
Will you join me in taking a moment now to thank God for the ministry and mission of Love God Greatly and the blessing it is to be able to study the Scriptures together, to get to know more of Jesus through His Word, so we can grow in faith and become better equipped as witnesses to reach others for Christ?
Let’s take careful note of Jesus’ final exhortation to the disciples, for His commission is the same for us today:
“And he said to them, “Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”’ – Luke 24:46–48
Notice how we have come full circle from the beginning of Luke’s Gospel when we were introduced to John the Baptist, whose mission was to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This is the message we, too, have to share.
It is vital that we understand the importance of Jesus’ instruction here. Our calling is to share what may not be popular in our culture today—the problem of sin and the need to repent. The temptation can be to focus only on the love of God for the person we are reaching out to, and although that is absolutely true, we must not side-step or water down the truth of the gospel. We are lost sinners in need of a Savior. His death paid the price for sin so we can come to the cross, repent, and receive full forgiveness. By His resurrection we can know the guarantee of eternal life for all who believe and trust in His name.
Jesus calls each of us to be His witnesses, “beginning from Jerusalem”—that means we are to start right where we are by reaching out to family and friends and those in our school, workplace, or neighborhood. Be encouraged that we do not do this in our own might—God equips us by His Spirit as He “clothes us with power from on high,” and He walks with us wherever He calls us to go.
We are unconditionally loved, redeemed, cleansed and forgiven.
We have a Father who is full of compassion and is able to do more than we could ever imagine.
We have a risen Savior who loved us and gave Himself for us, who intercedes for us and will one day return to take His people to be with Him forever.
We have the hope of heaven and the assurance of eternal life.
We have the presence and power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us.
We have the Word of God to teach us and transform us to be more like Jesus.
This is Good News!
Who will you share it with today?
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