April 16, 2017 | David Crosby
Passage: Luke 24:36-49
Too Confused to Have Peace:
"Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost." — Luke 26:37.
Jesus introduces his presence with “Peace be with you” because the disciples are about to jump out of their skin.
- They think they have seen a ghost! This is terrifying to them because ghosts are supposedly the visible spirits of the dead. They suppose that Jesus is an apparition, a ghoul, a spirit.
Too Good to Be True:
"They still did not believe it because of joy and amazement." — Luke 26:41.
The disciples still think of the resurrection as “Fake Good News.” There has to be another explanation. It cannot simply be that God has raised Jesus from the dead. Something else is happening. So the news “He is risen!” is understood in some symbolic context. He is risen, but his body is still in a grave somewhere undergoing decay.
So many people turn the resurrection into fake good news. That is, Jesus has conquered death, but not really. He is alive, but his body is still somewhere in the ground because dead men don’t rise.
Jesus speaks peace to them. He wants them to settle down, to rest in him. He wants their panic to subside. He wants them to think clearly at this moment.
Jesus presents himself for their examination. He invites them to touch him and to see that he is not a ghost. This is very important for Jesus and for his disciples.
They will be met with scoffing and unbelief and ridicule. They will be told by the enemies of Christ that they saw a ghost if anything at all.
Jesus is giving them evidence that he is truly alive, that his body has been raised to new life.
God was doing the same thing by leaving the grave open and the stone rolled away. The stone did not have to be rolled away for Jesus to get out of that grave. He could go through walls in his resurrected body. The stone was rolled away and the grave opened so that Peter and John could run into it, look at the linen lying there folded in a place by itself, see the wrappings, and believe that resurrection had indeed happened.
The resurrection was visible, touchable for the first eyewitnesses--for the women and the disciples. Many people saw Jesus after his resurrection.
- But this did not do away with the need for faith.
- Even the eyewitnesses had to “confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead.”
- Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Too Closed-Minded to Understand:
"Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." — Luke 26:45.
This is a very important word that Luke shares with us. We need to hear and understand it.
- They had studied the Bible all their lives. They could quote passages of the Torah.
- They had been with Jesus for three years of seminary education in which they heard him teach the Old Testament texts: the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.
- Yet the Scriptures had never really opened up to them. They were still on first base in understanding what God was up to in the world.
They needed to read and see the entire revelation of God through this new reality--the death and resurrection of Jesus.
- I am sure they had some lens through which to read their bibles. It may have been the primacy of Abraham and the Old Covenant.
- But they had to start at the beginning with Jesus dead and raised again. They need to read Genesis and Exodus with this new information.
They needed to reinterpret what they had learned, and change their approach to the Scriptures.
- God’s Promised One was far greater than anything they had supposed or speculated. No one had postulated that God himself would appear among them.
- The Promised One addressed the deepest need of all humans—their need for forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
- The Promised One would suffer and die in order to accomplish these things, Jesus told them. And it is all there in the Old Testament, in their bible.
- Three days later he would rise from the grave.
Too Weak to Witness:
"You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” — Luke 26:48-49.
The call to be witnesses of the resurrection.
- We have these four Gospels, all of which spend much time on the last week of Jesus’ life.
- Each of these is their attempt to share what is beyond our experience—the resurrection of a dead man.
Our human weakness in the task of witnessing.
- Our faith is so weak.
- Our knowledge is so flimsy. We think we may have to explain the resurrection, which no one can explain. We think we may have to defend the notion of the empty tomb. We are ill-equipped, we feel, to witness.
- Our motivation is weak. We secretly are hoping that our witness has nothing to do with anyone’s salvation, that God will save whomever he wills whether we obey or not.
Surely some of these thoughts were going through Peter’s head as he said “Woman, I don’t know him.”
We cannot do this without the Spirit. The necessity of God’s presence is absolute.
- In addition to peace, faith, and understanding, we simply need the Holy Spirit.
- We cannot do this job in our own strength or in our own intellect or giftedness.
- Even the eyewitnesses could not bear witness on their own strength.
- The Holy Spirit is the living presence of Jesus within them and among them—and within us and among us.
God told them to wait “until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 22:57).