36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.
44 Then he 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 of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
(Luke 24:36–49 ESV)
This passage draws the gospel of Luke to a close and begins the transition to Luke’s second volume, the Acts of the Apostles. It begins with the disciples gathered around a fire eating fish. Once a fisherman, always a fisherman, I guess. At this point Jesus appeared among them in order to verify that God had indeed raised him from the dead. He had real flesh and bones. He got hungry, and he ate fish. In other words, he was not some disembodied spirit. This was the same Jesus they walked with for years.
What were the disciples to make of all this? They knew Jesus. They walked with him for what was likely about three years. They laughed with him. They heard him argue with Jewish leaders. They listened to him teach and saw him perform miracles. But they also knew he was brutally put to death by the Romans. And now he’s alive? How could this be?
Jesus reassured them. According to the Old Testament, his death and resurrection had been part of God’s plan all along. And God’s plan was coming to fruition. Jesus really is alive!
The message of repentance and forgiveness must be proclaimed to all nations. This good news could not be kept to themselves or to their fellow Jews. God intended its impact to resound to all the peoples of the world.
And God had chosen them to be the first proclaimers of this message. They saw what God had done through Jesus from the beginning until the present. They knew it better than anyone else. They must give witness to the nations of what God had done.
Jesus placed one qualification on them. The disciples must wait until Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on them. Only then could they do what God had appointed them to do. After all, getting the good news to the nations would be God’s business. The disciples had been invited to take part in what God was doing. The Holy Spirit would empower them to get it done.
All of these developments in the plan of God hinged on the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead. If Jesus remained in the grave for his body to rot away like any other human that would prove he had been a great teacher and nothing more. His claim to be the Son of God would have been mistaken. The work of God would have ceased at that point. Paul says it this way, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17 ESV).
But God did in fact raise him from the dead. In the next stage of this story (Acts 1), Jesus would return to God’s right hand where he would reign as Lord. From there he would pour out his Holy Spirit on the disciples and the next stage of God’s mission to the nations would begin.
Questions for Reflection
- Has God done anything in your life that you can tell others about?
- Can you ask God to empower you to do so?
Jesus sums up the entire biblical message as follows: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27 NRSV). But what does that love look like where we live? Where we work? With the people we do life with everyday?
In answer to such questions, Jim Miller draws practical lessons from Luke’s Gospel in order to help us live a life modeled after the example of Jesus Christ. This involves his pattern of prayer, relating to others, establishing holy priorities, and a host of day-to-day issues that together establish what Jesus himself called the abundant life. Get the Bible study from our store here.