Luke 24:44-49 (NIV)
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 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.”
The disciples had calmed down enough that Jesus was able to help them start to understand some of what was going on. They shock of seeing Him alive was starting to fade, and in its place was a sense of awe at what they were experiencing.
But Jesus wasn’t going to waste a lot of time on niceties and chitchat. Luke actually compresses the teachings that Jesus gave to His followers over the 40-day span between His resurrection and His ascension into heaven (Acts 11:3) into the last ten verses of his gospel, hitting all of the high points, and leaving the details to be illustrated by the lives and the sermons of the post-Pentecost apostles as shown in the book of Acts.
The first point Jesus made is that the events of the past several days were not happenstance. Instead, they were all part of the divine plan progressively revealed clear back in Genesis (beginning with verse 3:15), extending through the prophets, and even laced throughout the poetry of the Psalms. And the plan was still working itself out; it wasn’t completed by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Over every encounter that Jesus had with the disicples during the 40-day span before His departure, He retaught them what the Scriptures revealed of God’s plan. The sacrifice of the Messiah for sins and His resurrection were the central points to which everything prior pointed, and from which everything after derived its direction and meaning. The outflow of this plan would come when the walls of the Israelite people of God would be kicked out, making room for an expansion of God’s kingdom into all people groups (Revelation 7:9). This expansion of the kingdom through the message of repentance and forgiveness would start in Jerusalem, and then expand throughout Judea and Samaria, and from there to the ends of the world (Acts 1:8), becoming a mighty mountain that would grow to fill the whole earth (Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45a).
The disciples would be the ones through whom the message would go out and spread; they would be the initiators, the spark that would catch and spread far beyond the places that they themselves could go. But before they could accomplish that, they would have to be set on fire themselves. Excitement and joy would not be enough to see them through the challenges that they would face. So, God would be providing them divine power to move them forward. It would come to them in Jerusalem, and it would come soon.
Father, sometimes it is hard for us “New Testament Christians” to remember that there is no change of direction, no break in theology or philosophy between the Old Testament and the New. It is one story straight through. The New Testament is merely the ultimate revelation of who you are, the ultimate accomplishment of Your plan to redeem rebellious mankind that was set in motion during the first days of humanity’s existence. Every sermon that the disciples preached, and every letter that they wrote was chock-full of Scripture, Old Testament Scripture, and indeed, those are the Scriptures that Jesus opened the minds of the His followers to understand. Help us, as your people, to receive ALL that You have revealed to us of Your person and Your plan, so that we can help others to know about You as well. Amen.