Jesus 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.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 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.”
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. – Luke 24:44-53
At physical therapy today one of the nurses encouraged me saying, “Only about a minute and a half.” Knowing that the end of the current physical challenge (some call it physical torture, or physical terrorism, but I won’t go that far) is in sight made the difference for me. I powered through those last 90 seconds. But boy was I relieved when it was over! What a cruel thing it would be, however, if he had only been egging me on, and that “a minute and a half” actually meant nothing at all, or if he was talking to someone else.
Jesus is promising something far more important than the time remaining in a challenging PT time, and he is speaking to all believers. This is no joke, no false hope, nor is it intended for someone else. His word and promise is three fold.
First he is reminding us that God’s word can be trusted. When God said, in the beginning, “Let there be light,” there was light. When God speaks it will come to be. God had spoken about Christ. Whatever was promised about him in the whole of the Old Testament must take place. God’s word can be trusted. See a promise? Believe it. Hear a call to repent? Repent and believe. Read a word of encouragement? Trust the One who spoke it. God’s word can be trusted.
Second we learn that what Jesus did really matters. What he did mattered to the people of his day there in Jerusalem. It matters down through the ages, for beginning from Jerusalem the message of forgiveness of sins through his name has been proclaimed. You and I are the beneficiaries of Jesus’ ministry and the forgiveness of sins he has won for us and all believers.
We also discover here that the gifts of God are carried along to us and brought to us by the Holy Spirit who Jesus promised would be sent. Those to whom the Holy Spirit comes are clothed with power from on high. We have a strength that goes beyond human endurance or physical strength.
These truths are simple though profound. And we can be certain of them because God has said so.
It is noteworthy to me, also, that while the disciples are relishing the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, and continually praising God in the temple this is not the final word on their actions and activities following Jesus’ ascension. Luke ends his gospel account here. But he takes up again with the actions of the disciples in the book of Acts. There will be persecutions, difficulties, controversies, and amazing stories of God’s power and good news at work in the lives of many people – all of whom were no longer in the temple.
The temple is a good place to rejoice, praise God, and reflect on the truth of his word. But the work of the kingdom will inevitably take us from those beautiful places into a wild and challenging world. As we go, we can rely on the promises of his word, the power of the Holy Spirit, and rule and reign of Christ on high.