Then Jesus 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.”
50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. – Luke 24:44-53
It was a long game and Diane, our friends and I weren’t seeing any signs that the team was going to come back from their deficit. It was the bottom of the 9th. We were behind by two runs. We decided to head home. On the way to our car – after we were completely out of the stadium – there came a roar from the crowd. And then a larger one. “I wonder what we missed,?” I asked. We turned on the radio to discover that after a couple of hits, our team had scored a walk-off three-run homer. We left too soon to see our team win.
When do you give up? Do you stick it out until the very last minute? Do you leave the game early? Do you lose heart? The promises of God have been around for some time. And we’re not just talking hours, weeks, months, years, or even just decades. We’re talking centuries, millenia. From the first promise to Adam and Eve in the garden (cf. Genesis 3:15), to the last prophet of the Old Testament (Malachi), God had promised to redeem his people. He had pledged to send the Messiah. He had vowed that his word would be fulfilled.
Some gave up. Some didn’t see Jesus for who he was. Even some of his disciples had given up on the hope they had placed in Jesus when they saw him die. Their dreams were dashed. They didn’t think he was worth waiting for.
Thank God he was willing to wait for them. Thank God he is far more patient than we are. Thank God that his grace moves him to wait a long, long time. And so when Jesus comes to those who had given up on him, he brings a greeting of peace.
But he does more than just that. He uses this moment to teach them a lesson. “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,” he reminds them. This is not new news. He had said it before. He had told them this was going to have happened. Now he teaches them – again – about his suffering and death and his resurrection.
But there’s more here. He is reminding them of the absolutely trustworthy nature of God’s word. “Thus it is written…” We don’t have only a verbal promise – good as that would be from God. We have the written word. We can refer to it again and again. And the purpose is not just to give us something to argue about. It’s not just so we can prove our point because the Bible says so. It is so we can be clear and assured of God’s promises.
We give up too easily. We lose sight of God’s promises. We acquiesce too quickly to the discouragement and distractions of the world. Better we lean into what God has promised. Read it, mark, learn, and meditate upon it. There we’ll learn not only of God’s promises – which are sure to come true – but of God’s goodness, grace, justice, faithfulness, and patience. He hasn’t given up on us. Let’s recommit ourselves to clinging to his promises and keep our hopes alive in him.