Summary: We as modern disciples are an extension of Jesus’ ministry. We are witnesses to the same real relationship with Jesus that the disciples had. We have his power so that we can touch lives and affect eternity.
Has anyone ever told you something so outrageous or so unbelievable that you thought you couldn’t believe it unless you saw it for yourselves? Have you ever seen anything that was so unbelievable that it was scary? If so, then you can understand how the disciples felt after they saw the risen Jesus in the reading we just heard from Luke 24:36-48.
The disciples did not immediately believe after seeing the resurrected Christ. They felt great joy, but the truth had not created faith in their hearts. Perhaps it still seemed too good to be true. This detail alone should quash any thought that the disciples desired so much to see Jesus alive that they made themselves believe. In fact, even when they saw, doubts arose in their hearts. They needed to see that being with Jesus was a metaphor for being with God. He signaled the coming of the Reign of God.
How many of us have been in a similar place? We might have been in a place of disappointment or hardship. Jesus was there with us, but we didn’t see him because our thoughts were on our situation. We might even wonder in the disciples needed consoling so much that their imaginations played tricks on them. Jesus helped them to see that God can bring new life after death.
Luke wants to make it clear to us that our real, physical world is so valuable that God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, our Risen Saviour. He came to heal our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs. He continually meets us in this world, especially as we gather around the word of God.
The apostles were the first witnesses, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, all believers are the custodians of the truth. God poured out his Holy Spirit on us at Pentecost. That Spirit is a present power in our lives. We are being healed, transformed, liberated and sent on missions because of the supernatural God living in and among us by his Spirit.
What do you think would have happened if Jesus had not made his presence known when he did? Perhaps the disciples would have gone back to whatever their lives were before Jesus called them. Jesus stood among them. He reminded them that his coming was for peace. He invited them to see for themselves that it was him in the flesh and not a ghost. He told them to stay put and wait for the power that was to come.
This passage emphasizes the reality of Jesus’ resurrected body and the need for Jesus’ death and resurrection to fulfill God’s plan for salvation. In Jewish folklore, the spirits of the dead appear to mortals only to engage in evil activities. When Jesus suddenly appeared to the small group of disciples, it was a frightening supernatural event.
Jesus spent time with his disciples, summarizing his ministry, especially the Old Testament prophecies. He prepared them to continue his work after he returned to heaven. He laid out exactly what their message after he left earth should be about. He gave them the courage to speak publicly on a street corner in Jerusalem at Pentecost, and that speech led thousands of Jews into the Christian faith in a very public baptism as written in Acts 2. The disciples had the mission and power to change the world.