Joyful witnesses: Devotional Commentary for April 18-24
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
48"You are witnesses of these things.
49"And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
In last week's meditation, we observed how Jesus, the risen Lord, revived Cleopas and his friend out of their down-and-out attitude of despondency. He brought them around from doubt to faith and from deep agitation of the soul to a renewed spirit of courage and confidence. As soon as they were assured by the certainty of Jesus' Resurrection, they returned to Jerusalem and encouraged their brethren. They shared their experiences with the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, and Jesus confirmed their testimonies by His unannounced appearances.
Jesus then commissioned the entire assembly of His disciples to be His witnesses. He charged them to testify what they saw and heard. He qualified, empowered, and authorized them to proclaim the Truth to the nations in His Name. He appointed them to serve Him in His Authority.
However, Jesus instructed them to remain in Jerusalem in solitude until His Father sends them the promised Holy Spirit, because flesh and blood cannot accomplish God's Will and Purpose in God's Way. So, Jesus pronounced the Power of the Spirit upon them and blessed them to receive the Holy Spirit. He helped them understand that it was necessary for Him to return to His Father in heaven so that the Holy Spirit would come to them in His place as promised, and accomplish God's Will and Purpose in and through them.
50And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.
51While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
Having assured His disciples that He is indeed risen, Jesus called them out of seclusion and took them to the Mount of Olives near Bethany for one last moment of glorious fellowship. It was a special place. The occasion was glorious. Jesus and His disciples spent the last precious moments of their fellowship on earth together, before Jesus returned to His Father in heaven. Jesus took this solemn occasion and pronounced His blessings on His disciples. He raised His hands to His Father and prayed that God would pour out His Favor on them.
As they shared this unique and unparalleled moment, the disciples witnessed an even more magnificent aspect of His deity. As Jesus was blessing them, He began to rise from the ground and ascend into the sky above them. Luke’s sequel to his Gospel narrative tells us that the clouds received Jesus out of sight into heaven, as the disciples gazed into the sky.
52And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
53and were continually in the temple praising God.
Once utterly dismayed at what seemed to be the end of all their dreams, Jesus’ disciples now returned to Jerusalem rejoicing, even though their Lord had just left and gone up to heaven. They returned to Jerusalem after worshipping Jesus at the place of His departure, celebrating the victory of His Resurrection. They were encouraged by the sure hope of His return.
Even though they were once again physically separated from their Lord and Savior, the disciples now rejoiced at Jesus’ return to His Father because divine enlightenment had opened their understanding. Instead of being depressed, the disciples began to spend their days in the Temple worshipping God and communing with Him daily. Their sorrow turned into utmost joy; Joy unspeakable!
Doubt and disbelief were now resolved by godly understanding and transcending Truth; enduring Truth. The life of fear and uncertainty gave way to a life of courage, confidence, joy, and continual worship. No longer did the disciples live in the confines of their doubts; but they rested in the assurance of the Resurrection. They understood and believed that Christ shall return, and all His children shall live with Him forever in eternal Life.
Finally, Jesus’ earthly mission and His sojourn with His disciples came to its planned glorious end. Unlike the anonymity of His humble and miraculous virgin birth, His ascension was majestic and spectacular. However, until Jesus Himself opened their understanding, the disciples struggled to comprehend the mystery and the significance of Jesus' Suffering, Death, and Resurrection. They were stifled by doubt, consuming fear, devastating sorrow, denial, and unbelief.
Even though Jesus fully informed them about His forthcoming Suffering and Resurrection before any of it actually happened; even though the whole event unfolded right before their eyes; even though they were familiar with the prophecies and the Psalms which spoke about the coming of the suffering Messiah; even though they physically beheld the risen Jesus and saw Him with their own eyes; the disciples could not make any sense out of the Life and the Suffering of their Lord Jesus:
- He was born in Purity and in Humility.
- He lived in Modesty and in Righteousness.
- He taught with Wisdom and with Authority.
- He healed with loving Care.
- He ministered with deep Compassion.
- He suffered willingly and submissively.
- He laid down His Life willingly at the hands of His enemies.
- He obeyed His Father even to death on the Cross.
- He was driven to Calvary quietly as a lamb to the slaughterhouse.
- He rose from the dead.
- He ascended to His Father.
- He shall return to complete the work that He began.
The disciples were ultimately delivered from the bondage of doubt and fear by what Jesus did in their hearts when He opened their understanding. They finally knew the Truth and the Truth set them free.
As the redeemed of God who know Jesus Christ and believe in Him, our own hope and confidence rest in the Son of God Who saved us with His Righteousness, Suffering, Crucifixion, Death, and His Resurrection. We will still struggle with doubts. Our capacity to know everything will fall short of perfect discernment and comprehension. But our wisdom is Christ. We shall not be undermined by the pitfalls of our inadequacies.
Yes! Christ is our wisdom. Christ is our knowledge. Christ is our confidence. Christ is our life. He has overcome everything on our behalf. Be of good cheer!