Scripture: Luke 24: 35 – 48
The mind has to open to understand the scripture. The Bible informs us that the disciples spent time communing with Jesus, appreciating Jesus, and learning from Him. They did not quite understand the mission of Jesus nor did they fully understand their mission until after the resurrection and His ghostlike appearance.
They had watched Him die, saw Him buried in a tomb, then heard His body was missing. And suddenly, He was appearing in front of them, in the evening and it was not a figment of their imagination. But the disciples were not quite sure as they acknowledged His consoling greeting, “Peace be with you.”
Undoubtedly, some of the followers were disturbed by the type of greeting that for some, were sorrowful, afraid, and guilty for abandoning Him. Others felt let down themselves because Jesus failed to take over Jerusalem as they had envisioned. But His words, His sound, His spirit was a consoling spirit.
Jesus had not come quarreling, arguing, or lambasting them for abandoning Him nor for letting Him down. He came in peace, speaking peace, saying, “Peace be unto you,” consoling and encouraging; not laying blame, guilt, or shame. Just, “Peace be unto you.”
A lesson for us who care to learn how NOT to enter a sensitive situation – do not enter quarreling, indicting, or accusing. Come in peace! (But that’s another message for another day.)
Jesus showed a calming spirit amid a storm and was now calming the spirit of startled disciples as they “stood in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder.” Jesus says, “Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see it is really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” (NLT)
Jesus went further by eating food. He ate – they watched, though His body was not yet restored. And scripture writes, “The disciples stood in disbelief but filled with joy and wonder.”
Just like us, if Jesus suddenly appeared in front of us today, we would be startled at His presence, hesitant about touching Him, but filled with joy and wonder at seeing Him and eager to show Him our missionary side. We would be happy we got to see Him, thrilled at having a little talk with Him and overjoyed at giving Him praise and worship, but eager to show Him our missionary side and hide our other side.
In 40 days, Jesus opened their minds to everything written about Him, from the Law of Moses to the prophets, to the psalms. In 40 days, He opened their minds to understand the scriptures. In 40 days, they were to understand that the entire Old Testament was descriptive of the Messiah.
In 40 days, they were to understand that the role of Jesus as Prophet was written in Deuteronomy 18: 15 – 20; His sufferings were preached in Psalm 22, and Isaiah 53; His resurrection preached in Psalm 16: 9 – 11. In 40 days, they were to understand why they were His disciples and to rid themselves of their limited, distorted perspective of God’s will and purpose!
Is 40 days enough time to limit our distorted perspective of God’s will and purpose in our lives? In 40 days can our minds be open enough to understand the scripture. In 40 days can we recognize our purpose for being saved? The disciples learned in 40 days after the resurrection and five visitations on the day He rose (just what was required of them.)
They learned why God had chosen them! They learned to accept their mission and it was for no one else but them! They learned to be witnesses that Jesus was the Messiah, witnesses that Jesus lived, died, but rose from the dead, witnesses to preach the gospel in His Name, witness that all who call on the name of the Lord can be saved!
The foundation for the historical trustworthiness of the gospel is witnesses – eyewitness ministers of the Word of God! Blood-bought Christians are witnesses! Healed witnesses are witnesses!
Witnesses of His grace and mercy! Witnesses of His “peace that passeth all understanding!” Witnesses that “wherever two or three are gathered in His name there He may be also.” Witnesses “All things are possible with God.” Witnesses the Lord, the Lord, “The Lord will make a way, somehow!” Witnesses with testimonies of “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
The mind has to open for understanding the scripture. Witnesses have witness responsibilities. Who did I witness to today about Jesus and His saving grace? Who did I minister to today “about the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living?” Who is better off today after an interaction with my Christian behavior?
Be wary of the heavenly check-off list checking off our do’s and didn’t, as witnesses! Did I forgive my adversary, today or keep stirring stuff up? Check. Did I love my neighbor as I love myself or refuse to let go? Check.
Did I come to start a fight or find a way to dialog? Check. Did I come with a prayer or come calling names? Check. Am I on the battlefield for my Lord or the enemy? Check. Do I have reasons for fighting for Jesus or excuses why I am not? Check.
I learned an impactful prayer from Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Lord forgive us, “we have done those things we should not have done and left undone those things we should have done.” Can we begin to do the things we should have done and not the things we should not have done? Check.
The mind has to open for understanding the scripture. Lord, may I keep my mind open to understand the scripture.
The Rev. Dr. Michael Eagle, Sr. is the pastor of Grant AME Church in Long Beach.