I mentioned at the beginning of Luke’s description of the Last Supper that he approaches these events in a way that leaves out many details that are recorded in the other gospels, but that in doing so he makes certain themes very clear without having to sift through a lot of detail. Never is this approach clearer than in this last passage of the book; it reads almost like a highlight reel of the risen Christ’s interactions with the disciples. Yet in doing so, Luke has brought the most important theological elements together so that his readers can “get” the gist of what is happening, and how it ties in with the Acts narrative.
His scene is the house where the Eleven are staying in Jerusalem with an undisclosed number of other followers. The two men who encountered Jesus on the Emmaus road have returned and told their story when suddenly Jesus is present in their midst: “Peace be with you.” They are terrified thinking they are seeing a ghost.
“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (24:38-39)
After this, seeking to solidify the impression that He is indeed real and not a ghost or spirit of some kind, He asks if there’s anything to eat, and they serve Him a fish dinner. He gets to the important part:
“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.”
“This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. 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.” (24:44, 46-49)
Here it is: Jesus reminding the disciples/apostles of what He had taught them, and then tying together His ministry and theirs which was about to begin. I am confident in telling you here that this passage from Jesus’ own lips is why Luke only gives us a “highlight reel” account of the post crucifixion story. You see dear reader, if we can understand this connection between the gospel story and the Acts story, then we can also see our parts in the overall narrative, for we as the Body of Christ, are the successors to the disciples and the early church ministry.
I have left out one verse, verse 45. In that verse Luke adds that Jesus caused their minds to be opened so that they could comprehend everything Jesus was telling them. I can’t help but note that Luke had never told us that anyone had “closed” their minds; did you notice such a statement anywhere along the way?
No, of course not.
The problem that the disciples, along with most other people at the time had encountered was that they had closed their own minds because they thought they knew what should happen, and when God had other ideas, they refused to accept them.
After this, Jesus led them out of town in the direction of Bethany. He stopped to bless them, and while doing so He was lifted up to heaven. They worshipped Him and returned in joy to Jerusalem where they praised God and awaited the coming of the Spirit.
Luke would pick up the story in the book of Acts: Our study of Luke’s Gospel has concluded, and I wonder as I finish this up how many of us struggle to understand our roles in the wide and long scope of redemptive history because we think we know that God has selected us to receive His blessings, and has selected others to do His work.
I pray now that God will open our eyes to see the truth.