Thursday, April 09, 2015

Eyewitnesses of His Majesty: From Reluctant to Revolutionary Witnesses!

Jesus trained his disciples for nearly three years; at his resurrection their training was almost over and he would send them into the world to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all nations. It is interesting that on the evening of resurrection Sunday two disciples make the first gospel presentation concerning the risen Jesus and the person they share this information with is, of all people, Jesus!

            In their conversation with Jesus, whom they did not recognize, they presented the facts as they knew them. “Jesus of Nazareth, was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” (Luke 24:19-24 NIV) They were sad and not a little confused by the events of the weekend. Their message was one of despair – “we had hoped…” – and uncertainty – “they did not see Jesus.”

            Jesus was, understandably, not impressed with their attempt to witness! He shared with them the things that Scripture said about the Messiah, particularly about the suffering of the Messiah. Then he broke bread with them. Notice this account: When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32 NIV) Their eyes were finally opened and they saw the risen Christ. Immediately they returned to Jerusalem to witness to the other disciples – without the despair and uncertainty!

            So how did the disciples move from being reluctant witnesses to being revolutionary witnesses? They all experienced the risen Christ. While Jesus tried to prepare them for his death and resurrection, it still took them by surprise! But once they saw Jesus raised from the dead, they were forever changed. They finally understood Scripture concerning the Messiah. When Jesus explained what the Scripture had to say about himself, they got the message and they could share it with others. They participated in the breaking of bread. The remembrance of Jesus through communion and the recognition of Christ in the lives of their brothers and sisters in faith kept them close to the heart of Jesus. They received the power of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were understandably upset when Jesus talked with them about “going away” but Jesus assured them, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” In the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus came to his disciples and their lives and witness were changed forever. Even their opponents would claim, “They have been with Jesus!” Is your life telling the amazing story of the Christ who conquered death and brings new life?

- Kenny Payne   

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