Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,  and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,  and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (ESV)
As I prepared for this past Sunday’s message on Witnessing as a characteristic of our congregation, I thought about Like 24:44-49 multiple times. These verses contain Luke’s version of Jesus’s final words to his disciples before he ascended into Heaven. Several things in these verses stick out to me.
First, Luke 24:45 says, “Then he (Jesus) opened their (the disciples) minds to understand the Scriptures.” Jesus had to open the minds of the disciples before they could understand that the Scriptures were all about him. Think about that for a moment.
You and I often ask why the disciples didn’t understand what Jesus’s teaching meant nor what he had come to do. He was so clear, we say. But this verse tells us that their minds were closed to the real meaning of Jesus’s life, death, resurrection and mission. It had to be revealed to them and their minds had to be opened. This is why you and I understand it more clearly than they did. Our minds have been opened by the Holy Spirit. It’s also why so many people we know and love, some of whom are incredibly intelligent, don’t get it. Their minds are closed by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4) and must be opened before they will ever come to know Christ and trust in him. We must pray for them.
Next, verses 46-48 teach us that the gospel of Jesus centers on his death and resurrection and demands faith in him and repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Faith and repentance are the only acceptable responses to God’s grace and love for us in the death and the resurrection of Jesus. Nothing else will please God. He only accepts our faith and repentance.
Finally, verse 48 says that the disciples were to be witnesses of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as well as the blessed forgiveness that came to them through faith and repentance. Jesus assumed that they would testify to the gospel. Plain and simple. The same is true for us. There’s no other appropriate way for us to live if we’ve been transformed by grace. There is no biblical understanding of a Christian who does not publicly witness to the resurrection of Christ and the joy of being forgiven of our sins through faith and repentance. We are witnesses for Jesus by definition. It’s that simple.
The questions really are: 1. Are we being faithful to our DNA as Christians by witnessing to the glory of our God? and, 2. Do our lives present a good witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ or a bad one?
Let’s pray for one another as we seek to be good witnesses for Christ. Let’s also pray that our God will be pleased to open the eyes of our loved ones so that they will see him as he is and repent from their sins while trusting Christ.