Dear Church Family,
The two passages we will read this Sunday help us to parallel another appearance of the risen Christ with the experiences of the early church in the book of Acts. What we read about Jesus doing in Luke 24, we then see the disciples (mainly Peter) living out in Acts 3.
So, what happens? Well, in the Luke text, Jesus appears to his friends which seems to startle them somewhat. He then invites them to touch his wounds, share some food before he explains the scriptures to them before sending them out in His name. In other words, the end of Jesus' ministry is the beginning of the disciple’s ministry. To understand this better, it is helpful for us to remember what Jesus did at the very start of his ministry. In Luke 3, we read about John the Baptist preaching and baptising people as a way of offering “repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. This verse is repeated in our Gospel passage (Luke 24 v47). We have come full circle – it’s time for the disciples to take on the mantle Jesus offers. We can find that missional charge in Luke 4, where Jesus comes out of the wilderness and reads the passage from Isaiah in the temple:
“The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me because he has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release for the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” Luke 4 v18-19
At the time people were probably wondering what on earth Jesus was talking about but in the light of the resurrection it is now very clear – and Jesus has explained it to those who will carry on “bringing good news to the poor.” His message is to repent and believe.
In Acts 3, Peter has just healed and man and then begins to challenge the crowd as they wonder what has just happened. He reminds them that he cannot do this in his own power – it has been done through Jesus! It is a chance to repent. Peter then explains the scriptures and shows those listening how they point to Jesus as the Christ. He uses Old Testament imagery and references, even linking Jesus to the very name of God, “I Am.” He is offering a chance to think again – to believe through faith in Jesus.
In Luke 24, Jesus appears to his disciples and calls them out of their locked room – he calls them out into mission – into action. He calls them to repent & believe. They can do this because they finally understand who Jesus is. Peter makes this clear as he preaches to the people in the temple in Acts 3 just a few weeks later. The difference between the group of doubters in the locked room and the same group who are healing people and declaring their faith in Jesus is the power of the Holy Spirit, breathed onto the disciples by Christ himself.
How might we allow ourselves some time to come to Christ this week? Where might we need to change our thinking or even our actions? How might we repent and believe (again)?
Christian Aid Week