We have come to the end of Luke’s gospel account. He ends his letter by telling Theophilus of Jesus’ parting moments on earth. Jesus is headed home to His Father. But before He leaves He blesses them one last time.
It has been 40 days since Jesus rose from the dead. Luke does not tell us that here in his narration but in Acts 1, which he also wrote to Theophilus through the Holy Spirit. This will be His final visit with His disciples here on earth.
In between Jesus arriving in the locked room, in our last story, to Him being taken up into Heaven, in today’s story, He has visited His disciples several times in various places. Once was on the beach after they finished fishing and once was on a mountain in Galilee. Each time He gave them a little more understanding of His teaching. Each time He showed them that He loved them and prepared them for their next mission.
This visit marks the end and the beginning. This visit will be unforgettable. This visit will also leave His disciples with a longing in their hearts.
Jesus brings His disciples to a place near Bethany. He knows what is about to happen but He doesn’t warn any of them. I can imagine the praise and worship service going on that day. John tells us that they asked Him if it was time now to set up His Kingdom in Jerusalem. They were still expecting Him to do something in their “here and now.” He told them that it wasn’t for them to know when He would set up His Kingdom, only the Father knows. Then He gives them their marching orders. They are first to go back to Jerusalem and wait. Wait for God to fulfill His promise of sending them a Helper; His Holy Spirit. They are to remain together. After they receive this gift from God, they are to begin sharing their eyewitness testimony of Jesus. Of His message, of His death and resurrection, and of the reason He made that ultimate sacrifice; forgiveness for sin. They are to teach in His name. They are to heal the sick. They are to bind up the broken hearted. They are to free the oppressed. And they are to offer salvation to the world, starting in Jerusalem and moving out from there.
Before embarking on their tasks, Jesus prays a blessing over them one last time. They begin to worship Him. And then He rises into Heaven right in front of them. There is no doubt as to where He is. At the end of each previous appearance of Jesus following His ascension, there was the “what now” question in the minds and hearts of His disciples. The time before Jesus met the small group of disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Peter had felt lost. He didn’t know what to do next, so he went fishing. Not this time. Jesus has told them exactly what He wants them to devote the rest of their lives to; being His witnesses. We will get to see later how the “leather meats the road.”
Lord Jesus, thank You for giving them final instructions. Thank You that You didn’t leave them hanging and wondering what to do with all they had learned. You told them exactly how to employ what You had given them over the years. You also took time out to minister one last time to each of them. Did You pray specifically for each of them, mentioning specifically the difficulties they would each face? You knew what was ahead for them, but did You let them in on it? During some of Your time with them You did, but did they receive it any better than they received Your pre-crucifixion pronouncements of Your death? Whatever You prayed over them that day, it gave them the courage and faith to move into the new calling You placed on their lives. But they didn’t walk into their future perfectly. They still stumbled at times. But they were now sure of their calling and their purpose.
For so many years I have wondered “what I’m going to be when I grow up.” I have searched for my place in the world, seemingly forever. Today, just now, I feel You have told me my place. My place is to be Your witness. THIS is where You want me to be. I don’t know how that works out in day to day life, but I trust You to work that out. THIS is the platform You put in front of me. THANK YOU for trusting me with it. I pray I share only what You share with me. Thank You for growing me during this process too.
You also call me to share in my everyday life by loving on those You bring into my life. My husband. My children. My grandchildren. And ALL those You place in my path. Please help me have ears to hear when You speak to me about MY shortcomings in this area. Please make my heart open to Your promptings for where You want me to show a bit extra of You love to someone. Give me boldness when I need it, and humility at all times. Thank You for loving me and teaching me what REAL love does. Real love loves regardless of what it receives back. There is a WHOLE lesson in that that I need to learn!