Year A, B, C
Season of Easter
Ascension of the Lord
May 26, 2022
Read the passage at the bottom of this post: Luke 24:44-53, The Message or Luke 24:44-53, The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
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Considering the performance of the disciples up to this point in the story, we can be eternally thankful to God that as his third to final act, Jesus-now-resurrected:
opened their minds to understand the scriptures.
However, Jesus-who-died-on-the-cross-and-has-been-raised has not come back simply to take up his old job.
Jesus-now-resurrected once again patiently explains "my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you." And then, in effect Jesus-now-resurrected says to them, "Over to you."
"Repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed." Over to you. Proclaim these things, don't merely "teach" them. Declare them. Announce them. Make them actual. Over to you.
You are the called-into-court-sworn-witnesses of these things. Get ready to testify to the truth and nothing but the truth. Over to you.
But then Jesus-now-resurrected seems to remember the motley crew he is addressing.
And so we can also be eternally grateful to God, for Jesus-now-resurrected's next to final act:
I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.
And in his final act, Jesus-now-resurrected blesses them.
And as if to emphasize that this blessing of his disciples has not been finished - is still on-going - Luke tells us that:
While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.
Might it not be that even in heaven Jesus-now-resurrected is still blessing his disciples?
Well, those disciples did what Jesus asked. They returned to Jerusalem and waited.
And then, shakily at first, they did what Jesus-now-resurrected had asked them to do: Proclaim and Witness. And that is how the Greek word for "witness" has come to be known and used as an English word - martyr.
Over to you.
Note: Historical background information in this post is drawn primarily from Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, pages 323-324; and the writings of Amy-Jill Levine, et. al. See link below.
Luke 24:44-53 (NRSV)
44 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, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53 and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Luke 24:44-53 (The Message)
44 Then he said, "Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled."
45 He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. 46 He said, "You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, 47 and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! 48 You're the first to hear and see it. You're the witnesses. 49 What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you're equipped with power from on high."
50 He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, 51 and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.
52 And they were on their knees, worshiping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. 53 They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.
Scripture quotations from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce J. Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
+ Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Annotated New Testament, The Bible With and Without Jesus, Short Stories by Jesus, Entering the Passion of Jesus, and others.