18 May 2016

Luke 24:44-53

“Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 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, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (vv. 45-47)

Psalm: Psalm 139


Luke, like many good authors, uses the literary tool of foreshadowing in verse 49 as Jesus commands his disciples to remain in the city until they are clothed with power from on high. It is almost like an old cliffhanger film or a television programme where we must wait until the next episode to see what will happen.

Although the disciples are to wait for the descent of power - perhaps meaning empowerment or authority, Jesus has already equipped them for the work of proclamation. In verses 44-45 he helps them recall his teaching so that they will understand him as the fulfilment of the Messianic prophesies of the law, the prophets, and the Psalms. The biblical texts of the Jewish tradition, what Christians will later call the Old Testament, are grouped under these three headings; therefore, Luke's Gospel is indicating that Jesus trained his disciples in the study and interpretation of the whole of Scripture. He opens their minds, presumably by teaching and conversing with them, so that they will understand the significance of Jesus' death and resurrection. Furthermore, Jesus highlights that repentance and forgiveness of sins form the heart of the message those who believe in him will carry to the whole world.

The act of equipping the disciples with understanding of the Scriptures and pointing out the key message they should represent to the world is critical. The Spirit will bring power, gifts, and authority to energise the disciples in the mission for which Jesus has already prepared them.

To Ponder

  • What do words like repentance and forgiveness mean in your life and spiritual journey?
  • In a time when fewer people are biblically literate and only a small percentage of the population has any relationship with the Church, by what means can Christians represent the message of reconciliation through Christ?


Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Cindy Wesley

Cindy Wesley is the director of studies at Wesley House in Cambridge. She is responsible for the life of the chapel and for advising students about their courses and modules.