Reading for Thursday, April 5: Luke 24
The final chapter in Luke’s Gospel begins at early dawn: a new day, a new week, a new reality breaking into human history. As the sun rises, the Son rises, the dark cloud of Friday dissipating in Sunday’s glorious dawning. When we arrive to the scene, the stone is already rolled away, a declaration that God has already been here. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” the angels ask (v5). With the resurrected Christ loose in the world, any other attempts to find salvation are tantamount to sifting through the graveyard for signs of life.
Luke reminds us again of the importance of the women who were a part of Jesus’ ministry: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James are mentioned by name and they become the evangelists to the apostles, the first to share the Good News with the Eleven. But even this testimony fails to convince the disciples fully. V11: “But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.”
The scene shifts beyond Jerusalem to the Emmaus road. But although the location has changed, the temperament does not. These disciples are still confused, troubled, hopeless. Jesus comes alongside of them as they walk, “but they were kept from recognizing him,” (v16). But Jesus winks at us off stage and we’re in on the ruse. These disciples say, “We had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel.” Loss of hope clouds our vision, keeps us from seeing Jesus. They also express amazement over the testimony of the women, but a better translation may be “astounded” (KJV). Paul uses the same word in 2 Cor. 5.13 when he says “If we are out of our mind, it is for God…”. The disciples are perplexed by the testimony of the ladies concerning Jesus. How can a dead man live? How can a crucified one become Messiah? These are confounding questions, clouding the vision of these disciples from the reality before them.
It is only in the breaking of bread and the expression of prayer that Jesus is fully witnessed by these disciples. At table, Jesus is fully revealed. And then…POOF. The disciples must pinch themselves before asking, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (v32). And they respond in faith, trekking back to Jerusalem in pitch black darkness, only this time revived by the illuminating hope of the Gospel: He is Risen!
And this message will spread like wildfire, burning within the hearts of many in Luke’s second volume, which we will begin tomorrow: the Acts of the Apostles.