Short Meditations on the Ascension: 1. Equipping
Lk 24:45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures
Ascension Day came and went. Let’s think about it. The last verses of Luke chapter 24 seem to suggest Luke wanted to quickly summarize the closing time of Jesus with his disciples. Perhaps this is why he picks up and more fully details what happened after the resurrection in Acts 1. Years later John would fill in some of the gaps in detail, but for Luke, in his Gospel, he is winding up the story of Jesus’ time on earth. Perhaps at this point he had no thought about the follow-on to be written as ‘Acts’. So here he records the key features, the important details to be held on to after the Master had gone. Each thing thus becomes very significant, which is why we are doing these studies.
Jesus has come to the disciples behind closed doors and shown himself to them (v.36-43) and then sought to put their minds at rest by explaining that everything that had happened had been in accord with the divine plan found in parts of what we call the Old Testament – summed up as “the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (v.44) Those were the parts that revealed him.
And then we have this simple verse: Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” The Message version delightfully puts it, “He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way.” Nice one!
Note this, before he left them he equipped them with understanding. When he came to write Acts, Luke describes the time up in Galilee which perhaps fits in between v.44 & 45 here. There in Acts he summed up the weeks of teaching as, “and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3c) We’ll see that teaching in some more detail in the verses that are to follow here in the next studies.
Now what takes place is highly significant. They have been with Jesus for three years and heard all his teaching about the kingdom, and we have lots of it in the Gospels. Now it is different, now the whole thing has to be viewed through the experiences they have recently been through with him – his death and resurrection (as we’ll see). Now everything he says has a new feel to it, now they are hearing from the risen Redeemer of the world, the risen Savior, the one who is clearly Lord over death. In this context, in this new environment, Jesus spells out to them the basics of the kingdom so that they will understand and be reassured and enabled to face the days, weeks, months and years ahead. Disciples – us – need understanding of who Jesus is, what he has achieved and who he has made us to be. Only with that understanding can we face the world boldly. Are we ready?