TRANSFORMED DISCIPLES, NOW CONFIDENT OF JESUS’ RESURRECTION AND WITNESSES TO HIS ASCENSION, REJOICE AS THEY AWAIT THE HOLY SPIRIT TO EMPOWER THEIR TESTIMONY
Jesus presents Himself as “The Truth.” We have seen in the Gospel of John the effectiveness of His Witness to Himself. Ultimately, He must provide the verification of His person and of the reality of His resurrection. He can point to His physical wounds suffered on the cross; but more importantly to all of the OT Messianic prophecies that predict the entire scope of His ministry – including His suffering, death, resurrection and future kingdom.
He has the authority to commission His disciples to proclaim the saving gospel message to the world of repentance from sins and faith in Him alone. His final triumph over sin and Satan is made permanent by His ascension back to the right hand of Almighty God. His disciples have now been transformed from the state of being weak and doubting and confused to now being strong and united and joyful as they await the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower them on their mission of testifying to God’s offer of forgiveness of sins – an offer that will first be extended in Jerusalem, but will quickly spread throughout the world.
I. (:36-47) VERIFICATION OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
A. (:36-43) Physical Evidence
1. (:36-37) Verification Via Personal Appearance
a. (:36) Sudden Appearance
“And while they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst.”
Donald Miller: In order to ensure that the post-Resurrection appearances were real, and not merely the subjective experience of a few impressionistic people, Jesus made himself known to the whole group, including the Eleven and the others who were with them.
b. (:37) Scared Reaction
“But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit.”
Fear is the natural reaction to experiencing and seeing the supernatural (as we see in every angelic appearance); here Christ has appeared without walking through the door
2. (:38-40) Verification Via Viewing His Wounds and Touching His Body of Flesh and Bones
a. (:38) Dealing with Doubts
“And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?’”
Jesus wants to bring peace and clarity where there is fear and confusion
b. (:39) Dispelling Misconceptions
1) See My Wounds
“See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself;”
2). See by Touching
“touch Me and see,”
3) See My Flesh and Bones
“for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
c. (:40) Displaying His Wounds
“And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.”
3. (:41-43) Verification Via Eating a Meal
“And while they still could not believe it for joy and were marveling,
He said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’
And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish;
and He took it and ate it before them.”
Donald Miller: the whole person now is not just a spirit traveling around in a body, but is both body and spirit fused into a unity so perfect that each belongs to the other and neither is complete without the other, so in the life to come we shall be both spirit and body, with resurrection bodies like unto that of Jesus, spiritual, glorious, imperishable (1 Cor. 15:42-50; 1 John 3:2).
Guzik: There were several times previous to this when joy hindered faith, in the sense of something being too good to be true.
In Genesis 45:25-26, Jacob could not believe that Joseph was alive because the news seemed to be too good.
In Job 9:16, Job said that if God would have answered him he would not have believed it.
In Psalm 126:1 it seemed too good to be true that God turned again Israel’s captivity.
When Peter was set free from prison in Acts 12, the church didn’t believe it (Acts 12:13-14).
B. (:44-47) Exegetical Evidence from OT Messianic Prophecy
1. (:44) Significance of Fulfillment of Messianic Prophecy
“Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’”
Donald Miller: Thus, the purpose of God laid down in the Old Testament, its fulfillment in Jesus, and its proclamation by the Church, are all parts of one grand whole, no part of which can be rightly understood apart from the others.
Morris: The solemn division of Scripture into the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms (the three divisions of the Hebrew Bible) indicates that there is no part of Scripture that does not bear its witness to Jesus. This incidentally appears to be the only place in the New Testament where this threefold division is explicitly mentioned.
Steven Cole: The word “must” is the same Greek word that we found in Lu 24:7 and Lu 24:26, pointing to the necessity of God’s sovereign plan being fulfilled. Luke wants us to know that the death of Jesus was not an accident, nor ultimately the result of sinful men getting the upper hand. It was God’s sovereign purpose, in fulfillment of many Old Testament Scriptures.”
2. (:45) Supernatural Divine Illumination
“Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,”
Geldenhuys: It is about time for Luke to bring his Gospel to a conclusion, as it is not exceptionally long for a papyrus writing. In addition, he had already decided to write a sequel to his Gospel (the Book of Acts), in which he would give further particulars of the time between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. So in the concluding verses of his Gospel he gives only an extremely succinct account of what happened further.
3. (:46) Scope of the OT Prophecies Included Both His Crucifixion and Resurrection
“and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day;’”
4. (:47) Spreading the Gospel Message to All the Nations
“and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
II. (:48-49) GREAT COMMISSION MANDATE
A. (:48) Testify to What You Have Witnessed
“You are witnesses of these things.”
Jonathan Romig: So the fact that Jesus appeared to his eleven disciples and they were willing to leave the safety of locked doors and go out and suffer and die for Jesus tells us what they saw was real. Jesus did rise from the dead.
B. (:49a) Anticipate the Gracious Promise of the Indwelling Holy Spirit
“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you;”
C. (:49b) Wait for the Empowerment of the Holy Spirit
“but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Morris: The disciples are not to attempt the task of evangelism with their own meagre resources, but are to await the coming of the Spirit. The equipment He would provide is picturesquely described in terms of the disciples being clothed with power from on high. The note of power is significant, and on high reminded them (and reminds u) of the source of all real power for evangelism.
Geldenhuys: Only the living Christ Himself was able to conquer the fear, perplexity and doubt of His disciples and to prepare them to enter the world as preachers of the glad tidings.
III. (:50-51) FINAL BLESSING AND ASCENSION
A. (:50) Final Blessing
“And He led them out as far as Bethany,
and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.”
B. (:51) Departure via Ascension
“And it came about that while He was blessing them,
He parted from them.”
Morris: the ascension differs radically from Jesus’ vanishing from the sight of the disciples at Emmaus (24:31) and similar happenings. There is an air of finality about it. It is the decisive close of one chapter and the beginning of another. It is the consummation of Christ’s earthly work, the indication to His followers that His mission is accomplished, His work among them come to a decisive end. They can expect to see Him in the old way no more.
(:52-53) EPILOGUE –RESPONSE OF THE DISCIPLES
A. (:52) Great Joy While Waiting in Jerusalem
“And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy,”
Geldenhuys: So grand and mighty was the revelation of His divine Sonship in His majestic ascension, that the disciples spontaneously worshipped Him as Lord and King. To His disciples His ascension in divine gory was the final proof that He was truly the Christ, the Son of God, and that He as the Almighty was able to fulfil His promises. . . Ineradicable joy, irresistible longing to glorify God, and deep gratitude – this was the characteristic of the lives of the first Christians (although they also had their human frailties).
B. (:53) Grateful Worship in the Temple in Jerusalem
“and were continually in the temple, praising God.”