Tuesday, May 4, 2010

You Are Witnesses--Luke 24:44-53

Each gospel has contains a great commission. Most of us are probably most familiar with the one in Matthew, the last 2 verses of that gospel. In fact, the purpose of the post resurrection appearances of Jesus was to commission. He commissed the women first to go and tell. We read a few weeks ago how Jesus commissioned Peter to feed and care for His sheep. The disciples on the way to Emmaus went back to the others—going and telling. Jesus didn’t simply want to convince the apostles personally of the resurrection, but to make them witnesses of the resurrection and heralds of salvation to all the world. The news was intended to be spread from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.
Luke especially emphasizes that the resurrection is essential in establishing Jesus as Messiah. David Tiede writes, “Those who perpetrate violence and murder do not have the last word, and the reign of Jesus is established as the Kingdom of God.” This is the message we have also heard again and again in the Book of Revelation. Jesus emphasizes that His story is all throughout the Old Testament, in the Law, writings, and prophets. My professors and teachers said that Christ is on every page of Scripture if we have eyes to see. The early church father, Irenaeus of Lyons, said the same thing, “If any one, therefore, reads the Scriptures with attention, he will find in them an account of Christ, and a foreshadowing of the new calling.” That new calling is our life in Christ. The disciples can now finally see and understand what Jesus had been telling them all along. They have been given eyes to see. They have been given, as the apostle Paul says, the mind of Christ. We too can understand Scripture with the mind of Christ.
What did the Scriptures say about Messiah? It was essential that Messiah suffer and rise from the dead. Isaiah 53 is an example of where Christ must suffer. We read this passage during Holy Week. It is familiarly known as the “Suffering Servant” passage. On Pentecost, Peter will preach using Psalm 16 saying that it speaks of Christ’s resurrection. In addition repentance and forgiveness of sins in the name of the Messiah is to be proclaimed to all nations. Christ’s death was necessary for us to obtain the forgiveness of sins. Isaiah 49:6 speaks of Israel as being a light to the Gentiles. The good news of Messiah was never intended to be kept just for the Jewish people. It was always intended to be for everyone. The Jews were chosen to live and carry the message, and now we are too.
Just like with the preaching of John the Baptist, Jesus closely links forgiveness to repentance. Have you ever thought of repentance as a gift of grace? I’m sure everyone thinks of forgiveness as a gift. But what about repentance? Think about it. You now have the power not to sin and to turn from sin to God because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of the power of God working in you, you can choose not to sin. Since the fall, humans have not had this capability apart from Christ. Before the Fall Adam was capable of not sinning, but since the Fall, tendency toward sin is our natural inclination. Scripture describes us as being “slaves to sin.” But Jesus was incapable of sinning. But He became sin for us, so that we might not sin. We still sin, but now we can repent. It is a gift of grace that we can now choose to receive and do. Charles Spurgeon also speaks of repentance as a gift. He poetically says, “If repentance is ever obtained by the poor sinner, it must be found at the foot of the cross, and not where the ten commandments lie shivered at Sinai's base. Nature can bid you amend your ways, but it cannot renew your heart. No, you must look upward, sinner; you must look upward to him who is able to save unto the uttermost.” Calvin says, “The effectual preaching of repentance thus results in a true self-knowledge of our guilt and depravity, together with an apprehension of our need of regeneration (the impartation of spiritual life to those who are spiritually dead), and “The effectual preaching of forgiveness of sins thus results in a true knowledge of God’s justification (in place of our guilt), in freely declaring us righteous in Christ; and of God’s sanctification (in place of our depravity) in freely imparting spiritual life to us, and sustaining that life in us, by His Spirit.” Forgiveness of sins means that on Christ’s account we are freely deemed righteous and innocent in the sight of God. As with all of God’s graces, we receive them through faith, and as with grace gifts, we are called to practice them and to use them. Repentance is to be continuously lived out. Again, Calvin says, “If we would stand in Christ, we must aim at repentance, cultivate it during our whole lives, and continue it to the last. When God offers forgiveness of sins, God in return usually stipulates for repentance, intimating that His mercy should induce men to repent.” Or as Paul says in Romans 2:4, “Do you no realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
As the disciples were witnesses, commanded to begin in Jerusalem once they had received the Holy Spirit, we too are witnesses. Again, our faith is personal but not private. If we believe, we will proclaim. If we have experienced repentance and forgiveness, we will share that good news with others. The Holy Spirit compels us. Jeremiah the prophet tried not to speak, and he said the word of God was like a fire shut up in his bones. The last principle in CR says, “Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.” Jesus had the disciples wait in Jerusalem so that they could yield themselves to God to be used to bring this Good News to others. The Holy Spirit empowers us to go where we would not have gone and do what we would not have done. We are to begin in Jerusalem. We must live the gospel, believing Jesus suffered, died, and rose again so that we might repent and receive forgiveness of sins. We are to live a life of repentance and forgiveness, and we are to witness to the world that these things are true and available to them in Christ Jesus.


Blogger Pastor Parato said...

The original document is footnoted. If you would like references, let me know, and I will post. I don't want it to be said that I plaigarized!

May 4, 2010 at 5:04 AM


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