Exploring the Scripture
Today’s passage is part of the longer account in Luke 24 that includes the empty tomb and the encounter of two disciples with Christ on the road to Emmaus. These stories are in harmony with Luke’s entire message that Jesus has come to bring restoration to Israel. In other words, Jesus’ mission is fulfilling God’s promise.
Specifically, the text encompasses Christ’s appearance in Jerusalem and includes Christ’s blessing and his ascension. Consistent with author’s purpose, verses 44–53 provide continuity between the past and present, then move toward the future. In verse 44 Jesus refers the disciples to the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms. Jesus stresses this link with the past. God was involved from the beginning. God is faithful and engaged in history.
People in modern cultures have a tendency to discount the past. But it is important to recognize that tradition and history have much to contribute. The Holy Spirit has encountered many who have gone before us. We are not the first to be blessed by God. We would do well to listen to their stories and testimonies about their encounters with the Divine.
In verse 45 Jesus opens their minds. In the following verses the disciples witness where God is moving at their particular moment in history. He describes divine events they witnessed. It is a reality for them. They know it as truth. Now, Christ has their attention. He challenges them to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sin to all.
As disciples, we, too, need to be aware of where God is moving today. When we allow God’s grace to enter our lives, transformation occurs. When we worship, pray, study, hear the Word, and share in the sacraments, God appears and blesses. We are called to share that good news with the world.
Then, in the text, Jesus brings the future into the story. Jesus tells the disciples he is sending what God has promised. He directs them to stay in Jerusalem until they have power from on high. The power they will receive is not theirs. Rather, it is God’s power. It is a gift. This power will come from the Divine. Because they are to wait for it, they have a heightened sense of expectancy and excitement. Something is going to happen. How will the power be revealed?
In verses 50–53, Jesus leads his followers to Bethany and blesses them before he ascends. The Greek word the author uses for bless means “to speak well of.” So, in this text Jesus speaks well of them and praises them. He is asking God to help them gain peace, well-being, and wholeness. We, too, receive Christ’s blessing. As disciples, we are called to share that blessing with others. There are many among us who need blessing. We are to “speak well of” them and ask God’s Spirit to give them peace and wholeness.
In the text, after being blessed, the disciples worship Jesus. They return to Jerusalem with great joy and continually “speak well of” God (vv. 52–53). Our families, congregations, and faith community should also be continually full of joy and praise. Today we speak “well of God” because of our experience that God’s unbounded love and unconditional grace embraces all.
- Jesus came to fulfill everything written about him in the Law of Moses, the prophets, and in the psalms.
- The power we receive is from It is a divine gift to be used for God’s purposes. It is not power to use for our own benefit.
- We are called to be witnesses—proclaimers of repentance and forgiveness of sins—to all nations. Christ’s mission is our mission.
Questions to Consider
- How do the traditions of your congregation reflect God’s presence? (past)
- When has your “mind been opened to scripture”? (present)
- Have you ever felt expectant to receive from God? (future)
- What are some ways you and your congregation witness of and proclaim the Risen Christ?
- How would you explain the ascension of Jesus to a new disciple?