TODAY’S READING: Luke 24; John 20–21
If the great cloud of witnesses was allowed to interrupt, I am sure that they would have erupted on the Emmaus road. The resurrected Lord, the Son of Man who will rule all nations, the crucified Messiah who just conquered death and made the way possible for all men from every nation to be redeemed is walking incognito down a dusty road when His companions ask, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which are happening there in these days?” And the only One who knew everything must have hidden His divine grin and asked, “What things?”
We were hoping Jesus was He who was going to redeem Israel (Luke 24:21). And at this the angel choirs must have burst forth: “And redeem Somalia! And Ireland! And North Korea! And Libya! And the Maori! And the Pashtun!” And the saints in glory must have laughed delightedly and burst forth exuberantly into the songs of Zion: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. Worthy are You, for You were slain and purchased men for God from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation!” How heaven must have rocked and rolled and burst at the seams for joy, while men walked the dusty trails of earth with their heads down.
Jesus did not allow the Gospels to end with our heads down. He burst forth from the grave and He lifted our eyes again to Himself and His glorious purpose. He said, “As the Father has sent Me, so send I you,” and He reathes on us and tells us to receive the Spirit (John 20:21–22). He opens our minds so that we can understand the Scriptures that “it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day…that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:45–47, emphasis added). The heavenly host must have grinned and broke out into foot stomping, singing all over again. Jesus blessed His disciples and was parted from them, taken up to heaven (Luke 24:51) to join the party. “And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:52–53).
We thus come to the end of the Gospels on this note of joy. We finally get it. Jesus has walked with us when our heads were down. He has held back the rapture of heaven while He smiles upon us, breathes His Spirit into us, and opens up our minds to understand the Scriptures: He came, He suffered, He died, and He rose that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations. This is the Bible in a sentence. Here is our explanation, our orders, our joy. Here is our purpose, our life, our suffering, our death, our resurrection, and our glory. What can we do but praise and bless God? What can we possibly do with our short little lives better than join the mission of God and then on that glorious day when the King comes back enter with the beloved from every nation into the joy of our mutual Lord!