He is Risen; He is Risen indeed! Now what?
The build-up to the Main Event was just as real 1,991 years ago as it was last week. Big cheers on the Sunday before, lots of activity during the week, a Passover Seder on Thursday that was the apparent highlight of the whole holiday… then the stuffin’ leaked out of the whole operation.
The Man who put the crowd into a celebratory frenzy just five days earlier is railroaded and convicted by Jewish and Roman authorities; a seedy criminal named Barabbas gets a humanitarian pardon while the Carpenter from Nazareth was condemned and executed with haste and malice. It was all over… or, was it?
Sunday morning’s events were the subject of yesterday’s message. Churches around the world – whether meeting live despite pandemic protocols or broadcasting through whatever channel possible – converged on recounting Easter’s profound happenings. A rolled-back stone; Roman guards sleeping on the job, angels declaring the miraculous truth that the miracle-working teacher has reversed the natural order and has emerged from death to live again, forever. Key women and men from the cohort of insiders who had been with Him for three years were reporting contact with the risen Jesus.
Over the next six weeks, the Resurrected Son of God would make selective appearances with key colleagues; after those encounters, His personal transition back to Heaven will happen. During that 40-day period, the conversations He had were not random or redundant. After three years of public ministry, critical briefings occurred that concluded His preparation of the successors who would lead the expansion of the Movement – the Church – into a global enterprise. What was left for Him to say?
This is the first of four installments, on that theme: with whom will Jesus spend time, and what does He want them to hear?
On Easter afternoon, two men from the expanded circle of Jesus’ followers were in transit from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a village seven miles away. They were Cleopas and Simon; not members of the Twelve Apostles, but part of the 72 disciples Jesus trusted with assignments (see Luke 10). After the astounding experiences the prior week, they had lots to talk about and process…
As they walked, a Man fell in with them. It was Jesus, but He was able to shield them from knowing it was Him. “He asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?’ (Luke 24:17). Their demeanor was gloomy, but they filled Him in on the headlines concerning as they perceived them. They confirmed Jesus’ status before God and the public; they recounted the miscarriage of justice from His betrayal – through His trials – to His crucifixion. They related their now-dashed hopes that He was the promised Messiah who would redeem Israel. Their hottest-news was the report of the empty tomb, but their updates ended with that open-ended factoid…
They were talking with Someone who knew the whole story: “He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27).
Jesus stayed in character until they sat down – together – for dinner that night. As soon as they figured out that it was Him, He disappeared.
These guys were in the second ring of insiders and had the current events down cold. What were they missing? They didn’t know how to connect the dots of eternal Scripture with daily headlines.
Then as now, the challenge is real: until you can connect those two sources, your value as a leader in the Kingdom will be compromised. Truth from the Bible informs current happenings.
Who is helping you to make those connections? That’s the mission of this Monday morning executive briefing: followers of Jesus need to know how to make sense out of the constantly changing cultural explosions in the light of God’s revelation of past, present and future reality.
Care to continue walking with us on this path, away from Easter and toward our common future in Heaven?