Luke 24 is one of the most triumphant chapters in the bible. It tells about the resurrection of Christ. It is nothing short of amazing. Even as a 21st century reader familiar with the story, Luke 24 is still an emotional whirlwind.
The chapter begins with women, hearts heavy with grief, going to the tomb of Jesus to anoint his body. They arrived to find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Two angels appeared to them asking why they sought the living among the dead. The angels reminded them that Jesus foretold his death and resurrection on the third day. Remembering Jesus’ words they went to the disciples to deliver the good news. The disciples didn’t share their excitement. They didn’t believe them at all.
Later, two of the disciple were traveling on the road to Emmaus and discussing all the recent events with heavy hearts. Jesus appeared to them and joined the conversation while hiding his identity. The relayed to him all the recent happenings in Jerusalem. Jesus’ response is classic: “O foolish ones, slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” He then explained the scripture to them, telling him how all the scriptures about him had been fulfilled. The disciples urged him to stay with him and he did so. As they ate together that night Jesus broke the bread.When he blessed and broke it they realized that it was Jesus and he disappeared. They got up and went right back to Jerusalem to tell the eleven disciples.
While they were talking Jesus appears in the room. The see and touch him and they share some food. Jesus then opens their minds to understand the scriptures. He then charges the disciples to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to all in the name of Jesus, beginning in Jerusalem. He blessed them and was carried into heaven. From then on, the disciples worshipped and were continually in the temple blessing God.
Luke 24 tells a story of triumph but it also tells a story of unbelief. The disciples had been told what would take place and yet the did not believe. I can almost feel their grief. Then there is the wonderful news that Jesus upon seeing Jesus. They thought it was over, but everything changed the instant Jesus appeared. He had conquered death and hell. He rose! One beautiful thing about this chapter is that it doesn’t end with the news that Jesus rose from the dead. We read about his interactions with the disciples and his instructions to preach the gospel. Even better, the bible goes on to tell about the early church and how we are to live as followers of Christ. What the disciples thought was the end was only the beginning. History was forever changed and life would never be the same.
The disciples had no idea that this would happen. The didn’t believe. Unfortunately, I am often among the foolish ones — slow of heart to believe all that God has promised. I see promises in the bible but I wonder if God will really do what he says. Will he deliver me this time? I am even slow of heart to believe all that God has spoken to me personally. Why are we so reluctant to believe? The problems of life loom large and we lose sight of the promises of God. We also lose sight of the faithfulness of God.
I believe that is the real message of Easter: God is faithful. He promised from the Garden that he would redeem humanity. He foretold that he would rise from the dead, and so he did. God is faithful to do all that he says no matter how improbable. We can be forgiven and healed and empowered. We can live lives of freedom because God is faithful.
As Easter approaches, I look forward to commemorating the resurrection of Christ and celebrating the faithfulness of God.