I have a box under my desk where I throw all my cords. If I get anything that has a cord, I throw the cord into this box. Somehow, these cords have transformed themselves into a very large ball. It is a major hassle to untangle them.
Have you ever had something get tangled up, with no apparent hope of seeing it straightened out again? The disciples did. Before Jesus was crucified, they believed that the Messiah of Israel would come and establish His kingdom, and they would rule and reign with Him. There was no doubt in their minds that Jesus was the Messiah. But when He was crucified, it seemed like a colossal blunder.
But it wasn't. It was part of God's plan, and when Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, He untangled the whole situation. The disciples' night had turned into day. What seemed like an ending was now a beginning. We find in Luke 24 three "openings," or three ways in which Jesus untangled the disciples’ once tangled-up world. The Greek word used in this passage for "opened" means "to thoroughly open up," or "to disentangle."
First, Jesus opened the Scriptures (verse 27). He opened the Scriptures to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and took them to all of the passages that pointed to the fact that He would be the Messiah.
Second, He opened their eyes (verse 31). He helped them to see that He was indeed the risen Lord. During the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension, Jesus constantly appeared and then vanished again. Why? I think Jesus was getting His followers accustomed to the fact that even when He was not physically visible to their eyes, He was still present and available spiritually. I believe that was the reason He would appear and disappear. He was showing them that it would not be like it was before.
He essentially was telling His disciples, "I am going to leave you. I am going to ascend to heaven. There at the right hand of God, I will intercede for you day and night. Besides that, I will live inside of you. This is a new covenant that has been established, a whole new relationship. It is a new and living way that has been made available for you through My death and resurrection."
Third, He opened their understanding (verse 45). For the first time, the disciples realized that this had been the plan all along. They understood that the Scriptures had predicted the Messiah would first suffer, and later would come and rule in glory on earth. Until that day, He wanted to rule in the hearts of men and women who had surrendered their lives to Him.
The disciples had the great privilege of being witnesses of all that Jesus had done (Luke 24:48). But in addition to being witnesses, Jesus told them to go and "make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:19-20).
We call these words of Jesus "The Great Commission." It was not only given to the apostles, or to pastors, teachers, or evangelists. It also was given to every single follower of Jesus, then and now. It was given to you and to me.
The Great Commission requires hard work. It can be awkward and uncomfortable. But Jesus won't ask His followers to do something that He hasn't given them the strength to do. He told the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for a power beyond themselves that would enable them to do what He had asked them to (Acts 1:4-8). It arrived on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them, giving them a boldness they had not known before.
The day finally came for Jesus to ascend into heaven. Luke tells us, "Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy" (Luke 24:51-52).
The Father's promise, the Son's plans, and the Holy Spirit's power united in making these unlearned disciples the most invincible weapons ever to be held by the hand of God. They worshiped Him. They witnessed for Him. They would wait for Him until He returned. We should do the same.
What does Esther have in common with Rahab? Or Ruth with Tamar? They seem like diametrically opposed personalities. Shannon Bream gives insightful answers to those questions in her new book. We will mail you a copy when you make a donation of any amount to Harvest Ministries today!