Before departing, Jesus explains the divine plan.
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
– Luke 24:44–49
He opened their minds to understand the events that had taken place in light of all that had been spoken through the prophets from ages past. He explained that for the forgiveness of sins, it was necessary that He suffer death and rise again.And He spoke of the Kingdom of God, saying that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him. Now the time had come for Jesus to go to the Father, and prepare a place in heaven for all those who love Him. Jesus promised His followers that soon the Spirit of God would come and empower them to share His truth and love and forgiveness with the whole world. After saying this, Jesus left them and ascended into the clouds.
– The HOPE, Chapter 11
Observe & Consider
When we sense that time may be short we often choose our words more carefully. For this reason, final words are likely to be more important, even life-changing words. In the brief time after His resurrection and before His ascending to heaven, Jesus spent precious time with His followers. During that time, He explained:
- What had happened to Him – Jesus explained that His death and resurrection were all part of the plan that had been foretold in God’s Word. It was necessary that He die for the forgiveness of sin.
- What would happen next to them – On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples that He would go to the Father to prepare a place for them in heaven (John 14:2-3). But He also promised to send another, One from the Father whom He called the Helper (John 14:16-20). As the time for Jesus’ departure drew near, Jesus reiterated the promise He made to His disciples: to send this One who is in fact the Spirit of God and who is known in the Bible as the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17, Acts 3:3; Acts 4:31; Acts 5:32).
- What His followers should keep on doing until they are reunited with Him – Jesus told His followers that until He returned they were to share the truth of what they had witnessed with the whole world, with people from every nation.
In the next and final chapter of our study, we will look more closely at Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit, and His instructions to share His truth with the whole world. But in this lesson, it is fitting that we should conclude our study of His death and resurrection by examining it in the context of God’s grand plan.
First, notice in verses 44 and 45 of Luke 24 that everything Jesus said and did was the fulfillment of all that had been written of Him in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Now some skeptics have said that because Jesus knew the ancient writings, He simply orchestrated His life to fulfill them. A person might orchestrate an event or two, and perhaps even arrange his death, but recall that Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies (review Lesson 4). And, what’s more, a mere mortal could hardly orchestrate his own resurrection! When Jesus “opened their minds to understand scripture,” there was no doubt that He was the central character!
Also, consider that none of this simply “happened” to Jesus. As ugly as His death was, Jesus was never a victim. Neither the Hebrew religious leaders nor the foreign governor can be blamed for the death of Jesus. Jesus Himself asserted that no one could take His life, but that “I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:18). If anyone can be blamed for the death of Jesus, it is you and I, and every person ever born with sin and in need of a Savior!
Ask & Reflect
- Do you view the Bible and the story of Jesus in a new light as a result of this study of The HOPE? If so, can you explain how your perspective has been affected?
- Consider that if you were the only person in the world with sin, then your sin would have been enough to send Jesus to the cross, and He would have been willing to go. Do you see yourself as a character in God’s grand story? Why or why not?
Decide & Do
We are nearing the end of our study. You will not likely go through this material (at least in the context of this study) again. If there is anything you want to revisit for further consideration, set aside a time to do that soon. If you have any unfinished business with God as a result of what you have learned during this study, don’t put it off. Resolve to settle it with Him, and seek whatever guidance you may need to do so.
For Further Study
- John Piper, Irrevocable Joy. (© Desiring God Ministries, 2006 –– From a sermon delivered March 26, 1989). (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/irrevocable-joy). Retrieved December 2, 2006.