A NEVER-ENDING STORY
"'What comes next is very important. I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay in the city until He arrives, until you're equipped with power from on high,'
"He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising His hands He blessed them, and while blessing them, took His leave, being carried up to heaven."
"And they were on their knees worshipping Him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God.Yes." Luke 24:49-53 (The Message).
Luke's story of the earthly Jesus comes to an end but never has a story ended like this before. His story could never have originated in human imagination; and to have been told as fact and truth would have been the biggest fraud ever spawned on the human race.
Unlike any other story, Luke writes only the first chapter here. He wrote chapter 2, recorded in the Book of Acts, for the same reader, Theophilus, and in the same straightforward, factual style, as a sequel to the life of this amazing man, and the outcome of His life, death and resurrection. What other human figure has impacted humanity as He did?
The first chapter of Jesus' story closes with His return to the Father; the second opens with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. He had assured His followers that they would not be abandoned as orphans. He would send His representative, one exactly like Himself, with the same disposition and mission who would not only be with them but in them.
Of what value would their three years with Him and everything He had taught and demonstrated, be to them without the power to carry out His instructions? They would be no better off than the Israelites who had God's teaching, but no inner strength to put it into practice. The Holy Spirit had been present and active in the old dispensation, but there always remained the barrier of sin between them and their God which animal blood could not remove.
Jesus had established a new covenant with them, sealed with His own blood; not just a cut on the wrist, but every drop poured out as an atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. There was nothing left to alienate humanity from the Father, for in that offering was the forgiveness of sin and cleansing from the uncleanness sin had brought.
The Father was now free to send His Spirit to take up residence in the spirit of human beings once again, when they chose to respond to the invitation to return to their original status as sons of the living God.
The disciples were no longer skeptical and suspicious of Jesus. Had he not opened their understanding and given them the whole picture? They were overflowing with joy as they returned to the city, having watched their beloved Master go back to the unseen realm of the Father's presence. It seems strange that they were rejoicing at His departure. Did that mean that their faith was so strong that they anticipated with joy the promise He had made?
They waited and worshipped in the Temple, no longer intimidated by the religious leaders who had so terrified them days before. They were convinced and they ignored the very people before whom they had cowered. Jesus was alive and that was all that mattered.
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