God’s spirit sustains and guides us until he returns
REV. SAMUEL BOODLE
Published: May 16, 2013
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so that they could understand the scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
– Luke 24:44-49
This particular text, the pericope for Ascension Day, which was last Thursday, reminds me of call night at seminary. Call night is the night on which pastoral candidates who have completed their seminary training are assigned to the respective congregation which they will pastor.
Training is over. The professors are letting you go and sending you out to do the work for which you have been trained. You will have to leave the professors and your friends behind. Many will not see some of the people they call friends ever again.
The disciples had lived and shared a common lifestyle under the tutelage of Jesus for three years. Soon they will go in different directions. Even though they are told to remain in Jerusalem for a while, shortly after, their missions will take them in opposite directions.
As Jesus gives the disciples their final instructions, he takes the veil off the text. He gives them the ability to understand the Old Testament prophecies, particularly those relating to the Christ. In him, the Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled.
We all need understanding to discern God’s word. David in his prayers said, “Open my eyes,” and give me understanding. The intent of opening the mind is simply to understand the scriptures, not to be wise above what is written in God’s word.
The disciples were surprised that Jesus would not stay with them as they took up their mission. They had expected him to remain with them on earth, set up an earthly kingdom, and elevate them to positions of honor. Instead, he was talking about leaving and saying, “You are to be witnesses to these things.”
They were commissioned to preach the New Testament which is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. They would begin their mission in Jerusalem, the place where it all started. Yes, this is the place where the flicker of hope went out when Jesus died on Good Friday. This is the place where they failed him.
The Gospel truth concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is to be preached to the children of men. All of this had been prophecies in the Old Testament. The things revealed were the suffering and death.
Through this telling, the world would know that he bore our sins and, that we were delivered from death to life. They were to tell the world that they had seen him after the resurrection. They were to tell the world that they had actually conversed with him on a number of occasions after his resurrection.
After he would have ascended to heaven, they would receive a mighty power from heaven. This mighty power would not only be for them but for all who call upon the name of Jesus.
We in the Christian church follow in the train of the apostles and the many faithful who have gone on before. We too are called to be faithful and continue the work of the apostles, telling the world about the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
The apostles and those who have gone on before met with numerous obstacles, yet they remained on course. We too will encounter obstacles, and we are encountering obstacles. Yet they should not deter us.
We are supported by a power unlike any in the universe. God has sent the Holy Spirit to guide us in faith and give us the strength and tenacity to build his church here on earth. God’s spirit will continue to work, sustaining and guiding us until he returns. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas or telephone: 323-4107; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.