Reading for Thursday, June 13, 2019 is Luke 24:44-49.
44 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.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 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.” NIV
As I read Jesus’ words I am made aware of just how similar they are to those he spoke to others on different occasions during his post-resurrection period of forty days before his ascension. To the two disciples on the road to Emmaus he spoke similar words and opened their understanding of the scriptures so they could piece together what God had planned and was doing within every circumstance they had experienced. Even at his ascension Jesus used similar words to convey understanding of just what God was doing and his desire for them.
Now the exact language recorded may differ from encounter to encounter but this should be expected. When telling the same message to different audiences there are always some differences. I may teach the same message at multiple services and unless I am reading it word for word (how boring!) it would be a little different each time. Sometimes I wish what I said at one service came across the way it had at another, unfortunately many factors go into shaping each experience. So it would be for Jesus. The situation and the audience shaped the message even though the content is the same.
I am not able to locate where in the scriptures it definitively states as Jesus contends the specifics of his death and resurrection in the manner as he stated them here. This is because they are an accumulation of prophecies that are fulfilled in the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection. While there is not just one place where the plan is laid out as a schematic, when the passages are taken together they point to the clear and simple statement Jesus made to his disciples.
There is consistency between accounts concerning what God has planned and what God is doing in the moment even when some of the events are unpleasant and even disturbing. I received a call from a close colleague this morning asking me if I thought God was behind what was happening in the church. The question can take on several nuances of meaning, such as . . . Is God directly manipulating events in order to fulfill some greater plan, or is God simply using what happens in the working out of his will? There is a difference between the two if you think about it.
My response was “Yes!” God is behind what is going on in the crisis the church is confronting at this as God is working behind the scenes of our personal struggles. God is working directly in our lives if we are intentionally seeking God’s will and responsive in a positive way to God’s will. God also works indirectly through offering us grace in the midst of our struggles even when we make the wrong choices. What is so amazing about God’s grace is what the Apostle Paul states in Romans 8:28, “All things work to the good for those who trust him and are called to his purposes.” That’s ALL THINGS, including my faithfulness and my unfaithfulness.
Jesus wanted to make clear what his purpose was and what his purpose for us was – to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations. How we respond is up to us, but be certain whether we are faithful or not, Christ’s purpose will be accomplished, with us or without us. It may seem we can hinder God’s plan yet in some mysterious way God can mold our failures into his process. This does not mean it does not matter how I respond for it will impact what I experience and my fate.
We must anticipate Christ is with us, working in and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit. At any given moment we may not know the specifics of Christ’s plan but we are to know what has been already revealed and be committed to playing out our role. When we fail he is faithful and when we are faithful we are blessed. Our job is to expect God intersecting every stage of our life. Even when things go from bad to worse God is in the mix and we must watch, wait, and respond with consistent faithfulness at every turn of events.
The specifics God is working out may be unclear at the time but the outcome is the same. We therefore examine our circumstance in the light of his Word and through the Spirit’s leading to discern the specific response of faithfulness at the moment that honors God’s plan. Then we act in faith trusting God to do what good he will do as he has planned.