RHYTHM OF DISCIPLESHIP
Lord, make disciples out of us.
Read LUKE 24:36–53
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
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 Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the 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.”
The Ascension of Jesus
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Peter and John testifying before the Sanhedrin, Acts 4:20).
We are Easter people. The risen Lord’s triumph over death has beneficial consequences for us. It leads directly to the mission and ministry of his church. He has shown himself to the immediate body of disciples (3–43), leaving them in no doubt that he has been raised physically. Then he inaugurates their mission before ascending to his Father. In Acts, Luke will develop this further, but all the key features are here.
The church is a community of witnesses to the living Lord (48). We bear witness to him primarily, but also to the benefits of his suffering on the cross: repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Once the Holy Spirit is poured out, the church gets moving, carrying out its mission to all nations. The Lord it proclaims is the Lord revealed in the Scriptures – the whole Bible is to be interpreted in the light of Christ. Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms name the three sections that make up the Old Testament. In bearing witness to Jesus, the church introduces people to the Bible as the key to understanding and following him.
The church is also a worshipping community (52). It worships the God it proclaims. Worship is not commanded here. It is an instinctive response to grace, to the revelation of God’s love in Christ. We love him because he first loved us. Witness and worship make up the rhythm of the church’s life, giving itself to Jesus and to the world in Jesus’ name. Maintaining the balance of the two is vital. One further thing is needed, however. In place of the physical presence of Jesus he makes the promise of “power from on high” (49). Neither witness nor worship is self-sustained: both are animated by the presence of God’s Spirit.
Christians are a community of worshipping witnesses, not just solo beneficiaries of Christ’s death and resurrection. How corporate is our discipleship in practice?
Lord, we voluntarily go forth into the world under the power of the Spirit You have given to us.
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