Then He opened their minds to understand . . .
Something happens when the training wheels come off and the child pedals his first journey in precarious balance. It’s the same thing that happens when a medical resident, having pored countless hours over textbooks, makes a deft diagnosis of a mystifying affliction. It even happens when a spouse brings home just the right gift or says just the right word, and her beloved smiles with the most satisfying feeling of being well known.
In those moments, something’s clicked. A piece has fallen into place. Or to put it another way, they get it.
In the text we heard last Sunday, Jesus comes to his disciples in their stupefaction, eager to displace their doubts, fears, and confusions with a simple explanation of recent events. He wants them to get it—to grasp the essence of what He’s about and its implications for them. It’s been His love that sustained Him in His sacrificial labor for them. Now it’s that same love that fuels his interest in helping them get it.
What must they get to move forward? It’s the same thing you have to get to move past just observing Easter to living it out.
For one, what He’d endured was no unfortunate turn of events, but rather an eternally decreed, long-awaited, and necessary act (Luke 24:46). Jesus had more than teaching to share. He had a task to accomplish. He embodied more than a principle; He entered into human history and established a precedent. He would suffer as the Christ and be raised on the third day according to plan. As one pastor explains, remove Buddha as a historical figure and you lose nothing of Buddhism. But dispense with the historicity of Jesus and Christianity is vacated of meaning. The disciples had to grasp that Jesus had come in history to change it.
Second, the disciples had to understand that His purpose for coming was to elicit repentance based on His purchase of forgiveness (v. 47). They could be impressed with His teaching, devastated by His death, or astonished by His rising again from the dead. But unless they saw His work as a confirmation both of their greatest need (forgiveness) and His peerless love, they would not comprehend what He meant to secure: a defiant turning away from all that conflicted with the heart of God, coupled with a humble turning toward the grace and wisdom of God. Jesus had come to change them.
Last, Jesus would not leave until He knew they’d come to understand something about their own purpose, now forever changed by His work for them and in them. Getting Jesus meant knowing that what He accomplished was a message to be shared with every corner of the earth; that those who’d come to believe it would be the primary messengers; and that the strength and clarity such messengers needed would have to come from God. If what He’d done was true, this was news that had to be told. What better people could best explain this news than those in whom such news had taken residence (Col. 3:15)?
Easter Day is behind us now, but the Easter life is always before us. And it asks us, “Are you getting it?” Does any part of this message still stump you?
Is Jesus more an idea to consider than a person you must wrestle with? He’s not an inanimate philosophy, but a person you must draw wisdom and strength from.
Have you come to conceive of His death and resurrection as a demonstration of mysterious power, but not an invitation to the join in His work in reforming your life (Phil. 2:12–13)? It is both.
Have you hastily concluded that His commission to be a messenger has been reserved for other folk? Or have you realized His call applies to all those who rest upon Him for the grace and favor of God. The joy of belonging to Him is most keenly felt when serving as His messenger. It’s a task of word and deed—most times our deeds laying the groundwork for our words.
They’d seen Jesus with their eyes, but doubts and fears still beset them. Yet Jesus still loved them enough to labor a bit longer until they got it. He does the same with us.