by Edna M. Thompson
Siloam Youth Sunday School Teacher
Our lessons for the month of April continue to emphasize the Christian’s undying hope. This week, we review the resurrection and the following week the beginning of the church on the Day of Pentecost. The remaining two lessons look to the future with Paul’s encouragement for the Thessalonians. The theological challenge for us in the study of this lesson is to determine how the disciples were led from fear and doubt to worship and courageous witness.
The 24th Chapter of Luke details the resurrection of Jesus, and His various appearances to those to whom He had ministered during his earthly life. In verses 1-10, we read that two angels, appearing as men in shining garments, spoke to Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James at the door of the open sepulchre, saying, “He is not here, but is risen.” (vs. 6) Shortly following this, Peter came to the sepulchre, and finding it empty, departed, “wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.” (vs. 12) The risen Lord later encountered two disciples walking toward Emmaus. After finding out how upset they were that their Master had died, He spoke to them, and “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”—vs. 27.
While He appeared after his resurrection to many of His followers (see I Cor. 15:6), Jesus was especially mindful to clearly establish the fact of his resurrection to his eleven chosen apostles. They were being prepared as his special witnesses to bear record to the entire church of the truth concerning His death and resurrection. Before His death he had given them the testimony of the prophets concerning him, saying, “They shall scourge him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.”—Luke 18:33.
What does it mean to be resurrected? And how, in Jesus’ experience, did it happen? What did Jesus’ teaching say about resurrection? Jesus’ appearance removed all doubt that He indeed was the risen Lord of life. Proofs of the Resurrection characterize the exchange between Jesus and the disciples as Jesus offered His resurrected body for examination by the disciples. The focus of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples was for them to understand the spiritual presence and meaning of His resurrection (see John 20:29).
The end of the gospel of Luke exerts a powerful influence on our understanding of the themes and theology of the Gospel. Jesus’ departing blessing upon the disciples would have an enduring effect on their activities as new agents of the kingdom of God. God was experienced by Jesus in a way that the lives of His followers were transformed. The centrality of their faith was that God has raised Jesus from the dead from the salvation of the world.
It is important for our contemporary witness to the Gospel that we explore the depth of what is means to be Christians in today’s world. What does it mean to live in vital union with God’s promise of transformation for those who suffer oppression, racism, sexism, and poverty due to systemic injustices? Death and suffering on behalf of truth is our hardest lesson. Jesus taught His disciples that earth and suffering were also the gateways to life and truth. There is no one way to die, but there is only one way into the life and Spirit of God’s kingdom. Jesus opened up that way by joining our lives to God through His resurrection. Clearly, the risen Lord calls us to a prophetic vocation as witnesses to the Gospel of God.