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Many of us focus on the seven last sayings of Jesus during Holy Week .

Now, on this day after Easter, let’s look at what Jesus said after his resurrection.

Jesus’ parting words before His ascension are found in three of the four Gospels and in Acts 1. These messages, spoken nearly two centuries ago, still have meaning for us today.

COMFORT

When Mary Magdalene finds Jesus’ body is missing from the tomb, she is dismayed. Weeping in grief and uncertainty, Jesus had only to say her name to soothe her (John 20:11-18).

When Jesus appeared before His other disciples, who were “startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost,” He bid them peace (Luke 24:36, 37). He assured them His death proved He had authority over heaven and earth (v. 18), and that He would be with them forever (Matthew 28:20). Jesus pledged to them life-long comfort, in the person of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5, 8), fulfilling a promise he had made earlier (John 14:16-18, 26; 16:7-15).

Like Mary and the disciples, we too desperately need consolation for our anxiety, confusion, and sorrow. This same risen Savior cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We not only find solace in His words in Scripture (Romans 15:4), but also are strengthened by the Holy Spirit who remains active in every believer’s life (Romans 5:5).

COMMAND

Jesus issued only one directive before he ascended: The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19, 20). “Go,” He said, “make disciples…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8, Luke 24:48).

Jesus left us with a big task, one that is perhaps even a little scary and overwhelming. But when He gave the charge, He also supplied the power, again, through the Holy Spirit, through power from on high (Acts 1:8, Luke 24:49). And therein lies the…

CHALLENGE

A pair of Jesus’ followers journeyed to the village of Emmaus that resurrection day, conversing about the amazing events. Jesus approached and asked, “What are you discussing together as you walk?” (Luke 24:16, 17). They incredulously wondered aloud if this stranger (they were prevented from recognizing him) was the only one who hadn’t heard the news. “What things?” Jesus prodded them (vv. 18, 19).

The two travelers related their bewilderment about the astounding happenings, Jesus’ death and resurrection, and what they signified (v. 19-24). “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” Jesus chided them. “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (v. 25). And he went on to explain it all to them (v. 27).

Later, as they ate, the pair had their eyes opened, and they recognized the Lord, only to have him vanish (vv. 30, 31). “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” they marveled to each other (v. 32).

Jesus also confronted the remaining 11 of his closest friends: “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!” (Luke 24:38, 39). He invited the skeptical Thomas to touch his hand and his side as further proof (John 20:27).

Seven of those men next saw Jesus at dawn by the Sea of Tiberias. “Do you love me?” Jesus asked Peter three times (John 21:15-17), perhaps to offset the disciple’s trio of denials of the previous week (John 18:16-17, 25-27). “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” “Feed my sheep,” Jesus countered over Peter’s protestations of love (John 21:15-17).

Then Peter learned how he was to die. Undoubtedly disturbed and upset, he gestured toward his fellow disciple John, and asked what his fate would be. “What is that to you?” Jesus rebuked him. “You follow me!” (vv. 21, 22).

Then Jesus’ followers had one final question before he left them: when are you going to make everything right here on earth (Acts 1:6)? “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority,” Jesus said, a reply that must have left the still-reeling believers even more puzzled.

Our challenges haven’t changed: we read Scripture, but don’t always know how to apply it; we struggle with doubt; we declare our love for the Lord and our fellow sheep, but fail to show it; we get distracted by what God’s doing in the lives of others to the detriment of our own walk with him; we want to know the whys and whens and hows, trying to take command of what rightfully belongs only to God.

Oh, that our hearts would burn like those two on the road to Emmaus! That we would “not see and yet believe” (John 20:29)! That we would “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles [and] run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1), instead of snaring ourselves in matters over which we have no control!

May these resurrection words stir us as they did the early church, so that  “with glad and sincere hearts” we too will “praise God and enjoy the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:46, 47).    

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 Penny Musco is a freelance writer with a terrific family—husband, daughter, mom, two brothers, and an assortment of in-laws, nieces and nephews. Her first passion is living for God as His child, redeemed from my “empty way of life…with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18, 19). A second is being with her family. Creating stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, is a third. And then there’s travel, especially to places where she can get up close and personal with the natural world. Trekking through the national parks is the best way she's found to combine all four. 

Penny blogs at Life Lessons From the National Parks. She can also be found at http://www.pennymusco.com and  http://www.steal-away.com

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