Turn in your Bible to Luke 24:36-49. The last time we were in Luke, Jesus revealed himself to the two downcast disciples and then vanished. We’re told by Luke that these disciples immediately made their way back to Jerusalem to find the Eleven to tell them that Jesus had been raised from the dead. It's in that context that this story happens.

I. Forgiveness

It's a remarkable scene. First there were the women, going to the tomb and not finding Jesus there. Then there were these two disciples, who are telling the disciples about that amazing journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. While the words are in their mouths, Jesus is there, and He speaks to the disciples. The very first word out of His mouth to His disciples is, “Peace be to you.” Remember, they have all abandoned and disbelieved Him, and His first word is, “Peace.” That's the kind of forgiving Savior you have. He knows everything there is to know about your heart, everything that ought to condemn you, and He says, “Peace to you.” There is no sinner in this world who has ever wanted to be pardoned more than Jesus is ready to pardon. His heart of love is on full display as He comes to His disciples. He could have said, “You didn't listen to Me!” but He said, “Peace to you.”

This is also a word for how we deal with others. How could followers of that kind of a Savior treasure up bitterness in our hearts? What He has forgiven us is greater than what we need to forgive. Should we not have hearts like the Savior who said, “Peace,” to these faithless disciples? Jesus speaks peace to sinners. That's good news for us, and it's an exhortation to forgiven sinners to be forgiving. He's taught us to pray, “Lord, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” And it's no wonder; He was a forgiving Savior.

II. Confirmation

But He was also a Savior concerned to condescend to His disciples’ needs, and you see that especially in verses 37 to 43. When Jesus speaks to them, verse 37, they were startled and frightened, and they thought they’d seen a ghost! Instead of being impatient with them, Jesus says, “Look at My hands. Look at My feet. Look at the scars. I've got a body. Ghosts don't have bodies. It's Me. I'm right here in front of you.”

It's the strangest thing. When the disciples hear Him say this, verse 41, “they still disbelieved for joy.” They’re beginning to believe that He's here, but they’re disbelieving for joy; it's too good to be true. At that point He says, “Is there anything here to eat?” And they bring Him a piece of broiled fish, and He eats it right in front of them. They hadn't seen many ghosts eat broiled fish. Again, He's condescending to their need, They’re struggling to believe, and here's Jesus, attesting Himself to His disciples. He's not asking His disciples to believe Him in contradiction to their senses. He attests to His reality and to His resurrection.

III. Illumination

Then, in verses 44 to 47, He opens their minds to understand the Scriptures. He says to them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you.” For the third time in Luke 24—think Luke is trying to press a point home?—disciples are taken to the Scriptures and to the words of Jesus. Jesus says, “These are the words that I told you about before I was crucified.” He is not going to teach them something new. He's going to teach them what He had been teaching them, but their eyes are opened to it. That's one reason why it's so important for you to put yourself under the Word of God often. Put yourself under the Word of God expectantly, and pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes.

So Jesus takes His disciples right back to the Word. It's important for them to understand that what had happened had already been taught to them by Jesus and was already in the Scriptures. It was vital for their faith to understand that what had happened to Jesus was not an accident. So He says, verse 45, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.” Once again, just like with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He shows them the humiliation and exaltation of the Messiah. They must understand the work that the Messiah came to do. He came to die, and He also came to be raised again from the dead.

IV. Commission

This leads us to my final point. There are three things that Jesus says the Scriptures teach: that the Christ should suffer, that the Christ should rise, and, verse 47, “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Jesus is, in this passage, commissioning His disciples to be witnesses to the nations. Look at verse 48. “You are witnesses of these things.” This is Luke's version of the Great Commission. Jesus is giving a mandate for missions.

Then look at verse 49: “Behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you.” What is “the promise of My Father”? Acts 1 tells us that it is the Holy Spirit. And this is not a New Testament idea; it's an Old Testament idea. In Galatians 3:14, Paul is explaining the cross and says Christ redeemed us “in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” The blessing of Abraham is the Holy Spirit. And at the end of Genesis 12:3, God tells Abraham, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” There's the foundation of missions right there, in the promise of God to Abraham that Abraham is to bring blessing to all the families of the earth.

Well, here are the disciples, startled and disbelieving for joy, and Jesus says to them, “You are going to be My witnesses, and you’re going to do it in the power that comes from the Father's promise that you will be empowered and indwelt by the Holy Spirit to do this work. So stay in Jerusalem until power from on high comes upon you, and then I'm going to send you to all the nations.” And that is exactly what happens.

It’s important for us to realize that a part of being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is wanting others to follow Jesus Christ and wanting to heed the last command that He gave to His followers, which was, “Be My witnesses to all nations, preaching the forgiveness of sins which comes by My death and resurrection.” He doesn't just call you to witness; He calls you to be a witness, to view yourself as one who witnesses to the forgiveness of sins that only comes through Jesus Christ. That is something we ought to be excited about, and it's something that ought to be a priority for us. If this Savior is so forgiving, if He's so concerned for our comfort, if He teaches us the Scriptures patiently and opens our eyes to understanding, ought we not want to witness to Him to the nations and say, “Hallelujah! What a Savior!”?