24:36-49 While they were still speaking, Jesus stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you!" They were terrified and afraid, because they thought that they were seeing a spirit. He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do the questions arise in your heart? See my hands and my feet--that it is I--myself. Handle me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he had said this he showed them his hands and his feet. When they still thought it too good to be true, and when they were astonished he said to them. "Have you anything to eat here?" They gave him part of a cooked fish, and he took it and ate it before them.
He said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you--that all the things which stand written about me in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds so that they understood the scriptures; and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the anointed one should suffer and should rise from the dead on the third day; and that repentance in his name and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. And--look you--I send out the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in this city until you will be clothed with power from on high."
Here we read of how Jesus came to his own when they were gathered in the upper room. In this passage certain great notes of the Christian faith are resonantly struck.
(i) It stresses the reality of the resurrection. The risen Lord was no phantom or hallucination. He was real. The Jesus who died was in truth the Christ who rose again. Christianity is not founded on the dreams of men's disordered minds or the visions of their fevered eyes, but on one who in actual historical fact faced and fought and conquered death and rose again.
(ii) It stresses the necessity of the cross. It was to the cross that all the scriptures looked forward. The cross was not forced on God; it was not an emergency measure when all else had failed and when the scheme of things had gone wrong. It was part of the plan of God, for it is the one place on earth, where in a moment of time, we see his eternal love.
(iii) It stresses the urgency of the task. Out to all men had to go the call to repentance and the offer of forgiveness. The church was not left to live forever in the upper room; it was sent out into all the world. After the upper room came the world-wide mission of the church. The days of sorrow were past and the tidings of joy must be taken to all men.
(iv) It stresses the secret of power. They had to wait in Jerusalem until power from on high came upon them. There are occasions when the Christian may seem to be wasting time, as he waits in a wise passivity. Action without preparation must often fail. There is a time to wait on God and a time to work for God. Fay Inchfawn writes of the days when life is a losing contest with a thousand little things.
"I wrestle--how I wrestle!--through the hours.
Nay, not with principalities and powers--
Dark spiritual foes of God's and man's--
But with antagonistic pots and pans;
With footmarks on the hall,
With smears upon the wall,
With doubtful ears and small unwashen hands,
And with a babe's innumerable demands."
And then, even in the busyness she lays aside her work to be for a moment with God.
"With leisured feet and idle hands, I sat.
I, foolish, fussy, blind as any bat,
Sat down to listen, and to learn. And lo,
My thousand tasks were done the better so."
The quiet times in which we wait on God are never wasted; for it is in these times when we lay aside life's tasks that we are strengthened for the very tasks we lay aside.