Opening hearts: witnesses

Luke-upper-roomPointing to the life in the Early Church. Since these disciples are to continue Jesus’ ministry, perhaps it is not surprising that they are to proclaim the salvific message “in his name.” In fact, what is done in the “name” of Jesus surfaces as an important motif in Acts. Luke will portray a community very much oriented around Jesus (1:1, 21–22)—with salvation offered to “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord” (= Jesus; cf. 2:21, 36), and people directed to be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ” (2:38), appropriating the blessings available through and signaling their allegiance to him. Subsequently in Acts Christians heal (3:6, 16; 4:10, 30; 19:13), preach (4:12; 5:28, 40), and are baptized (8:16; 10:48; 19:5) in the name of Jesus; suffer for his name (5:41; 9:16; 21:13); and are those “who call upon the name” of Jesus (9:14, 21; 22:16). The mission role of the disciples is summarized in the words, “You are witnesses of these things.” Continue reading

Opening hearts: proof

Luke-upper-roomOffering Proof. Jesus does not rebuke them for their lack of faith but offers two proofs of his own materiality as evidence of his resurrected existence. Negating two among the several possible categories for imagining the afterlife—one barbaric, the other more sophisticated—Luke first shows that Jesus’ disciples do not mistake him for a cadaver brought back to life (v.37), then confirms that Jesus is not an “immortal soul” free from bodily existence. It is why Jesus assures them with the phrase egō emini autos – “it is I myself” – or in modern English, “It’s really me!” Continue reading

Opening hearts: terrified

Luke-upper-roomJesus had predicted his passion and death – and that those predictions have come to pass is all too apparent to the small community of disciples sequestered away in the upper room, unsure of all that has passed, and even more unsure of what awaits them. But Jesus had also predicted his resurrection. In this Lucan narrative Jesus manifests himself not only to selected individuals (vv. 31, 34) but to the whole company of his followers. Their reaction is less than stellar: But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Only in the later Lucan account of the Ascension (vv.50–53) do fear, amazement, and doubt (vv.37, 41) give way to worship, great joy, and obedience. Continue reading

Opening hearts: context

Luke-upper-room35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 36 While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40 And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish; 43 he took it and ate it in front of them. 44 He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And (behold) I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Continue reading

What now: witnesses

Luke-upper-roomPointing to the life in the Early Church. Since these disciples are to continue Jesus’ ministry, perhaps it is not surprising that they are to proclaim the salvific message “in his name.” In fact, what is done in the “name” of Jesus surfaces as an important motif in Acts. Luke will portray a community very much oriented around Jesus (1:1, 21–22)—with salvation offered to “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord” (= Jesus; cf. 2:21, 36), and people directed to be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ” (2:38), appropriating the blessings available through and signaling their allegiance to him. Subsequently in Acts Christians heal (3:6, 16; 4:10, 30; 19:13), preach (4:12; 5:28, 40), and are baptized (8:16; 10:48; 19:5) in the name of Jesus; suffer for his name (5:41; 9:16; 21:13); and are those “who call upon the name” of Jesus (9:14, 21; 22:16). The mission role of the disciples is summarized in the words, “You are witnesses of these things.” Continue reading

Now what: proof

Luke-upper-roomOffering Proof. Jesus does not rebuke them for their lack of faith but offers two proofs of his own materiality as evidence of his resurrected existence. Negating two among the several possible categories for imagining the afterlife—one barbaric, the other more sophisticated—Luke first shows that Jesus’ disciples do not mistake him for a cadaver brought back to life (v.37), then confirms that Jesus is not an “immortal soul” free from bodily existence. It is why Jesus assures them with the phrase egō emini autos – “it is I myself” – or in modern English, “It’s really me!” Continue reading

Now what: terrified

Luke-upper-roomJesus had predicted his passion and death – and that those predictions have come to pass is all too apparent to the small community of disciples sequestered away in the upper room, unsure of all that has passed, and even more unsure of what awaits them. But Jesus had also predicted his resurrection. In this Lucan narrative Jesus manifests himself not only to selected individuals (vv. 31, 34) but to the whole company of his followers. Their reaction is less than stellar: But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Only in the later Lucan account of the Ascension (vv.50–53) do fear, amazement, and doubt (vv.37, 41) give way to worship, great joy, and obedience. Continue reading

Now what – context

Luke-upper-room35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 36 While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40 And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish; 43 he took it and ate it in front of them. 44 He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And (behold) I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Continue reading