10 Things You Should Know about Jesus’s Final Days on Earth
This article is part of the 10 Things You Should Know series.
1. Jesus rose on the third day just as he promised.
The women who visited Jesus’s grave found no decaying body to freshen up, because the Lord was alive. Dazzling messengers called these fearful followers of Christ to “remember” his words that “the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:7). The empty tomb confirmed Jesus’s earlier predictions that he would suffer, die, and rise on the third day (see Luke 9:22). He announced God’s plan as a true prophet and accomplished that plan as the Lord and Messiah. Jesus then broke bread and ate fish with his followers and showed them his hands and feet to dispel their doubts and prove that he was really alive in-the-flesh (Luke 24:35–43; Acts 1:3).
2. Christ comprehensively fulfills “all” the Scriptures.
On the Emmaus road, the risen Lord “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). His expansive exposition began with the Law of Moses and covers “all the Prophets.” Later with his gathered disciples he explains, “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 the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Thus, the full range of the Scriptures from beginning to end have a singular focus on Christ himself. “All the Scriptures” includes explicit messianic prophecies as well as various Old Testament patterns and prefigurements that anticipate the arrival of David’s greater Son.
3. Jesus gives his people the capacity to understand his teaching.
The risen Lord not only opened the Scriptures for his disciples, he also opened their minds to comprehend the Scriptures’ testimony about him. Notice that even though the travelers on the Emmaus road walk and talk with Jesus, “their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16). This reminds us of earlier scenes in the Gospels when Jesus’s followers fail to understand their Lord’s predictions that he was about to suffer and rise again (Luke 9:45; 18:34). The disciples needed Jesus to remove their blinders, which he does in Luke 24:31: “their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” The word “opened” occurs three times in Luke 24 to highlight the disciples’ dual need for revelation and receptivity. Christ clarifies the Bible’s central message and gives his disciples the spiritual capacity to grasp his teaching. We need Jesus to open God’s word to us and to open us to the word.
Brian J. Tabb
Using the words of Jesus in Luke 24:46–47 as a springboard, After Emmaus explains how the story of redemption foretold in the Old Testament is fulfilled in Christ, is reflected in the apostles’ ministry, and continues today through the mission of the church.
4. Jesus gives his disciples a new identity as “witnesses.”
Jesus identified his followers as witnesses. They were spectators to his teaching, his mighty deeds, his shocking crucifixion, and his glorious victory over death; witnesses must speak truthfully about what they have seen and heard. Jesus says, “You are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48), and later, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). These declarations closely parallel Isaiah’s prophecies that God’s people would be witnesses to his saving power (Isaiah 43:10–12; 44:8). As Jesus’s witnesses, the apostles testify that the Messiah died and rose again just as God promised in the Scriptures (Acts 10:39–43).
5. Jesus promises divine power for his people.
The risen Lord promised to send the Spirit to empower his witnesses for their mission. Luke 24:49 records his final instructions to his followers: “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.” These words look back to the Old Testament and look forward to the book of Acts. Jesus called the Spirit “the promise of my Father” to emphasize the ancient prophecy that God would pour out his Spirit and save his people (see Isaiah 32:15; Joel 2:28–32). On the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaims that the risen Lord himself has poured out the Spirit in the last days just as the prophets predicted (Acts 2:16–21, 33). Thus, Jesus provides his people with supernatural power to carry out the mission in his name (Acts 1:8).
6. Jesus grounds the church’s mission in the Scriptures.
It’s well known that Jesus declared that “everything written about me. . . must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). But he does not conclude his exposition of Scripture with his death and resurrection, but continues on to show that the mission of the church carries out God’s ancient plan. Consider Jesus’s climactic summary in Luke 24:46–47:
Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
The church’s mission does not simply begin with the Great Commission but is grounded in the grand storyline of the Scriptures.
The conjunction “and” connects the message about the Messiah with the mission “in his name” to all the nations—both are “written” in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament. This means that the church’s mission does not simply begin with the Great Commission but is grounded in the grand storyline of the Scriptures and specifically tied to the Messianic servant who would “raise up the tribes of Jacob” and be “a light for the nations,” extending God’s salvation “to the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:6). Jesus fulfills this prophecy, and his people share in his servant mission to the nations (Acts 1:8; 13:47).
7. Proclamation is central to the church’s mission.
The risen Lord’s last words in Luke 24 not only explain God’s unfolding plan but also move his people to action. He declares that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47), clearly implying that preachers will herald this message. Proclaiming good news was central to Jesus’s own mission (see Luke 4:18–19; Isa. 61:1–2), and the witnesses in Acts proclaim salvation in Jesus’s name alone to Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. As we participate in Christ’s mission, we should maintain—or perhaps recover—the New Testament’s central priority of proclamation in the church’s mission.
8. Jesus’s teaching in the Gospels illustrates his summary in Luke 24.
Many readers have read Luke 24 and longingly wished that they could have eavesdropped on Christ’s Bible study on the road to Emmaus, when “he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). While this passage offers sweeping summaries rather than specific references, Jesus’s teaching earlier in the Gospel amply illustrates his summary claims that “Moses and all the Prophets” point to him and the mission in his name. Our Lord repeatedly predicted his suffering and resurrection that would fulfill the Scriptures. Jesus cited Isaiah 6 to show that his ministry continued the pattern of dishonored prophets (Luke 8:10). He explained his passion-week parable with the words of Psalm 118: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Luke 20:17). He emphasized that Isaiah’s prophecy about the Lord’s servant “must be fulfilled in me” (Luke 22:37). These and other examples from Christ’s teaching and the apostles’ preaching clarify not only that the Lord fulfills the Scriptures but how.
9. Jesus models biblical interpretation after Emmaus.
Jesus clearly explains the message of the Scriptures “concerning himself” in Luke 24. He also provides a model for faithful Bible reading that his disciples follow in the book of Acts. Jesus’s witnesses—like Peter, Philip, and Paul—appeal to many of the same Old Testament texts that their Lord references in the Gospels (for example, Psalms 110 and 118; Isaiah 6, 49, and 53) as they explain Christ’s work and participate in his mission. For example, Paul summarizes the biblical hope for the Messiah and the nations in Acts 26:22–23:
To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.
Paul’s reference to Old Testament fulfillment, Christ’s suffering, his resurrection from the dead, and the proclamation to the Gentiles all closely parallel Jesus’s words in Luke 24:44–47. The book of Acts and other New Testament books show that the apostles and their associates follow Christ’s model of biblical interpretation as they proclaim the gospel in Jesus’s name among the nations.
10. The risen Lord is worthy of worship.
Luke 24 concludes with a brief account of Jesus’s ascension into heaven:
And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. (Luke 24:50–52)
Note the word worship (Greek proskyneō) in Luke 24:52, which conveys a submissive and reverent attitude or posture before God or a superior. The only other use of this term in Luke’s Gospel comes in the temptation scene. The devil promises, “If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours,” but Jesus responds with the words of Deuteronomy: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Luke 4:7–8). Thus, the one true God is worthy of worship, while creatures must give—not receive—such reverent praise, as illustrated in Herod’s untimely death (see Acts 12:21–23). But in Luke 24, disciples rightly recognized Jesus as the risen, exalted Lord and so “they worshiped him.” Christ shares God’s name as “Lord,” he does what only God can do, and thus he is worthy to receive his people’s adoring praise.
Brian J. Tabb is the author of After Emmaus: How the Church Fulfills the Mission of Christ.
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