The days following the resurrection of Jesus were critical for Jesus and His followers. First, they had to be assured Jesus was alive. In the years ahead, there would be times when the Roman government might demand they renounce Jesus. If they were not certain Jesus had risen, they might have renounced their faith in Jesus. But, because they had seen the risen Lord, they knew He was alive.
On one occasion, Jesus appeared to some of His followers.
In this text, Jesus proved to His followers He really had been resurrected. Not only did He stand in their presence so they could see Him and His wounds (vv. 39–40), He also ate food (a piece of broiled fish) before them to show He was not a ghost.
It was critical His followers were convinced He had risen from the grave. That is why Jesus’ appearances to them were so important. When a trial is held, eyewitnesses may be called to testify. They are asked to do so because they personally saw what happened.
The early disciples to whom Jesus appeared saw the risen Lord. They were eyewitnesses. They knew Jesus was alive.
In this passage, we are told Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” He had emphasized truth to them before His crucifixion and resurrection. He particularly emphasized He would die and be resurrected after three days. Now He emphasized truth again, this time the truth that He had risen from the grave.
In order for the disciples to proclaim the message of Christ, they had to know that what Jesus said — all of it — was true. When Jesus opened their minds to the Scriptures, He was helping them understand.
In closing this passage, Jesus said to them, “I am sending forth the promise of my Father upon you.”
Jesus was referring to the power of the Holy Spirit. They were not being sent out alone. They were told to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came.
The power of the Holy Spirit is critical in sharing the gospel. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their need for salvation.
While someone is witnessing to a non-believer, the Holy Spirit is convicting that person of his or her need for a Savior.
A few years ago, I was pastor of a church on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. On one occasion, I had a guest speaker come to town for a revival meeting. I met the man and his wife on Saturday night for supper. While we were eating, the waitress came to the table and my friend began to witness to her. While he led the young lady through the plan of salvation, his wife prayed that the Holy Spirit would convict the woman as she heard the gospel.
At other times in my ministry, I have witnessed church members praying during invitations and altar calls. As Christians, we are commanded to share the gospel. We are sent to tell others about forgiveness found in Jesus. We should also pray for the Holy Spirit to move and convict the lost, so they will not only hear the gospel but respond by receiving Christ as their Savior.
By Gregg Potts, D.Min.
Potts served as a pastor for more than 30 years in Mississippi and Georgia.