In this passage the Lord Jesus blesses his disciples before ascending into heaven. He had appeared to his disciples after being raised from the dead. When He first appeared to them, He said to them, “Peace to you!” (verse 36)

In your life you might have wonderful pronouncements from someone. You might hear compliments that are encouraging, or the affectionate “I love you,” from someone whom you love. I recently heard a lady, who was 20 years old when WWII ended, tell me it was a feeling she will never forget when she heard the war was over. 

But there is no pronouncement like the Son of God saying, “Peace to you.” At that point the disciples didn’t understand it. Jesus knows they are troubled and full of doubts (verse 38). So he shows them his hands and feet. He is not a just a spirit. His body has been raised. And it means peace for them.

Jesus is not ashamed of his wounds inflicted upon Him from the cross. He has conquered death, and accomplished the peace God promised in Moses and the prophets, which the angels also announced at his birth (Luke 2). He is alive forevermore, and all who believe in him will be also. He has paid in full the debt of sin.

The disciples loved Jesus, but they could not understand his dying, especially upon the cross, the sign of one accursed of God. So Jesus explains the Scriptures and opens their minds to understand why he had to suffer (verses 44-45). It had to have been a humbling, yet joyful thing to hear the Lord explaining he had to die for their sin, and he loved them this way so they could be with God forever.

Moreover, Jesus tells them they are witnesses of all that has happened, and of the Scriptures, so they are commissioned to “proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem (verses 47-48).” There is indemnity to be proclaimed from heaven to sinners; they will have no legal liability to God through Christ Jesus. 

Jesus tells the disciples that he will send the promise of the Father, which means the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will empower the disciples and convict men of the truth. Men are slaves to sin until Christ makes them free. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Without the Spirit we can do nothing.

Therefore, we owe all to God for our salvation. He has given us Christ for our sin and corruption; the Spirit to make us wise for salvation. Christ is risen indeed, so when he blesses the disciples (verse 50), they are blessed indeed. 

In Numbers 6, the priestly benediction was, “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance and give you peace.” After this the Lord says that his name shall be upon the people and that he will bless them. In Revelation 22, we read that in the new heaven and new earth, Christians shall see the face of the Lord, and his name will be on their foreheads.”

How do we apply this? It is vital, as the apostle Peter writes in his 2nd epistle, is to “make your calling and election sure.” You have to act on God’s word; practice genuine repentance and produce fruit in keeping with faith. Peter tells us growth comes by looking to what is promised in heaven, and by remembering you have been cleansed from sin.

In the parable of the great banquet, Jesus warns that many will refuse the invitation to come and eat with the Master because of preoccupation with other things. So he sends servants to invite the afflicted, lame, crippled, and blind men. Those who come to Christ, and look ahead to seeing him, live as those cured of an affliction by Christ. Make sure of your place at the table.

The apostles worshipped Christ, and had great joy (verse 53). In those he blesses, the Lord Jesus expects adoration. Your life as a Christian may be filled with trouble (and the apostles would face many troubles), but the peace Christ proclaimed endures.  So we need to endure in the faith, endeavoring to love Christ and honor his name as the first thing we practice in our life.

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