Lesson 2: Obedient waiting.
A sense of urgency marked the three years Jesus spent teaching and preparing his disciples. My newest version of the Gospel of Mark (ESV) includes 42 red circles around the word "immediately" or the other renderings of the Greek term "euthus". The Gospel of John slows the pace of their mission somewhat but notes an emphasis on the timing of events, the Lord's awareness of his appointed "hours" and "times", a heavenly scheduling of those occasions leading to his passion. The teaching recorded by Matthew and Luke were often bracketed by reminders that the night was coming when no one could work, the return of the master of the house like a thief in the night, or multiple announcements that the Kingdom of God was at hand, or near. At the close of each Gospel are words of commissioning, ideas about being sent, going to the world with the Good News, preaching the Gospel while they were going, and many other notes about his expectations of them.
We can hardly imagine the emotional, physical, and spiritual stress of the days leading up to his arrest, trial, and crucifixion, and the amazing turn of events surrounding his resurrection. Still, to have spent 40 days with the resurrected Christ and witnessing the convincing proofs of the empty tomb must have injected that sense of urgency in them anew. What had seemed shameful defeat was swallowed up in victory. They must have been energized beyond anything they had previously experienced.
Then, in the closing verses of Luke and opening verses of Acts Jesus told them to wait.
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.
Luke 24:49, ESV
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but
to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me."
Acts 1:4, ESV
There was an important additional lesson that he would teach them ten days hence. But, the lesson of that hour was to learn two disciplines: how to resist the urges of their human emotions and learn the blessings of obedient waiting.
Both are trip wires for moderns. Just think about the ways our emotions control us. Some scientists believe we humans have as many as 70,000 thoughts every day and that each thought triggers emotional responses. It's why our synapses are firing all the time, even when we're asleep. It's a constant barrage of impulses that move us through the emotional seas that we must navigate every day.
Scripture doesn't specifically indicate how they extinguished those emotional fires during those forty days with Jesus. We know he taught them about the Kingdom of God. But, during those intimate days he may have reminded them of the first basic lesson of discipleship. Jesus had taught this lesson early---
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his
cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:23, ESV
Evidently self-denial arched their learning curve upward as they witnessed his passion. It seems that they were able to set their emotional impulses aside in this critical hour because they had witnessed firsthand his being yielded to doing the will of God and finishing his work" (see John 4:34).
And, they stayed. To remain and wait may have gone against every natural human impulse any of them knew. In the resurrection, however, their trust in him and his word was elevated to be the controlling influence of their lives. On the third day he did what he had told them he would do. And, so now, he told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father, and they believed him. Obedient waiting had happened.
And, that's our post resurrection lesson 2: obedient waiting. It happens when we learn the elementary Christian discipline of self-denial, and that we can trust his word to us.
And wait obediently.
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