In the midst of celebrating Easter Sunday, most forget — or were never taught in the first place — that Easter is a season. And it’s a season for a reason.
Jesus did not only rise from the grave and appear to his disciples to convince them that, yes, he really did bodily rise from the dead. That being done, he did not say, “Well, this world stinks. I taught, fed, and healed thousands upon thousands, and look how I was repaid for that! I’ve had quite enough, thank you. I’m out of here!” and then ascend as quick as he could. He ate with his disciples as recorded in Luke and John; he did not eat and run.
Instead he stuck around for forty days between his resurrection and ascension, which is why Easter is not only a day but a season of that length. That begs the question: what was he doing during that time? Why not just appear to his disciples, convince them, and then quickly leave this hostile world?
We do not have a day by day account of the Forty Days, as interesting as that would be. But the Gospel of Luke does give us some detail. There is the endearing account of Jesus meeting the two disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35.
Reading between the verses, I think Jesus was playful with the two. They do not recognize him on the road. Whether that was because they were clueless (like us) or because Jesus caused them not to recognize him, the account doesn’t say. Whatever the case, Jesus seems to have some fun with that. He asks them what they were talking about as they walk. The two stop and look at him as if he is the clueless one and ask him if he is “the only one visiting Jerusalem” that did not know what had happened.
Of course, Jesus at that moment was the only one that did really know what had happened, but he plays along and again asks what the two are taking about. They then tell him, tell Jesus, “the things about Jesus the Nazarene.” Yes, it’s rather comical. I do think Jesus had quite a sense of humor.
At that point, he lovingly gives them a hard time, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
And then he tells them about Jesus. Note how he does so. “Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:27) Of course, “all the Scriptures” at that time was what we call the Old Testament. So Jesus taught the two about himself from the Old Testament, and from quite a lot of it as time on the road permitted.
During the rest of the Forty Days, after Jesus convinced these and other disciples that, yes, it was really him, in the flesh no less, Luke records that Jesus taught his followers:
“These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
So a priority of Jesus during the Forty Days was to teach his followers about himself from the Old Testament, and not only from the Prophets but even from the Law and the Psalms. Luke emphasizes that this was a priority of the risen Christ by twice recording him so doing.
So how should we in turn respond to the teaching of the Risen Christ?
Marcion was an idiot. Don’t be Marcion.
Back in the 2nd century, Marcion did not like the supposedly mean God of the Old Testament. So much so that he taught that the God of the OT was not God at all. The God of the New Testament as revealed by Jesus Christ was the real God that Marcion liked. Well, parts of the New Testament — he did not like a lot of the NT either.
No, Marcion was the first mainline Protestant.
One easy refutation of his idiocy is that the New Testament quotes the Old Testament again and again and lets us know that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Even Jesus said so as we’ve seen.
That may be why in Marcion’s meager canon, most of what became the New Testament was excluded along with all the Old Testament. He even created his own Gospel of Marcion by heavily editing the Gospel of Luke. I haven’t read that dreck, but any bets that Marcion edited out quotes from that annoying Old Testament?
Now we may mock Marcion — he earned it. But how is the church today doing in teaching the Old Testament, especially about Christ in the Old Testament? Too many Christians and churches are practical Marcionites by neglecting the OT. Don’t be that way. Don’t be Marcion.
Study the Old Testament, all of it.
Well, I think the Lord will understand if you don’t study those genealogies and lists of numbers in detail, although there are interesting tidbits there, too. But if Jesus taught about himself from “all the Scriptures”, then maybe perhaps we should be reading and studying all the Scriptures?
Look for Jesus in the Old Testament.
Yes, it is possible to get overly creative in seeing Jesus in the Old Testament. The church Fathers may have done so from time to time. But even if they did so, it was for good reason. There are layers of rich meaning in Scripture. Jesus is all over the Scriptures. So the Fathers and many who followed after them sought to squeeze every drop of meaning out of Scripture. If they did get overly speculative in so doing, that is better than reductionist and deconstructionist approaches too common today that rip truth out of Scripture instead of searching for it.
And the most important Truth in all of Scripture is Jesus Christ. Jesus himself made a point to teach about himself from “all the Scriptures,” which at that time were the Old Testament. And that includes the Law and the Psalms, where we might not expect to find him . . . except that he told us he’s in there.
So maybe we ought to search the Scriptures — all of them — and look for Jesus in them. Judging from what the risen Christ did during the Forty Days, that is what we would have us do.
And enjoy the Forty Days of the Easter season. For he is risen!