When Jesus visited the disciples, he didn’t only give them instruction and fellowship, he gave them a purpose for the future. When explaining the Scriptures, Jesus said “it is written” that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). And the disciples were not just messengers but “witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48). Jesus gave the disciples a promise to accompany their mission.
Jesus’ disciples were not at their best at the end of his life. They were fearful, uneasy, and uncertain about the future.
And yet, at the end of the Gospels, these same men were ready to take on the world. How can we explain this difference?
The Disciples Before
For most of the last chapter of Luke, the disciples were not exactly full of faith.
When the women who visited the tomb told the apostles what they had seen, the men did not believe them—it sounded like an “idle tale” (Luke 24:11). Peter was curious, but he didn’t have much company when searched out the evidence (Luke 24:12, John 20:8).
The two disciples on the road to Emmaeus were intrigued by the women’s report (Luke 24:22), but they had lost hope in Jesus as the Redeemer of Israel (Luke 24:21). His death was unexpected and disheartening.
When Jesus appeared to his disciples, they thought he was a spirit (Luke 24:37). They were full of fears and doubts (Luke 24:38). Even after Jesus showed them his hands and feet and invited them to touch his wounds, they weren’t convinced it was him (Luke 24:41).
The Disciples After
The end of Luke 24 stands in stark contrast to its beginning.