Tag Archives: Luke 24

Sunday Devotional: God raised this Jesus, of this we are all witnesses

Luke 24:13-16, 19, 22-24, 30-31, 33-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him….
They said to him,
“…Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.” …
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight….
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Acts 2:14, 22-24, 32-33

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
You who are Israelites, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it….
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father
and poured him forth, as you see and hear.”

In law, there’s an important concept critical to the determination of truth.

The concept is “percipient witness”. According to Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary, a percipient witness is “A witness who testifies about things she or he actually perceived. For example, an eyewitness.”

The apostles and disciples were the percipient witnesses of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, but their testimonies are ignored by many to this day.

And yet we believe 100% there was a person named Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher revered as the founder of Western political philosophy, although the time and place of his birth are unknown, and there are varying accounts of when and how he died. Even the origin of his name is unknown. As the Wikipedia entry admits:

Due to a lack of surviving accounts, little is known about Plato’s early life and education…. The exact time and place of Plato’s birth are unknown. Based on ancient sources, most modern scholars believe that he was born in Athens…between 429 and 423 BC…. The traditional date of Plato’s birth…428 or 427 BC, is based on a dubious interpretation of Diogenes Laërtius….

Only the risen Christ could have so convinced sane, rational men such as the eleven apostles and the two disciples in Luke 24, as to completely, with assistance from the Holy Spirit, transform them into men they were not. Only by seeing the risen Christ — by speaking, walking, and eating with Him and in the case of doubting Thomas, by touching the wounds of the risen Christ — could the apostles have changed overnight from being frightened little rabbits into fearless outspoken men whom no one could silence and who went to a martyr’s death, willingly and joyfully, for their risen Lord.

This is how the Apostles — percipient witnesses of the transfigured and later resurrected Christ — died, testifying to the truth they’d witnessed until their last breath:

  • St. Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, was stoned to death in Jerusalem, c. AD 34.
  • St. James, son of Zebedee and brother of St. John the Apostle, was the first Apostle to be martyred. King Herod had St. James beheaded in 44 AD.
  • St. James, son of Alpheus, was reported by the Jewish historian Josephus to have been stoned and then clubbed to death in 62 AD.
  • St. Jude Thaddaeus was crucified in Syria, c. 65 AD.
  • St. Simon the Zealot ministered in Persia and was sawn in half, c. 65 AD after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
  • St. Peter and St. Paul were both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. St. Paul was beheaded. St. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, because he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
  • St. Mark, a rope around his neck, was dragged to death in Alexandria, Egypt, in AD 68.
  • St. Thomas was pierced to death in India, 72 AD, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder.
  • St. Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas, was burned to death in Syria, c. 80 AD.
  • St. Bartholomew (identified as Nathaniel in the Gospel of John) is believed to have been skinned alive and crucified. He ministered in India with St. Thomas, in Armenia, Ethiopia and Southern Arabia.
  • St. Philip was crucified in Hierapolis, Asia Minor, 80 AD, for converting the wife of a Roman proconsul. He also ministered in North Africa.
  • St. Andrew was crucified in Patras, Greece. He also preached in Asia Minor and modern-day Turkey. Christians in the former Soviet Union say he was the first to bring the Gospel to their land.
  • St. Matthew was beheaded in Ethiopia. He had also ministered in Persia.
  • St. John was the only Apostle who died a natural death from old age, after surviving an ordeal of being thrown into boiling oil. He was the leader of the church in Ephesus and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. In mid-90s AD, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the last book of the New Testament–the Revelation.

1 Peter 1:20-21

He was known before the foundation of the world
but revealed in the final time for you,
who through him believe in God
who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God.

Our Lord has risen! — and through His resurrection, we are promised and we know that we, too, will live beyond this mortal life, to be with Him, our Creator, forever.

See also “Easter Sunday: The science of the miracle of the Resurrection”.

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: The two witnesses of the Resurrected Christ

Luke 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Modern Christology, the systematic study (“ology”) of Jesus Christ, is a product of the Enlightenment, distinguished from the pre-modern variety in its purpose and intent. Instead of studying Christ as the object of religious devotion or faith by, say, exploring the abiding mystery of the Trinity (that three persons are in one God) or the hypostatic union (that Jesus has two natures, both God and man), modern Christology means to study Jesus as a figure in history, i.e., Jesus the man instead of Jesus the Christ.

Modern Christology’s historical reconstructions of Jesus have regularly been put forward as challenges to faith. In a speech in 1996, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that “The identification of only one historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, with . . . the living God, is now relegated as a relapse into myth. Jesus is consciously relativized as one religious leader among others.” The result is an erosion of faith even among the clergy. As examples:

  • A survey in 2002 found that a third of the clergy in the Church of England doubted or outright disbelieved in the physical resurrection of Christ. No doubt the percentage is much higher today, 16 years later.
  • At the 2017 Christmas midnight Mass, Fr. Fredo Olivero of the Church of San Rocco di Torino in the Archdiocese of Turin, Italy, substituted the syrupy Italian pop-religious tune “Dolce sentire” for the Creed, explaining, “Do you know why I do not say the Creed? Because I do not believe it. . . . After many years I understood that it was something I did not understand and that I could not accept. So let’s sing something else that says the essential things of life.” (Source: George Weigel in First Things)
  • Not to be outdone, Fr. Paolo Farinella of Genoa, Italy, announced in the leftist Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, that Christmas is just “a fairy tale from the nativity scene with lullabies and bagpipes, the exclusive support of a capitalist and consumerist economy”. (First Things)

Having studied some of the writings of modern Christologists, what I find curious is that, in their search for the historical Jesus, these theologians and scholars pay scant attention to an important concept in law which is critical to the testimony and determination of truth.

That concept is “percipient witness.”

According to Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary, a percipient witness is “A witness who testifies about things she or he actually perceived. For example, an eyewitness.”

The apostles and disciples were the percipient witnesses of the historical Jesus. Their accounts are contained in the four canonical Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. And it is their behaviors, lives, and deaths that provide the most compelling testimony of not just Jesus the man, but Jesus the Christ.

This is what we know:

  • All the apostles, except the youngest named John, abandoned Jesus after he was taken away from the Garden of Gethsemane by Roman soldiers.
  • The apostle Simon Peter—on whom Jesus founded and to whom he entrusted his Church—thrice denied he even knew Jesus.
  • The apostles were understandably frightened by Jesus’ crucifixion, which was the Roman Empire’s cruelest form of execution reserved for the worst criminals. They were so frightened that they went into hiding.
  • On the third day after Jesus died, His body disappeared from the tomb.
  • After that, the apostles became completely transformed—from cowering to being fearless men; from illiterate fishermen to bold preachers in different languages (!) to crowds of strangers; from having abandoned their master and teacher to die alone on the cross to become martyrs for the faith.

Such a total transformation can only be accounted for and explained by their witnessing something extraordinary that happened in that brief interim between the crucifixion of Jesus and the disappearance of his body. What happened had to be something even more extraordinary than the miracles the apostles had witnessed in the three years of Jesus’ public ministry. Those miracles included:

  • The multiplication of a few fishes and loaves to feed thousands;
  • The healing of the blind, the lame, and the sick;
  • The resurrection of Lazarus from the dead;
  • The casting of demons from the possessed;
  • Jesus walking on water;
  • Jesus calming a stormy sea;
  • Jesus reattaching the severed ear of a Roman soldier in Gethsemane.

That super-extraordinary event was the Resurrection.

Only the risen Christ could have so convinced sane, rational men such as the two disciples in Luke 24, as to completely, with assistance from the Holy Spirit, transform them into men they were not. Only by seeing the risen Christ — by speaking, walking, and eating with Him and in the case of doubting Thomas, by touching the wounds of the risen Christ — could the apostles have changed overnight from being frightened little rabbits into fearless outspoken men whom no one could silence and who went to a martyr’s death, willingly and joyfully, for their risen Lord.

And so, in the end, modern Christologists’ quest for the historical Jesus remains ever sketchy and elusive because of their refusal to heed an important concept in law for determining and establishing truth — that of percipient witness. The quest for the Christ Jesus is right there, in the personal testimonies, lives and deaths of His apostles and disciples.

See also:

May the peace and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

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