After the rebuke, Jesus commissions them for their work. They are to go into all the world and tell the story. They will proclaim Jesus, and as they proclaim, the Spirit will do signs and wonders. Demons will be cast out, evil will have no power over them, they will lay hands on the sick. Jesus did not give up on some unbelieving, stubborn, lazy rascals, nor has he given up on us. It’s never too late, we are never so wise, and certainly never too old, as to be above being rebuked by Jesus. And remember, he rebukes us because he loves us. In Hebrews 12:11, the author encourages us, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” In verse 19, we read that Jesus ascends to the right hand of Father, the place of power, of authority. And look at what those once unbelieving, lack of faith, rascals are doing…they are preaching what Jesus commanded them to preach and the Spirit is doing what He said the Spirit would do – signs and wonders along the Way. The fruit of righteousness has grown because Jesus disciplined his disciples.
I wonder if the 2021 church in the United States needs to be rebuked? I wonder if we have a lack of faith and a heightened mountain of stubbornness in us? I wonder if Jesus, who is God of very God, is disappointed in our lack of conformity to his Way? I wonder if we have the form without the power? I wonder if we have the power without the form?
I wonder if we are the church that Jesus came to establish? If we are not, forgive us, oh God, for our lack of faith, our stubbornness of spirit, our selfishness of flesh, our dependency on the world, and our ignorance of your command.
In Acts 1:6 the disciples asked the resurrected Jesus if he will, at this time, restore the Kingdom of Israel. They enjoyed the stuff Jesus did before his death and resurrection and were looking for more. They wanted him to keep working! Jesus does what Jesus does and pivots the focus off himself and onto them. He responds back with, “you will” (Acts 1:7). Jesus returns to the Father where he currently reigns without rival, interceding for us, doing what we cannot do for ourselves – namely, atonement for sins and reconciliation with God.
What are we to do? We do what we are commanded to do, what we can do in the Spirit of God in the Way of God. The “you will” Jesus gave to the disciples back then was that they would receive power and they would be witnesses into all the world (Acts 1:8). Locked doors and fear of death would no longer be the mantra of disciples, now it would be power from the Spirit and fear of nothing.
Saints, fellow sisters and brothers, Jesus rebukes us because he loves us, because he knows what is best for us. His mission, redeeming humanity and healing creation, is our mission. So it was for Jesus, so it is for the people of Jesus, us, the church.
Luke is Pastor of Discipleship to the community of saints, in Christ, at Nashville UMC.