Reading Luke and Acts in 2020
Week 24 | Luke 24
Luke 24 Reflections and Questions
By Rev. Dr. Bernice Williams Kirkland
“The darkest hour is just before daylight.” These are the words of exhortation from my mother during my formative years of growing up through challenges. Such words are reflected in the Gentile’s writing of Luke 24 when the darkness of Good Friday occurred. It was the day that the crucifixion of Jesus seemed to have dashed the hopes and crushed the hearts of his family, friends and followers.
DARKNESS: They watched in full view the crushing and asphyxiation of one they loved deeply. Others also watched. Those who feared Jesus watched. Those who hated Jesus watched. Those who recognized the revolutionary power of Jesus to liberate the oppressed from the lies and pseudo power of the Pharisees and the Sadducees watched. Peter, the disciple, also watched through his personal crevices of fear, repeated denial, pain and shame.
There seems to have never been a more ominous day in history; yet a swift dawning was already on the horizon. A new day was coming as life through the resurrected Christ shattered despair among witnesses. The women recognized Jesus and ran to tell the disciples. Peter ran to the tomb and witnessed, for himself, the emptiness of the grave alongside the uselessness of limp grave clothes.
DESPONDENCY: The darkest hour had been shattered, but not everyone was convinced. There were two men on the road to Emmaus who had become blinded by doubt and despair. Their condition kept them from recognizing that Jesus was not only alive but alive in their very presence. Thankfully, they were not left to their own weaknesses. Jesus came alongside them to change the course of their lives.
DESTINY: Transformation often occurs when responding to essential questions. Jesus asked, “What are you discussing?” They responded to Jesus’ question with a question, “Are you the only stranger who doesn’t know what just happened in Jerusalem?” Jesus had no problems with questions or objections. Instead, he led them through the walk of prevenient grace as they told their stories of dashed dreams and hijacked hope.Jesus reminded them that their story will always be a part of HIS-STORY.
The hearts of the friends on the Emmaus Road were strangely warmed. They recognized a connection with Jesus through the interpretation of scripture and the breaking of bread. It was through authentic fellowship that circumstances changed!
Friends, perplexing providence transforms injury into pardon, sadness into joy, and darkness into light. When we think its dark, we must look again to the perplexing providence of the gospel. St. John of the Cross said that when God is revealed, God is hidden and when God is hidden, God is revealed. When our hearts are breaking, individually and collectively, we hold fast to the words, the direction, and the promises of God.
Even in the darkness of COVID-19, pandemic loss of lives, social distancing, systemic racism, environmental needs, economic challenges, and uncertainty, there is hope. The invitation is ours to turn away from brokenness towards a divine destiny for the future of the world, the church, the nation, and for ourselves. The perplexing providence of God is penetrating our hearts and minds towards the dawning of restoration, renewal, and revitalization. When we think its dark, we are called to look again.
Questions for reflection:
Luke 24:13-20, Where is it most dark for you?
Luke 24:21, What promises of God do you hold?
Luke 33-35, What are you doing with unborn hope?
“The darkest hour is just before daylight.” Turn around. Darkness and despondency cannot obliterate even the most perplexing providence and divine destiny. Pentecost is upon us. Now read Psalm 139.
Grace and peace.
Rev. Dr. Bernice Williams Kirkland is Superintendent of the Atlanta-College Park District.