Luke 24:53 “And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”
Observation: This last verse of Luke’s Gospel depicts men who have been profoundly changed from their former condition. Following Jesus’ crucifixion they had been abjectly saddened. Then a few hours later word came of His resurrection, after which Jesus appeared personally to them. Verse 41 tells us they were filled with joy and amazement.
Application: What a roller-coaster of emotional extremes; apparently being a disciple of Christ is not for the faint of heart. But see how the chapter ends: they are back at Jerusalem’s temple filled with great joy, continually praising God.
At the temple? Isn’t this the same place where God had three days earlier ripped the veil in two as utter darkness pervaded the place? Isn’t this the same temple where the chief priests of Judaism presided? What frustration and fear must have occupied the priests’ minds as these men stayed “continually” at the temple, praising god?
Some might imagine the disciples had signed up to use a small classroom somewhere in the temple basement, perhaps near the boiler room where raucous praises would not disturb the upstairs orthodox. After all, the disciples wouldn’t have wanted to tweak the sensibilities of the traditionalists upstairs, would they? Does that have the ring of even remotest possibility?
No, these were men transformed, made fearless. The priestly leadership had done its worst to stifle the Christ movement by killing its leader, yet just a few hours later these same men came streaming back into town in jubilation and headed straight to the city’s main house of worship where they, well…worshipped. No longer tentative, they were filled with an exuberance whose voice would have carried throughout the temple no matter the remoteness of their meeting room.
I cannot know with certainty how this display impacted the hearts of others in the temple, but of this I am confident: their praises were genuine, not for show, something extraordinarily rare in the temple’s history. And their praises contained not a scrap of bitterness toward opposing leadership. When Christ has truly impacted my heart all judgment and vindictiveness are drained away, permitting pure, unadulterated praise to ring forth.
Prayer: Father, fill me today with such joyful abandonment that spontaneous praise would continually pour from me, even if I am in the midst of unbelievers. No matter the temple of darkness in which I find myself, I desire that praise would overflow.