Now, the Resurrection and Pentecost seem to me to have meant just this one thing, the seeing of Christ. You remember when He was considered dead and buried, even disciples were in black despair and eclipsed of faith and hope, and some went on the way to Emmaus very sad indeed; and their words were, ”We hoped that it was He Who should redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). But before the end of that episode was reached, we are told that He opened their understanding that they might know the Scriptures. Having taken up the Scriptures right from the beginning and spoken to them things concerning Himself, He opened their understanding, and it was just that that was marking His appearances during the forty days after His resurrection.
They were in some altogether new way coming to see Him. Oh no, not now physically merely that He was alive, that He had a body; it was not merely this that was being borne in upon them very powerfully. They were seeing Him Who He was; the mystery of His Person was breaking down. They were seeing Him, and the day of Pentecost seemed to bring that through to full birth. The forty days were moving up to that day, and then on that day by the coming of the Holy Spirit the thing was consummated, and in the full blaze of Who He was, the Church was born. It seems to me that the Church was born, yes, by the Holy Spirit, but by the Holy Spirit’s breaking open to men who Jesus was after all. It seems to me that is how everyone came into the Church. They saw by an operation of the Holy Spirit Who Jesus was. That is how Paul came in on the Damascus road; he saw who Jesus of Nazareth was. On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven, as under the power of the Holy Spirit they opened their mouths, and the spontaneous declaration was all about Who Jesus was, and they are men in a new revelation.
The disciples went out in the power of having seen, having had their eyes opened to the Lord Jesus. It was as though they had been men moving in the shadows during those years, groping, sometimes feeling an assurance, a certain amount of certainty, but then questionings, uncertainties coming in, shadows all the time. But at last the heavens were rent, the blaze broke through, and they saw. It was in the light of that they were constituted witnesses, representatives. It was in the light of that that the Church was born. It was in the light of that that the Church went on its way so effectively. The fact was that wherever they came, it was the impact of God in Christ by their presence. Their presence stirred hell, because hell felt anew, God is here!