Luke 24: 36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence. 44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
“While they were still talking about this…” When I read this text the first thing I wanted to know is what was the context. It is when the Emmaus disciples reported back to the apostle what had happened to them, namely Jesus appeared to them and opened their eyes to the rumors that were going about concerning His resurrection. It was true. He is risen, He is risen indeed!
While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” This is Luke account of the post-resurrection experience and he only addresses the first appearance and moves quickly to the ascension.
Think about it. The last time He saw these cowards, (except for John) was when they were running away from Him and Peter denying Him. But what is the first thing He says to them? “Peace be with you!”
Put yourself in Jesus’ shoes. You have been with these men for 3 years. You have shown them countless miracles. Water was turned into excellent wine, thousands were fed with a small amount of food and the leftovers exceeded what they had started with. The blind were made to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk. Lepers were cleansed and the dead brought back to life! Add to all this You had clearly stated at least 5 times that you would be handed over to the Gentiles and shamefully treated and crucified but that you would be raised again in three days. Yet they still ran away when the chips were down. So- what would you say to these men??? What would I say to them? Most likely nothing- because I wouldn’t even want to be near them!
Maybe now we can see where so many Christians cannot accept pure grace because we haven’t got it in us. We have the idea that we have to earn everything we get. As the one song from the Sound of Music goes, “Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could…”
Now, of course, that is not true in modern liberal politics. The idea is that the government can give everyone everything and not grow bankrupt. However, it does come from somewhere and that is to soak the rich and make them pay for it. Studies have been made to show that if we took everything away from every millionaire and billionaire in this Country we would have enough to run this government for 6 months. Then what???
But that is politics and not religion. The question is asked in the Bible, “What must I do to be saved?” And the answer was given, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
“It is not that simple,” so many say. “First you have got to get right with God.” “But the Bible says…” “Never mind what the Bible says, I am telling you, you have got to ….. and then they add their additions.
But the Bibles does say, “We hold that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the Law.” And “Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
Indirectly, if not directly, our text demonstrates that so clearly. “While they (those who had deserted Him!) were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your minds? (No super saints who believed what was in front of their eyes!)
They hadn’t cleaned up their act. They did not find Jesus! They did not accept Jesus! Jesus found them, Jesus accepted them, Jesus forgave them before they even asked for it.
“Look at My hands and My feet. It is I myself! Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and feet.” Jesus walked the extra mile, Jesus blessed those who denied Him. Jesus didn’t meet them halfway- rather 100% of the way even walking through a lock door to do so.
“And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement..” What do we have here? It seems just too good to be true. They wanted to believe, but it was more than their human minds could accept at that time. So, what did Jesus do? First, He ate something to prove He was human and secondly “He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”
Without the Holy Spirit we cannot understand the Bible! God created the world out of nothing. Can’t happened. All the 1st born children of the Egyptians died. Well what really happened, the History Channel tells us, is that the first born slept in their father’s room and in a lower bed. And there was a marsh gas that filled the lower level of the room but not up to the father’s bed. Moses struck the water and the Red sea parted. What really happened, is that every once in a while, there is enough silt that clogs a river and blocks it for a short time. That is what the people walked on. You know, they have more faith in their garbage than I do in the Bible!
Now, onto us. I find myself very much like these Apostles. I haven’t been the most faithful follower. These are not just empty words for me from our confession, namely, “I have sinned against Thee by thought, word and deed.” Like St Paul, “O the good I want to do, I do not and the evil I do not want to do, this I do, o wretched man that I am.” And because these are not empty words, and as our Liturgy also says, “With a true heart, let us confess our sins.” and so I do, and undeservedly I hear, “I forgive you of all your sins, in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
And that begs the question, why would anyone miss any opportunity to assemble in God’s holy House of Prayer and be able to confess our sins and receive, not only Holy Absolution, but also the sign and seal of that forgiveness in the Sacrament of the Altar?
And this is where the last part of our text comes in: “You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what My Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” You and I have already had our “Pentecostal experience.” That is somehow or the other, through the preaching of the Word or from our receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit in our Baptism, our spiritual eyes and ears have been opened. We know and believe the Gospel. We have been born again to a new and living way. We are equipped to be His witnesses.
And that is what we need to be doing. We have close to 200 members and we can start right here in our own “Jerusalem.” We have never had all 200 here at one time. In fact, I will go so far as to say, not even within a month’s time. Needless to say, we have never had half that many for a Wednesday service. If you have received a blessing in these midweek services, in having the opportunity to confess your sins and receive the absolution, and in hearing the Word and receiving the Lord’s Supper, then witness the same to your fellow members!
Be an Easter Christian, that is someone who has witnessed the reality of a living Savior in your own life because He has risen! He has risen indeed! Amen!
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