Sunday, April 19, 2015

3rd Sunday in Easter - Luke 24:35-48 - "An Unequal Expression of Love"

“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all nations . . .”

Is there an expression of love equal to this?  

  • An innocent – Suffering – a punishment for bringing to the people God, the Father’s message of His love for all His people.
  • Jesus, in His human condition, frail and vulnerable – Sacrificed – a cruel and painful death on the shameful cross. 
  • In a dark lonely tomb – Burial - the ultimate finality of His human condition.  The reality of mortality – the end to the experience of this life.

This is, ‘The-story-so-far . . .’ that the disciples faced in that room.  They had difficulty in making sense of what Clopas and his companion told them of their encounter with the Lord while escaping to Emmaus.  The disciples are distraught, confused - nothing makes any sense to them.  The empty tomb is a mystery.  The strange message from an angel, given them by Mary Magdala, that Jesus would meet them in Galilee.

Jesus’ followers, his companions for the last three years, are frightened, disheartened and bewildered by all that has happened.  
They hide because they fear that they too may suffer persecution for their association with Jesus.
The loss of their leader leaves them alone and directionless.  The last three years have come to naught; shattering all their hopes and dreams.

What happened to his body?  What does Mary’s message mean?  How does Clopas know it was Jesus he met on the road and why didn’t they recognize him until he broke the bread?  Why did all this happened? What does it all mean?

It is easy to understand why, when Jesus appears to the disciples – they are startled and terrified.  This is something new and strange.  This is an unprecedented encounter with the Risen Lord.

Jesus shows the disciples that He is not a ghost.  His appearance among them is not some apparition or vapor or a reflected image.  He is real flesh and bone.  He takes nourishment, just as they do.  He is their Jesus, the Christ resurrected.  In that room they encounter the Risen Lord.  He is the fulfillment of all He promised.  

Jesus risen is the power and glory of God.  He is the beloved Son; suffering pain and death for our sins – a sacrifice, once for all – for all people, for all time, - so we may be freed from captivity to sin through repentance; - asking God’s forgiveness of our sins to receive His mercy and love.  

Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, the psalms and the prophets.  God’s Son, sent to live among us; revealing to us the Father’s great love and desire for His children to regain what was lost through Adam, the heavenly kingdom and eternal life.  It is only through the Risen Jesus, the innocent one, sacrificed, that we are welcomed into the embrace of our heavenly Father forever.

It is by our encounter with the Risen Christ that we have all revealed to us.  Only when we truly accept Him risen do we, like Peter, John, James and the others, begin to understand all that has happened.  Only when we receive Christ present among us – real flesh, real bone, - in a most human estate – can we make sense of His life, death and resurrection.

In the Risen Christ, we now see the glory of God revealed.  In the Risen Christ, we now have our inheritance – the promise of God, the Father realized.  In rising up - beyond the reach of death - Jesus has shown us the Father’s love.  Meriting for us forgiveness through repentance of our sins; delivering us from the grip of a death in sin to the glory of life everlasting. 

Jesus is the one who, “. . . has no greater love than this, (than) to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  This is the Good News of Jesus Christ that we are called to bring to all nations.  

This is the unequaled expression of His love. 

Deacon Don

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