Sunday, April 6, 2008

More than You Know

Third Sunday of Easter
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Luke 24:13-35

How had it all gone wrong? Everything had looked so good. Jesus seemed to be the one. Now it appeared it was all over. He had given them hope. Now He was gone.

Even more puzzling were the reports that He wasn’t in the tomb any longer. That He in fact might actually be alive. Their world had turned upside down and things were getting stranger by the minute.

Two thousand years later, we know fully what those two guys on their way to Emmaus didn’t know. We’re flies on the wall. They’re wracking their brains trying to figure out the events of the past three days and all along we know the full story.

The one guy even says to Jesus, “Are you the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on?” Well, as it turns out, Jesus is actually the only one who does know what’s going on. But it’s not like He was the only one who had all the facts available to Him. They had the Scriptures which pointed directly to the Messiah. Jesus Himself had made clear to His disciples on more than one occasion what all was going to happen.

The reason nobody knew what was going on was because they didn’t believe. The reason they didn’t believe is because they wanted Jesus to do His salvation thing according to how they wanted it to be done. But Jesus was doing His salvation according to His mercy, not according to our limited human ideas of how salvation should be accomplished.

When things don’t make sense, we wonder if God knows what He’s doing—when, in fact, He’s the only one who knows what He’s doing. The salvation promised in the Old Testament could only come through the death of the Messiah, that’s why He suffered and died as He did.

The guys on the road to Emmaus, and all the disciples, thought they had believed in Jesus. I think we too readily rely on the fact that we believe in Jesus and so we’re okay. But they found out that they really didn’t. What about us? If we really believe in Jesus then why do we break His Commandments? When troubles hit us, why do we doubt that His will is perfect? Why do we wonder if God really knows what He’s doing?

How do we come to thinking there is some sort of goodness within ourselves when we stand utterly corrupt in the sight of God, as shown by Christ accomplishing everything needed for our salvation? Why do we too often treat the Lord’s Supper as simply something that we do rather than as something we ought to hunger for? Why do we so often neglect our Baptism, not rejoicing in this everlasting gift our Lord has given to us? Why do we so little dig into the Scriptures so that we may be fed by our Lord and comforted and strengthened?

You may think that it’s no big deal that you commit those little sins—the white lies, the bad thoughts toward others who deserve it, fudging on your income tax, the questioning of God’s will when things turn sour, nasty remarks you make to your spouse, the idle gossip you engage in behind other people’s back. But God is clear: these things are not no big deal but sins against Him—the holy God who stands as Judge over all. And that includes you and your so-called little sins.

I think twenty-first century people aren’t all that different from the first century people. They didn’t believe in Jesus and what He would do and we don’t either. Saying we believe is much different than what our actions show.

The problem is the same. The good news is, so is the solution. And the solution is Jesus Himself. That’s why Jesus came to those two fellows on their melancholy road to Emmaus. Each of us travels a road through life. There are times we commiserate with our friends, our loved ones, maybe even a stranger, trying to figure it all out.

But don’t fall into the trap that they did, that Jesus didn’t know what He was doing. Don’t say, well, sure, it was easy for them! Jesus came right up to them! When has He done that for me?

And the answer is often. Often. He has come to you often in exactly the same way He came to those two gentleman on that Easter Sunday afternoon. Notice that His two ways He revealed Himself to them had nothing to do with His physical presence before them, but with two ways that He still and often comes to you today: through the Scriptures and through the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus wanted them to know He did in fact know what He was doing, but not by standing next to them every hour of every day. Rather, by opening up the Scriptures to them. By revealing Himself to them in the breaking of the bread.

We know this because they didn’t see it until He revealed Himself to them in the breaking of the bread. And then He vanished. He has come to save and He comes to you often in His Holy Scripture and in His Body and Blood of His Holy Supper.

You may not always feel like Jesus is right there in your life, guiding you and helping you in the way you need. But you can have comfort, He knows what He’s doing. More than you know. He knows what you’re going through, more than you can imagine. He Himself experienced struggles and was tempted to sin.

What appears to be is not always what is. The water applied to you at Baptism was wet and clear to the eyes of everyone witnessing it. But what you received was Christ Himself. New life. Eternal life. The forgiveness of all of your sins. The bread and wine on this altar that you will eat and drink is ordinary food. And yet, what you receive is Christ Himself, His Body and His Blood. For the forgiveness of all of your sins.

You may think that He doesn’t know what He’s doing, but He’s the only one who fully does. You may wonder why God seems way out there somewhere, when He’s the one who is most with you. No, we’re not all that different from those guys way back then. He came to them in His Holy Scriptures and His Holy Supper and He comes to us today and often in exactly the same way. He sustains us through these means so that we may be with Him for eternity in heaven. Amen.



Anonymous said...

HI Paul, I'm glad the SS lesson was on the Emmaus walk also. Christ showing them the scriptures and his revelation when he broke the bread. What a great lesson. Why do you think he disappeared right away?


rev.will said...

Hi Vona: I think He was showing them that how He would come to them would be in the Breaking of the Bread--the Lord's Supper, that's why He disappeared immediately. Forty days later He disappeared again when He ascended into heaven--and yet, He hasn't left us, He still comes to us in the Scriptures and the Breaking of the Bread.


Anonymous said...

I see, He will no longer be visible but still present with us in the Word and Sacraments. Even when they did see him, they didn't SEE who he really was until the breaking of bread so that makes it seem even more important.

rev.will said...

Zactly! Couldn't have said it better myself. :-)