Sunday, April 26, 2009

Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

Third Sunday of Easter
April 26, 2009
Luke 24:36-49

The Resurrection is victory. It’s all about power and glory and the defeat of Satan and death and hell. But when you look at what happened after Jesus rose from the grave the disciples don’t understand the victory. Jesus shows them who He is and what He has done but they’re still in a daze about the whole thing. Yes, they’re happy and glad that Jesus is back and that He’s truly God. But they’re surrounded by the world. They still wonder what the enemies that put Jesus to death might yet do to them. Yes, Jesus is alive, but how much has really changed? Why, as we heard last week, are they still locked up in a room a week after He has conquered the grave?

A lot of our questions have to do with our expectations. We expect things to be radically different when God enters the picture. And while things may be exciting at the moment, in day to day life how much have we really been impacted by Him? What we’re expecting is different from what God is giving. What we need is humility. We need to come to our Lord expecting that we don’t fully understand what we need. He’s the one who knows and He’s the one who gives us what we need.

That’s why, after all that Jesus had done, after all they had witnessed, they still didn’t understand what was going on. So what did Jesus do? He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. What does this mean? How did He do this? Did He do something here like He did with the ears of the deaf and the eyes of the blind, where He opened them? Where they could now miraculously hear and see? So, in the case of the disciples here, they now miraculously understood the Scriptures?

That sure would have been great, wouldn’t it? They now suddenly understood everything perfectly. Doesn’t it seem, though, that the more we study the Scriptures, the more we see we need to study them? The more we learn, the more we need to know? That was the case with them. They still didn’t fully understand. But what they did have now was the crucified and risen Lord standing before them and showing them that what they had, and would continue to have even after He would ascend into heaven, was the Scriptures. He was showing them that the pages of Scripture don’t just contain information on a page, but are the very Living Word of God which delivers to them—their hearts, minds, and souls—the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ Himself.

Things aren’t always as they seem. Jesus might have appeared to be a ghost, but He was flesh and blood, as He showed when He invited them to touch Him, when He ate the fish in their presence. The pages of Holy Scripture may have seemed to be just words, but they were the very message of salvation brought about through Jesus. The disciples might have thought themselves simply as students of their master, but they were in fact witnesses to His death and resurrection and ambassadors to the world of the Gospel message of repentance and forgiveness.

Jesus rising from the dead puts everything into perspective. Now He says, You see, the entire Scriptures are all about Me and what I have done to accomplish salvation. His laying it out before them is nothing else than what He will continue to do for them in their lives.

We, too, have experienced the risen Lord coming to us in our lives. We have actually been raised from the dead ourselves. With Him. In our Baptism, we have been united with Christ. You have new life in Christ even though you don’t fully understand how Christ is significant in your daily life. Things aren’t always as they seem, and you might wonder how significant it really is that you are united with Christ. You don’t necessarily seem to be any better off than non-Christians. But this is why Christ always opens our minds to the Scriptures, laying them out for us, that they always flow from Him and point us back to Him. Christ, who is Almighty God, is not interested in showing off spectacular displays of power. Indeed, when He rose from the grave He did it when no one was around. His display of love is through humbly serving us. You may not seem to be better off, but be assured that your soul is in the eternal care of the Almighty and Loving God.

When you go through your day to day life, do you feel like locking yourself up back to safety? Away from where you can’t be touched by the things that cause you distress, the things you fear, the things that can harm you? It’s impossible to do, isn’t it, because even in our homes we run up against difficulties with our loved ones. When we seek reprieve from the stress of our lives, we often find temptations in our times of relaxing to engage in behaviors or thoughts that aren’t just relaxing, but indulgent of our sinful nature. That’s how one alcoholic drink can easily turn into too many. How an hour or two of TV can turn into hours, and how that can easily become a habit. How, in fact, anything we do for relaxation or enjoyment can become an addiction for us where we find that we have no hunger for God’s Word or our Lord’s Holy Supper.

These are the places where we’ll find the strength and rampart we need. Things aren’t always as they seem. The Body and Blood of Christ you receive often here at this altar might not seem any special help or strength when you’re battling temptation in the middle of the week. It doesn’t necessarily seem that the Body and Blood of Christ in, with, and under the bread and wine translate into helping you feel better during the week when you’re hit hard by the realities of life. But the Lord’s Supper isn’t a shot in the arm. You don’t come here on Sunday morning to get motivated for the rest of the week, hoping you’ll last at least half way through. The Lord’s Supper is Christ coming to you, just as He did to the disciples. You are witnesses of these things. You are Baptized, united with Christ. You eat and drink the very Body and Blood of Christ. Your ears take in the proclamation of the Gospel straight to your heart and soul.

You are a disciple of Christ. You live in union with Him. You’re not just trying to get by. You’re a redeemed son or daughter of the Living God. You bring the Good News of the crucified and Risen Lord to a world that is looking for a shot in the arm. Don’t offer them that—that’s what they’re already offered by the world. Give them Christ. That’s what you’ve received. He’s who you received. Things are not always as they seem. They may seem to think nothing more of what you’re giving them than they do the fact that it’s trash day. But know that Christ is the Teacher. Know that He sends His Holy Spirit to work in their lives to bring them to faith. He has done so with you. He continues to strengthen you in that faith: in His Word, in your Baptism, and in His Holy Supper; both in this life and to eternity. Amen.


No comments: