Title: Christ has sent the promise of the Father upon you!
Text: Luke 24:36-49
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
As you joy in the Easter season may you be reminded that the Lord Christ has made peace with the Father for you and has sent the promise of the Father upon you!
In our gospel today we see a scene unfold as the scene from last weekends gospel in John, where Jesus came and stood in the midst of the disciples in the locked room. In Luke’s gospel though - it follows Jesus after he walked with the two men on the Emmaus road.
As these two men walk towards Emmaus which is about 7 miles outside of Jerusalem, Jesus joins them and remains unrecognized by them. He asks them what they are discussing and they can’t believe that he is unaware of what just happened in Jerusalem to Jesus of Nazareth. They recount that the Chief Priests had turned Jesus over to be sentenced to death and that he had been crucified and now it is the third day … and the women … who went to the tomb to anoint his body say his body is not there. There are some who even say they saw a vision of angels that say that Jesus is alive and has been raised from the dead!
As they continue on, Jesus open the scriptures to them – showing that the Christ would have to suffer, die, and rise again.
30 When [Jesus] was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.
This is where we pick up the story in the Gospel reading for today as these two Emmaus road disciples go back to Jerusalem to confirm to the disciples that they had seen the Lord.
Jesus is present with those gathered saying, “Peace to you!”
He confirms to them that it is him. “Touch me, and see!” For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
And we are told that they disbelieved for joy … that this Christ … present here … was in a sense, too good to be true!
That can also seem too good to be true for you and me as well. Consumed at times by life’s activities, we are overwhelmed by so much that is given to us daily, that we can forget the one gift that is truly needed … peace with God.
Disbelieved for joy can be only unbelief for some.
A few years ago I received a call from my good friend Paul. He told me about his wife’s cousin Jolie, who was dying from cancer and had very little time to live. He also said that his wife Rebecca wanted to talk to me.
As he gave me some of the details, I found that not only was the cousin dying but she was an unbeliever and not receptive to hearing about Christ at all … even as she neared death.
Paul told me, his wife Rebecca would be driving up north to be with her cousin, who had been sent home die, as there was according to the doctors, “No hope and nothing left to do!”
But for we who name the name of Christ there is always hope and there is always … plenty left to do.
Rebecca wanted to know what to do, and what she could say to a cousin who said to her, “I don’t share your beliefs or faith.” This happened right after Rebecca called her cousin and wished her “Happy Easter,” on Easter Sunday.
What would you say … what could you say … what should I say?
As the time of a death nears for a loved one we often feel lost. We want to comfort them, we want to give them hope, and we also need to be comforted ourselves.
Jesus says to the disciples and to us,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms, must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44
The word of God written for us is Christ’s word and it is he – the word made flesh - who Paul tells us in first Timothy:
… desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Tim 2:4
I spoke with Rebecca about reading scripture to her cousin if at all possible, sharing her faith, and even singing some hymns. I told her a few stories of people that I had witnessed to but also told her … that she might not hear the words she so hopes to hear from her cousin … “I believe.”
But I also reminded her to, “not be discouraged, because it is God himself who opens the eyes of the blind and works in the lives of all who are brought to faith.”
It is his work, it is his grace, and it is his salvation … that we witness to and share with others - just as Jesus did on the Emmaus road.
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, as he did with his own disciples.
Even if we don’t hear the words of faith we long to hear from those we love, God can still do and accomplish all that he intends to do to draw and bring those he desires to a believing faith.
“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Luke 24:46-47
That repentance … and forgiveness of sins … should be proclaimed in his name to all nations …
… even to one … on her death bed … up north … in Michigan.
48 You are witnesses of these things.
Rebecca was a faithful witness testifying to the things she has not seen - yet believes.
She read and shared God’s word with her cousin and as a believer she came to her cousin at a time of need and then came back many times with God’s word of comfort.
Jolie passed away this past summer – not immediately as the doctors had expected – and Rebecca never heard the words she longed to hear.
But in life and in death - we are left at times with simple hope and trust.
Hope in a savior who saves … and trust in the promise of God.
49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
The promise of the Father is upon you too, as the Holy Spirit dwells in you richly and points you outside yourself to a living hope, and a living savior – and a living Jesus who is Christ our Lord.
He is Risen! He is Risen indeed Alleluia!
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit