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Posts Tagged "Luke 24:36-49"

Living Proof! Living Word!

April 18, 2021
By Rev. James Barton

Who was there behind locked doors that first Easter evening? We know that there were ten of the original disciples, minus Judas and Thomas. But Luke also adds, “and those who were with them, gathered together” (Luke 24:33). We don’t know who these people were or how many of them were there, but it might have been a fairly large number.

For them, it had already been a busy day. Women had come from the tomb of Jesus to tell them that the tomb was open and empty, except for two angels, who told them that Jesus had risen from the dead (Luke 24:1-6). Mary Magdalene also told them that she had seen and talked with the living Lord Jesus (John 20:11-18). Luke tell us, though, “These words seemed to the apostles and the others to be an idle tale, and they did not believe” the women (Luke 24:10-11).

Simon Peter then ran to the tomb to see for himself and found everything just as the women had said. Later that day, Jesus appeared alive also to him, though we do not have the details of that appearance in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:5). Cephas is another name for Simon Peter (John 1:42, 1 Corinthians 1:12). He too had reported back to the others, and they knew that Peter also said that he had seen Jesus. In fact, just before our text Luke tells us that they were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon” (Luke 24:34).

Then, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus had Jesus appear to them too and taught them the Scriptures. He clearly showed them that He was the risen Lord Jesus as He blessed and broke bread and gave it to them (Luke 24:13-32). Then Jesus “vanished from their sight,” and they hurried back to Jerusalem to tell the apostles about the living Jesus too (Luke 24:33-35).

Then our text for today begins and we hear, “As they were talking about these things, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’ (Luke 24:36). You might think, by this time, that the disciples would be overjoyed and get it that this was their Risen Lord. Instead we read, “But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit” - maybe something like a ghost or something not real (24:37).

If you read through the Gospels, that is exactly how these disciples often were. Jesus had been with them for about three years, and He knew them well. They were a tough, stubborn group, hard to teach and to get them to understand. In fact something like this had happened earlier. Jesus had done an amazing miracle. He took five loaves of bread and two fish, and looked up to heaven and blessed the food and was able to multiply it to feed 5,000 men plus women and children. The disciples were there and had helped Jesus pass out all this food. They knew the miracle and what had happened. Jesus then sent them ahead by boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. He took time to dismiss the crowd and pray to His Father in heaven and then He came, walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee, to His disciples still in the boat because the wind was against them and they were making little progress (Mark 6:34-48).

In Mark’s gospel we read, “When they saw Jesus walking on the Sea, they thought it was a ghost, and they cried out and were terrified” (Mark 6:49-50). Jesus immediately reassured them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he stopped the wind that was troubling them and got in the boat and they were “utterly astounded.” Mark adds, by the inspiration of God, “For they (the disciples) did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:52). They still did not understand who Jesus really was and what He had come to do. Some of that hardness of heart was still there in the disciples on Easter evening.

Jesus showed great love and patience and care for His disciples, though, in giving living proofs that it really was He, the same Jesus who died on the cross, who was alive again with them. Jesus does and says these things also for us, for our benefit and our faith too. We have not had the chance to see the Risen Lord Jesus as they did, but we do have the eyewitness testimony of those who were there. These words of Jesus are for us too, especially when we have low and difficult times, and when questions and doubts trouble us about our life and faith.

Listen to what Jesus said to them and to us: “Why are you troubled and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet” (Luke 24:38-40). They were surely able to see the nail marks on His hands and feet and to touch Him. As Pastor French said so well in last week’s sermon, it wasn’t just doubting Thomas who needed some more proof. They all needed it and they had the chance to “touch and see” the living Lord Jesus.

Yet we read, “They still disbelieved for joy and were marveling” (24:41). There seems to have been belief and unbelief mixed together. Maybe it all seemed to be too good to be true. They were so surprised by the joy that Jesus really could be alive and standing before them. So, Jesus gave them another living proof. “He said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.’” A ghost or a figment of their imagination could not take and consume food until it was gone; but Jesus had done just that, because He was alive and with them (24:41-43. See also Luke 24:30-31 and John 21:-14).

       

Jesus gave one more living proof of the reality of all this and of His being alive. He pointed the disciples to the living Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. They already had the Old Testament Scriptures by the inspiration of God. And there were now also the very words and deeds of Jesus Himself. And there would soon be the New Testament Scriptures, written down as the Holy Spirit led these writers. Listen again to what Jesus said, “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. Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead’” (24:44-46). It is written! Jesus had to suffer and die to pay the penalty for all sins; and Jesus had to rise from the dead on the third day to show that he had conquered sin and Satan and death. And only then, Jesus says, can and will repentance and forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in His name to all nations.

This text closes with one more promise of Jesus. He said, “I am sending the promise of the Father upon you.” He is referring to the coming of the Holy Spirit, who proceeded from the Father and the Son, Jesus, and would empower the disciples to believe and proclaim and write down the Good News accurately, for the benefit of all people, including us today, every time we read or listen to God’s Word (24:49).

Finally, these disciples were understanding, as Jesus opened their minds to understand Scripture. God’s rescue plan for this sinful world had been there all along in the Old Testament - God’s working through the Jewish nation and finally through the coming of the promised Savior. God’s rescue plan was also there, all along, in the words and deeds and saving work of Jesus. Three times He had told them, very plainly, that he had to suffer and die and on the third day rise from the dead. The disciples really didn’t understand and believe it until now, when they saw their risen living Lord Jesus standing before them.

Earlier, Jesus had said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me; yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). Jesus is the key to the Scriptures and the center of them all. God’s rescue plan is in Jesus and is Jesus.

Now the disciples were understanding for themselves and trusting in Jesus as they should - as their Savior. They still had so much to learn; but they were beginning to understand their future mission too - just to tell the world about Jesus. Jesus had put it so simply in our text, “... that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his [Jesus’s] name to all nations.” It was simply what we Lutherans call Law and Gospel. It is for all nations, because every single person in the world needs to hear that message and keep on hearing it, including you and me. It is a call to repentance, so that we realize that we are all sinners who cannot save ourselves and need rescue (the Law). It is then the sharing of the Good News of forgiveness and new and eternal life that comes only through Jesus (the Gospel). That is the message those disciples eventually went out and shared; and they never forgot this Easter evening story and the confidence and hope it gave them, in Jesus.

Peter witnessed to a man by the name of Cornelius in the Book of Acts and said, “They put Jesus to death by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him on the third day and made Him to appear … to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead” (Acts 10:39-41). Peter never forgot that broiled fish that Jesus ate to prove that he was alive.

And you can hear the apostle John thinking about Easter evening as he wrote in 1 John, “That which was from the beginning [God the Son, who always existed and then became the God-man, Jesus, according to His Father’s plan] which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes and touched with our hands … the Word of Life … the Eternal Life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us” (1 John 1:1-2). And John went on to preach and write just what Jesus wanted. In 1 John 1:8 he wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (the Law calling us sinners and calling us to repentance.) Then he wrote in verse 9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins).  This is what we all still need to keep hearing still today through the living Word of God. We are sinners; but every sin, every failure, every time of doubting and struggle of faith, is forgiven and forgotten in Jesus. In Him is our hope and our eternal future; and we can say in Lutheran terms, “This is most certainly true” in the living Christ and His living Word. Amen.

Killing the Lord of Life

April 15, 2018
By Rev. David French

The appearances of Christ after His resurrection are so packed with meaning.  You not only have the obvious teaching that Jesus rose from the dead, but you also have teachings that focus on the life of the Church.  Last week we not only learned that Jesus rose from the dead, but we also learned that Jesus established the office of the Holy Ministry and gave it the authority to forgive sins.  Today’s reading again shows us that Jesus rose from the dead, and it also teaches us how to interpret the Bible and what His Church is to proclaim.

Today Jesus is again showing Himself to the disciples.  Again, Jesus invited the disciples to examine the wounds of the crucifixion saying: Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.  Touch me and see.  For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have (Luke 24:38–39).  A verse later He asks for something to eat.  You see, Jesus really wants the disciples to understand that they’re not just seeing things, that He is with them, the real flesh and blood Jesus, risen from the dead. (just like He told them.)

After Jesus had reinforced the reality of His resurrection, He began to teach His disciples a very important principle for the proper understanding of the Scriptures.  Then he said to them, “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).  And so He teaches that the only way to know Him is to look to those to whom God had revealed Him in the Old Testament.  That is, the entire Old Testament is about Him.

He then gave the disciples the precise meaning of the Scriptures as He opened their minds: and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:45–47).  Now when Jesus says: Thus it is written, He’s saying that this is what the inerrant, infallible Word of God, the Bible, says.  Since Jesus is the Christ, He Himself accomplished the suffering and the rising from the dead.  He also continued to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins until He ascended into heaven.

In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus passes the responsibility of that proclamation on to His disciples.  And each generation since has passed that responsibility on to the next, down to our own generation today.  This is the mission statement that Jesus gave to the church … proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in My name until I return.  Christ opening their minds and giving these instructions guaranteed that when the apostles wrote the books of the New Testament, those books would, without error, proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in the name of Christ.

But what does it mean to proclaim repentance?  The Augsburg Confession says, “Repentance consists of two parts.  One part is contrition (or sorrow) … through the knowledge of sin.  The other part is faith that believes that, for Christ’s sake, sins are forgiven.” (AC: I, art. xii, par. 3–5).  So step one in the proclaiming of repentance is preaching the law so that the punishment you deserve for your sin becomes very clear and real to you.  The second step is to point you to Christ and His sacrifice that saves you from the fires of hell that are the punishment we all deserve.

And what does it mean to proclaim forgiveness?  Again in Augsburg we read: Even though you are guilty and deserve punishment here on earth and forever in hell, God, for Christ’s sake, declares you righteous.  By His death, Christ made satisfaction for our sins (AC: I, art. iv, par. 2).  So the proclaiming of forgiveness begins with the gospel or the good news of Jesus paying for our sins on the cross.  Through that gospel the Holy Spirit works faith in you so that we receive all the blessings of the gospel which begins with forgiveness.

In our reading from Acts, the Holy Spirit had just worked through Peter to heal a lame man.  After Peter healed the lame man, they went into the temple area.  The man who had been lame was jumping for joy, which of course drew the attention of the crowds.  As the crowd gathered, Peter began by pointing to their sin: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.  But you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead.  To this we are witnesses (Acts 3:13–15).  Clearly Peter flat out told the crowd that they were guilty of crucifying Jesus, who was not only innocent, but is the very Son of God.

Now listen to his proclamation of forgiveness: Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago (Acts 3:19–21).  Notice how Peter points to Jesus as he describes forgiveness with the words, that your sins may be blotted out.

The interesting thing about Peter’s sermon is that not everyone who heard his sermon actually participated in the plan to kill Jesus.  But then, when you study Peter’s other sermons, you find that he regularly accused his hearers of killing Jesus even if they weren’t in Jerusalem on Good Friday.  It doesn’t take long to realize that when Peter accuses people of killing Jesus, he’s not just talking about the people who were there on Good Friday, he’s talking about the sin of the world that led to God’s wrath being poured out on Jesus that Good Friday.  That means Peter is here and now accusing us, you and me, of killing the Lord of Life with our sins.

So, with what sins have you crucified your Lord?  Have you believed gossip without checking the facts?  Do you steadfastly defend your own opinion rather than steadfastly defending all the teachings revealed in God Word?  Are you foolish or arrogant enough to believe that you don’t need to join your fellow Christians in Bible study?

Honestly who is number first in your life, you or God?  If you said God, you deceive yourself and the truth is not in you.  And that should scare you.  Do you really understand that only the repentant will go to heaven?  Have you truly repented for your sin?  Are you sure?  The good news is true repentance like true faith come not from you, but from God.  As we read in Acts 11 … So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.  That is, rejoice for your salvation from beginning to end is a work of God.

It’s true that the proclamation of the forgiveness of sin begins in fear, but it ends with the peace that surpasses human understanding because it comes from knowing that you are forgiven.  Jesus has instructed His Church to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sin in His name.  That means, anything that doesn’t speak to repentance and forgiveness in Christ does not belong in Christian worship.  And so, together, our order of worship, our preaching and teaching, and our hymns all serve to assure you that you and all who repent are, by grace through faith, God’s precious and forgiven children.

In His Name, Amen.

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