Click below to listen to the scriptures read and the sermon proclaimed.
Epistle Lesson: 1 John 5:1-6
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.
Gospel Lesson: Luke 24:13-35
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
“Christ is Risen!”
Christ is Risen Indeed!
So today we end our journey together in this sermon series of Jesus Sightings. Although this is not yet the end of the Easter season as we will still have one more week next week, this week will be the last week that we will be focusing on “where we see Jesus.”
This story from the Gospel lesson takes place on the day of Jesus’ Resurrection. It is one of my favorite Gospel stories because of the excitement we see in the telling of this story. Cleopas and a friend or some friends were journeying to a neighboring town of Jerusalem called Emmaus. About a days walk or so. Along their way, they are discussing about the confusion and weeping that we had begun our Easter season with. They were still working through what was happening and unsure of what to make of the claims that some of the women had made earlier that morning. And while they were journeying and talking, Jesus comes to them, though unrecognizable to them. Jesus overhears them discussing what had taken place and Jesus interrupts their conversation and asks what it is that they are discussing? Cleopas and his friends seemed utterly shocked and by their look also very sad. Cleopas answers something to the effect of: “Have you seriously not heard about the things that took place on this Passover Festival?!” I suppose one could relate it to the new best topic of discussion. I could imagine if you use twitter, it would’ve been the top trending topic throughout Jerusalem. Jesus though plays ignorant and wants to hear how those who follow him understand the events of the cross as he asks, “What things?” And Cleopas goes in to explaining all that had happened. About Jesus being arrested, tried, tortured, crucified, and so on. He goes on to say what the woman Mary had said she had seen earlier that morning three days after he was laid in the tomb.
Cleopas you could say told Jesus all the things that had happened, but what Cleopas had not yet done was connect what it meant. Cleopas like so many of our Christians today tell the story of the events, that Jesus dies, and Jesus is risen…but never asks to what purpose. I think this is why Jesus responds the way he does. He says to Cleopas, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory? Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” You see, Cleopas did not connect that Jesus died for a purpose, that Jesus rose with victory over sin and evil in the world. Cleopas had not recognized yet that believers were made righteous and sanctified through this victory over death. Cleopas, and too often we, still are slow of heart and tell the story without ever putting thought into what it means for us and who we are, and how we should live now because of God’s victory through Christ.
But this story continues.
Cleopas and others come to the town to which they live. Jesus, the stranger, continues on as if he was going further in his journey. Cleopas, seeing that the day is nearly over offers hospitality to this strange man who has just lectured them over the last few hours on the significance of what took place in Jerusalem. As Jesus comes in to stay with them, they come to Table. And Jesus, while at table TOOK the bread, GAVE THANKS, BROKE THE BREAD, And GAVE it to them. And brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the exciting part. Are you ready for it…THEN their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.
Each and every week, we come to the Table of Christ, each week because we desire to see Jesus. If I may speak freely, let me speak for my own self here. I come to the table and I desire to come to the table each week because I want to see Jesus. I want to experience and re live all that God has done for us. In the communion liturgy each week, we hear of God’s love for us throughout all of history. We hear about God’s love for his people from Adam to Father Abraham to Moses and the prophets, we hear of God’s love through Christ for the world, this broken world. We remember the promises that God has for us and that God IS making all things new! I am excited, fed, rejuvenated to continue the ministry to which God has called me when I come and partake in the breaking of Bread. I sometimes have been told or more so these days asked, “Doesn’t it lose its meaning?” And as I have continued to think about that question I began to formulate one of my own…When you are in deep love with a significant other, does kissing the person every day ever lose its meaning? Absolutely Not…and It is this Love story that I fall head over heels each and every time I hear it. Many of you have heard how Jackie and I had met and how we fell in love from kindergarten to college. Jackie and I love to tell that story. And to us, because it is about our love for one another, it never gets old. This is what the breaking of Bread and coming to the Cup of salvation is. It is a love story, one that involves God and his children. If we desire to see God in ourselves and in our community, we must hear again and again God’s love for us, we must commune with God as often as we can. How do we have a relationship with God if we do not desire to see God. It would be like Jackie and I being on a long distance relationship and she offers to come up and see me and I say…mnuh….If you come too often I might think less of you. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t make sense. But instead Jackie and I were in a long distance relationship and my excitement never changed as I hoped to see her each week. Do we Love God that way, do we get excited to see God in the breaking of bread?
In our Gospel narrative, this excitement you may see does not escape Cleopas and his friends. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening up the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem:”. Let me stop right here and offer some detail to the extent of their excitement. They had just journeyed DOWN to Emmaus. About a 10-20 mile walk from Jerusalem. It would’ve been about a days journey. It was evening, the sun has gone down, they were probably exhausted from their days travel. But their excitement in seeing Jesus in the breaking of bread did not stop them from getting back up and walking back UP to Jerusalem. Literally UP. It is a constant up hill travel for 10-20 miles. It probably was no easy feat for them to make this journey, but they were overwhelmed with the excitement of seeing Christ. They found the 11 disciples together and they exclaim “THE LORD HAS RISEN INDEED!” This is the excitement I hope for you today and every Sunday as we come to the Table of the Lord. I hope that each week we do remember the significance of what it means for Jesus to have risen: the breaking down of evil forces and sin in our lives and freeing us to live into the Kingdom of God with Christ as our eternal light. The coming of a New Day, as God is bringing about the New Earth and New Heaven.
CHRIST IS RISEN!
CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED!