Third Sunday of Easter
Luke 24:36b-48 (NRSV)
Eating with the risen Christ
"Peace be with you." They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost 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. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
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, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
Today is the Third Sunday in the Season of Easter! Once again, we meet the risen Christ as he appears to his disciples.
Isn’t it grand that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, just as he said? But, the disciples are still having a hard time wrapping their minds around this very profound and life-changing truth.
When Jesus comes into their midst, they are “startled and terrified.” Have you ever felt this way in the presence of God?
There are many reasons why one might be startled or terrified. Some people feel terrified because they are ashamed. They worry that they will not be good enough or that God won’t actually forgive them for the mistakes of the past. They remember their sin and it causes them to tremble in the presence of God.
Others feel this way because they are not accustomed the work of Spirit. They think of God as someone far away, up in the sky, who isn’t concerned with the affairs of humanity. When God breaks into their daily existence through nature, song, experience, or the words and/or actions of others, it is startling.
Whatever the case, it is always a good thing when Jesus shows up! I love Jesus’ first words to the disciples. He says, “Peace be with you.” As he felt the fear and anxiety rising up in their hearts, he spoke peace into their lives.
I don’t know about you, but I need more peace on a daily basis. There is so much that disturbs our peace here on Earth. There are wars and rumors of war, conflict, rape, torture, and genocide.
There is hunger, thirst, homelessness, joblessness, home foreclosure, and falling 401k plans. There are broken marriages, wayward children, sick and/or dying family members and friends.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point! We all have things in our lives that “disturb our peace,” and into the chaos of our lives Jesus enters saying, “Peace be unto you…Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?”
Because Jesus is risen, we live in ultimate victory. We don’t have to worry about the little battles, because the war has already been won. When Jesus died on the cross and then rose again victorious over sin, death, and the grave, we were guaranteed the great joy that comes from knowing, “He is risen! He is risen, indeed!”
Today’s scripture says that even in their joy, the disciples were still unbelieving. Now this may sound strange, but I’ve seen this happen. I’ve talked with non-Christian friends who may be willing to concede that God loves and that Jesus is risen, but they are still unable to believe that God loves THEM and that God has forgiven THEIR sins.
They say things like, “I don’t deserve the love of God. You don’t know what I’ve done in the past. You don’t know how I’ve hurt others…”
And my answer is always the same. I say, “I don’t know. But, God does and that is exactly why God’s great love gave Jesus to die on the cross to save you from your sin and to give you the gift of eternal life.”
Wow! Even me, Lord?
Yes, even you…
No matter who you are, or where you’ve been, God knows you and loves you with an unconditional-never give up-never walk away-always abounding-love that will not let you go!
That is why Jesus appeared to the disciples saying, “Peace be unto you.” That is why Jesus asked, “Why are you frightened and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” That is why Jesus allowed the disciples to see the wounds in his hands and feet and that is why he was willing to eat fish with them, soothing their worries and fears as they ate a meal together.
Isn’t this amazing, my friends? Jesus has just been resurrected from the dead and yet he is willing to do something so simple, mundane, and HUMAN, as to sit and eat dinner with his friends!
I am so honored that although Jesus is fully God, he is also fully human. That humanity and that divinity reaches out to us, meeting us right where we are, and loving us just as we are, until we come into a saving faith in Jesus Christ!
I am so glad that Jesus is so patient with us! As Spirit speaks to our hearts and minds, opening up the scriptures so that we can understand them, we become witnesses to the Truth.
God loves. God gave. God saves. As this profound Truth takes up residence in our hearts and minds we become willing and eager witnesses in our homes, neighborhoods, work places, and communities.
Jesus has said, “You are witnesses to these things.”
Jesus Christ saves and He saves to the utmost!
Alleluia! He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
Who will you share Jesus with today?
Risen Savior, how I love you! Thank you that you speak peace into every storming situation in my life. Thank you that you chase away my worry, fear, and doubt. Help me to be full of faith and bold in my witness. You are surely resurrected from the dead! Please help me to share this GOOD NEWS with others! In Jesus Name, Amen.
If you have additional questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, "Come to Jesus"
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From Pastor Yolanda's blog http://aintathatgoodnews.blogspot.com