Friday, April 4, 2008

Easter 3 - April 6, 2008

Easter 3
April 6, 2008
Luke 24:13-35

O Lord, open Thou my eyes!

In the breaking of the bread, the risen Christ reveals himself to two followers on the way to Emmaus. As two followers of Jesus walk to Emmaus, they are joined by a Stranger who overhears their discussion of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Stranger asks questions as though he knew nothing about the events. When they expressed their despair, Jesus began to expound the Scriptures concerning Himself.

When they reached their destination, they insisted that the stranger have a meal with them. When He blessed and broke the bread, they knew at once that He was the risen Lord. Immediately they returned to Jerusalem to report to the disciples. For us, living almost 2000 years after these events took place we can be confident that the Lord is truly risen in deed. This Lesson teaches us that Jesus reveals Himself to us specifically in His Word and in the Sacrament.

Let us pray to the Lord:

O God, through the humiliation of Your Son You raised up the fallen world. Grant to Your faithful people, rescued from the peril of everlasting death, perpetual gladness and eternal joys; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

It is a strange tale of two men who look at Jesus but do not recognize him. The death and resurrection did not change Jesus’ physical appearance except for the wound print. The physical appearance did not help these men to recognize the resurrected Jesus. This is a comfort to us, because we today must look elsewhere than the physical body to know Jesus has risen from the dead.

Getting to know the risen Lord.

1. What keeps us from seeing Him today?

A. Eyes that are downcast — v. 17, “He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast.

In this passage we see that the fact of the empty tomb failed to convince the disciples of the resurrection, “In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” (vv. 22-24). The women reported the empty tomb to the disciples. Some checked out the story and found it to be the case. Yet, they did not believe Jesus rose from the dead. Today we cannot base the reality of the resurrection solely on the fact of the empty tomb. At best, it is only a matter of circumstantial evidence, a negative witness.

B. Hearts that are in despair — v. 21, “but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.” If an empty tomb was the only evidence of the Savior’s resurrection we too would be forced to live our lives in despair. What caused the tomb to be empty? Had someone stolen Him away? Had the women stumbled upon the wrong tomb? An empty is not enough. What was necessary was the appearance of Jesus visibly risen from the dead.

Transition: What happens when Jesus becomes a personal reality? Does anything in your life change? Anything better or different? In the case of the two men on the way to Emmaus, their lives before they met the risen Lord were filled with sadness and despair. After their visit and conversation with Jesus, they were different men. If church members are living in a state of sadness and despair, they need to confront the resurrected Christ.

2. What enables us to know Jesus is alive?

A. Word — Scriptures — v. 32, “They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

If the disciples had known their Bibles, they would not have been surprised at the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus used the scriptures to show that all that happened to him was foretold.

According to this text, Jesus saw himself in the scriptures and confirmed that all of the prophets had told about his death and resurrection. If Jesus is the Son of God and if the cross and empty tomb are the sole work of God, it is to be expected that God’s Word would say something about it. What is it that God’s Word says to us?

1. God our Father is the author of the death and resurrection.

2. God our Father through the prophets promised to send a Messiah.

3. Jesus our Savior through the cross and resurrection accomplished the salvation of the world.

B. Sacraments — Lord’s Supper — vv. 30, 31, “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.”

What is it that you see on the altar? Is it merely bread and wine? Or is it something more? In, with and under these elements of bread and wine is the true body and blood of our Savior Jesus given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Here are the tokens of the Savior’s love and esteem for you. He offered His body as a sacrifice for your sin. He poured out His blood to win for you salvation and life eternal. Here are the marks of the Savior’s love and care for you. Every time you approach the Lord’s altar you receive the promises of the Savior visibly. These are not mere symbols. They are the means by which we receive salvation and life.

The truth of the resurrection is beyond doubt only when the risen Lord is experienced as the two men on the way to Emmaus experienced Jesus in Word and Sacrament.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

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