Sermons

"Easter Isn't Over Yet," Third Sunday in Easter, Year B

"Easter Isn

Apr 15, 2018

Passage:Luke 24:36-48

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Jill Walters

Series: Easter

Category: Incarnation, Resurrection

Keywords: good news, joy, peace, resurrection

Summary:

Like the disciples, the resurrection can be a difficult thing to comprehend. Amongst our lives of challenge and difficulty, we can start to forget the joy and peace that Christ brings with the resurrection. But if we open our hearts and minds, we can continue to encounter Christ everywhere and at all times. Then we can proclaim the Good News to all people!

Detail:

May the Words of my mouth and the meditations of each heart be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer.  Amen.

​It’s only been two weeks since we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.  We were filled with joy.  We took part in the beauty and excitement and love that permeated our worship and our time together.  Even though the weather was a little cool, it didn’t stop us from proclaiming the glorious news that Christ has risen indeed!

For the disciples, this realization hasn’t yet occurred.  They’ve heard rumors and some have even seen glimpses of a risen Lord.  But most of them haven’t yet encountered the resurrected Christ...until today’s reading from the last chapter of Luke.

The disciples are hidden away because they’re in danger.  Their fear is justified.  If they’re found to be followers of the condemned Jesus of Nazareth, they, too, could suffer a similar fate.  The possibility of death is very real and very likely.  They’re paralyzed by fear.  They’re overcome with grief.  And they’re baffled by recent events.

Then Jesus appears among them.  Now, Luke doesn’t give us a fantastical image of Jesus waving a wand and magically making everything all right.  Luke clearly understands and wants us to remember that Jesus walked the earth in a fragile, human body.  Jesus lived in our world as one of us with all its pain and fear and joy and pleasure. 

Jesus shows his compassion throughout this encounter with the disciples.  He understands their pain and confusion.  The first thing he does is greet them with “Peace be with you.”  He knows that they need some peace in the midst of this chaos.  He knows it won’t come right away, but they’re in desperate need of peace.

The disciples’ response is to be startled and terrified.  They think they’re seeing a ghost!  I love this response.  It’s is so real.  It’s so logical.  These aren’t followers whose faith is so instant and easy that the rest of us can’t relate to it.  When a dead person appears to us, we’re going to be startled and terrified!  We’re most likely going to think they’re a ghost or hallucination or a creation of our grief-stricken imaginations. 

In his compassion for all they’ve endured, Jesus offers them evidence.  He invites them to touch him, to see that his body is really real.  Then he asks for something to eat.  He eats a piece of fish to further prove to them that he has indeed returned to them with a human body.

Now they’re starting to get it.  The hope is starting to return.  Luke says that “in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering....”  Again, this story gives us real people.  They recognize that Jesus has returned to them.  They’re filled with happiness...but they still aren’t quite sure to make of all of this. 

Jesus begins to teach them and proclaim them as witnesses.  They are.  They’ve observed all of this, from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry to his death and resurrection.  They’re the ones who are called to give evidence of the truth...that things aren’t the same anymore...that these events have transformed the world in ways even they don’t understand yet.

We’re so much like these disciples.  Even though we celebrated Easter two weeks ago with all its joy and excitement.  For many of us, daily life filled with anxiety and fear and insecurity have overshadowed the celebration of the resurrection.  We’re already starting to forget the hope and light that Easter brings. 

We’re trudging through the challenges of every day life.  We’re worried about our health or our parents or our children or our siblings.  We’re concerned about a job or money or housing.  We’re troubled by relationships that are fragile or even in ruins.  We’re plagued by feelings of not living up to others’ expectations or even our own. 

Easter becomes a distant memory and Jesus is more of a ghost than a real presence in our lives.  I don’t think God expects us to keep up an Easter Day level of joy all the time.  God knows that we live in a sometimes unpredictable and broken world.  But that’s why we need Jesus.  God also sees all the good that already exists and is possible in the world.  And that’s why God sent Jesus.

Today’s reading leaves out an important part of this ending in Luke.  If we read the following and final verses of this chapter, it says that Jesus blessed them.  Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, spending their time in the temple praising God.

Just like the disciples, we need these encounters with Jesus to remind us of the Good News.  And we can find Jesus everywhere, if we open our hearts and minds to them. 

We can find Jesus in the line waiting for coffee when someone ahead of us pays for our drink.  We can find Him when we bring food to someone who is ill or struggling.  We can find Him in the joy of music or the sound of laughter.  We can find Him when someone reaches out to us and encourages us.  We can Him even as we are present in someone’s last moments of life. 

Although the disciples started with fear and grief and disbelief, their encounter with Jesus returned them to a state of joy.  It led them to the peace he first offered them.  Their desire to worship God returned.  They’re ready to follow their call to proclaim repentance and forgiveness to all people in all the world.  They’re ready to let everyone know that none are to be left out of the Kingdom of God! 

Jesus and this Good News can be found everywhere.  It’s for everyone!  That’s the Easter message.  That’s the joy and peace we can carry with us as we see Christ in others and as we show Christ to others.  That’s the joy that remains in our hearts even when the challenges of daily life wear on us.  Even when we don’t necessarily feel that joy and peace, it’s there.  That’s the promise of the resurrection—Jesus returns to us over and over and over again as we proclaim the power of God’s love throughout the world.  Amen.