Third Sunday of Easter – Sermon 241

3rd of Easter CW

Holy Communion, 10.00 am

4th May 2014

Bible References :

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Prayer to start

May the word of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ

AMEN

 

Introduction

 

The Story on the road to Emmaus – like the story of the Prodigal Son – is perhaps one of the most-best loved stories in the Bible –

 

At the level of drama – it has everything – sorrow – suspense – puzzlement – a gradual dawning of light – then in the second half – unexpected actions – astonishing recognition – and a flurry of excitement and activity-

 

A wonderful – unique tale – and at the same time a model for what being a Christian – is all about-

 

 

Point 1        Road to Emmaus

 

Like Matthew and John, Luke begins his resurrection accounts – with the discovery of the Empty Tomb – but then follows it up with Jesus meeting two of his followers – on a journey – rather than at the tomb side –

 

The disciples had just witnessed Jesus being beaten and whipped – and put to death on the cross – they saw Him die and not lift a finger to help Himself or to cry out against His attackers –

 

They were disillusioned – heartbroken – their hopes – all but shattered –

 

Listen to this account by Hilary Faith Jones –

 

There was no point in looking back – three crosses etched – against the sky –brutal violence – bloody scars – in the memory

 

The two travelers were wrapped within themselves – encircled by pain and despair –

 

They didn’t notice the man waiting at the side –

He made them start – appearing as He did from the quickening shadows –

 

‘May I journey with you?’ He said

 

They nodded silently barely glancing at Him –

He fell in step with them –

 

The conversation was stilted – disjointed – until the bigger of the two stopped – and looked at the stranger –

 

‘Look – we don’t want to talk’ – we’ve had it up to here – leave off will you!’

 

The stranger nodded – but did not withdraw – He continued to walk – with them – the silence became heavy – Then after a little while – the stranger turned and said – ‘Why do you grieve so?’

 

The other disciple wanted to talk – and turned – towards Him – ‘We watched out friend die’

 

but in the dusk –  He saw again – the look of the man He loved – his grief caught Him – his voice broke –  he turned away to smother the pain –

 

‘He was more than our friend’ – said the first disciple – ‘more than that – bigger – stronger – we had such dreams – such belief – that He would change the world’- ‘But He’s dead!’ – cold and empty! – just like our hopes and dreams!

 

We really believed in Him! – now He’s gone – you think He’ll walk back through the door-  or hear His voice in the crowd –  or that He’s just around the corner –  and then you remember – He’s dead – finished – there’s nothing left’

 

The big man stopped – he suddenly felt very cold – and his voice went very quiet –

 

‘And worse than all the anger – all the hate – all the guilt – is the pain – Because at the heart of it we loved Him – oh so very much’ – ‘You could never understand’

 

And because the light had dropped and their hearts – were not seeking – they did not see the look on the face of the stranger – or they would have recognised – someone who had lived through pain at its most searing – through human grief at its deepest –

 

The moment passed – and the stranger fell back into step with them –

 

And this time – they all talked –

Of the past and present

Of dying and living – of God and themselves

 

The journey flew by – and they forgot their weary hearts – and – before long – Emmaus – was in front of them

 

They hesitated at the crossroads – awkward at parting – the disciples – didn’t want the conversations to end –

‘Come home with us’ they said

 

and the one whose sorrow was caught with rage –  held out his hand –  ‘Please come home with us’

 

Simple words

Simply offered

Simply received

 

And at the house of mourning – the lamps were lit

And the families gathered around the table

The stranger became the guest –

He took the bread- and blessed it

As He tore it in two – He bowed His head –

as if He could no longer bear their lack of seeing – and looked up – His eyes shining with the truth – As He offered the broken bread –

 

Jesus!

 

Point 2        Jesus changes lives

 

After His death Jesus would appear alive on twelve separate occasions to at least 550 people –

 

And over those next few weeks – something extra-ordinary happened to the disciples – they changed from being a group in hiding, frightened of the authorities – to one publicly declaring that Jesus was alive – that they had seen Him

 

Our Reading from Acts records the confidence in which they spoke openly together – calling on the crowd – to repent and be baptized in His name –

 

to receive the Holy Spirit – and allow the death and resurrection of Jesus – to become the badge that they wear – and the basis on which they live their lives –

 

Point 3        Jesus brings Salvation

 

Supposing –while looking in an old junk shop – you found a pot – hidden under a pile of books and bottles – one that had been used to hold flowers in a garden – it was still dirty with soil and leaves and had a crack running through one side –

 

You buy that pot – take it home – spotting under all that grime – that it is in fact a fine piece of porcelain – you clean it – care for it – repair the crack – get the dirt and soil out of its pattern – and bring it up like new – and then when that’s done – put it in a place of honour – to show it off to perfect effect –

 

Now supposing the original owner – turns up – having been directed to you – by the shop owner – and asks for it back – to use again – to hold flowers in his garden – you would rightly say – that the bowl was no longer available – it had been cleaned inside and out – and given a whole new use – a use for which it was really suited –

 

The good news is that we are like that bowl – we have been ‘bought back’ and cleaned and repaired by Jesus –

we have – all of us – been used for all kinds of purposes – other than those for which we were made – but as Peter reminds us – Jesus has paid the ultimate price – to enable us to be made new again –and to be used for the purposes we were made for

 

The Bible teaches us that – the death of Jesus is His great triumph – over Satan – that His death was necessary – to win something that could be won – in no other way – US

 

and that His resurrection completes the picture –

and because of it – we have hope beyond the grave – and a way to salvation – but Jesus’ salvation is more than going to heaven – its also about rescue – here on earth –

 

Ending

 

Today – Jesus is here – to walk with us – on our journey of faith – to take us back to the purpose God made us for – To open our eyes – and to set our hearts – on fire – so we can tell others – what we have felt and seen –

to meet Jesus – who has accomplished His Father’s work – who longs to share it – and to play our part – in His mission of forgiveness and love –

The two disciples discovered – one of the great truths of the Gospel – That Jesus doesn’t simply fulfill our hopes –He far exceeds them –

 

And that because of the death – and resurrection of Jesus – for us – like those disciples – a new story begins –

 

Prayer to finish

 

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit

AMEN