Pastor Mark Jacobson – 3rd Sunday of Easter – April 30, 2017 – Luke 24:13-35
ARE YOU LIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF EASTER?
13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him. 17He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19“What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but 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. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 25He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. 28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Oswalt Riess, a Lutheran Pastor, now in heaven, once made the remark, “Too many Christians are living on the wrong side of Easter.” Do you understand what he means with that statement? What Pastor Riess means is the victory is won. Easter has defeated sin and death. The devil holds no power over those who trust in Jesus. On Easter Jesus reclaimed his full glory. Heaven is ready for all believers. However, believers, instead of living now with a constant joy and a sense of purpose, are still living with a feeling of disappointment, confusion, and grief. In short, we are living on the wrong side of Easter. Would you agree with his assessment that too many Christians are living on the wrong side of Easter? Would you say that far too often you feel like you are living on the wrong side of Easter, too?
If that’s the case for you, and far too often it is the case with me, then it is time for us to take a walk, a walk with two disciples who felt the same way. These disciples were going to Emmaus. They were getting fresh air. They were hashing things out, trying to make sense of the last few days but ultimately not reaching any positive conclusions.
Jesus, then, merges into their lane of conversation. They don’t recognize Jesus, and Jesus pretends he doesn’t know what they are talking about. You have to love Cleopas’ question to the second member of the Trinity, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Jesus asks, “What things?” Jesus wants them to verbalize the problem and start talking, kind of like prayer…exactly like prayer. They start talking. They talk about Jesus’ death, his empty tomb, the report of the women, the findings of the disciples, “but,” the bottom line is at the end of verse 24, “they did not see Jesus.” “They did not see Jesus.” That was the bottom line.
This statement, “They did not see Jesus,” explains why it says in verse 17, “They stood still, their faces downcast.” This also explains why they talk about Jesus in the past tense. They said, “He was a prophet.” Their goal was gone. “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” They were still living on the wrong side of Easter. They had all the right reports from the women and the correct findings of the apostles, but because they did not see Jesus they reached the wrong conclusion.
What’s your conclusion about Jesus? Do you see Jesus? Do you see Jesus as the risen Christ? Do you see Jesus as having power over all things? Do you see Jesus concerned about your concerns? Do you see Jesus as the answer to problems you don’t even know you have? Do you see Jesus in your life, or are you like these disciples? These disciples were sad, shaken, demoralized, crushed, depressed, and disheartened. Why? They didn’t see Jesus. That’s how you should feel when you don’t see Jesus. That’s how we sometimes feel isn’t it, and why? Isn’t it because, like these disciples, we don’t see Jesus?
A story is told of Martin Luther, the Reformer. He had been depressed for a period of time. His depression got so bad his wife, Katie Luther, came down the stairs all dressed in black. When Martin asked Katie what was wrong she said to him, “God died.” Martin Luther said to her, “You silly woman, God didn’t die.” She replied, “Oh, from the way you have been acting lately, I assumed he had.” That was a gentle rebuke from Katie. It was a rebuke for living on the wrong side of Easter.
And that is what Jesus was gently doing to these two disciples. He was gently rebuking them. Jesus said, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” Jesus calls them foolish because he had been in front of them the whole time, but they did not see him. No, Jesus was not always in front of them in the flesh. In the flesh Jesus had only been with them on a part of this walk, but in the Scripture Jesus had always been with them. We might say Jesus wanted them to see him before they see him. Hey, guess what? Jesus wants the same for you and me. Jesus wants us to see him before we see him.
And we will see Jesus. Some of you have heard me say this before, but it’s worth repeating. We are always less than a hundred years from seeing our Savior Jesus. Whether it’s on The Last Day or on our last day, we will see Jesus in the flesh. That will be awesome. Then we will truly celebrate the resurrection like it’s meant to be celebrated. As great as that will be to see Jesus in the flesh, we don’t have to wait that long to see Jesus. Jesus has always been around us just like he was always around these disciples. Jesus is around us in the Scriptures, his Holy Word. In his holy Word Jesus reveals himself to us. Jesus is the, “He” Moses wrote, “would crush the serpents head though he (the serpent) would strike his heal. (Gen 3:15) “Jesus is the, “He,” the prophet Isaiah said, “was pierced for our transgressions,” the “He” who, “was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed” (Is 53). And in his Word Jesus continues to come to us and comfort us because as he promises, “a bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3). It’s good to go for a walk. It’s helpful to talk with others, but the good news is that Jesus walks with us and Jesus talks to us through his holy Word.
There’s a telling moment in this lesson, a moment that tells us the disciples on the road to Emmaus were living on the right side of Easter. This telling comes before the breaking of bread. Do you know when the telling moment comes? The telling moment comes when they ran out of road. When the two disciples had reached Emmaus, and Jesus acted as if he were going farther….,“They urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.’” The telling moment is they enjoyed being with Jesus before they even recognized they were with Jesus. Their hearts were burning. They didn’t want the Bible class to end, but when the Bible class ended their legs were burning, too. They didn’t wait for the next day to go back to Jerusalem. They had news for the apostles and the apostles had news for them, “The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Now, they were living on the right side of Easter. They saw Jesus. They had joy and purpose. We don’t know though if they had the bread. I hope they had the bread, took a to-go bag.
What are some telling moments for us, moments that tell you, you are living on the right side of Easter? Might it likewise be, hearing Jesus before you hear Jesus? Who do you hear in worship today? Do you hear Pastor Clark or Pastor Jacobson or do you hear Jesus? Do you hear Jesus talking to you about things he wants you to know and believe? Another telling moment comes at the end of worship; do you want to stay with Jesus for Bible class or do you routinely go home? Are you eager to serve Jesus at the next opportunity, and I believe the next opportunity at Grace would be the quarterly congregational meeting at noon, or are you waiting for some sort of service that better fits into your scheduled? Seeing Jesus in worship, wanting more of him in Bible study, eagerness in serving can be a telling moment you are living on the right side of Easter.
The road to Emmaus and the road to heaven is a matter of seeing Jesus before we see Jesus. See Jesus as the one who is always walking with you and as the one who is always interested in what you have to say to him in prayer. See Jesus as the one who talks to you in his holy scriptures and in his representatives in the church and home. See Jesus as the one you can never get too much of because all he does is give good gifts. When God helps us see Jesus in his Word, it’s difficult to stay down on life and to do little for the people in the church. Seeing Jesus compels us to stay positive and to live with a purpose. We can only live with joy and purpose if we are living on the right side of Easter, and today that is where God in his Word takes us to be. The right side of Easter is a good place to be. God’s Word helps us stay there. Amen.