Monday, May 9, 2011


T 3rd Sunday of Easter – May 8th, 2011 T
Text: Acts 2:36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-25; Luke 24:13-35

In the Name of Jesus + Amen.

            Ever notice how much Jesus loves food?  He’s the original foodie.  And this shouldn’t surprise us; after all, He invented eating.  God likes matter; He invented that too.  Jesus’ motto isn’t so much, “build it and they will come” as it is, “feed them and they will come.”  No wonder so many of the Gospel accounts revolve around Jesus eating.  Jesus eating with His disciples; with tax collectors, prostitutes and outcasts – the more the merrier.  From Zaccheus’ house to the feeding of the 5,000 and from Holy Thursday to Emmaus, Jesus loves breaking bread with sinners.  And it’s all the better for us.
            The Church continues in her Lord’s tradition of Divine culinary excellence: “Peter, do you love Me?”  “Yes, Lord.”  “Feed my sheep.  Feed My people with My Word and at My Table and never stop; for I will never run out.”  For the disciples – in the 1st and 21st century - Jesus is always known in His Word and at His table.  It’s as true today as it was in Emmaus.

            But the Emmaus disciples didn’t understand this…not yet.  That’s where we meet these downcast disciples.  A long 7 mile walk of shame back home.  And as they walked that lonely road, they talked about all that had happened.  The arrest, the trial, the crucifixion, the burial, that strange report from the women of the open, empty tomb, the angels, the news from Peter and John.  But no sight of Jesus. 
            They had hoped that He was the One. The Savior, the Redeemer of Israel.  And now, they thought Him dead. The third day had come. But they were troubled, afraid to believe. Alone.  Disappointed. Disillusioned. Bewildered. Confused and sad.

            But they weren’t the only ones out on that Emmaus road.  A stranger caught up with them.  It was Jesus, but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.  Note that.  Their eyes were not blinded by grief or sin. Jesus concealed His identity.  Jesus is still the Teacher.  So, He listens in to hear what they say.  And what they say to Jesus about Jesus betrays the fact that they do not yet take Him at His word.  “He said He would die and in three days rise.”  They’ve been counting.  They knew it was the third day, and getting late. 
            In spite of everything they had seen and heard and read – the miracles, the trial, the crucifixion, the news from the women, even Jesus’ own teaching – they still did not believe.
            “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”  Jesus rebukes them.  Their foolishness reveals their faithlessness.  It wasn’t their eyes, but their hearts that were blind.  Hearts weighed down by sin, alienated from God are slow to believe, even when they beat in the chest of a near relative and another close disciple. 
            We’re no different.  Our hearts do not naturally believe God’s promises.  We are slow to believe His Word, alienated from God, turned away from God and turned inward on self.  But that’s really the way we prefer it, a life empty of God and full of the stuff of this world, full of ourselves. 
            Repent.  Repent of living as if God did not matter, as if your neighbor did not matter and as if you mattered most.  Come clean of your own unfaithfulness and be washed, be cleansed, be forgiven by the Holy Spirit.
            It is He who makes us new as Christ invades and enlivens by His Spirit.  The dry ground of our hearts is pierced and plowed by His creative, two-edged sword – just as it was for the disciples.

            “Beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”  He taught how to interpret the Scriptures.  And by Scriptures, Jesus means the Old Testament.  It’s not just about Jesus; it is Jesus.  That’s all there is to know about the OT – what’s it all about? Jesus – everything from His birth to His ascension is foretold by Moses, the Psalms and the Prophets – it’s all there.  Every jot and tittle points to Him; is fulfilled in Him.  He is the key, the center, the hub, the Word without which all words in the Old Testament fail and fall empty, like those disciples’ hopes on the Emmaus road.  This is no book of rules or owner’s manual.  But God’s revelation of His Son, the living voice of God.  You hear the Word, you hear Jesus.
            Yet, still, even after Jesus’ teaching.  After opening their minds to the Scriptures.  Still they did not recognize the One who was teaching them.  Only as this Stranger, their unknown Teacher, reclined at the table with them, as He took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them – only then do they recognize Jesus.  Sound familiar?!  It should.  Jesus’ Words echo from the upper room: “This is my body.”
            And as soon as they recognize Him; their mouths close on the bread, their eyes are finally wide open – and their hearts are quickened.  Jesus is gone!  Where did He go?  They didn’t have to ask.  They knew not only by sight but now by faith.  “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road and opened up the Scriptures?”           
            The Emmaus disciples knew exactly where to find Jesus – in the Scriptures and in the Breaking of the Bread. 

            It’s no different for us.  Jesus is known in His Word and at His Table.

            You want an Emmaus road experience too?  Go to Bible study.  Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest this wholesome Word; you can’t eat enough of this Bread.  Come and hear. Sing. Receive. Rejoice.  For Jesus lived the life you cannot live.  He died the death you cannot die, the death that defeats death itself – all for you.  For all the days and hours you live for yourself, Jesus lived every day, every hour to rescue you from sin death and hell forever.  And if that wasn’t enough, He comes and feeds you.
            You want to recognize Jesus?  Go where He’s promised Himself to be; Go where He locates Himself – in the Supper, the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Altar, in His body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.  Jesus is there; He says so Himself.  More than anything else, Jesus loves dining with sinners.  Feeding you; serving you; saving you.
            Eating and feasting with Jesus.  That’s what the new creation is all about.  And here on earth, in Christ’s Church, the party – the Feast of feasts - gets started early. 

            For as good as the joy of hearts warmed is –it is far better to know who that joy and passion comes from; and far better still to know that even on days you don’t feel joy or burning clarity of God’s Word – or when you’re disillusioned, dejected, bewildered or alone – Crucified and Risen Jesus is still walking beside you on the road, speaking His Word to you; revealing Himself for you in the Breaking of the Bread.

            Here in this place, in these Scriptures, at this altar, in your ears, in this water – the Emmaus miracle happens every Sunday.  Week in and week out, His Spirit-breathed Scripture fills the liturgy.  His Divine Service is our Emmaus road from sorrow to joy, from death to life.

In the Name of Jesus + Amen.

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