+ 3rd Sunday of Easter – May 4th, 2014 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series A: Acts 2:36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-25; Luke 24:13-35
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Feed them and they will come”: that seems to describe Jesus’ ministry pretty well.
Just think of all the Gospel accounts which revolve around Jesus and food. Jesus eating with His disciples; with tax collectors, prostitutes, and outcasts – the more the merrier. Jesus even eats with Pharisees. From Zaccheus’ house to the feeding of the 5,000; 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.” It’s as true today as it was on that Emmaus road. Where’s Jesus? Right where he promised to be. Jesus is known in His Word and at His table. In the Scriptures and the Breaking of the Bread. In His promises and in His Holy Sacraments.
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 empty tomb, the angels, the news from Peter and John. But no sight of Jesus.
They had hoped He was the One. The Savior and 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.
But they weren’t alone on that Emmaus road. There was a stranger. It was Jesus, but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. 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 which predicted his death with graphic precision – 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.
We’re no different. Our hearts don’t naturally believe God’s promises. We’re slow to believe His Word, and foolish too. We alienate ourselves from God, we turn away from His word and turn inward to ourselves and our own words, which is always dangerous. We do it all the time at home when we doubt and think God has abandoned us. We do it at church and we act as if God’s Word doesn’t do what he says it will and that his word and sacraments aren’t enough to sustain us. Repent. God’s living Word and his Son’s body and blood are all we need.
Repent of living as if God and 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.
Just as he did to the Emmaus disciples, Jesus sends His Holy Spirit upon us in order that the dry ground of our hearts would be pierced and plowed by His creative, two-edged sword.
“Beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”
He taught them how to interpret the Scriptures. Jesus is speaking of the Old Testament. Jesus. His birth, life, death, resurrection, and 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, and the hub, of the Old Testament. God’s Word is no how-to book or owner’s manual. The Scriptures reveal the crucified and risen Jesus; this is the living voice of God. You hear the Word, you hear Jesus.
Still, after opening their minds to the Scriptures, they didn’t recognize the one who was teaching them. Only as this Stranger reclined at the table with them, as He took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them – only then did they recognize Jesus. Jesus’ words echo across space and time, from the upper room and to this very room, here, today: “This is my body.” “This is my blood.” “For you.”
No sooner had they recognized 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?” This isn’t some kind of liver-quiver, or touchy-feely burning in the bosom; but a sure and confident trust built on a more sure and trustworthy Savior.
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? Great! We all should long for such an event. And you have it. Come to Bible study. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this wholesome Word; you can’t eat enough of this Bread of God’s Word. Come and hear. Sing. Receive. Rejoice in Christ’s gifts in Divine Service. 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 with his crucified and risen body.
You want to see Jesus? It’s simple. Go where He’s promised to be for us. 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 here; He says so Himself. Jesus still loves dining with sinners. He lives to feed you with His crucified and risen body and blood. He lives to serve you with forgiveness at his table. He lives to save you with his sacrifice given you in this sacrament.
That’s what Easter is all about. That’s why there’s unending joy. Eating and feasting with Jesus. But this is no human joy or temporary peace. For as good as the joy a warmed hearts 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 even when you’re disillusioned, dejected, bewildered or alone – Jesus Crucified and Risen 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, week after week, in these Scriptures, at this altar, in your ears, in this font – the Emmaus miracle happens every Sunday. Come, let us walk the Emmaus road to the altar as our Lord reveals himself to us in his word and at his table.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.