Boy, you talk about the ‘elephant in the room!’ How do you deal with a situation where, when you’re telling a story about something that happened, the main character suddenly shows up!?!
The disciples were tucked in together, probably in the room where they had the Passover with Jesus, and they were enthralled by the story that a couple followers were telling. Cleopas and another follower were telling the disciples about a stranger they met on the road to Emmaus. They had been talking about stories of the Resurrection of Jesus. Then as they were talking, this stranger caught up with them. They were telling the others about His questions, and then how He started opening the Scriptures to them about the coming of the Messiah. They invited the Stranger to eat with them and when He broke the bread and blessed it, suddenly they knew it was Jesus! Then, as suddenly as he had appeared, He vanished. Amazing. Incredible. They all wondered, could the stories about Resurrection they had been hearing possibly be true?
They had heard the stories others were telling about sightings of the Risen Jesus, but how do you know? Could it be their imaginations? Were their minds playing tricks on them?
Then it happened. There He was! Or was He?!
“Peace be with you,” He said.
Jesus? Was it really happening to them? Could it be Jesus’ ghost?!?
“Look at my hands, and my feet. See for yourselves. Touch me—a ghost doesn’t have a body,” He said.
They knew in their hearts it had to be true, this was truly Jesus, but it was so surreal. Jesus had raised Lazarus, but this felt different. Could it really be Jesus standing there in front of them? When He ate a piece of fish, then it was settled. It truly was the Lord, risen from the dead!
Wonder and amazement. Have you ever felt that way? Usually, it’s when something exceptionally good, or very bad has happened. When it happens we just don’t know how to process what we’ve been told or witnessed.
That is how I understand Luke’s account of Jesus’ appearance. It took them a while to process what was happening. They needed Jesus to come to them in order to be able to understand. Even though Jesus had told them about this, Luke shows us they still needed the presence of Jesus for this all to make sense.
How do you process incredible events or stories? We’re a visually oriented society and we pretty much believe what we see on TV, although it’s easy to alter the pictures and stories. We read things in the newspapers or on the internet, but we have to be careful to check out what we get. Sometimes what we think we know or see isn’t reality. There is a lot of misinformation out there.
Jesus cut through the questions and doubts the disciples had when He “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” In other words, Jesus explained all that was written in what we know as the OT to them as those events related to Him—the Messiah. The Bible is the story of Jesus, the story of God reaching out to bring salvation to the people who have fallen into sin. What we have in the NT is the account of the growth of the Church universal and how all these things relate to us and our lives.
As we read the Bible we learn the story of salvation and how Jesus’ life relates to us. Through the Holy Spirit and faith we believe and become witnesses in this day and time.
There is a great need for the Savior today. We need the story of love, forgiveness, and NEW LIFE that Jesus brings. We need to hear, feel, and know through faith that this is real; there is hope; we don’t need to live in fear, hatred, and distrust. All people, all nations, all races and backgrounds need to hear the story of Easter and of the love of a Savior who died for them.
The incredible news the first believers witnessed is for us as well. The Easter story spread for 2,000+ years, but it needs to be heard and followed. We are witnesses, as Jesus has said. We are the ones who, in Wonder and Amazement, are given the responsibility to share that love of Christ. We are the ones who, like the early followers, are called to model the Christian life for others. Peter had an amazing sermon in Acts that we read today. He spoke with a boldness and urgency that is needed today.
Somehow, as a society we must begin to turn the tide of hatred and distrust that is seeping deeper into our society. Sin and the power of evil are still rampant and active in our world and in our lives. The Old Adam within each of us rears his ugly head and cries for attention, causing us to mistrust all but ourselves. We will never be able to eradicate evil—the devil is too powerful for us. But when we study the Scriptures and follow Jesus’ words and teachings along with the writers of the NT, we can have a strength and courage that Peter had to bring the message of Christ’s love to others.
Jesus’ appearance to His disciples is for us as well. They had their doubts, fears, and faced huge problems. We have been huddled in fear for the past year and need the power of the risen Christ to stir us from our fears. We have huge problems with race, ethnicity, hatred of others, of distrust of one another. Polar opposite positions and beliefs are threatening to undo us. We must find common ground. We are challenged by Jesus to put aside our doubts and fears and go forth as witnesses of Jesus to the world. The Bible is our resource for sharing His love and for treating others with love and respect. It begins with us--and moves out in an ever-enlarging circle from us.
Jesus came and stood with His disciples. He reached out to bring in those who were fearful. Jesus gave them His resurrected self to give them the courage and understanding to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Let Jesus open our minds to understand the Scriptures and His will for us.