In this short two week sermon series we are trying to figure out our world now that Jesus Christ has been risen from the dead. We believe that Easter is true, but so what? What difference does the resurrection make for our daily lives here and now?
Last week we looked at John 20 and discovered that the resurrection of Christ brings free unmerited unconditional forgiveness into our lives; it is the heart of the matter and we are called to forgive as we have been forgiven. Forgiveness is the first part of this thing we call the Easter life.
Today’s Biblical passage from Luke known as the Road to Emmaus gives us another insight into how we can live into an Easter life; another antidote to Easter so what.
Two folks are walking away from the Crucifixion. They are sad and despondent, preoccupied at the death of their Master. Think about a major disappointment in your life and you will get a sense of how they are feeling.
Jesus comes up to them and joins them in their walk but they don’t recognize him. He asks them what they are discussing and he receives a snarky response: are you the only person who doesn’t know what happened on Friday; The Romans crucified Jesus of Nazareth, ‘we had hoped that he would redeem Israel;’
They walk on. J. explains to them that the recent events in Jerusalem make sense in light of scripture’s promises. Then at the dinner that evening, when Jesus broke the bread, their eyes were opened and they recognized him. They ran all the way back to Jerusalem to rejoin their friends. They thought that the Jesus movement had ended but it was just beginning.
Instead of believing “they crucified him and we had hoped he would redeem Israel,’ they now saw that “they crucified him and that was how he did redeem Israel.” Whereas they thought God would redeem his people from suffering. Instead they saw that God in Christ would redeem his people in and through the difficulties they found themselves in.
If Easter is true it means that we better be ready for Jesus to come along aside us, in our time of trouble, maybe when we least expect it. If Easter is true, then losing heart, giving in to despair are not the final answer to bleak situations. If God can transform an evil, bloody crucifixion into a grand triumph, well who knows what God can do with our setbacks, dead ends, failures and frustrations. No place is beyond the reach of God’s redeeming grace, if Easter is true.
If Easter is true it means that we too can come along side others who are going thru times of heartbreak, disappointment and loss to offer encouragement, friendship and hope.
A long time ago now I heard a story that has never left me and illustrates this point.
In the midst of a terrible battle, two soldiers who were friends became separated. As the fighting raged on all sides, one of the two soldiers suddenly saw his friend lying on the ground, badly wounded and with no protection from the bullets and the bombs. The soldier turned to his lieutenant and begged for permission to go to his friend, to try to rescue him, to try to carry him out of the firefight and to safety. The lieutenant forbade him, saying, “ I order you not to go. You would stand no chance of coming back alive.”
A moment later, while the lieutenant was turned in another direction, the soldier took off. He ran into the clearing, knelt by his friend, picked him up and began to run. Part way back, a spray of bullets hit him. But stumbling, he made it back to safety with his friend. The lieutenant came over. He was furious and grief-stricken at the same time. He said to the soldier, “what a waste. Look at your friend. He’s gone. You brought back a dead body. And look at you. Look at your wounds. What a waste.”
The soldier looked up at the lieutenant. He smiled a sweet, sweet smile. And he said, “Lieutenant, it wasn’t a waste. When I got there, my friend was alive. He looked up at me. And he said to me, “I knew you’d come.”
Because of the resurrection of Christ There is no place in this world, and no moment in this life, even in death in which we may not say to Jesus, “I knew you’d come.”
And as the Easter people, we are like the soldier who disobeyed the lieutenants’ order not to go after his dying friend. Our world says people are expendable; life is cheap; you’re hurting so what, not my business; anyway; don’t get involved.
But to our throw away, get over it world, Jesus says: No, No, NO! Rather he says, ‘I have redeemed the world; every life is precious;’ And so he says to us go into the world to meet people where they are, to walk with them in their hurt and pain, to show people they are not abandoned, that there is meaning in suffering, light at the end of the tunnel. We are called as Christ’s disciples to be vehicles of the Easter life in words, in actions and faithful presence. May the people we minister to say, “I knew you’d come.”