SER # 17Wb
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
SUNDAY APRIL 26TH 2020
TEXTS: LUKE 24: 13 – 35
THEME: THEIR EYES WERE OPENED.
God is Good! All the time! And all the time! God is good!
Our Scripture today is Luke 24: 13 – 35 “On that same day, two disciples were travelling to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about everything that had happened. While they were discussing these things Jesus himself arrived and joined them on their journey. They were prevented from recognizing him. He said to them, what are you talking about as you walk along. They stopped; their faces downcast. The one named Cleopas replied, are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who is unaware of the things that have taken place there over the last few days? He said to them, what things? They said to him, the things about Jesus of Nazareth. Because of his powerful deeds and words, he was recognized by God and all the people as a prophet, But our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the one who would redeem Israel. All these things happened three days ago. But there’s more: Some women from our group have left us stunned. They went to the tomb early this morning and didn’t find his body. They came to us saying that they had even seen a vision of Angels who told them he is alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women said. They didn’t see him. Then Jesus said to them. You foolish people. Your dull minds keep you from believing all that the prophets talked about. Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then enter into his glory? Then he interpreted for them the things written about himself in all the scriptures, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets. When they came to Emmaus, he acted as if he was going on ahead. But they urged him saying, Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over. So, he went in to stay with them. After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. They said to each other, Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us along the road and when he explained the scriptures for us. They got up right then and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying to each other, the Lord really has risen! He appeared to Simon! Then the two disciples described what had happened along the road and how Jesus was made known to them as he broke the bread.
Word of God written for the people of God – Thanks be to God.
The Lord’s Prayer:
As I think of our subject (Eyes being opened) today I am reminded of the story of Elisha and his servant that we shared a week ago when the servant’s eyes were opened to see all the angel with chariots of fire that surrounded them. (2 Kings 6:15-17).
Jesus connect with two of his followers (Cleophas and his wife) who were walking home from Jerusalem. The big news in Jerusalem was not about Jesus death but his resurrection. This was mind bothering because there was some witnessing that they (women) had already seen the risen Lord. There has to have been some fake news in town too from those who had crucified Jesus refuting that he was alive. As you can imagine when Jesus Join Cleophas and his wife they could not stop talking about this hot news. Jesus took it as a teaching moment even though these disciples did not recognize him yet. But he seemed to know his subject as they would confirm later, for he started from the Old testament all the way to what Jesus himself had told the disciples. It was a teaching moment then as it is today. What are some of the faith lesson that we can learn from this encounter?
I would like us to explore more about the opening of believers’ eyes meant:
- By sharing in the meal: When Jesus first appeared to the disciples some text reminds us the doors were locked. In this it gives us a new understanding of the body of the risen Lord. If someone came in your house when all the doors and windows are locked, I believe it can give you a real scare. It understandable then to the disciples’ first impression of Jesus showing up when the house was locked that they thought he was a ghost. We should also remember that the two who he had revealed himself to when he broke break were sharing with the disciples of what had happened when he appeared. Jesus invites them to touch him and confirm that he was the one who was crucified. By breaking bread in the home, he was invited the two disciples’ eyes were opened and the saw Jesus. Some say that when he lifted his hands to break the bread, they saw the scars and recognized him. Maybe it was the words he used to consecrate the bread that remined them of the meal in the upper-room before he was crucified. We realize that in sharing there was a connection that takes place. When people eat together there is a fellowship of love that is developed. In sharing meal then it reminded his disciples of what he had told them about his death.
- By sharing the word: Jesus did not only break bread or just eat the fish but he broke and shared the word of God. The word of God which is the truth is able to open people’s eyes. There are people out there who are hungry of the word of God. We need to break this word and feed them with it. You may ask how do you break the word? You break the word when you share the good news of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus. We have to remind the people what the word of God says now and then. In the days that we are living people hunger for the words of hope, encouragement, grace, trust. They are looking for something to hold on. In this incidence Jesus reminded believers what scriptures said about his death and resurrection. It shows how easy people forget and hence need to be reminded often. The word of God is the real food for those on this journey. We have to feed on this word often. The word of God become like an energizer for our faith. We also realize that as the word of God is shared it is like planting a seed that will need to be watered and nurtured. Sometimes it is easy to miss how much the word of God grows in us each day. This reminds of the story of this one man who had written an article on magazine and tried to argue that there was no need of people listening every Sunday to the word of God being preached. He continued to say that for more than thirty year he had been listening and yet he does not remember one sermon that was preached on those Sundays. He underlined that he does not suffer from Alzheimer’s. It was not too long another person responded to him with story by writing an article in the same magazine and told his readers that he had been married for more than thirty years and his wife was a great cook. He continued to say that for those years he had been married the wife prepared good meal for him and since he can’t remember all the meals does not mean there no of the meals. He also said that he knew he was alive because he eat all those meals prepared by his wife for thirty years. The same with our faith, we might not remember all the sermons ever preached but sure enough those sermons have kept us going on the right path for all these years. When we feed on the word of God we grow in our faith.
- By declaring of Peace: Jesus was offering what we call shalom in Hebrew. This peace that Jesus offers come with it a number of things: It brings restoration, reconciliation to God and to one another, salvation, bring freedom from stress and fear. These three factors of peace (restoration, reconciliation and salvation) were key to continue the Church of Jesus Christ. We need to remember that the process used by the religious leaders to crucify was so unjust in many ways. It left too much pain and mistrust in the system. On the side of disciples alone there were problems. Judas had betrayed Jesus that meant he was cut off from the fellowship, Peter had denied Jesus three times hence he needed restoration to the group and above all they all needed the saving grace of our Lord Jesus. When Jesus therefore declares peace, it is a whole package. That is a package calling for restoration, reconciliation and salvation. Jesus needed to assure his followers that all shall be well. He called for peace even though he knew there was turmoil among them. He knew that they needed to live in a new normal after what had happened. There is a story of King who wanted his people to understand how peace looked like and he enrolled his best artist. A King invited the artists of his country to paint a picture showing peace. After examining thousands of the drawing, he had two finalists. The first artist painted a picture where it showed a calm lake surrounded by beautiful mountains. In the background was a beautiful blue sky with some scattered white clouds. By the look of it you could tell that it looked peaceful. The second artist painted a picture of a mountain but it was rugged and bare. Above the mountain was falling rain from the sky and there was thunderstorm and lightening. Beside the mountain there was also a waterfall that was making a lot of noise. This painting did not look peaceful at all. However, when the king looked closely at it, he also saw a tiny bush behind the waterfalls. The bush was growing in the rocks. In that bush was a mother bird, probably a dove that had built a nest and was sitting on her eggs peacefully. The King chose the second painting as a perfect representation of peace. WHY? Because peace does not mean there is no noise, death, doubts, fear, disappointment, sickness etc. Peace or shalom that Jesus offers is in the midst of all these things. What Jesus is offering is the peace of heart that passes all understanding. This that Jesus brings make people wonder who don’t know this Jesus how you manage life with all these challenges around you. The answer is because the prince of peace gives you that strength from inside but the world may not understand that. Jesus offers special peace in the sense that peace is not the absence of chaos but rather in the midst of chaos that we may find inner peace. In the midst of persecution, Covid-19 and all forms of hardship we may experience his inner peace. Jesus said these words to his disciples: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you, not as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled nor let it be fearful but trust in me.