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04/15/2018

Luke 24:

Luke 24: 34b-48       “Joy & Disbelieving”         Rev. Jerry W. Krueger   Boardman UMC      4/15/2018

 

 

I read Stephen King’s novel, Pet Sematary several years ago.  A New England doctor moves to a home on the creepy edge of town, near a pet cemetery. The cemetery enjoys a reputation for dead pets being resurrected to a weird half-life. The hero of the novel suffers the loss of a child and his wife, and is visited by the dead/undead in the conclusion of the story.  Our text today is not like that.  This is a text about the risen Christ. Not some undead, or half dead, other worldly creature.

 

Jesus is resurrected from the grave. His friends saw him die, and believe dead was dead…, forever. Jesus wasn’t gone on vacation. Jesus was dead. And the dead stay dead.

In today’s world of science, proofs, determined fact finding, I admit, rising from the dead for us as moderns, can be a challenge at times.  Jesus’ Friday death left his disciples, friends and acquaintances shocked at the brutal way he died on a Roman cross. The only redemption of the crucifixion was Christ’s body was laid in a tomb by his friends, instead of left hanging to rot in public, as was standard practice. 

 It wasn’t that Jesus hadn’t told his friends where he was going.  He said he was moving toward the cross and the grave.  He’d given his listeners his fateful itinerary 3X, but “they understood nothing about these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said” (Lk 8:34) 

 

Sunday morning they’re surprised, terrified, to see the tomb open, his resting place empty, and no body. Matthew’s gospel states the cops had been watching the place, with no luck. (Mt. 27:62-66). Instead of being missing and presumed dead, Jesus was dead, and presumed missing.  

 

Angelic messengers reported Jesus’ resurrection, saying, “He is not here, but has risen,” and reminded the women again of Jesus’ travel plans (Lk. 24:1-12). Two disciples on the Emmaus road, got the same reminder from the risen Jesus himself. (Luke 24:13-26). 

Peering into the room full of anxious, grief stricken disciples in Jerusalem, we witness their struggle to sort evidence and events. Miraculously, Jesus appears proclaiming, “Peace be with you.”

 

 The disciples were “startled and terrified as if seeing a ghost.”

(v. 37) Jesus, is dead, how this can be?  Death is a one way trip with no return. No wonder the disciples were “frightened,” and even “in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering” (vv. 39, 41).

 

Jesus wants the fearful disciples to believe. “Touch me and see if I am real,” says Christ, “for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (v. 39). Its clear Jesus was no imagined ghost. The risen Jesus has a body, touchable, not ethereal, not some floating object. Jesus is NOT the Walking dead, or un-dead. This is Christ in the flesh, who’s hungry, asks for a bite of the catch of the day. Ghosts don’t eat fish sandwiches.

Resurrection is not a “philosophy,” superstition, or metaphor. As Christians we believe in the physical resurrection, not just a spiritual, but a physical resurrection of Christ.   Physical resurrection is what we believe in. Physical.


Luke’s details about Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances are offered as proof, and foreshadowing the “risen from the dead” message about Christ that his disciples would carry into the world.

 

The “good news” the disciples preached was focused on the pivotal events of Christ’s death and resurrection. The risen Christ eating a fish dinner, reminds the disciples, and us, this isn’t an abstract “resurrection idea or metaphor, but a real and resurrected person in whose name, “repentance and forgiveness” would be proclaimed “to all nations beginning from Jerusalem” (v. 47).

The disciples proclaimed Jesus was alive, that his death and resurrection had ushered in this new age. 

They understood after Jesus leaves for heaven, they were to be Christ’s earthly feet and hands, feeding a world hungry for the hope of salvation, and promise of new life. All because of Christ’s sacrificial death and physical resurrection.

 

The disciples didn’t see a ghost or a resuscitated corpse, (2 ideas of life after death in Jesus’s day). They had witnessed the physically resurrected Christ.


In that crowded room in Jerusalem, Jesus teaches his disciples how the journey had been leading God’s people to this precise point in history. Jesus gives a biblical travelogue of Moses and the Exodus, warnings and exhortations of the prophets, and the pain and hope of the Psalms, to Christ’s own journey to the cross (v. 46).

 

Christ’s death and Easter resurrection are key to the journey. Sunday is seen as celebration, not mourning.  Jesus journeys from the heavenly to humanity, took a trip to the depths of hell and death, and returned in amazing physical resurrection triumph. Because of Christ alone, death is no longer our final destination. 

So, Can we recover the surprise of the resurrection?

The disciples were shocked, struggling to comprehend, “Jesus was dead, but now IS alive!”

 

For us, that was over 2,000 years ago, and passing years erode and distance us from feelings of surprise. Remember when man walked on the moon, or when the twin towers fell? The more removed we are from an event, the more difficult to keep it fully alive.

For 2,000 years, Easter comes yearly, but we can find the world saying, “So what?”

 

 We can become so target locked on our churches, our denominations and ourselves, that we neglect the audacious resurrection truth.  Do we act, as if, Jesus has gone on a long vacation? And while we do things in his name, we don’t usually expect anything to change as a result, or for him to appear? 

Hear me!  Christ is among us in the Spirit and will return to us in his resurrection body to finish the work He began. 1 John 3, extends words of encouragement for those whom the resurrection is a memory, or a theological question. “
Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he [Jesus] is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have their hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). 

The friends of Jesus came “looking for the living among the dead” that Easter Sunday.

However as believers in the resurrection:-

-We’re always looking for the dead to come to the land of the living!

-Who are the people in our community who need new life?

-Who’s on a spiritual vacation, or appears to be spiritually dead, and they can’t seem to return?

-And how will we as a church welcome them, home? 

 

Christ is alive, He is risen from the grave.   Christ has called each of you Spirit breathed disciples, to go into your corner of the world, to contact, to invite, to offer to share the good news of Christ, to tell the dead of soul, the dead of heart, the ones in whom hope has died, the sin sick, that Christ IS alive, and living.

 

We serve a resurrected Savior, and in Him, all things, including new physical, emotional, and spiritual life are possible.

 

Go now you witnesses for Christ, telling and living out the resurrection power of the Spirit, and the risen Christ.

 

In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. All God’s redeemed people proclaimed, Amen!