EASTER 3, A – April 30, 2017

SCRIPTURES – Psalm 133; Acts 2:14a, 36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-25; Luke 24:13-35

     “When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24

 

The day dawned bright and beautiful. Flowers bloomed, their fragrance filling the air. Life was new! The two believers walked together, talking with each other. Soon a stranger joined them and began talking to them. He spoke of what God had said and explained His words in ways that they had never considered before. Their hearts burned within them. Then, they paused to eat; and as they ate, their eyes were opened… and their Lord disappeared from their sight. Oh, He was still there. He is always with His people! But they could no longer see Him. Quickly leaving the meal, they ran… away. Away from God, whom they no longer wanted to see, whom they hoped would no longer see them. Away from each other, even though they remained together. Adam’s and Eve’s eyes were now opened to their sin and to God’s threat of death. They were filled with fear of God, who formerly they had seen as their beloved Father, and they hid. And they and their descendants, every person who has lived on this earth, became a crooked generation: twisted and bent by unbelief; by the foolish misunderstanding of God and of His ways; by the pursuit of their own beliefs and ways; by each seeking his/her own good first, even to the detriment of those closest to them. Fear and anger and confusion and sorrow filled the hearts of Adam and Eve, and sin and death ruled.

 And then, millennia later… another day dawned bright and beautiful. Life was new! Two believers walked together, talking with each other. Soon a stranger joined them and began talking to them. He spoke of what God had said and explained His words in ways that they had never considered before. Their hearts burned within them as He opened the Scriptures to them! Then, they paused to eat; and as the stranger took the bread and broke it and blessed it and gave it to them their eyes were opened. It was their Lord Jesus!… and He disappeared from their sight.

 Quickly getting up from the table, they ran. But, they did not run away. Filled with joy and excitement, they ran to their fellow disciples to tell them that Jesus was alive and had appeared to them! And while they excitedly spoke with one another and shared their joyous news, Jesus Himself appeared and stood in their midst… and He blessed them with His peace.

 A new day has dawned upon us in Jesus! Life in its fullness, life with God, has been restored. The eternal Son of God has come to us, in fulfillment of a promise that God gave to Adam and Eve. For, God did not let them run away but sought them out and forgave them, and then promised them that a descendant of theirs would crush their satanic enemy. Jesus has done this, and in Him it is a new day.

 How does Christ’s coming make your days new? His taking your sins upon Himself and bearing their punishment upon the cross releases the hold of sin and Satan upon you. Now, no one – not Satan; not others; not even your own memories and your guilty conscience – can make you afraid of God anymore. God’s Son has borne your sins, and they could not hold Him. Three days after He died He triumphed over them by rising from the dead, coming to His believers, and giving to them His peace. Jesus’ resurrection proclaims that there is a new life – and with God! – for you. Death cannot terrorize you and overwhelm you with fear, for Jesus broke its hold by rising from the dead. Your sins cannot hold you in fear of punishment, for their punishment could not hold Him. He rose from the dead and came to us to share His victorious life with us! A new day has dawned, and we live in its light!

 We need to hear this news again and again, for, as Peter said (Acts 2:40), we live in the midst of a “crooked generation.” It seems to be getting more crooked every day. How dark and cold and dreary this can make our lives! This generation may not understand you – indeed, those who do not believe in Jesus will not understand you, for they do not understand God and His Christ. And so, people may belittle you and pressure you and accuse you of foolishness and error and even wrongdoing. They will tempt you to join them in the foolishness and rebelliousness of their sins. Do not listen their accusations or fear their threats! You have been ransomed from this crooked generation by the precious blood of Christ. God has saved you by His Son. And so: save yourself from this crooked generation, this sin-filled and fallen world. Turn from sin and every temptation to sin. Don’t live in it but embrace the forgiveness and new life God gave you in your Baptism. In Christ you are not a sinner, for God has taken away your every sin! Believe this, confess this, and rejoice in this. Know this also: in your Baptism into Christ God gave you the gift of His Holy Spirit. You are not twisted and bent and unable to know God or stand straight and do what pleases Him, as are the members of this crooked generation. You do not have to give into sin and guilt and despair, for God’s Spirit lives within you. You are a holy child of God!

 In fact, Christ Himself, our Victor over our sins and death and hell itself, continually comes to be with you and raise you up by His life. We’re told that the two disciples recognized Jesus when “He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.” (Luke 24) Do not these words remind you of Jesus’ words and actions at that last Passover meal He had with His disciples, as He changed it to the blessed meal of His body and blood, the Sacrament of Holy Communion? The Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write about the events of Christ’s resurrection in this way, that along with those two disciples our eyes might also be opened and we might recognize that Jesus is alive and is with us. He also inspired Luke to write about that life-changing day for Cleopas and the other disciple and the first meal of that resurrection day in a way that connected it to that sad day in the Garden of Eden and the first meal spoken of in the Bible. Luke even used the exact words of Genesis 3, “and their eyes were opened,” that we might connect that tragic day of sin and death in Eden with the day of Christ’s resurrection and see that Jesus has changed it for us. We do not live in sin and death, for we who have been baptized into Christ and receive Him in His meal have been joined to Him and share in His life! God’s Spirit fills us and we are new people, eternal people. It is a new day. Although we live as exiles in the midst of this crooked generation, we have a blessed gathering with Jesus told hold onto and look forward to. We run toward it, and He runs with us.

 And so, do not fear or be weighed down by guilt or sadness while you run. Rejoice in the life and hope that you have in Christ! And, while you run to Him, “Love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1 Peter 1) And He who lives forever and abides with you forever will give you His peace, the peace that passes all understanding. It will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our living Lord. Glory be to Him forever! Amen.