Roger's Postings

Friday, April 20, 2012

Luke 24:36-48.                        Jesus – truly risen??                                        22/4/12 

 Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." {37} They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. {38} He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? {39} Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." {40} When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. {41} And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" {42} They gave him a piece of broiled fish, {43} and he took it and ate it in their presence. {44} He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." {45} Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. {46} He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, {47} and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. {48} You are witnesses of these things.

 Here in this reading today we have God’s answer to the whole issue of, did Jesus really rise from the dead and how important is it really. From the human perspective, it is unbelievable: nobody rises from the dead. So we have our doubts, and we have many that downplay the importance and reality of it. And it is in the face of this that here God’s Word clearly states that Jesus truly did rise from the dead and that we can be quite sure of it, despite what the sceptics and our human experience might tell us.

 Yes we hear of many near death experiences; where people have died and after a short time have been revived again; but this is something far different from this. Here we have Jesus well a truly dead and buried, being raised on the third day after his death and appearing and being with his disciples. Then Scripture goes on to testify that this Jesus is still alive today, even though he has now physically ascended into heaven. God’s Word wants us to clearly understand and believe that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, but that he also came alive again.

This is important for us to hear, as we are confronted with more and more lies and deceptions in the name of, and about, Christianity. There is much being promoted today in all forms of the media, that is seeking to denigrate Christ and Christianity; and which often also denies or downplays Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. But even within the mainline churches these days there are leading ‘theologians’ denying the resurrection: there are those who say it is not important whether he rose from the dead or not, as long as you have faith, or as long as you are sincere. The emphasis is not on God and who he is and what he has done, but on us and what we do: and therein lies disaster. There are also those who acknowledge a resurrection but who say that it was a ‘spiritual’ resurrection; where he merely appeared to them in a ‘ghostly’ kind of way.

Yet here in this reading we have God’s very clear answer to these misconceptions. Here Jesus stands right in the midst of his disciples the night after his resurrection. But not only does he appear before them; but he speaks to them: "Peace be with you." Wherever Jesus comes to his people he speaks his word of reassurance and peace. The presence of the risen Lord, means peace for them. Here is no word of doubt: no, ‘can you be sure.’ ‘Maybe I am for real and then again maybe I am not.’ Jesus resurrection instead means that God’s peace now comes to us. We can be sure that Jesus death and resurrection is for our good, so that we might have peace with God both here and in eternity.

 But he doesn’t just leave them with that. For they, and we, would be tempted to think that it was a ghost, or that is merely a figment of their imagination: maybe from a lack of sleep or some drug that they perhaps had taken, or whatever. But he holds out his hands so that they can see and touch the nail holes in his hands. He tells them to touch his body so that they can be sure that it was really Jesus; fully flesh and bones, as he was before. Then when they still had trouble come to terms with his physical presence, he tells them to go and get something for him to eat, so that he could eat it in their midst. Jesus went out of his way to assure them and us that Jesus had truly risen from the dead.

 But then he comes in and lands the clincher. He tells them what he had told them before his death on the cross; that: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about him in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."  Then he again opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

 What they saw in front of them; a resurrected Christ, who had died three days before, is actually what was foretold hundreds of years beforehand on many different occasions by many different people whom God had inspired to write these things, even though it made no sense to them at the time. The facts bear witness to what God’s Word, the Bible, has stated again and again. Prior to this point, their human thinking wouldn’t allow them to accept a resurrection. It didn’t fit in to their understanding of reality: it just doesn’t happen. Yet, here now was living proof that God’s Word is true to what had been written. God can be trusted. The Promised Saviour would and did, die on the cross and be raised again on the third day. Now then everything else he said, even though it may not fit our human thinking, can also be trusted and taken seriously.

 His death on the cross, for the forgiveness of sins then, is of absolute importance. God’s Word is very clear on this, and Jesus here spells that out emphatically. As a result of Jesus death and resurrection, he says: repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations. That he says is now the basis of the churches preaching and teaching – Jesus death on the cross and repentance and forgiveness of sins.

As a result of the certainty of Jesus’ death and resurrection, a turning to, and focus on God and what he has done for us through Jesus and his death on the cross, is at the core of what his church is about. That means that any primary focus on us and what we do in order to be acceptable to God; unless it leads to an understanding that we are completely unable to do what God seeks from us, and thereby turns us back to God for his forgiveness and help, is a deception.

Yet, how much don’t we see that, when there is a denial of the resurrection there is a shift of emphasis from his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, and  a focus on us and our faith and actions and all the rest. We and our feelings become central; the Spirit becomes over-emphasised; and Jesus crucified is neglected along, with sin and its damnable effect for us. The devil is having a field day, and many are falling for it.

 However, for us here today, we have been again reminded and reassured of the absolute reality of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. This is no ghost; no figment of someone’s imagination, but a true reality and was in accord with God’s Word. Surely then we too can continue to look to Jesus with joy and amazement: Knowing that as the crucified and risen Lord, all that he said about repentance and forgiveness of sins is of vital importance to us and to our world today. And in the face of the increased promotion of all kinds of deceptions, we now can and must hold firmly to and boldly witness to these things.

 Let us also here remember that where God’s Word is and is proclaimed truthfully, and where the Sacraments are administered rightly there too we can know that the crucified and risen Lord Jesus is really present also. So here again today, and every time we gather here, we are reminded and reassured of Jesus presence with us and of his assurance of the forgiveness of sins. So week by week we can repent: we can turn back to him and receive all that he has in mind for us. Then we will be enabled to go forward with joy and confidence to witness to Jesus and the certainty of his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.

 So again, to him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN

 He is risen – he is risen indeed.

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Parish


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