Easter Sunday Message
"The Realization of the Resurrection"
Before you start the video I encourage you all to do the following things:
Even though we cannot greet each other in person, take this time to text someone. Tell them that you are thinking about them during this pandemic.
Take time to read the scripture reading for today - Luke 24:13-35.
Today’s scripture reading today is from Luke 24:13-35 (NRSV). These are the events that happened after Jesus’ crucifixion.
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
"The Realization of the Resurrection"
(Feel free to watch the video or read the sermon below)
I want to begin exploring the resurrection of Jesus Christ by asking you all a question. Have you ever been in a situation where you were looking for something or someone, and you were just having a difficult time in your search? It could have been something at home like the television remote or your cell phone? It could have been an item at the store that you were shopping for. You might also have been searching for an idea to move your business forward or a word or phrase to ignite your imagination so that you could begin writing your story. You could be a romantic, where you are searching for love and friendship. You could be a person of faith searching for a certain notion of God. We are always searching and looking for something or someone.
But then you realize that the idea, item, person, or feeling that you have been searching for was right in front of you, right next to you, was so close to you the entire time you were searching. The remote was on the table in front of you. Your car keys were in your pocket. The item you were searching for at the store was visible right when you walked in. That idea was something you have already written down or thought about. Your future best friend was the person you deemed an acquaintance. The love of your life is someone you already know. We are always searching and looking for something or someone, but we fail to realize that the thing or person we are searching for is right in front of us.
But! Yes, another “but.” After your initial realization that the thing you were searching for was right in front of you, and then grasping it, holding it, engaging the idea, or starting that relationship with that person, you have another realization that the thing or person that you were searching for and found, was not the thing or person that you actually needed.
You actually needed a different remote. But now, you know which remote to use.
You come to find out that sauce you thought you needed and found at the store is different from the sauce in the recipe you found on the internet. But when you use it in the recipe, the dish seems to be even better.
When you try out that old idea for your business or book you come to find out that it doesn’t work in the long-run. However, in engaging that idea it allowed you to think of new ideas.
The person you thought you were going to marry or spend the rest of your life with could only just be a friend or an acquaintance. However, that acquaintance turned friend, may be something more. Or, you realize that it’s not time to focus on others, but to focus on yourself.
Sometimes the thing we were searching for and found, is not the thing we needed. But in engaging that thing or someone, in grasping it, and holding it, we grow and we learn.
The biblical narrative speaks of various women going to visit the tomb of Jesus. But when they got there, they found that the stone door of the tomb was rolled away and Jesus’ body was missing. In the tomb there were two men who said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Imagine, what these women were thinking now, “Did Jesus really resurrect from the dead, where did he go, we have to find him, we have to search for him.” And the news starts to spread through word of mouth, but when they went to tell the other followers of Christ they did not believe them.
In our scripture reading today, we have Simon, a follower of Jesus, and another unnamed disciple who were both traveling to a town named Emmaus. And as followers of Jesus Christ, they probably had questions as well, “Did Jesus really resurrect from the dead, where did he go, we have to find him, we have to search for him.” And on the road to Emmaus, they encounter a man. And the passage tells us that this person is the resurrected Jesus Christ, in the flesh. But, the two disciples did not realize that this person right in front of them was Jesus. And Jesus asks, “What are you two talking about?” They respond, “Haven’t you heard, Jesus might have resurrected from the dead.” I would like to think that Jesus laughed during his response. He states, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then as they continued to walk to Emmaus Jesus spoke about the stories of Moses and the prophets that point to himself. You would think that maybe retelling the stories of the scriptures would make the disciples realize and believe that Jesus has indeed risen, and that the person in front of them telling them the stories was Jesus. As I said earlier, we are always searching and looking for something or someone, but we fail to realize that the thing or person we are searching for is right in front of us.
As they finally arrived in Emmaus, Jesus tried to walk ahead, but the disciples asked him if he would like to stay with them and have a meal. Keep in mind that they still did not realize that the person they have walked with and shared stories with, possibly for a couple hours, was Jesus. And so Jesus decides to stay with them. During Jesus’ stay with the two disciples they all share a meal. Then the scripture says, which is my favorite part, “30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.” [End]
They finally realized that the person that they were searching for, Jesus Christ, was right in front of them. And I find it fascinating that they did not believe the resurrection when they were told that, “Jesus has risen.” They did not realize the resurrection of Jesus, when he was right in front of them and even preaching the scriptures. The two disciples realized the resurrection of Jesus Christ, when they were sharing a meal together. But something crazy and unexpected happens. After they had this realization that the person they were searching for was right in front of them, the verse says that Jesus “vanished from their sight.” And I find it funny that after Jesus vanished we don’t get any dialogue of the disciples saying, “Yo, where did he go?” I believe that the two disciples did not question Jesus’ disappearance, because for them, the realization of resurrection was no longer in the physical body of Jesus, the realization of resurrection was in the shared meal that Jesus blessed and engaged in. As I said earlier, sometimes the thing we were searching for and found is not the thing we needed.
It was not until that communal experience, that they were able to definitively say that “The Lord has risen indeed.” They go back to the disciples in Jerusalem and tell them with confidence that, “The Lord has risen indeed.” And the way we know this to be true, the way we realized the resurrection, was through “the breaking of the bread” together.
As I said earlier, sometimes the thing we were searching for and found is not the thing we needed. But in engaging that thing or someone, in grasping it, and holding it, we grow and we learn. The way we realize the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ today in the midst of this pandemic, is through continually “breaking bread with each other.” And to take this even further, remember that the bread symbolized the body of Christ on the cross broken, which illuminates Jesus’ sacrifice for and solidarity with those suffering and struggling in the world then, and in the world now. Therefore, the resurrection is not only realized in a shared meal with people that we know, but in sharing a meal, being in solidarity, amplifying the voices, and illuminating the struggle of those suffering right now. The effects of the resurrection was not a one time event, but an ongoing event that we need to continually realize, grow, and learn from in order to have another realization of a heaven and a heaven here on earth.
“The Lord Jesus Christ has risen indeed,” in the midst of this pandemic: In the nurses who are lacking the proper supplies, the social workers making sure that people are safe in their homes, the scientists working long hours for a vaccine, the non-profit organizers who are scrambling to help marginalized communities, the people speaking up about xenophobia and racism, the people speaking up about health disparities in the black and latinx community, in the people staying home. “The Lord Jesus Christ has risen indeed,” and rising all around us. Amen.