Faithlife Sermons

You Are Witnesses of These Things

Easter 2018  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Resurrection Life

Luke 24:36–49 NRSV
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Ghost stories— Just like angels the risen Jesus seems to enjoy popping in on people! It would probably be irresistible. Had to be pretty scary for the disciples. They were still processing these events. Jesus attempted to prepare them to understand but they were demonstrating how human they were. There is a difference between “knowing” something—as in having the information somewhere in your brain—and truly understanding and applying that knowledge.
They were also living between two worlds. They were all taught good jewish teaching from the Bible. The great hope for Jews was God’s new world. It was a very physical view of life beyond the grave. There wasn’t so much an idea of disembodied spirits floating around for eternity. But they also lived in the great shadow of the greek world. There was a persistent and pervasive idea among Greeks that the physical world was evil and the spiritual world was good. Death was about escaping this world in many greek philosophies. If those thoughts were affecting their thinking, Jesus is bringing them out of this fog and back into truth.
His resurrection was a real physical event. This isn’t a ghostly presence floating around. His is a transformed physical body that seems to have contact with eternity and this present world. It kind of points us in the direction that heaven is another dimension or reality that is just beyond our reach, rather than a physical place somewhere else in the future. But what we know for sure is that Jesus is as Paul says, the first fruits of God’s new world.
1 Corinthians 15:22–23 NRSV
for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:22–23 NRSV
for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
So the first thing made new was Jesus’ tortured body. But God is just getting started. Jesus realizes he’s going to have to demonstrate this new reality. So he asks for a piece of fish. It’s the moment captured in the image in the bulletin.
Jesus with the Disciples slide image
Gettin’ Fishy— Jesus was not a ghost. He had a real body. It was a risen body. A transformed body. In many ways like the bodies we will one day have. How glorious that moment must have been...
Luke 24:39–43 NRSV
Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
But it wasn’t just about a super spiritual experience. Jesus was setting the tone for how his followers should live on this side of the resurrection.
Luke 24:44–47 NRSV
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Jesus is bringing together what our tradition has called the Wesleyan quadrilateral. Scripture is the foundation. You use tradition, reason and experience to make sense of it and figure out what God wants from us...
image: Wesleyan Quad
the Scriptures were the foundation, what Jesus had taught them was the key, he opened their minds so they could understand. Jesus said we should love God with our minds. We need to use our reason. But he also talks about action: repentance, forgiveness, proclaiming. Because if we just talk about it and never live it we can’t really understand the Bible, let alone what God wants from us.

Experiencing Jesus

--in the Word, in Worship, in fellowship with other believers and out in the world because he’s active there, too.

Sharing Jesus

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