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Easter 3

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Luke 24:36–49 NIV
36 While they were still talking about this, 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 Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
The death and resurrection of Jesus had an immediate and long lasting effect on his disciples. Consider first his death. He was a popular religious leader with a growing number of followers at the time of his death. His ministry had just made a break through as he had left his normal area of influence in Galilee and had come to the Jerusalem area. His miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead had increased his popularity so much that he was perceived to be a threat to the Jewish leaders
J (NIV)
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” 49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
The reception he received on Palm Sunday only increased their fear that he had come to cause a political uprising. Therefore, they pressed to have him arrested and executed before (in their minds) it was too late. On Good Friday they were successful.
Jesus had predicted that if their enemies treated him badly, they would not hesitate to go after his followers.
(NIV)
24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! 26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. 34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Quote).
In the days following Jesus’ death, the disciples met in fear behind locked doors uncertain of what the future would hold. Would they be attacked or would they disperse in fear and keep silent about all that they had seen and heard? They may even have wondered what the future of Jesus’ teachings would be.
Application: Compare to the Civil Rights Movement on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
There wasn’t an apology from White America for killing a leader of peace.  The government responded to the Negro riots by enlisting blacks into the Army and shipping them to Vietnam.  Those who didn’t go were harassed by the police and the courts.  Those who survived that became victims of the CIA and FBI.  The CIA allowed drugs to flourish in the ghettos.  The FBI used traitors and gangs to start “dirty wars” in black communities. 
There was no freedom under Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover. 
Dr. King’s assassination created a void in black leadership. Five years earlier, we lost Medgar Evers. Three years earlier, we lost Malcolm X. The ones who lived were in jail, in hiding or exiled.  A lost hope was replaced with widespread dope. 
Drugs killed off a generation of potential leaders.  It criminalized the young militant wanting change.  In 1966, Huey Newton took his college education and helped found the Black Panther Party.  In 1989, he was shot dead in an apparent, “drug deal gone bad”.  Earlier it was alleged, he suffered through a debilitating, heroin addiction.  Nonetheless, he was a sworn foe of California law enforcement. 
King’s death brought forth the 1968 Voting Rights Act. It guaranteed EVERYONE the right to vote. An investigation into the “long, hot summer” riots of 1967-1968 blamed the upheavals on the one culprit; white racism. The Kerner Commission said that white racism against African Americans along with crime, unemployment, inadequate housing, police brutality led to the riots.
America didn’t offer freedom for killing Dr. King.  They just killed and imprisoned more.  Black Panthers found themselves assassinated in police raids like Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.  They found themselves battling in state courts on drummed up charges.  To avoid the harassment, a few such as Eldridge Cleaver emigrated to Cuba.  Stokley Carmichael fled to Guyana.  The choices were to be assimilated in white culture, incarcerated in America’s prisons or assassinated in their nieghborhoods.  There was to be no black militancy or revolution. 
In rare occurrences, a few achieved some success in politics. In 1970, Carl Stokes and Charles Evers won mayoral elections in their respective cities of Cleveland (Ohio) and Fayette (Miss). Shirley Chisolm became the first woman, let alone black woman, elected to Congress. Two years later, she embarked on a courageous run for the presidency. She challenged GOP (Grand Old Party) incumbent, Richard Nixon and Democratic candidate, George McGovern. Chisolm’s ran on the Freedom Party ballot. She got annhilated in the polls, but earned points for making the attempt.
Some mid-level, black leaders emerged. Medgar’s brother, Charles Ever won the mayor post in Fayette, Miss.  Andrew Young won the mayor job in Atlanta, Georgia (1983). Rev. Jesse Jackson founded Operation PUSH and his Rainbow Coalition. He ran ran for president in 1984. Representative, Alan Keyes and Rev. Al Sharpton also grabbed the African American leadership helm.
Mrylie Evers-Williams, the widow of Medgar Evers, obtained NAACP’s (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) director seat. Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. King, continued with her late husband’s Poor Peoples’ Campaign. She raised monies for a Civil Rights Memorial. The memorial honored the victims who died during the Movement’s era.
The victories, though few, were significant.  They led to the eventual political and social shift in 2008.  Four decades after King’s assassination, Barack Obama became America’s president and Commander-in-Chief. 
While the disciples were still in shock and fearfully wondering about their own future, they received news that Jesus had risen from the dead just as he said. (see passages before this).
(NIV)
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
Luke 24:32–34 NIV
32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”
They then witnessed his resurrection firsthand. “While they were . . . “ Note their initial reaction. We can understand their thought process. We tend to process information based on our own experience or beliefs. Obviously, a person who is dead cannot stand among us and talk to us. It just is not possible. If you are alone, you might believe that you are hallucinating. I know of people whose spouses had died who will report that they have seen and had conversations with their loved one well after that person has departed. After my mother’s death, dad still thought she was in the back room and he would call to her. Sometimes she answered (or so he thought). But when a group of people sees a dead person standing among them and talking to them, it must be . . . a ghost. Although the Bible does not definitively teach on the presence of ghosts among us, it does show us that there were those who believed in ghosts or the disciples would not have thought Jesus was a ghost.
They then witnessed his resurrection firsthand. “While they were . . . “ Note their initial reaction. We can understand their thought process. We tend to process information based on our own experience or beliefs. Obviously, a person who is dead cannot stand among us and talk to us. It just is not possible. If you are alone, you might believe that you are hallucinating. I know of people whose spouses had died who will report that they have seen and had conversations with their loved one well after that person has departed. After my mother’s death, dad still thought she was in the back room and he would call to her. Sometimes she answered (or so he thought). But when a group of people sees a dead person standing among them and talking to them, it must be . . . a ghost. Although the Bible does not definitively teach on the presence of ghosts among us, it does show us that there were those who believed in ghosts or the disciples would not have thought Jesus was a ghost.
Ghosts are a particular manifestation of a belief in life after death. Though the specifics vary among groups, a ghost is generally understood to be the disembodied spirit or soul of a once-living person. Sometimes the spirit belongs to a deceased animal. A ghost is said to linger on earth when the person died in a traumatic way, or when his burial ritual was disturbed before it was complete, or sometimes just because the spirit feels like it. Pesky or disruptive ghosts are called poltergeists. Some groups believe that ghosts are actually demons, or evil angels. Not all belief systems around the world allow for spirits or souls that linger on earth after death, but some do. In fact, many do. The concept is popular in spiritualist circles and many Christian faiths as well. With so many theologies that allow for an immediate spiritual life after death, it is no wonder that ghosts are so popular. In fact, ghosts are not limited to the realm of the religious. Because they cross social, cultural, and religious lines, ghosts are very popular in movies, novels, and other pop culture manifestations. Ghosts are gaining in popularity as the 21st century wears on.
A ghost is said to linger on earth when the person died in a traumatic way, or when his burial ritual was disturbed before it was complete, or sometimes just because the spirit feels like it. Pesky or disruptive ghosts are called poltergeists. Some groups believe that ghosts are actually demons, or evil angels.
Not all belief systems around the world allow for spirits or souls that linger on earth after death, but some do. In fact, many do. The concept is popular in spiritualist circles and many Christian faiths as well. With so many theologies that allow for an immediate spiritual life after death, it is no wonder that ghosts are so popular.
In fact, ghosts are not limited to the realm of the religious. Because they cross social, cultural, and religious lines, ghosts are very popular in movies, novels, and other pop culture manifestations. Ghosts are gaining in popularity as the 21st century wears on.
On that first Easter Sunday, it was not the ghost of Jesus who appeared to them but the risen Savior. Notice how he proved it to him.
The immediate impact of the resurrection of Jesus was doubt, confusion, misunderstanding but soon replaced with faith and joy. Whether or not we believe in ghosts, we do believe that our life does not end when our bodies die. We believe the promises of God that our souls live on (see passages).
Revelation 20:11–13 NIV
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.
I would prefer to believe that our souls do not linger to give us a message or to haunt us but that as in the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus our souls go to their final destination immediately at the point of death. What a blessing for those who die in the Lord to enjoy the blessings of heaven immediately!
I would prefer to believe that our souls do not linger to give us a message or to haunt us but that as in the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus our souls go to their final destination immediately at the point of death. What a blessing for those who die in the Lord to enjoy the blessings of heaven immediately!
Why did Jesus appear to his disciples? To assure them of his resurrection and to command them as to what their next step was to be. The immediate future was that they were to wait for the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Then they would publicly carry out the real mission of the church. (What was whispered in your ear.) This would take great courage and the help of God because there would be those who opposed them as they had opposed Jesus.
In our first lesson, we have an example of that opposition and their determination to do what they were trained and empowered to do.
What is the mission of the church today? In Europe there are grand cathedrals as well as other stately places of worship. But like the local library, many have become irrelevant. What happens there or why there is a church means nothing to those who live within walking distance of them. Has this become the attitude of many toward churches (congregations) today?
What can we do about it?
(NIV)
47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
1 John 2:12–17 NIV
12 I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. 14 I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Reinvest ourselves in what it is we are commanded to do.
Reinvest ourselves in what it is we are commanded to do.
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