Faithlife Sermons

Recognizing Jesus

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Lord, we encounter you each week, in word and sacrament, may the Holy Spirit come into our minds and warm our hearts to your presence, in the name of your Son, our saviour Jesus Christ - Amen

Some stories from childhood, even times when we are not present stick with us…

When I was boy, my brother at a friend’s birthday party went to see the movie Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford – is an archaeology professor, but more exciting and crucial to the whole movie – he is treasure hunter

Very early in the movie there is a suspenseful moment in which Indiana is carefully working his way through an ancient ruin filled with booby traps

Indiana carefully navigates past one difficult trap to the next to get to the core of the ancient ruin from an long gone civilization that seemed to be still some how alive and determined to keep its hidden treasure

He trades a bag of sand for the priceless relict – thus avoiding the final booby trap

All looks well, until he inadvertently sets off an unseen trap

This sends a giant boulder rolling down towards him

            And in the heat of this tense moment

            The birthday boy’s mother jumps up to her feet and yells for all the theatre to hear

Run Indy Run!!!

In Sunday school, one can quickly learn a basic rule, particularly useful if you have a tendency to daydreaming – the answer to most Sunday School teachers’ questions is usually – Jesus

This pearl of wisdom that many an older sibling has passed down over 2000 years of Sunday School, was not available to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus

When we encounter Cleopas and his unnamed companion it is Resurrection Sunday

And although they are talking about Jesus, they are blinded by an expectation of ‘the Christ’ that was simply a misinterpretation of the scriptures

Now maybe you are dramatic like that mother of my story – you want to jump out of your seat and yell for all to hear – It’s Jesus – It’s Jesus

But if you are like me, as you heard the gospel read today – you feel your hand going up and you wish the teacher would call on you – because you are dieing to tell these disciples –He’s right there beside you - it’s Jesus !!!


To us the audience, the answer is clear

            We have the benefit of hearing and reading the whole gospel story

We have 2000 years of passed on instruction and we have the regular experience of the risen Lord – in word and sacrament – and many other ways

But to Cleopas and his companion: their vision - their understand - their belief - is obstructed

Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then 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?” 19He 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

Luke drags out the scene...Allowing Cleopas and his friend to tell this stranger - Jesus - all they know...about Jesus.

            It is the longest dialogue in all the gospels – by someone other than Jesus

                        That fact alone is worthy of a sermon or two

Possibly - “God gives us time - to get it right or wrong”

And when they are shown that they had really missed the point – Jesus jumps in

“Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

Jesus interprets his life as a fulfilment of all of Scripture, from “Moses” (the first five books of the Bible) to “all the prophets”.

Jesus corrects their false interpretation – and declares for all eternity God’s purpose for entering into this world in the flesh

But before we are too hard on the disciples, remember that they were coming from an entirely different world view

Jesus had disappointed them: they expected him to deliver Israel from Roman domination, and to begin an earthly kingdom of God – to redeem Israel in a militaristic way

One might think - that if the risen Lord was to come into our life and explain what the scriptures really says and how to understand it in the right way

            We would see and recognize Jesus at that moment – but they don’t

And maybe there are times in our lives when God is telling us and showing us in many ways who He is and what He doing in this world - but to us – He is a stranger

The story does end there

            It doesn’t end with two disciples hearing a new interpretation of scripture

                        And not recognizing the Lord who is telling them

The story transitions, because they have reached their destination - or think they have

            And in true middle-eastern hospitality they invite the stranger to stay with them

                        Stay, because it is getting dark – the day is almost over

So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.


Jesus became recognizable to these disciples in the breaking of bread

            Note the Eucharistic sequence: take, bless, break, distribute.

The movement in this passage is suggestive

Reflection on ‘the word’ leads to ‘table fellowship with the Lord’

and of course this is the goal of each communion service – that we do in remembrance of Him – in the presence of Him

            Our whole communion liturgy is based on - Word - and Sacrament

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not just history. It is attested and experienced anew in each Eucharist we share.

For some of us we recognize the Lord – we experience God – manifested in our common feast

For others God is experienced through the Word – God’s revelation coming alive and is speaking to us personally

This past Friday in our Bible study group – many of said how we can be routinely amazed by some small or large revelation from a passage that we thought we knew and had read numerous times before

Sometimes it is just in the way a person reads – shed light in a new way

For others, it in is ministry – in service to others and by others to us - that we experience God

            That we recognize the presence of God walking next to us

                        Jesus said – “what you do to the least of these you do also to Me”

For others still – it is in times of reflection – maybe journaling or sharing our day with others

            Maybe in times of intentional solitude – a walk in the woods or sitting quietly on your own

And of course there is prayer

                        The time either by ourselves or as a group that we communicate with God

However you experience and recognize God, whether it be one or all of these ways

            Know that God is there

Just as Jesus, the Good Shepherd, found these two strays from the flock and brought them home

            He comes to all - that are able to remove the barriers that obstruct their vision

He comes to those who have given up and are headed back home

Sometimes it is precisely in these moments when we have reached the bottom and hope seems a distant dream

            Remember they said “We had hoped”

                        It is then when He comes to walk alongside us

Sometimes we need to be so removed from all “our” world – all our obstructions - to let Jesus in

And it is this which makes ‘this story’ about ‘the blessedness of being broken’

Not only when we are being good and faithful and true, but even in our moments of waywardness and faithlessness as well……

The answer for us too – not just Sunday School children – is usually… Jesus……………

Brothers and sisters – is Jesus a stranger in our life – can we see the hand of God, the work of the Holy Spirit around us?

Or is the cloud of saints that have gone before and the Heavenly Host dieing to jump out of their seats and yell

– it’s Jesus – He’s right there beside you!!!                Amen

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