|Sunday School & Bible Class (Sept-May)||9:15 AM|
The Risen Christ Gives Peace
3rd Sunday of Easter
April 15, 2018
Lincoln Heights Lutheran Church
The Risen Christ Gives Peace
Luke 24:36–49 (NIV84)
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 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. 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.”
Dear Friends in Christ,
There is said to be a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. Maybe it is the difference between intellectually knowing that something is true versus trusting something is true. If you laid a 4”x4” post across a small hole in the ground, I would have no trouble waking on that less than 4” piece of wood. However, if you laid the same piece of wood across a canyon that is hundreds of feet deep, I would hesitate to walk on the wood. The wood is strong enough to hold me either way, but my heart is more afraid of the deeper hole.
In our minds, we may know that there is nothing to fear but our heart just doesn’t listen to what our mind says. We have fear and anxiety and worries even when we know we shouldn’t. Jesus knew people like this. They were his disciples. Jesus stills knows people like this – you and me, his followers today. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our head and heart were united and at peace. The Risen Christ Gives Peace. He gives peace by pointing out the fact of his resurrection. Christ gives peace by opening our minds to understand the Scriptures. The risen Christ gives peace to our hearts by giving us faith in the facts.
Peace from the Fact of the Resurrection
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.
Luke takes us back to the evening of the very first Easter. The disciples had gone into hiding on Good Friday when Jesus was crucified. They were sad, confused and scared. The women went to the tomb on Easter, returning with the news that Jesus’ body was gone and an angel said Christ had risen from the dead. Peter and John ran and saw the empty tomb. Jesus appeared to Mary and also to Peter and to the two men on the road to Emmaus. And still these believers are confused and scared, locked in a room after hearing the Easter message, some of them seeing Jesus alive already. They had the head knowledge. They heard that Jesus was alive but that fact had not yet impacted their heart. Their confusion and fear had not disappeared.
As followers of Jesus today, we have times of fear, sadness, anxiety, doubts and confusion. After being a Christian for (fill in the blank for yourself) ____ years, shouldn’t I have more trust in God, more love for others, less fear of the future, fewer doubts about God’s love, more joy in life and less confusion about everything? Shouldn’t I, a Christian for so many years, have a better handle on my sins? Should I still be falling into the same sins I did last year? Should I still be struggling to control my thoughts, words and actions? Of course we should have a stronger faith and of course we should be in better control of our sins. We should not fear or worry about anything in this life. But we are just like the disciples who still had fears, even knowing that Jesus had risen from the dead.
What does Jesus do for those who still have fears and doubts in this life? He gives them peace by the fact that he rose from the dead. He appears to those frightened disciples and said, “Peace be with you.” He knows what they need and then gives them peace by showing them that he is really alive. Their eyes and head told them that it was Jesus talking with them but their fearful hearts imagined he was a ghost. Jesus dispels their fear by showing them his hands and feet. Then he invites them to touch him. If you don’t believe your eyes, believe your sense of touch. The hands and feet they saw and touched were pierced with nails on Friday and still bore those marks of Jesus’ sacrifice for sins. Those hands and feet of Jesus were not cold and lifeless like on Friday but were warm and alive again. Jesus gave them proof they could see and touch to help take away their fears and give them peace.
Even that was not quite enough. They still couldn’t believe that everything was going to be okay, that Jesus was alive again. So Jesus asked for some food and ate it in front of them. Though he did not need food to survive anymore in his resurrection body, he ate to show them that he is the same person they had come to love and trust before Good Friday. The risen Christ gave them peace by proving his resurrection.
Jesus made sure to give us lots of evidence of his resurrection. This historical event has some of the best evidence of any event in ancient history. We have eyewitness accounts of Christ’s resurrection. Matthew and John were there on Easter evening and saw Jesus eat that piece of broiled fish. They touched him and saw his wounds and they each wrote accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. We have the account of Peter recorded by Mark. We have Paul’s account of seeing Jesus alive on the road to Damascus. And we have Luke’s carefully investigated account before us today. What is more, all the disciples in the room on Easter evening suffered persecution for claiming that Jesus rose from the dead. History tells us that only John escaped execution for proclaiming Christ’s resurrection. Even “doubting” Thomas went to his death proclaiming that Jesus rose from death.
May the fact of Christ’s resurrection give you peace when doubts and fears interrupt your days. The risen Christ did not appear to his disciples to condemn them for their lack of faith but to strengthen them by the fact that he had overcome death. Christ can take care of everything.
Peace from Understanding the Scriptures
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.”
If a child is scared, how many times will you comfort them? Isn’t once enough. “I told you not to be scared of the dark last week!” “I told you there are no monsters under the bed last year. I shouldn’t have to say it again.” “You know I love you. I told you that when you were two. Do I need to repeat myself?” Yes, we do need to offer comfort and peace again and again to our children. Our God does even more for us. He continually gives us peace by giving us an understanding of the Scriptures.
When were you forgiven of all of your sins? On Good Friday when Jesus died some two thousand years ago. He proved it on Easter Sunday. Your sins were fully paid, wiped out and forgiven about two thousand years ago. So why does God need to say anything more today? He loves us and the risen Christ wants to give us peace every day, the peace of forgiveness. So he opens the Scriptures to us. He tells us about the great gift of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit he gives in baptism. We can say we received God’s peace on our baptism day just like Eshaida did today. In the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand God’s promises to us.
We can rightly say that we received his peace in the forgiveness of sins this morning as we confessed our sins and received the absolution of sins. The Scriptures promise that if you forgiven anyone their sins, they are forgiven. Exercise that authority in your individual Christian lives to forgive sins in the name of Jesus so others know the peace of the risen Christ.
We can say that we were forgiven last week as we received the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion. Jesus promises that this sacrament is given and poured out for us for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus brings his peace to us through this sacrament.
The risen Christ wants to give us peace in this life and in eternal life. He wants us to be constantly reminded of his good promises. He wants to open our minds to understand those promises in the Scriptures. But sometimes the Bible sits unopened in our homes. When Jesus appeared to the disciples, they were scared of him at first. Is the Bible sitting in our homes a bit of a scary book? It is big with some big words. Some of it is difficult to understand. It talks about places we’ve never been and people we have never heard of outside of the Bible. But this is God’s Word. This is the message that gives us peace. It is God’s continual reminder of his forgiveness, faithfulness, and love. Read it. If you don’t like reading, listen to it. Get the WELS Mobile App for your device and you can listen to the whole Bible in three years. It takes about five minutes a day. Don’t let a day go by without hearing from the risen Christ. Jesus lives to give you peace.