It is Easter, a day set aside to acknowledge what our Lord has done, to recognize the miracle. Jesus overcame death so we could be set free from sin and to reconcile to God. My heart is so full that I find it difficult to express my gratitude to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We have such hope for our lives, and the lives of those who are willing to take a step of faith that Jesus can give us, the gift that was poured out so that we could be clothed with power from on high. The gift that enables our reconciliation with God. That is what Easter is all about. Truly, every day is Easter, for our Lord is alive and available to be in total and complete relationship with each and every one of us. Our response? Yes. It is certainly our choice, the best choice we can make for our lives. Why? Because the old of this world has gone, and the new has come. Jesus has come. Jesus overcame the sin of the world. He said, in John 16:30, "It is finished.." Forgiveness is available. The Spirit of God has been poured out. Jesus is welcome here in our midst.
It is my great hope that each of you has accepted His invitation to dwell in your heart as He does in mine. That means that we are participating in communion with the Divine Love of God. Jesus came so that we could experience the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Jesus is alive and in each of us all the time. Can you feel the holy presence of our Lord today? Let's remind ourselves of what happened on that glorious day so long ago in verses 2-8. The women went to the tomb with spices (a cultural practice). These women went to care for Jesus because they loved Him. Place yourself there.
"They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesis. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men with clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galillee, 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' Then they remembered his words."
They went to tell the others. Now the disciples knew who Jesus claimed to be and they know that He said that He would rise again. But did they believe? Verse 11 says that their words seemed like nonsense. Then in verse12,
"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."
Let's.turn our attention to what's provided to us by Luke next. It is entitled "On the road to Emmaus." This is a true story of real people who were there on that third day after Jesus had been crucified. Put yourself on the road with them. How traumatic the events of the day just prior had been. They were witness to the horrific crucification of Jesus. They had a belief that Jesus was Lord, and yet they were traumatized and heading home. It was the third day since Jesus had died; they had not seen Him alive, yet knew He had promised that He would rise. Then alongside comes a stranger in verses 15-16:
"As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him."
Was it Jesus that didn' want them to know that it was Him? Or did they simply not recognize Him? Was Him resurrected body so different that it was unrecognizable? I wonder if what really happened is that they were so traumatized and depressed by all that had happened that their faith was waning. They were spiritually blind and couldn't see that Jesus was right there with them. There is so much evil in the world that it can be hard to make sense of it. It is hard to see the Lord working, hard to see that He is right next to us. I can only guess what the disciples were feeling that afternon. Post-traumatic shock probably doesn't begin to describe what they must have been feeling. We don't know why they didn't recognize Jesus. Maybe Jesus knew that they were not ready, or Jesus had a message He wanted them to hear first. What we do know is that Jesus was right there with them, just like He is right here with us today. Jesus is alive, and He loves us. In verses 17-19,
"He asked them, 'What are you discussing together as you walk along?' They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked Him, 'Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that ha e happened there in these days?' 'What things?' He asked.
Can you hear them crying out? Don't you know? How do you not know? Jesus not only knew all of this. He had experienced it. Yet He continued to listen to what was on their hearts. Jesus listens to us. They told Jesus that they needed to see to believe. Does that sound like us sometimes? Jesus knows they don't believe that He has risen. So what does He do? He turns the conversation into a teaching moment. He calls them slow of heart to believe. I wonder what could be said of us? Are we willing to stop long enough to listen to Him? Do we search the Scriptures seeking out all of the things concerning Jesus? He explained all the prophetic words that pertained to Him. Those two disciples must have been amazed by what this stranger knew about the Lord. They invited Him to stay with them. Do you think that Jesus waits for our invitation to join us? Let's see what happens next (verse 30-31).
"When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes we opened and they recognized His and He disappeared from their sight."
Our Lord is so personal. We can see that by the way He handled His relationship with those who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus. He didn't force Himself upon them. He first listened, and really listened, to what was going on with them. Then He showed care in teaching them, reminding them of what He said about Himself in Scripture. Later, the disciples recalled the burning inside that they were able to connect with His opening of the Word.
Jesus promised He would overcome sin and death. He promised that He would not leave us as orphans. On this day, Easter, Jesus is in the Father, we are in Jesus, and Jesus is in us. What a great truth there is in this Word! We need to remind ourselves that Jesus is alive. Sometimes He is with us in the form of a Christian friend: sometimes we find comfort in His presence in Church in the midst of worship, or hearing the Word, or singing a song. Sometimes a new work of grace occurs when we come into a time of communion with an open heart. Real blessings come when we are in one to come alongside one another, bringing hope and the reconciling Love of Christ into a dark situation. This may be a moment when the Lord's light shines for the first time in the life of someone who has not yet met the Lord Jesus in his personal life.
God's Love is made perfect in the world through those who believe and carry His message of love and light without fear. We have hope because our Lord Jesus is always present. He cares for us, He forgives us, He listens to us, He teaches us, He loves us. He is our friend, our Lord, our Savior. Seek Him out, invite Him into all aspects and corners of your life. Allow Him to send you into the world. May this morning be a fresh new morning with the Lord.