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Posts Tagged ‘#eastersunday’

From the bronze statue by Bruce Wolfe of Christ and Mary Magdalene at the Old Mission in Santa Barbara

The angel spoke to the women who came to the open and empty tomb,

“He is not here, for he is risen, just like he said.”

He is risen … and we who are his followers respond,

He is risen indeed

Those are the words of affirmation that Christ did what he said he would do (as recorded, before his death on the cross). He has conquered death.

These are the words that have even more beauty and weight and value. They spoke the prophetic anticipation waited and prayed for far longer than any vaccination. The words, he is risen, speak not just victory over a virus, but a victory over our human genetic condition of sin.

He paid a debt he did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay. Our only hope has ever been his sacrifice and we have hope because died and defeated death on our account.

Our Christian faith hinges on the resurrection … if it had not happened, then Jesus was not the son of God … but it did, there were multiple witnesses in multiple places … our faith is in the living, resurrected Christ (hallelujah!).

This Holy Week, I have been asking these questions:

  • how did the disciples not know what was going to happen as they ate with Jesus?
  • what if I were there?
  • what happened to open the eyes of those who met him on the road?

On the third day Jesus appeared to a number of people who did not, at first, seem to know who he was. These were not people unfamiliar with him, but family, friends, the disciples. Remember, it was only a week since his triumphal entry into the city, only four days since the supper in the upper room, only three days since his public crucifixion.

Depending on the Gospel, Jesus is seen by one or more women at the tomb, or to a few disciples fishing on the Sea of Galilee, or on a road, or in the upper room … what we do know from these accounts is that the risen Jesus was seen by numerous people … witnesses to this miraculous fulfilling of the prophesy.

But there are three occurrences when people who were close to him did not recognize the risen Jesus.

Luke records that two disciples walked and talked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus, and “but they were kept from recognizing him” Luke 24:16). John (20) tells of Jesus talking with Mary Magdalene and until he called her by her name she did not see who he was. Then in John (21) Jesus walked on the shore of the Sea of Galilee while a number of disciples fished, unsuccessfully. Jesus told them to throw the net to the other side of the boat, which resulted in an enormous catch … then Peter knew who is was and leapt from the boat into the water (not on the water this time).

So why? Why did these people, who knew Jesus so well, prior to his death, not know him now? And what caused their eyes to open?

Some theologians say it was that Christ had a different, glorified body. That they did not recognize him because he did not look like the human Jesus they knew.

But, that account in Luke, that they were kept from recognizing him … that sounds like his identity was intentionally kept from them, yet it is not part of the accounts of John.

As I read them, I found myself wondering if these accounts tell us something of how God reveals to each of us in ways that are specific to us and how he created us.

In the case of the the pair on the road to Emmaus, they told Jesus what had happened, about the death of the prophet. It is this title that, I think, says much about their understanding of Jesus. They thought he was a wise man, who could speak to things about the future. It was not until later, as they ate and Jesus broke bread and offered it to them “then their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (v. 31). In their cases, Christ himself chose when to allow them to see who he really was … for before they spoke, he knew that they’d only ever seen him as a prophet, that they would need to see him as he really is.

In the case of Mary Magdalene, she was absorbed in her grief. She was downcast. Her focus was really not on Jesus, but herself. But when he called her by name, then she turned her focus to him, abandoning her pity party.

The disciples in the boat were also in a funk. They were deep in grief and loss and they couldn’t even catch a fish. Their identity had been as fishermen and as followers of Jesus … and they were now unsuccessful in both. It was not until Jesus told them to move their nets and they were filled with fish, that they remembered that their abilities, their value was in who Jesus said they were … and they saw him for who he was.

We, I believe are like these individuals, when it comes to seeing Christ for who is really is.

Some of us have an appointed time to see him.

Some of us need to lift our eyes from ourselves to see him.

Some of us need to be reminded that our identity is in him, rather than what we do.

May, this Easter, we see Him, with eyes opened wide.

He is risen

“The pure in heart,
they shall see God” 
Luke 24:16

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He is risen; He is risen indeed.

Thus begins this Easter, this Resurrection Sunday.

Believers in Christ greet one another this way, as a message of hope, joy and shared belief …

for it is the resurrection of Christ that unites us, as believers in him

It is a wild and out-there thing to believe that Jesus, the man, rose from the dead. Yet this is our hope of salvation … this empty tomb, this rising from the dead.

His horrific crucifixion death was the covering or substitute for us and the sin that we had no ability, no resources to pay for. He stepped in, as the sacrificial lamb, to pay our debt, to cover our sins, so that we can face our God.

It was, on that first Easter Sunday that we are introduced to the origins of this Easter greeting.

The women came to the tomb, to discover that it was empty. They were, no doubt, filled with horror and grief that the body of their Jesus had been stolen. Then angelic messengers greeted them, saying :

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:5-7).

Then, later, while a couple were having a meal with a stranger, their eyes are opened to the identity of the stranger, when Jesus breaks bread for them, then he disappears. They immediately go back to Jerusalem and tell the disciples, “The Lord has risen indeed” (v. 34).

God, in his ultimate wisdom, knew that we humans would need more than one confirmation of his rising from the dead!

So, as a community of believers in this sacrifice we excitedly awaken this morning and greet one another with the most unifying greeting possible,

He is risen,
He is risen indeed.

“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
Matthew 28:6

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Today followers of Jesus greet one another with the words,

“He is risen”

and the response is:

“He is risen indeed”

So, what does that traditional greeting mean?

It is in Luke 24:34 where the pair who had met the risen Jesus, announced to the other disciples:

“It is true! The Lord has risen”

In this statement is announced the miracle of Jesus overcoming death and rising from the grave … but, there is more to this.

Jesus rising from the dead, overcoming death … death, the major tool of Satan himself … means that Jesus has defeated death, Satan, evil … sin itself.

He is risen means that we know how this story ultimately ends.

In the rising of Jesus from his death bed, we can have confidence that in the end everyone who follows Jesus lives happily every after, for EVER! We can have confidence of life without death, disease, heartbreak, pollution, floods, cruelty to animals, environmental disasters, evil human leaders, starvation, homelessness etc., etc., etc.

He wins! Jesus is our living hope! Death and Satan are defeated!

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

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IMG_3212

“Christ is risen
He is risen indeed”

The traditional greeting of Christians on Easter Sunday. It is called the “Paschal greeting” and was used in Orthodox and Catholic early churches. Sometimes it is accompanied by three kisses, on alternate cheeks.

It is said to have come from the gospel of Luke (v. 34):

“It is true!
The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”

This said after two disciples met a stranger on the road, as they walked to a village called Emmaus. This stranger, who appeared to know nothing of the events of the days prior, when Jesus, the prophet, was crucified.

 

You see, the stranger was Jesus himselfbut they were kept from recognizing him” (v. 16).

The stranger was told, but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus” (v. 21-24).

They seemed to think that, because of Jesus’ death, maybe Jesus hadn’t been the redeemer/saviour that had hoped him to be, and because they did not see Jesus, who was supposedly alive, they had missed out. All this blind disappointment, in the man walking by their sides.

Then this stranger rebukes them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (v. 25-27).

So this stranger (aka Jesus himself), slaps them upside of the head with what he always uses … what the prophets said. He reminds them that, according to the prophets, their long-awaited saviour had to suffer, had to die.

Then came the fork in the road, Jesus continuing on, but the disciples stopping in Emmaus for the night.

The disciples “urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.”” (v. 29). So Jesus joined them for dinner. 

It was there, at the table that the lightbulb came on for the pair.

“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 were opened and they recognized him” (v. 30-31).

“He took the bread,
gave thanks,
broke it
and began to give it to them”

Let’s rephrase that:

He sat before them,
gave thanks for the broken bread,

his body, days before, broken,
for them

It was in the reminder of Jesus’ broken body, for their broken lives, that their eyes were opened to who is was … for them. It is today, Easter Sunday, that we are all reminded that his body was broken, for our broken lives … but are our eyes opened to this, our Saviour?

” … and he disappeared from their sight” (v. 32). A bit anticlimactic … Just when he is known to them, he leaves them … again.

“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?”” (v. 32). Not so anticlimactic after all, for now that their eyes were fully opened, they realized that something in them had been stirring as they walked and talked with him on that road, to Emmaus. Something in them knew they were in the presence of their Saviour, but, as with all of us, they were blind to his presence.

“They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon” (v. 34-35).

It is true! … almost as if they were saying, Indeed, the Lord has risen!

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The eggs hidden around homes and gardens this weekend remind us of the rock in front of the tomb, and the hope of new life inside.

The joys of chocolate and a feast mark the end of the season of Lent that had many giving up, sacrificing, so as to share in the sacrifice of Jesus.

The rising sun of this morning reminds us of the rising SON that we celebrate, as believers in Christ.

 “He is not here; he has risen!

Declared the heavenly men in the tomb to the women who had come to the tomb with spices to cleanse the body that was gone (Luke 24:6).

Today we celebrate the risen Christ, the fulfillment of the prophets, the blood that was spilled to redeem our sin-soaked lives.

Today we celebrate that the grace of God.

The grace that is available to all, and is there in every high and low of life.

And it comes,

it came,

to us.

And it is still looking to find us, this Easter Sunday.

“From the creation to the cross,
There from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me.”

 

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