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Posts Tagged ‘#opentheeyesofmyheart’

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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I cannot imagine not being able to recognize someone who I love.

Yet, as we read the accounts of people who encountered the risen Jesus, it seems as though they were completely unaware as to who was standing before them.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You

Of course, each of these people, seemingly blinded to the obvious, were also in the depths of despair, sadness, confusion and grief … for the one they so loved had died in such an unfair and violent manner and with him, died their hopes of a Saviour for their people, for themselves, for redemption.

They were mourning and hopeless.

In a sense, their eyes were not yet opened to the fact that, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus :

“you do not grieve like the rest of mankind,
who have no hope”

(1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Because they had not yet seen the resurrected Christ … it was in the seeing … with their eyes and their hearts, that their hope was made real.

I love the story of the two walking along the road to Emmaus with Jesus. It says that the trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus is about seven miles. At some point along the way Jesus himself joins them in their walk. Jesus listens as they tell of the events of the past three days, with great sorrow and hopelessness. Jesus then challenges them, calling them foolish, saying,

“Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:26).

Then, when they reached the village of Emmaus, they invited Jesus to spend the evening with them.

At the evening meal (how Jesus loved when people gathered around the bread and wine), a miracle occurred :

“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, and he disappeared from their sight.” (Luke 24:30-31).

These were not his disciples who had experienced the first communion with Jesus at the last supper. Yet, through the breaking of the bread (his body), their eyes were opened to the truth of who they were dining with … their Savior, the very bread of heaven.

Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century wrote the words to the beautiful hymn, Panis Angelicus … the words, in Latin and English below:

Panis angelicus
Fit panis hominum
Dat panis coelicus
Figuris terminum
O res mirabilis
Manducat dominum
Pauper, pauper
Servus et humilis
May the Bread of Angels
Become bread for mankind;
The Bread of Heaven puts
All foreshadowings to an end;
Oh, thing miraculous!
The body of the Lord will nourish
the poor, the poor,
the servile, and the humble.

It is in the physical element of the bread, the symbol of the body of our Hope, our Redemption, that our eyes can be opened, so that we see with our hearts the truth of who he is … but we have to be willing to take that bread into us, our lives.

this is his body.

broken for you.

take.

eat.


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