Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary: The 3rd Sunday of Easter (Day 4)

Luke 24:36-48

36 While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 37 They were terrified and afraid. They thought they were seeing a ghost.
38 He said to them, “Why are you startled? Why are doubts arising in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It’s really me! Touch me and see, for a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones like you see I have.” 40 As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 Because they were wondering and questioning in the midst of their happiness, he said to them, “Do you have anything to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish. 43 Taking it, he ate it in front of them.
44 Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 He said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.


How do we know today that Jesus is present with us? He ate a piece of fish to show those first disciples that he was really there with them, that he was no apparition or figment of their imaginations or fears. But he doesn’t make such appearances to us, his later disciples. How, then, do we know Jesus is really with us?

Jesus fed his physical body to demonstrate his real presence with his disciples that first Easter. But that was not all. No, he also fed them with his Word, interpreting for them what their Scriptures were all about. And I suggest that how he demonstrates his presence with us today – leading us deeper into an understanding and practice of his Word.

Jesus opens our hearts and minds, as he did for his first followers, to share with us his heart and mind. Three truths are especially close to his heart and especially difficult for us to internalize. First, the heart or key to the biblical story is death and resurrection. That’s the underlying dynamic that animates God’s action and the faithful action of God’s people from beginning to end. Living to die for others, and dying so as to live with and for God, this is the pattern of love, redemption, and hope, human and divine.

Second, Christ’s living to die and dying to live changes lives through forgiveness of sins! Forgiveness is God’s most powerful weapon in “binding the strong man” and “plundering his house” (Mk.3).

Third, this life-changing message must be shared with others.

We tend to make things harder than they are and have to be. Being God’s people
is simple (not simplistic) though not easy. Read clearly, experience deeply, share widely – that’s the pattern of Christian existence. Or, in the words of the famous song from “Godspell,”
“to see thee more clearly love thee more dearly follow thee more nearly day by day”


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