1 Peter 1:7-25
The Message (MSG)
6-7 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
8-9 You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.
10-12 The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. The Messiah’s Spirit let them in on some of it—that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamored to know who and when. All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves—through the Holy Spirit—the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!
A Future in God
13-16 So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”
17 You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.
18-21 Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.
22-25 Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said,
The old life is a grass life,
its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;
Grass dries up, flowers droop,
God’s Word goes on and on forever.
This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.
Road To Emmaus
Luke 24: 13-35
There are many people on the Road to Emmaus today. We see it all around us, especially in the life in the church. This story is about us—and the times we are disillusioned and have doubts. This is a story of those of us who are searching for answers.
This morning we travel down the road with Cleopas and his partner to see if we can find some answers in their travel to Emmaus.
Interestingly, we all know the story of Jesus entry into Jerusalem, the trial, crucifixion and the empty tomb and Jesus appearance to the elite disciples Peter, James, John and Thomas, but we don’t hear how the ordinary folks felt during Easter.
It reminds me of the hockey playoffs, how the important people are interviewed, coaches, players, managers-the coach in the corner, but what about all the fans in the seats, we rarely heard from them, although I must admit we are hearing more from the fans during the Canadian vs Boston rivalry.
Of the four gospels only Luke tells this story to give us some insight as to how some of the ordinary followers of Jesus reacted to the dramatic events of Easter. How they “walked away” from the scene-doubting-- confused just want to go home and think things out.
The story starts with two travelers on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they might be a married couple Cleopas and Mary. They both appear very gloomy walking along discussing the events of the past days.
Mary is rattling Cleapas’s chain for not believing the women who saw the risen Jesus at the tomb. Mary was telling him the women were so excited, she can’t think of them making up such a story.
But Mary exclaims Cleopas, “Peter ran to the tomb, it was empty and he saw nobody, what can I say!”
Just a typical couple seeing things differently I’m sure we sometimes have the same experience with our spouse.
Gloomy and sad they continue their journey WALKING AWAY from Jerusalem.
Today, many people question if the church has the answers they are looking for-- they question their faith-- they have doubts, it seems other things have become more important to them.
So, what to do —they “Walk Away” leave the church. Not just in one or two denominations, it is happening in all churches in the western world. On their journey they are searching for different answers to the meaning to life hoping to find it-- maybe in sports—travel—family centered activities—more work—consumerism—computer games—TV.
Hopefully, one day all those who decided they didn’t need the church will recognize the stranger who will help them realize God never gives up on them.
They will discover as the Psalmist found out that “If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold you are there.” There is no place we can go to avoid God’s spirit!
They probably won’t come back to our sheep-fold,( our church) God may have new plans for the next generation, alternate methods and places to worship that will seem strange to us but will meet their needs.
We need to leave it to God-- God will reveal his plans to them on their Road to Emmaus in goodtime.
As they our two travelers are walking away from the tragic events in Jerusalem, a stranger joins them on their journey to Emmaus, at first, they are suspicious, is the stranger a “spy” searching out members of the Jesus gang. But he seemed okay and soon he joined in on their conversation
Oddly enough, they did not recognize the stranger to be Jesus, you would have thought they’d know him having been his follower for a year or two. But it can happen to all of us and can be an embarrassment.
Here’s an example that happened to a security guard at United Church head office in Toronto.
**What humiliation the security guard felt he could not always recognize the Moderator, the spiritual head of the United church. Lois Wilson, the Moderator, often appeared unfashionably dress—even at times bedraggled and unkempt. Given her attire, she was often mistaken for a bag lady entering the main church office in Toronto. More than once Lois was stopped by the same church security guard, who to his embarrassment was unable to recognize her as head of the church and would request proof of identification. Once he called the General Secretary to confirm her identity.(i) We can imagine how this poor fellow felt.
But, if we put ourselves in Cleopas and Mary shoes we too would have been confused, disappointed over the events of those last few days, their hopes in Jesus were gone—he was executed, buried and now his body is missing. Given the circumstances, we might say it was natural to not recognize the stranger as Jesus.
Maybe it was the way Jesus approached the disciples that caused them not to recognize him. We notice it in the very nature of his encounter with them- -- HE TAKES THE INITIATIVE
—Jesus always calls people to discipleship
--with no pressure.
--He is open yet courteous, engaging them in conversation
and giving them the opportunity to converse
-- or even dismiss him.
When Cleopas and his partner arrive at the village, JESUS GIVES THEM THE OPTION OF ASKING HIM to stay or not, Jesus is never demanding or intrusive always waiting for our invitation.
Jesus draws them out, knowing they are desperate to talk of what happened in Jerusalem, so he asks them a few leading questions.
And talk they do, about their doubts and disillusionment of all that has taken place, the execution of the prophet in whom they had placed so much hope, about the empty tomb, about the incredible tale of some women that he is alive and much more. Now all their hope and dreams of a new future are gone.
Once again JESUS TAKES THE INITIATIVE in breaking and sharing in the bread, and brings the conversation to a mystical moment of amazing grace. At that moment, their eyes were opened. They recognize Jesus!
The theme we have been exploring this Easter is all about RECOGNIZING JESUS AND DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM. It takes prayer and Bible study to be able to walk with Christ in earnest, we will find we do not know him as well as we thought-- In fact there are times when we don’t recognize him at all.
We discover to our dismay, Jesus’ priority is not to keep us company-- but rather to seek out his other sisters and brothers, who lack food, clothing, and the love that can bring them back home to the family of God.
To stay close to this Good Shepherd we must share his passion for the needy and the lost. He expects nothing less.
Maybe we don’t expect to see him in the places we are looking-- maybe there are situation where we would never expect to see Jesus. We must keep our eyes open knowing we never know when or where.
I’m sure you have all heard the:
COBBLER STORY—who prayed to have Jesus come and visit him on Christmas Day waiting but no Jesus- shaggy beggar (no shoes)-old lady (cup of tea)—lost child returned to his parents. That night he asked Why didn’t you come today—Jesus said, I passed your way 3 times and you didn’t recognize me!
JESUS IS IN THE WORLD sharing the suffering, the loneliness and disappointments of all God’s children and is telling us his work needs many hands—our hands.
The “Road to Emmaus” is about you and me:
--to be able to recognize Jesus in our lives
—understanding his mission
—and joining hands with Jesus to search out the poor and lonely,
the unloved and the sick.
But, when we hear of over 200 school children drown—or a plane carrying over 200 disappear—the 180 school girls abducted--1 billon people starving-- the fighting—corruption—greed—natural disasters, and these are the events that bring on doubts about God.
Theologian-Frederick Buechner had a way of addressing our doubts he calls it “Ants in The Pants of Faith”
He says, “Whether your faith is-- there is a God or there is no God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”
Fortunately, we have our church community, faithful men and women who accompany us on our journey—we are not alone. Together as we share in the bread and the wine our eyes are opened to the love and continuing faithfulness of God.
Several years ago, The Saturday Evening Post ran a cartoon showing a man about to be rescued after he had spent a long time ship-wrecked on a tiny deserted island. The sailor in charge of the rescue team stepped onto the beach and handed the man a stack of newspapers. “Compliments of the Captain,” the sailor said. “He would like you to glance at the headlines to see if you’d still like to be rescued!”
Sometimes the headlines do scare us. Sometimes we feel that evil is winning. Then Easter comes to remind us that there is no grave deep enough, no seal imposing enough, no stone heavy enough, no evil strong enough to keep Christ in the grave.(ii)
(i)Janice L. Meighan, Feisty and Fearless.
(ii)James W. Moore, Some Things Are Too Good Not To Be True.