Sermon 4.15.18 Easter 3

Luke 24:36-49    4/15/18
Easter 3    Rev. Kenneth Frey
Luke 24:36-49  While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”  40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.  44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
The proof of the resurrection is the power of our purpose
1.  The proof of the resurrection
2.  Why did Jesus not appear to everyone?
3.  Our purpose

“Guys!  Guys! Guys!  Open up!  We saw Jesus!  No, were not crazy.  On our way to Emmaus we met this guy on the road.  We didn’t recognize him at first but when we told him about what happened to Jesus, he began to quote all the parts of the Scriptures that talk about the Messiah’s suffering and rising again.  Then when he broke bread at supper, we recognized it was Jesus all along.  He’s alive!  He really is alive!”
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”  40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.  
Remember the last funeral you were at.  You saw your friend or relative lying in the casket.  Then imagine walking into your kitchen and that person is standing there.  It’s not wonder the disciples are described here as “startled, frightened and troubled.”  Wouldn’t you be too?  
But Jesus wasn’t there to scare the life out of them.  He was there to prove that he rose from the dead.  By this time Jesus had already appeared to Mary, some women, Peter and the Emmaus disciples.  But even with all of that, the rest of the disciples didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.  Jesus appeared to them in a locked room to prove to them that he had bodily risen from the dead.
Look at the proofs he gives.  He invited them to touch him and to look at him, but more than that.  The word implies examination.  They were to turn him around, handle his hands and feet, look into the wound on his side.  And if that wasn’t enough, he ate in front of them.  It was really he in his real body.
He gave them even more proof.  He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  I don’t know how many times my mother told us not to play ball in the house.  She said we would break things.  We still did.  And we broke stuff.  Mom would come home and say, “I told you so!”  That’s kind of what Jesus was doing here.  He told them what would happen before it happened.   “I told you so.”
But it wasn’t just Jesus.  It was the whole Bible.    Going all the way back to Adam and Eve God promised the offspring of the woman who would crush Satan’s head.  He promised Abraham the son who would be a blessing to all nations. God promised David a Son who would reign on his throne forever.  Job foretold it.  Psalm 16 promised it.  Psalm 118 rejoiced in it.  The proof of the resurrection was not just standing before them, it was taught in Scripture.    
The evidence was compelling.  These disciples went from startled and frightened in verse 37 to joy and amazement in verse 41.  Jesus really did rise from the dead.
Remember that when the sadness and pains of this life seems so unbearable.  Jesus has risen so his promises to be with you, to help you, to make all things work for your good are real and true.  Jesus has risen and that truth underlies almost everything we do.  Because of the resurrection we can pray, “Now I lay me down to sleep . . .” because we know eternity awaits.  We can confess our sins, knowing that Jesus has taken away our sins.  We can have hope even at the death of a loved one because we know that Jesus has conquered death.  Jesus’ resurrection is the source of all Christian hope, joy and confidence in this world.
But if that’s the case, do you ever doubt the resurrection of Jesus?  Do you ever wonder why Jesus didn’t show himself alive to more people?  Why not show himself to Pilate or Herod?  Why didn’t Jesus show himself alive to the High Priests and the Jewish leaders?  Wouldn’t you think he would want those people who had mocked him when he was on the cross to see him now?  Why does he not stand in the Temple and prove his resurrection to the whole city?  
Here we have one of the deep truths of God’s dealing with people.  He compels no one to believe.  He does not use his almighty power to beat down his opposition.  Just as Jesus was humble and veiled his power, so his means of working in human hearts is humble.  He uses simple things like word, water, bread and wine.  He comes to people with the simple message of the gospel, inviting them to believe.  
He doesn’t force people with power; he wins them with words.  But his Word is not just words.  “They can never be just words because they are the very words of Christ, the Word of the Gospel, ‘the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes’ (Romans 1:16).”  (J.A.O. Preus, Just Words, p. 221)
Our purpose is to share that powerful word.  45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.   What is our purpose?  
Our first purpose is to listen to the gospel’s call to repentance. A Lutheran pastor from Finland came to America some years ago.  What he observed then is probably even truer now.  He said, “In your churches I too often found the challenge for repentance missing from the preacher’s message.  Often after the service I had the somewhat sorry feeling that everybody was going home very satisfied with the good service and the fine sermon, but nobody was dissatisfied with himself.”  
Are you dissatisfied with your selfish habits, your unkind words, your angry outbursts?  Are you dissatisfied with your self-centered pride, your lustful thoughts, your self-righteous attitude?  Let’s continue to use God’s Word to open a mirror into our soul and see the sins that make a mess of our relationship with God.  Then, let’s also hear the message of the cross, the message of our Savior’s love and mission, the message of forgiveness of all sins. 
Immersed in Scripture’s message of repentance and forgiveness, are prepared to take that to the world.
Because that is necessary.  Sometimes we get confused about the purpose of our lives.  Why has God put you here?  We have a lot of temporary, earthly purposes – to earn a living, be a good son or daughter, or be a good parent and spouse.  It is a good purpose to help others and to make this world a better place.  But there’s something deeper.  Those other purposes are good and may God bless you as you seek to fulfill them, but your deeper purpose is to carry the message of repentance and forgiveness to the world.
You know what to say.  You learned it in Sunday School and confirmation class.  You hear it in Bible Class.  In all these ways the essential facts of our salvation have been stressed.  We are sinners who need a Savior.  He was born in Bethlehem, lived in Palestine and died on a cross.  He rose on Easter Sunday and ascended into heaven.  On the last day he will come to judge and take believers to heaven.  
But what qualifies you the most is that these facts are not just in your heard, they are in your heart.  You believe in your heart that you are a condemned sinner with no way of going to heaven, but you also believe in your heart that Jesus died and rose again to declare you not guilty, forgiven and an heir of heaven.   Who else is more qualified to be Christ’s witness?  
If you were subpoenaed to testify in court about an accident you saw, you would have to comply.  Why not see our witness for Christ the same way.  We are compelled, not by force of law, but by love of the Savior and the love of souls, to witness.  That’s our purpose.  
Jesus rose from the dead.  He proved that to his disciples.  He proves that with his Word.  And the proof of the resurrection gives power to our purpose.