Resurrection realities


Thought I’d share some early drafting of my sermon for this Sunday night, based on Luke 24:36b-48. I’ve begun by  asking the question: What will you do with the risen Jesus Christ? It’s the passage that follows on from the Walk to Emmaus narrative – where those who broke bread and witness with their own eyes the risen Jesus walking that road with them – break the news to a still-numbed group of disciples back in Jerusalem.  About 1/3 of the way into the sermon, I share as follows:

So … I like to think that this post-Emmaus account of Jesus appearing with his disciples is about the “5 F’s”.  We know the 3 R’s – reading, writing, ‘rithmetic.  The 5 F’s – fingers, feet, food, faith and following.

We’ve had the fingers, feet and food – as Jesus reveals his hands and feet – as he enjoys a meal of baked fish.   In encountering the risen Jesus, it doesn’t get much more real – much more tactile, and excuse the terrible pun, “hands on” than this! But then we have the “F” of “faith”.  Passages like out text tonight are designed to confirm faith in the resurrection: that Jesus has been vindicated by God, is alive, and wants his disciples to continue his work.

To the question from Easter Day and revisited earlier: have you encountered the risen Jesus Christ?; the disciples’ response would be unanimous: absolutely!  The narrative – verse 44 onwards leads us into my question for tonight: What will you do with the risen Jesus Christ?

These are Jesus instructions on what from here? The OK – now what? implications.  It’s all about the 5th “F” – the following – the giving witness to the risen Jesus.  The stuff of discipleship.

And what is the task?  In many ways, it is both simple, clear and straightforward – to proclaim forgiveness of sins in his name to all the world. It finds its echo in Acts 1:8. ‘You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witness in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.’   Those who are to be witnesses are those who witnessed the events of Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection.

My question earlier was: What will you do with the risen Jesus Christ? Well, as we read this passage from Luke, it is clear that for Luke, encountering the risen Jesus … fulfilling the hope of the risen Jesus is bound up in telling out the Jesus story – how he lived, how he died, how he rose again – for the world, for all of creation, out of God’s incredible love for that creation – for you, and for me.  It’s bound up in telling … in sharing … in proclaiming in confidence, in faith, in hope and in love how and why the risen Jesus has impacted your life — that things are not — and will not be the same again, once you have encountered the risen Jesus.  It’s the power of human story … it’s the power of human testimony.

But it’s more than this – and it must always be so.

It’s also bound up in living out the story — immersing ourselves in this ongoing, unfolding story of God’s grace, and God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s all about living in the power of the Spirit of Christ: the Holy Spirit – enabler, comforter, and giver.  It’s all about being companions with Christ on the journey; that journey that will involve, in God’s power: announcing forgiveness of sin,  telling the good news to the poor, announcing freedom to the imprisoned, giving sight to the blinded,  freeing those who suffer, and announcing the time is now to experience the crucified yet risen Lord Jesus Christ.

For Luke, to fulfill the hope of the resurrection is to tell the story of Jesus (testimony). That means telling what he did, how he was rejected and then vindicated; and it is at the same time to live it by the power of the same Spirit, as God’s disciples in God’s world – in acts of kindness, justice and compassion. This includes forgiveness of sins. It is radically simple.   Let me close with the story of Luiqi Tarisio.

Luiqi Tarisio was found dead one morning with hardly any creature comforts in his home, except the presence of 246 exquisite violins. He had been collecting them all his life. They were all stored in the attic, the best in the bottom drawer of an old rickety writing desk. In his very devotion to the violin, he had robbed the world of all that music. Much of that collection was owned by others before him who had done the same. So that when the greatest of his collection, a Stradivarius, was first played it had had 147 speechless years.

How easily we can be like old Tarisio? In our very love for God and the church – we’re wrapped up in the first four of those 5 F’s – fingers, feet, food and faith — that somehow we forget about the imperative of following Christ into God’s world – beyond the bricks of mortar of our church walls.  James Hewett puts it this way:

We fail to give the glad tidings to the world; in our zeal for the truth we forget to publish it. When shall we all learn that the Good News needs not just to be cherished, but needs to be told? Don’t bury God’s Good News of Easter at the bottom of a rickety old cabinet.  Let the people hear the great sound of the music: He is Risen!  (He is risen indeed!)  Hallelujah!

As we open ourselves to fresh encounters with the alive and risen Christ, perhaps the question is not even: What will you do with the risen Jesus Christ?  Perhaps it’s actually: What will the risen Jesus Christ do with you?  Open yourself to the Spirit of the risen Christ, and be prepared for some real surprises as you follow.  Amen.

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