April 18, 2021

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

Passage: Luke 24: 36b-49, Acts 3:12-19 .
Service Type:

Thank you for like for the readings, Caroline.

I find it really interesting to see that the reading that we heard from Luke, starts with the recounting of an event. we have the two talking to them, then the two told what had happened on the way. And this is where we come in to this reading. And the event, we know what the event is. But as a reminder, the event that the two we're talking about is how after the crucifixion, these two were walking away from the city, and they were travelling to Emmaus. And on their journey, they were discussing everything that had taking place. Maybe they were trying to make sense of what had gone on, when they were joined by a third man. And he asked, What are you talking about? their reply was almost as if to say, whee have you been? Do you not know what's happened in Jerusalem over these last days? Something had happened on the way, which resulted in the two who were walking away from the city, made them return to Jerusalem, to tell the eleven who were present in this room, and their companions, it wasn't just the eleven, there were more besides that, maybe not a huge number, but the were more.
And it's as if we are opening the door to come across this discussion. The two of them are telling the rest of them what had happened.
And as they tell them what happened, Jesus himself stood amongst them and said, 'Peace be with you'. Now Jesus, knowing all things, he saw their fear, but his words went beyond the obvious. And he spoke into directly what was troubling them, their doubts. And he says, Why did doubts rise in your mind's? And immediately Jesus offers the proof of his hands and his feet. And he says, Look at my hands and my feet, it is I, myself, touch me and see - a ghost doesn't flesh and bones, as you see I have. And then looking at his hands, and his feet. This would confirm to the eleven, and the companions that this man had indeed suffered. And they knew this man is the one who was crucified. And they knew this is the one who the other say some had said, we've seen them. And then Jesus goes on again. Have you got something to eat? This every day act of eating, Jesus eatng, and those who stood there, being the host offering the food, a piece of grilled fish, their eyes were opened to the very presence, the physical reality of the resurrection of Jesus. This isn't a ghost, a figment of their combined imagination. But it is the risen Christ who comes to them, reveals his wounds and shares their food. And although the risen Christ is stood here amongst the eleven, and the companions, the words he now says to them speak of a time in the past when he was with them. Now the listeners, they knew that day that Jesus had raised people from the dead, Lazarus Jairus's daughter, the widow's son in Luke 7, and these all went on to live their earthly lives.
But now Jesus is using words that speak of something different than just returning to this earthly life with 'this is what I told you, while I was still with you, that everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms'. While I was with you, how you knew me then. Remember all those things I told you - remember -who could forget?
But at this point is not enough just to remember. And it's at this point that their minds were opened to understand the scriptures. And it's this understanding that is absolutely vital if they're ever going to leave this room. And more than this understanding is what will accompany these witnesses, what the Father has promised the power from on high. What will enable, empower, allow, energise them to declare the truth of the resurrection appearances of Jesus, to fearlessly proclaim His resurrection, to the extent that they were not only prepared to die, but willingly gave their lives because some of these witnesses were killed in the most cruel manner.
It's in this power from on high, the Holy Spirit's enabled Peter, in our reading, from Acts, to declare to the beggar at the gate, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. The man in this passage had been lame from birth. And he is at the temple gate.
Sorry, this is a reading from Acts He's at the temple of gates, this man Peter and John, were going into the temple. And they came across this beggar. And it's the power that is from high from God, the Holy Spirit's that enabled Peter to declare to this man, in the name of Jesus walk
This man who have been laying from birth, and it found a good spot to beg just by the temple courts. And in this particular day, Peter and John are going in. And he does what he normally does, he asks for money. Now, I feel at this point, as Sunday school, Song coming on, but thank goodness, I can't sing to you, because it's not allowed. And they've got nothing to give to this beggar, nothing, no possession of their own that they can give. But there's one thing that they can and it's it's to declare, in the name of Jesus Christ walk. And it's where Petter then goes on to say, in response to the people's astonishment. Peter speaks to those listening that day in this is reading from Acts, into their ancestral faith. He says to the people listening, you know, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our Fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. And he's reminded them, how the one who sent how they treated this holy unrighteous one, and how God raised Him from the dead, and how they are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this Man, whom you see, who you know, has been made strong. It's in Jesus name, that the faith comes through him that has completely healed him, for all to see.
We've just heard that in verse 16. By the faith in the name of Jesus, this man you knew, as a beggar is now transformed. Peter goes on, again speaking into their ancestral belief. Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through the prophets, saying that the Messiah would suffer. And then Peter, challenges his listeners 'repent, then' this is verse 19. 'Repent then turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out'. Noe funnily enough, the lectionary reading stops here. 'Repent, turn to God, so your sins may be wiped out'. These people who have seen this beggar be transformed by the words that Peter spoke. 'In the name of Jesus Christ get up and walk.' Peter then explained. I'm saying this because - do you remember that man who was murdered, he gave us this. And your sins will be wiped out if you repent and turn to God. But this verse continues, and now he may send the Messiah who has been appointed for you. That is Jesus. So Peter has reminded those people listening, what happened to Jesus, and now he's given them a challenge. Repent, - and then he's reminding them of the blessings, that that the Messiah will be sent. Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out. That the times of refreshing may come from the Lord, blessings of faith.
This transformation of the disciples into what were a very frightened, a terrified group of eleven, we now know as the Christian church. What they witness that day, what we are called to witness because they spoke those words, the Christian Church has grown.
The brokenhearted the disillusioned disciples, left behind their fears and despair. And they changed from the frightened. Maybe cowards is too strong, but they were terrified that the authorities would be coming for them next. What happened to them, change them into fearless lions.
Peter and John would just go in into the synagogue. We've all just come into church today. And what Peter and John were able to say to this man, this beggar at the door, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. I want some of that for this church. I'm sure we all do, we want some of this for our church, we want to see people's lives transformed. Peter and John had nothing of themselves of any value whatsoever, except what they could announce. From the words what they did say. And I know I've said a number of times, but in the name of Jesus Christ, your life can be transformed. I believe it's very timely as we reopened the building today, and we may be few in number but, just like those eleven in that upper room, they were transformed with power from on high, the Holy Spirit which had been promised, fell on them. From then their lives were never the same. As I said at the beginning, because this is what Richard prayed while we were in the office, that we're really hoping we don't need to see the building close again, due to COVID. And now that the doors are open, let's do everything what we need to do to keep each other safe. With having this enforced closure for so long. We now more or less have a blank page on which we can look to the future. And I hope and pray that what emerges looks somehow different to what was. That's not to say that before COVID things were bad, far from it. But we all know we're not that comfortable with change. And what would previously have taken an age to change has had to happen very quickly. Today we are recording the sermon. But previously, we've also recorded it and put it on YouTube. For that to go through the PCC. I don't think I'm wrong in saying it would have taken a bit of discussion to get that far, and a few meetiengs. But we had to do it if we wanted to get out a message from Holy Trinity Warrington. We had to embrace change very quickly. So it's wonderfully reassuring today in what we've heard from the readings. In Luke, Jesus appearing to the eleven, and the companions, the eleven, and their companions and their mind being open to understand the scriptures. And then in Acts, Peter having his mind open, so he could speak to his fellow Israelites and challenge them.
I pray that each of us, every one of us, will have our minds opened to what God is saying to us. I pray that God will give us a deep desire to know Him more, to learn from him. And to be those witnesses what we are called to be to the resurrection of Christ.

Let's pray.
Father God we've heard readings today where the two on that road to Emmaus had their lives transformed and their mind opened. Lord we've heard how Peter Lord, the one who denied you, the one who wept bitterly, was transformed by you to become someone who would declare, 'in the name of Jesus Christ'. Lord, we thank you for the witnesses. Who saw firsthand Lord, your resurrection. We thank you for scripture, which tells us we are witnesses this day of your resurrection. Lord I pray for a boldness. Lord I pray that your Holy Spirit will fall on this place, will fall on our lives, will equip us Lord, to as we look now to the future, to reopening in church into the town, Lord, that You will bless this place, and Lord that we will be acutely in tune with you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
We're going to carry on now with a with a time of prayer.