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Easter 3B Sermon
Luke 24: 36-48

April 18, 2021

Sermon Archives


Luke 24:36-48

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence.
44 Then he 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 of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things.

May the grace, mercy and peace of God be with us in the name of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; Amen.

While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Many people, including me, believe that Jesus did not need to eat that fish for himself. He had just been raised from the dead earlier that day and would soon ascend into heaven to sit at the right hand of God. Was his body really in need of any sustenance to keep up his strength? Probably not, even though we do believe that Jesus needed to eat to stay strong before the resurrection. After all, in Luke’s gospel we hear about him attending many meals and banquets along with tax collectors and sinners. Come to think of it, I am not sure he did that for his own benefit either. But I will get to that soon enough.

Of course most of us believe that by eating that piece of broiled fish, Jesus proved to the disciples beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was not merely spirit, but that he was truly, bodily raised from the dead. They already see the marks on his hands and feet! Now that he eats some food, they can be convinced that this is more than an apparition; this is Jesus, their rabbi, alive and in their midst!

This was a new experience of Jesus for the disciples. He shares his peace with them and reminds them of the ways that the scripture - that is what we know as the Old Testament - spoke of him. This is actually a continuation of the story of the Walk to Emmaus, where Jesus travels with two people who tell him the story of how Jesus was crucified and buried and that the women had reported that the tomb was empty. He opened their minds to the scriptures as they walked, and when they arrived at their destination, they asked Jesus to stay and eat with them - there he goes, eating again!! He agrees, breaks bread and immediately their eyes are opened. After revealing the scriptures to them on the road, over a meal he revealed who he truly is. They even commented how their hearts were burning within them while he was opening the scriptures to them on the walk. And now, in the scene from our Gospel reading this morning, Jesus once again opens their minds to the scriptures over a simple meal of broiled fish.

In many ways Jesus does not need to eat with his disciples - for physiological reasons. But for many more reasons it is important for him to share these meals with them. These are theological reasons and missional reasons. The hospitality shared over a simple meal is holy. It is in that gift that God often is revealed to us as we encounter the risen Lord in our midst. I fear that we have missed some of that over the last year. While the ability to have worship, meetings and studies over the internet has helped us to navigate into new uncharted waters, I am not sure that we have shared the presence of the Holy Spirit in the same intimate ways that we did when we last had our Easter Breakfast here, a Lenten soup lunch or our monthly community meal on a Monday evening. I know that the food was good, because we have wonderful cooks here; but I would have been just as happy having a crust of bread or a piece of broiled fish than whatever we had because it is in the presence of those gathered that Jesus reveals himself and opens our hearts and minds to God’s loving presence.

Sometimes we forget the basic reason that we eat food. We eat so that we might continue to have life. From the farmer or herder who raises our food to those who process, package, transport and sell, it is all part of the chain of life for God’s children. We cannot give thanks enough for each part of that vital assembly line, and when we take it for granted, we are often reminded of how important it is. Last year we often saw empty grocery store shelves, sometimes because supplies ran short, but sometimes because people did not trust that this vital chain could withstand the kinks that were thrown into it and panicked. Hoarders who not only grabbed extra toilet paper and sanitizing supplies also grabbed meat, cheese, milk, bread, canned goods and other staples for life. Limits were placed on certain items because we couldn’t be trusted to only take what we needed. That is the power of sin and evil still at work in the world and in each one of us here.

But God blessed all of those essential workers and services and as people began to see that food was going to be available and was not going to skyrocket in price, we calmed down. I think that it is in this process that Jesus was revealed to us because when all we could see was scarcity, gave us a vision of abundance and provided for us out of that abundance. Even as people lost jobs and homes our churches, pantries and outreach centers became the very hands of God to feed folks. It was the living out of the resurrection event of Jesus because when all his disciples could see was despair, suffering and death, new and abundant life burst forth onto the scene. In that life there was not only spiritual sustenance and hope, but physical food and nutrition, shared with the one who was truly and completely risen from the dead.

This is our calling today. When we share the Lord’s supper today, we know that it is not because we need this tiny morsel of bread and 1.5 ounce of grape juice. Even if we were to ingest a week’s worth at one time it probably would not be enough to keep us strong to survive with nothing else. But we participate in this meal because that is the fulfillment of the sharing of God’s Word. I am sure your hearts might burn a little during my sermon - hopefully for good reasons. But we do not rely upon my personal teaching, training and discernment to open the scriptures. We rely on the risen Lord Jesus Christ, present in those simple elements, given and shed freely for us out of pure grace to make our hearts burn with the Word of God. That is why it is such a joy to return to sharing Holy Communion every week - because we need it! Even though we are taking it much differently than we are used to, and that we want to, in these little pre-packaged modest wafers and juices, we truly believe that they are for our benefit, so that in our worship we may truly experience the risen Christ who is as present with us today as on the road to Emmaus and in that room with the disciples.

Having our eyes and minds opened in this way, we go from here on the strength of this life-giving food to show others what a difference the presence of Jesus makes for our lives and in the whole world. Amen.