TEXT: ACTS 3:11-21; 1 JOHN 3:1-7; LUKE 24:36-49
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  Even bodily pleasures such as eating God’s gifts of food!

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace to you!”  Who was talking? – the Emmaus disciples – Cleopas and his friend.  Who were they talking to? – the eleven disciples and those with them.  When did it take place? – on Easter evening – the day of the Lord’s resurrection!  Where did it take place? – in Jerusalem.  What things were they talking about? – How Jesus opened their hearts to understand the Scriptures and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace to you!”  But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.  Superstitions are stubborn!  These two had walked with Jesus seven miles – and then were given to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.  Peter – also in this room had earlier seen the risen Christ.  Yet – now they supposed they were seeing a disembodied spirit, a ghost.


 

TEXT: ACTS 3:11-21; 1 JOHN 3:1-7; LUKE 24:36-49
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  Even bodily pleasures such as eating God’s gifts of food!

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace to you!”  Who was talking? – the Emmaus disciples – Cleopas and his friend.  Who were they talking to? – the eleven disciples and those with them.  When did it take place? – on Easter evening – the day of the Lord’s resurrection!  Where did it take place? – in Jerusalem.  What things were they talking about? – How Jesus opened their hearts to understand the Scriptures and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace to you!”  But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.  Superstitions are stubborn!  These two had walked with Jesus seven miles – and then were given to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.  Peter – also in this room had earlier seen the risen Christ.  Yet – now they supposed they were seeing a disembodied spirit, a ghost.

Even without the ghoulish television and movie programming of our age - superstitions abounded in the hearts of sinners back then too.  Like a sudden sound or shape rushing out of the dark has caused us to jump in fright or our hearts to leap or skip in alarm, so the disciples were startled when He stood in their midst.  They supposed they were seeing a ghost.

Scripture reveals that witchcraft and mediums who conjure up spells and those who seek to call on the dead are an abomination to the Lord (see Deuteronomy 18:9-14).  Disembodied spirits from the dead have not and cannot give faith in Jesus Christ (Luke 16:19-31).  While heathen nations sought contact with the ghostly realm, God’s people were forbidden to seek the dead on behalf of the living (Isaiah 18:19).  Such seeking comes from Satan – not from Christ.

Our modern age has not really progressed beyond these ancient superstitions and pagan interest in spells and spirits and hunting for answers from the dead.  Contact through time warps – contact with past generations – restless spirits seen as settling earthly scores or trying to be helpful – and all manner of other supernatural fascination and imagination are frequent topics for entertainment today. 

They were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.  They thought they saw a ghost!  And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.  Touch me and see.  For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”  And when he had said this he showed them his hands and his feet.  And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it before them.

Your Savior is not a ghost or disembodied spirit floating in space!  The Man whose limbs were nailed to the cross is God in human flesh!  The Man who rose from the grave is still God in human flesh.  The Author of life was killed on Pilate’s watch but God raised Him from the dead.  There are no spiritual, ghostly forces that can take away the forgiveness that comes in His flesh and blood.  See what kind of love the Father has given to us – in Him!

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 and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations…

It was the day of His resurrection and it still is!  Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.  His answer to their doubts and fears was not ghostly, but fleshly.  See my hands and my feet, that I AM myself.  Jesus’ words here bear witness that He is the great I AM of the Old Testament. 

When God revealed His name to Moses, He said I AM who I AM and I AM the Lord (Exodus 3:12-15; 6:1-8).  The words of the risen Christ – I AM myself – show that the locale of God’s presence has shifted from the holy of holies in the Jerusalem temple to the flesh of Jesus – now crucified and risen.  See my hands and my feet, that I AM myself.  He is the atoning sacrifice – the propitiation - for the sins of the world.  And now He lives! Alleluia! Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  See what kind of love the Father has given to us – in Him! 

…(E)verything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled…Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.  The word “must” in our translation doesn’t do full justice to the little Greek word that is used here.  That word (dei) implies Divine necessity.  We could rightly express the conclusion this way - “It was divinely necessary that the Messiah suffer and on the third day rise from the dead and it is divinely necessary that repentance and forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in his name to all nations.

Dear Christians - it is not divinely necessary for your salvation that certain political candidates win or lose the state or national elections this year.  It is not divinely necessary for your salvation that the economic conditions improve - or that your health and wealth are secured.  Political realities and governmental rule have their effect on religious freedoms and moral directions.  Economic stability does have its effect on life and its pursuits.  These things matter deeply to us.  However, whether in freedom or in the face of opposition Christian faith and practice, whether for richer or for poorer, whether in sickness or in health, what is divinely necessary is that repentance and forgiveness of sins continue to be proclaimed to you in the name of Jesus Christ!

Beloved at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center – do you see the treasure God puts before us in the weekly Divine Service?  Do you see how evil it would be if the word proclaimed from this pulpit would major in other matters than repentance and the forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus Christ?  Do the pastors of the LCMS – this one included see the divine necessity of this ongoing proclamation and seek to honor in rightly?  God help us – one and all – in our places of speaking and praying and giving and gratitude for this matter of divine necessity!

Beloved at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center – do you see the treasure God puts before us when people from Germany and Ukraine and China and Venezuela and Egypt and Iran and India and Russia and other nations come into our midst.  Do you see the Divine opportunity you have to befriend and converse with and encourage and invite and support the work of those from all nations to be present here – to study here?  Bessie’s efforts aided by Rachel and Vicar and interns and volunteers and by you are closely connected to this text.  Your spoken interest – your inclusion of the unique opportunity we have been given in your daily prayers – your material support is so welcome and valued.  What is divinely necessary includes the truth that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.  

It began in Jerusalem – the proclamation of repentance and the forgiveness of sins!  That means it began with the risen Lord speaking peace to pathetic deserting disciples – and then restored - those disciples speaking peace to blasphemous crucifiers in Jerusalem. 

Dwell on that and let settle in your mind the words the risen Christ speaks to His disciples – “Peace to you!”  Peace to you - un-peaceful and agitated ones!  Peace to you - superstitious and disbelieving ones!  Peace to you – weak and weary ones!  Peace to you!  Peace to you!  Dwell on that and settle in your mind and heart these words of Him who was brutally sacrificed and who now stood in their midst.  The great I AM then opened their mind to understand the Scriptures and what must be proclaimed in His name.  He then said to them You are witnesses of these things…and Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.

Contemplate also what Peter later preached in Jerusalem after being clothed with power from on high – that is with the Holy Spirit.  He preached – you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead…repent therefore, and turn again that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…

Is there no sin greater than the divinely appointed suffering and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?  Choosing a murderer over Christ!  Choosing one’s own skin over Christ!  Is there no sin that repentance and forgiveness of sins does not wash away?  No sin!  Only the practice of sin – only the one who willfully, unrepentantly keeps on sinning and intentionally abides in sin thereby refuses to know Him and His forgiveness.  See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.  See what message you have to speak to someone who has been pulled away from receiving Christ’s gifts and now thinks that they have too much shame to receive repentance and forgiveness of sins.

Christ takes His disciples by the hand and literally leads them through the Scriptures – anchoring it once again in Himself.  They had to be certain of what they would proclaim since many of them would die because of it.  His children today are also secured in that which is certain as the risen Christ comes to them in the “little Emmaus” of the Divine Service.  The risen Christ is still at work proclaiming Himself to open your heart to the Scriptures.  He is still at work revealing and giving Himself to you in the breaking of the bread.  He does so to continue blotting out your sins – all of them – that times of refreshing may come from His presence to you. 

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  AMEN.

 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a