SERMON FOR EASTER MONDAY, 4-22-2019
LUTHER MEMORIAL CHAPEL, SHOREWOOD, WI
Rev. Michael Larson
Yesterday morning the trumpets blasted here at Luther Memorial Chapel. Easter morning dawned. And we went with the Mary’s to the tomb. Instead of finding a dead body we found angels instead who announced that Jesus was not there. Jesus had risen. He is not here. Those are words that turned the whole world upside down and changed the course of human history.
He is not here. Jesus had burst the bonds of death and emerged victorious over the grave. This is the solid foundation on which our faith is built.
But if all we had was an empty grave and no Jesus. Well, then we may as well put those alleluias away.
That is why the readings and hymns appointed for tonight are such a comfort – on this Easter Monday. Tonight, our Holy Gospel proclaims to us a wonderful message about the ongoing ministry of Jesus – that we might meet him just where he wants to be found. The real issue for us is the same as it was for the women who were at the tomb that first evening morning: He is risen. He is not here. But! Where is He then. We need to find Jesus. Or more accurately He must find us!
So let’s go to Easter afternoon. Two disciples are walking home from the Passover in Jerusalem. They were talking about all the things that had happened. Things like a Savior who promised to save, promised to redeem from sin and hell and usher in a new age of the glorious kingdom of God. But their hopes were dashed.
While they were talking together Jesus drew near and walked with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. “What are you talking about,” said Jesus. “Haven’t you heard,” they replied, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people…He was crucified…but we had hoped that he was the one to save.” “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.”
Then Jesus gave them both the Bible study of a lifetime as he walked them through Moses and all the prophets, and all the Scriptures the things concerning himself – that testified and pointed to his crucifixion death and resurrection.
Even then their eyes didn’t yet recognize him. But now evening has come and the sun was going down. So the disciples invite this guest to stay with them. And when he was at the table with them Jesus took bread and blessed it and broke it. And gave it to them. Our text says that their eyes were apocalypsed – their eyes were apocalyptically opened up and then, at the moment, they recognize Him – they recognized Jesus.
Then Jesus vanished from their sight. Now what it doesn’t say is that Jesus was no longer there! - that he had left altogether. No way!
Those disciples now say to one another “did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures.” They did an about face and returned to Jersualem.” And explained what had happened on the road and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. Jesus was revealed in this meal – in the breaking of the bread – his holy supper.
Tonight Jesus is preaching a marvelous sermon to us…it’s continuation of the preaching from the angels at the empty tomb. “He is not here” the angel said. But that angel also said “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” See Him where? Well, those Emmaus disciples saw Him in the breaking of the bread. The disciples in the upper, they saw him too—showing His pierced hands and feet, saying, “Peace be with you.” To the apostle Thomas, inviting him to touch those glorious scars. He showed Himself alive to the seven disciples on the Sea of Tiberias. He appeared to Peter and the Twelve, and to over five hundred disciples at one time, to James and to all the apostles, and to Paul on the Damascus road.
He commissioned His church to make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching them, that we might daily die and rise with Him in our Baptism and walk the road of forgiveness and everlasting life.
Tonight we see that the Passover Lamb is known to us in the breaking of the bread. In his Holy Supper.
Jesus draws near and leads us home. He opens the Scriptures to us, and opens our minds to understand “the things concerning himself” – that every word of Scripture is written with the blood Christ. He opens our eyes to recognize His wounds and to know Him in the breaking of the bread.”
Whenever the people would ascend to Jerusalem to observe the Passover, the priests would reveal the manna to them, the manna that God commanded Moses in Exodus to keep in the tabernacle. The Talmud records that the priests used to lift up the golden table in the temple and exhibit the Bread of the Presence on it to those who came up for the festivals. The priest would hold up the bread and say: “Behold, God’s love for you!” It’s also very interesting that the bread of the presence (lakhem ha-panim) can be translated also as Bread of the Face. Well, whose face?
Well, Jesus’ face. For He Himself says: “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh…Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
He is not here! He is risen! That’s the preaching of the angels. But it’s just not the whole sermon! For when the pastor holds up the chalice and holds before the people the body of Christ. Then the heart of every Christian should burn with joy and gasp: and say “There He is! There in that bread and there in that cup. God’s love is made known to me. There is my God. And every voice sing, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” In the name of Jesus. Amen.