April 18, 2021
Luke 24: 36b-48 CEB
Rev. Clair Sauer, Clergy
Jones Memorial UMC, Chattanooga
Scenic South District
Luke 24: 36B-48 CEB
Jesus appears to the disciples
36 While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 37 They were terrified and afraid. They thought they were seeing a ghost.
38 He said to them, “Why are you startled? Why are doubts arising in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It’s really me! Touch me and see, for a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones like you see I have.” 40 As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 Because they were wondering and questioning in the midst of their happiness, he said to them, “Do you have anything to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish. 43 Taking it, he ate it in front of them.
44 Jesus 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 from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 He said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.
Christ is not here anymore. That is, Christ is not physically present on this earth today as he was 2,000 years ago. This means that if people today are going to experience Christ, it has to happen in a different way. Christ knew that. So after his resurrection, Christ went to the disciples and commissioned them. This is a really fancy way of saying that he told the disciples to go out and, in his name, do what he had been doing throughout his ministry. He sent them into the world as witnesses to do ministry as he had: to heal, to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins, and to share the good news of God’s kingdom and salvation in Jesus’ name.
That was the beginning of the church, and it is also key to why the church matters. What would have happened if Christ had ascended without commissioning the disciples, or if those first commissioned disciples had decided they were through with this Jesus-business and they were going back home to get their lives back to normal? That would have been the end. Christ would have lived, taught, healed, died, and been resurrected, and within a few generations he would have been forgotten; the healing would have stopped, the resurrection promise would have been lost, the hope would have faded away. Christ's love and salvation never would have been known beyond those people who encountered him during his years on earth.
Fortunately for us, for billions of others, and for this whole world, it didn't happen that way. The disciples got busy and they kept Jesus' ministry going. They kept his message alive, sharing the good news "to all nations." And the church today can do no less. If we in the church do not continue Christ's ministry, no one will. That is why the church matters! Christ made a difference in people's lives. He healed the sick. He helped the poor. He forgave sinners. He shared God's grace and love. And he died on the cross so that we might have eternal life with our loving God. We are talking about the difference between life and death, and it is the church's task to get that message out into the world, no matter what! Christ can transform people's lives if only we will show people who Christ is and what he is about!Prayer
Almighty God, help us as a church to focus on Christ’s work of loving and serving one another all the time and in all circumstances. Strengthen us, O God, today and every day to live as your disciples and to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world so that all may encounter the risen Lord! Amen.