Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Third Sunday of Easter

Third Sunday of Easter (B)

April 19, 2015
Text: Luke 24:36-49

He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!
            This morning we get St. Luke’s account of our Lord’s Easter evening appearance to the disciples.  It is probably the same event we witnessed from St. John’s perspective last week (John 20:19-23).  Jesus appears in the midst of His disciples and greets them with the all-important Absolution: “Peace to you!” (Luke 24:36; ESV).  “Shalom” is how we would say it in Hebrew.  Peace, health, wellness, safety, fullness, fulfillment, completion, tranquility, rest; these are all included in the meaning of that word, “shalom.”  And this is what Jesus delivers when He forgives your sins.  You are at peace with God, and so you can have peace in your heart and mind and soul, and peace with one another.  You are ultimately well, safe, fulfilled, complete, and at rest in the salvation of the Lord.  This is, as we noted last week, precisely what is needed by disciples who are locked away in fear; who have just endured the crucifixion of their Teacher and Lord, and worse, now have heard from women and angels and several of their own number that Christ Jesus is risen from the dead.  That’s a pretty unsettling notion when you get right down to it.  Just think about your dearly departed loved one suddenly walking through the door, or like Jesus, appearing out of nowhere.  You’d be overjoyed, for sure, but also scared to death.  The disciples are startled and frightened.  They think He is a ghost (v. 37).  They think He is out to get them!  And that is why what He does next is so important for the disciples in that room, and for you in this one.
            He shows them His wounds.  “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” (vv. 38-39).  This is no spiritual coming back from the dead.  This is a real Body, a real Body with real wounds, wounds that killed Him, but behold, He lives.  This is the Crucified.  This is the real Lord Jesus standing before their very eyes, speaking to them, bidding them touch Him, showing them His hands and His feet.  “Go ahead, poke around.  They’re real.  I’m real.”  It’s all real.  A real death for the real sins of real sinners.  A real resurrection of the real Lord Jesus for real life forever with God.  Just to prove it, He asks for something to eat.  Ghosts don’t eat.  They give Him a piece of broiled fish, and He takes it and eats it before them.  He takes and eats real food, even as He turns the tables on you, giving you the real food of His true Body and Blood, that you might really live and not die.
            It is profoundly important that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is a real, bodily resurrection.  Otherwise this is all for naught.  We are still in our sins and doomed to die.  If Jesus is not bodily risen from the dead, He’s a worthless Savior.  After all, you are a real sinner with real sins that need real forgiveness.  You have real problems in a world that is really fallen and a flesh that is just as real and just as fallen.  Abstract higher powers, spiritual sentiments, and good moral teachings don’t really help you.  Imagine you’re in a horrendous car accident and the first responders try to comfort you by telling you, “Don’t worry, I’m sure there’s someone or something out there watching out for you who will rescue you.  We’re all sending good thoughts your way for your help and healing.  And as far as those life threatening injuries, we’d just like to remind you that you should really heal up and be whole, because that’s just the right thing to do.”  None of those things make any sense in this context, do they?  You need real help, tangible help, physical rescue.  But that’s the abstract higher power-ism, spiritual sentimental-ism, moralism that passes for Christianity here in America.  You’ve probably bought some of their books and thought they were great because they touched your heart.  Repent.  Because you need real, tangible help from a real Savior who can rescue you from your mortal peril of body and soul in death and hell.  Jesus comes to you with His wounds, in a real Body, to rescue you from all the real things that hurt you.  Nothing theoretical, abstract, or meaningless about your Savior.  He’s God, to be sure, but He’s God who is a man!  For us men and for our salvation.  He is the Word that became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14).  He gets His real hands really dirty with your real sin and death.  Indeed, He saves your soul.  But He also saves your body.  And when He raises you from the dead, He’ll raise you body and soul. 
            He is a Body and Blood, wounded but living, tangibly present, taking and eating kind of Savior.  That is the Jesus who fulfills all that is written of Him in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (in other words, the whole Old Testament).  That is the Jesus who opens up your mind to understand the Scriptures, that all these things are real, that they had to take place, that the Christ had to really suffer and really rise from the dead on the Third Day.  That is the content of all Christian preaching: The real, bodily death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).  That is the “For you” of Christian preaching.  Repentance and forgiveness of sins.  Repent of your sins, your fear, your doubt, your denial of Christ, your living in opposition to His holy will given for your good in the Ten Commandments.  Repent of your “spiritualizing” the real things of Jesus.  And know that Christ’s blood and death wipes all that away.  Your sins are forgiven.  And He is risen from the dead.  You will not die.  You will not be abandoned to the devil and hell.  Christ’s life is your life.  You are baptized into Christ.  That is your new reality.  Jesus sends the Promise of His Father upon you, namely, the Holy Spirit, the Power from on high with which you are clothed in Holy Baptism.  By this Spirit He opens your mind to understand the Scriptures, and He calls you to take and eat, real food for your body and your soul, His true Body and Blood, for the forgiveness of all your sins. 
            Your salvation is no theoretical hypothesis, sentimental hope, or pious wish.  It is as real as the risen Body of the Lord.  When you are alone with the Lord, there are two human bodies present in the room, yours and His.  When you speak to Him in prayer, you are speaking to a Man.  He is a Man with a Body, and so He can actually help.  He is a Man who can actually save.  When we confess that we receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus in the Sacrament, we mean just what we say, because that is what Jesus says.  This is My Body.  This is My Blood.  If it isn’t really that, He’s lying.  But Jesus does not lie.  It is what He says, and it is for you, for the forgiveness of sins, and it is real.  Jesus shows His disciples the wounds.  Jesus puts His wounded, risen Body in your mouth and says, “Take and eat.”  It’s all true.  It’s all real.  Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your heart?

            Christ is risen from the dead.  It is His true Body by which He deals with you.  And here is why it matters.  Here is why you need not fear or doubt.  He will raise you in the same way.  Your resurrection on the Last Day will be as real as His.  Real body.  Real heaven and real earth, the true Promised Land (really, Land!).  And by the way, real food.  You won’t need to eat in the resurrection, but you will eat.  And unlike our experience in this fallen world, where the best food is the worst for you, and too much of a good thing can kill you, the food of the resurrection will be choice meat and vintage wine (Is. 25:6), milk and honey (Song of Sol. 5:1), the fruit of the tree of life for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:2).  It will all be good for you.  You will eat and be satisfied.  Real food for your real body.  How do I know?  Jesus took the fish and ate it before them.  And the Table set before us this morning is but a foretaste of the Royal Wedding Feast to come, the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom, which has no end.  It is the Feast of Shalom: peace, health, wellness, safety, fullness, fulfillment, completion, tranquility, rest.  “Peace to you,” Jesus says.  Shalom.  He is really in your midst to announce a real peace.  And He bids you come to the Table for the real Food He sets before you.  He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.        


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