Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Easter Sunday:
‘Walking with the Resurrected Christ’
© April 5, 2015 by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on September 1, 2013
Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #623:’The Risen Lord’ (Matthew 28;John 20); Prayer
Opening Hymn #163: Christ the Lord Is Risen Today; Choruses
Tithing and Prayers; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings;Prayer Requests
Today’s Scriptures: Luke 24:13-49, John 14:15-26
Let us pray…
Good morning. I wonder how many of you have seen or heard of the reality TV program: “Undercover Boss”? For the uninitiated, “Undercover Boss” is a documentary style show where the head of a corporation, usually the owner or CEO, disguises him or herself and works alongside unknowing employees to understand any concerns with the boss, the organization and find out any needs of those under direction of the boss. Later, the boss removes the disguise and reveals the boss’ true identity.
In this morning’s scripture lesson, Christ takes on a similar tact by not revealing himself to two of his disciples. The resurrected Christ approaches the two, Cleopas and a companion, to find out what they were discussing as they walked along. This encounter takes place on the third day after the crucifixion, now called Easter Day. Two disciples were going from Jerusalem to a village named Emmaus. Today, the location of Emmaus is not precisely clear. The name Emmaus may be derived from the Hebrew word hammat, “hot spring.” Luke places it about 60 stadia from Jerusalem. At about 607 English feet or 192 meters per stadion, this makes the distance about seven miles or eleven and quarter kilometers.
Jesus hears an accounting of his crucifixion, the empty tomb and rumours that Christ is alive! The account describes the two as being sad as they had hoped that Jesus was going to be the one to redeem Israel. This demonstrated a lack of understanding on the part of the two with the true prophesy of the scriptures, as well as a lack of faith in understanding how the redemption of Israel was to be accomplished. That Christ had to suffer on the cross to fulfill the prophecy of the scriptures.
Christ appears to be continuing on, when the two invite him to stay with them, as darkness is approaching. To which Christ agrees. It is not until Christ blessed and broke the bread at their supper, were the two disciples able to recognize the identity of their house guest. It was only then that the two understood what Jesus was talking about as they were travelling along the Emmaus Road.
Shortly thereafter, Cleopas and his companion returned to Jerusalem, to share their experience with the 11 disciples. Their experience was validated by the fact that Simon Peter had also encountered the resurrected Christ. Their experience tells us about the importance of the Lord’s revelation to believers. I am not talking about the John’s prophetic epistle we call the Book of Revelation.Any book of the Scriptures is meaningless without the Holy Spirit’s presence to give understanding to those passages of the Bible.
The Greek word for Comforter is “parakletos”. The most familiar translation of this Greek word is “Comforter,” another translation would be “Counselor” or “Advocate”.
Faith in Christ is not simply about our free will decision: it requires a revelation from God to understand the truth. Please note the timeline of this encounter on the Road to Emmaus. Jesus had been crucified a few days previous. The Lord revealed himself soon after his resurrection from the tomb and prior to his ascension to heaven. The day of Pentecost was still some 40 days in the future, so the Holy Spirit, as a spiritual guide and comforter was not gifted to believers. Prior to Pentecost Jesus was the comforter. The Greek word for Comforter is “parakletos”. The most familiar translation of this Greek word is “Comforter,” another translation would be Counselor or Advocate, John 14:15-26 (ESV):
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[a] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[b] in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Back to our Emmaus account, where we have two dejected, saddened disciples who are walking away from Jerusalem. After all, Christ who was expected to deliver the people of Israel from subjugation by Imperial Rome is now dead, as were their hopes of liberation. In that regard, the two had misunderstood Christ’s purpose and an inaccurate understanding of his teachings. While Jesus corrects them by referring to the scriptures, it is only after he blesses and breaks the bread do they realize their companion’s true identity.
It is interesting that when we take the bread element of communion, we do it to remember Christ, as we read in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24:
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
I believe that Christ having ascended to Heaven has sent us the Holy Spirit to accompany us on our Christian walk. And we need the Lord’s revelation, too. Whatever our human skills and talents, whatever decisions we are capable of making, the life of faith does not start with us. It begins with God revealing himself to us. For us, as Christ has ascended to the Father’s right hand, that conviction comes by way of God, the Holy Spirit.
What implications are there here for us? It reminds us that for anyone to find faith in Christ there must be a revelation from God. Christian witness cannot be reduced just to us saying the right words or doing the right things so that people will come to faith. So in our witness we rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s presence and love to people.
This does not only apply to the call to conversion. It involves all aspects of the Christian life. We always need the revelation of God. However much we study a Bible passage, we need the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the truth of the scripture.
Just as Cleopas and his companion discovered the importance of a Christ-centered interpretation of Scripture, we too need to seek an understanding through the Spirit, to avoid misunderstanding what is read.
This brings us to the second part of this morning’s lesson, where Cleopas and a companion return to Jerusalem. Then, having heard of Simon’s encounter with the Risen Christ, the pair shares with the eleven disciples their Emmaus experience with Jesus. Jesus, again, appears, this time to those gathered saying “Peace to you!” And just like the two on the road to Emmaus, Jesus is aware that not only do the disciples have doubt in their hearts, they have fear thinking the Lord is a ghost or apparition.
You may recall that the disciples experienced a similar reaction as described by John’s account of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. And those in the boat who first saw Jesus thought the Lord to be a ghost or apparition.
And as in the Emmaus encounter, Jesus continued on his way past the group, until the disciples call out to Him. And like the Emmaus encounter, he chastises the disciples for their little faith. Jesus 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 before them.
Having offered to show his wounds as proof of identity, and just to reinforce the fact that he is not a ghost, he asks for food. And as he had done to Cleopas and the companion, Jesus reminded the eleven of his teachings prior to his crucifixion:
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, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
These two accounts of the Resurrected Christ, teach us a number of lessons:
The first lesson is that it is possible for the disciples to forget what they have witnessed heard and read.
The next lesson is that all of understanding of God’s purpose depends upon how willing we are to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. It is encouraging, to see that when we do go down the wrong path in our understanding, that through the Spirit, the Lord will guides back on the righteous way.
And last, but not least of the lessons, is that through the Spirit, we “are clothed with power from on high.”
And whether we receive the power of the Spirit depends not only upon a declaration of faith, but the manner by which we seek guidance from the Spirit:
Deuteronomy 4:29 (ESV) But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Let us pray…
Hymn #398: I Come to the Garden Alone
Communion: Responsive Reading #626: The Last Supper (from: Mark 14)
Benediction (1 Corinthians 15:20-22):
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.