April 8, 2018: Forever Changed

Posted on : Apr 5th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

There is always one thing that really interests me in the stories in which the followers of Jesus encounter him after the resurrection:  They don’t recognize him.  Now that seems kind of odd to me.  Does it to you?  If you were a disciple (follower) of Jesus, it seems to me you would recognize him.  But that is not the way Jesus is revealed in the post-resurrection appearance stories.

One of the reasons for this is that the things that allow us to experience the resurrected Christ are not physical attributes but experiences of human transformation.  For example, in this Sunday’s story from the Gospel of Luke, two disciples are heading back to Emmaus, a city about 7 miles from Jerusalem.  One of the disciples is named: Cleopas.  The other is not named.  Cleopas’ wife is named in the Gospel of John as standing at the foot of the cross with 3 other women as Jesus dies.  Mary, the wife of Cleopas is explicitly mentioned only in John’s gospel (John 19:25), where she is among the women present at the Crucifixion of Jesus: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary [the wife] of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

It has never been verified as to who the other disciple was who was walking down that road, but to me it makes all the sense in the world that it was Mary and her husband, Cleopas!  It is to them that Jesus appears, and true to form, neither of them recognizes the resurrected Jesus.  So, this couple engages in an intensely personal conversation with this stranger.  They ask him in astonishment, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”  That is, that Jesus was crucified!

On and on the conversation continues, until they reach their destination, Emmaus.  Jesus appears to be going further, but they invite him to stay with them.  As they are about to have dinner, Jesus blesses the bread, breaks it, and in that experience, they immediately recognize who this person is!  Luke offers beautiful language to describe this experience: “And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.”

Much of our ability to experience the resurrection is about allowing the risen Christ to “open our eyes” so that we might recognize him in others.

This Sunday, Erika Ayón Gardner will be sharing four of her poems from her new book of poetry, “Orange Lady.”  Each of these poems opens our eyes to recognize the presence of Christ in one another.  They are each like walking down the road to Emmaus, and suddenly, you see the light – the light of Christ’s love, the enlightenment that allows us to see the true essence and value of others.  In the weeks ahead, may our eyes be opened to the living presence of Christ and may Christ’s love change us.

Blessings to you in this Season of Easter,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Luke 24: 13-35

Jesus meets two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing Jesus. And Jesus said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered, ‘Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ Jesus asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed Jesus over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find Jesus’ body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that Jesus was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see Jesus.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and then be glorified?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Jesus interpreted to them the things about the Christ in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus walked ahead as if going on. But they urged against it strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So Jesus went in to stay with them. While at the table with them, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus; who then vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while Jesus talked to us on the road, and opened the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Sovereign has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how Jesus had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

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