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2024-04-14 Easter 3

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

I tell my kids all the time about how I was alive when stuff was first invented. It’s not unlike when electricity and indoor plumbing first came to the farms years ago. Some of you may remember such days! Well for me it was the internet and text messaging. Texting?! What a dumb idea! If I need to communicate to someone, I’ll just call him on the phone! Why would I waste time typing out a message!? What an utterly useless, go-no-where technology I thought. And, for the record, I was quite wrong about that one! The other thing that sticks out in my mind that I witnessed being invented was reality TV Shows. The very first season of Survivor tried to capture reality by not using professional actors but rather “ordinary people” with real lives back home! Soon the criticisms came that it was scripted with story lines and that the shows were rigged for the underdogs and on and on and on. But as you watched the events unfold, it became pretty clear that it was anything but reality.

As we hear today’s Gospel reading from St. Luke we get a snapshot of true reality. It’s the same scenario from last Sunday, but we get St. Luke’s camera angle instead of St. John’s. The Disciples were feeling a little out of sorts, a little troubled in their hearts and even scared. Doubting Thomas and the disciples were hiding in the upper room fearful and afraid because of the Jews. This week’s Gospel records the same scene as Jesus decides to pop in on the boys! The resurrected Lord appears before them and naturally, they are even more startled and frightened than they were of the Jews who were hunting them. Was this a ghost?! They doubt their own eyes. They disbelieve even what they see. The crucified Messiah is risen and now standing before them. Could this really be real?!

Well real it was. This reading shows the amazing heart of God and His unconditional love and provision for us His people - a people who are sinful, a people who doubt and disbelieve, a people who may be troubled and scared. Last Sunday, it was Thomas who wanted the proof from the crucified Jesus. He wanted to touch and see the wounded hands and side of the Messiah. And how does Jesus respond? By slapping him around and chastising Thomas for his lack of faith?? Hardly. Instead we see our Lord’s blessed assurance and message of peace for Thomas as marks of the crucified Lord were made known and dispelled the disbelief. This Sunday it’s much the same thing. Jesus appears to His disciples. “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” (LK 24:39). Not only that but Jesus goes a step further and eats some broiled fish to further prove that He isn’t a ghost or an apparition or figment of their imagination! The Messiah standing before them has flesh and bones. He’s the real deal! Then, after Jesus has calmed the disciples down and put their fears and doubts and anxieties at rest, He gave them even more assurance about himself. His Peace which surpasses all understanding began to sink in to them.

I remember back when I was a kid. Grandpa Schultz had just bought a brand new Oldsmobile. One of my aunts rounded up the grandkids and took us to 7-11 for slurpees to test drive the swanky new car. Being that I am the first born of the first born, I felt that it was my divinely appointed duty to make sure that all the cousins along for the ride knew that this was Grandpa’s new car and that in no way could any of them spill even a drop of slurpee on those new Oldsmobile seats. Well, as you can probably imagine, guess who spilled slurpee all over grandpa’s new car seats??? Yea verily, it was I! Woe to me, oy vey! I burst into tears as the brown cherry-coke flavoured slurpee soaked into the supple cream coloured upholstery! Guess who felt like the world’s biggest failure and certainly the worst grandson on planet earth!? When we got back to the house, all my cousins ran inside so they could tattle on me. Grandpa Schultz came out and I braced for the worst of the Schultz temper! But to my surprise, Grandpa just looked at the car seat, gave me a hug and assured me that everything was going to be OK. His word, his voice let me know that he loved me and forgave me for making a mess of that brand spankin’ new Oldsmobile. Also, praise the Lord for Scotch-guard because that stain came right out!

The greater point is that God wants His children to trust Him and His word as trustworthy and true. Therefore, as Jesus talked with the disciples, He did the same kind of “grandfatherly” assurance. He explained the scriptures, opening their minds to Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms which all point to Christ. All the sacred writings of the Old Testament that the Jews held dear, they all pointed straight to Jesus. The writings are fulfilled in the Messiah. This would have been the ultimate confirmation class! Right there in the room where they were hiding out, Jesus taught them all the major things they needed to know to have assurance. Firstly, that the Christ must suffer and die—which we know happened on the cross—but also on the 3rd day rise from the dead. Second, that repentance and forgiveness in His name should be preached to all the nations, to all the world starting in Jerusalem. And thirdly, that the promise of the Father will be sent upon them, the promise of the Holy Spirit. All of Scripture points to the real-deal Easter promise of the forgiveness of sins won by Christ on the cross and his glorious resurrection! Victory over absolutely everything: sin, death and the devil, is yours eternally and it was given to you in your Baptism. It was there in the water and the word that the promise of the Holy Spirit was poured upon you, making you into a new creation in Christ, filling you with His blessed assurance.

The disciples were witnesses to all of this, to all of these events that happened. And the question for us is, are we not also witnesses to these things? Can we not also testify to these words and promises from God? When we consider our own sin, how we caused Christ to suffer and die on the cross – yet how our Lord went their freely for us, for you, how can we not testify and give witness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?! It is in Christ alone where we see exactly how much God loves us and cares for us! Nothing could stop Jesus Christ from being with you – not the devil, not the troubles of this world and not even death itself could stop Jesus from doing all he needed to do to bring you safely to your heavenly home. We have this blessed assurance and certainty from the Scriptures because they point to Christ! We have this blessed assurance and certainty from our Baptism where God brings us into Christ! We have this blessed assurance and certainty from our Lord’s Flesh – given to us to eat and drink.

Notice how it was a meal that calmed the disciples fears. Is it not the same for us? This blessed meal that we eat at the Lord’s Table calms our fears and shows us 100% beyond the shadow of a doubt that our God is truly present with us always. He gives us His heavenly peace in, with and under the bread and wine. The resurrection promise is ours in the eating and drinking of this sacred meal. “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (JN 6:54-56). This is the Blessed assurance from God to you His beloved children. Put your hope in Him, for He is faithful, even when we are not. Put your hope in Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and is risen! For Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

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