Will We Recognize Jesus? Luke 24:13-49

Luke 24:13-49

13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 

17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.

18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”

19He 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,

20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place.

22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.

24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

25Then he (Jesus) said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!

26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”

27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.

29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 

32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.

34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

36While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”

42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence.

44Then 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, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”

45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,46and he said to them,

“Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

 

48You are witnesses of these things.

49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

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Homily Luke 24: 13-49

Will We Recognize Jesus?

Last week we talked about all of those who saw Jesus after the resurrection… and this week,

We look at those who saw Jesus, yet did not recognize him.

Many of whom were intimate friends –

  • How could Mary NOT know it was Jesus when she mistook him for a gardener?
  • How could Thomas require to see the wounds in his hands and feet?
  • How could the disciples who were fishing not recognize the man they had traveled with for three years?
  • How could the two disciples on the road to Emmaus not recognize the man they had followed for so long?

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THEORIES

–Jesus’ appearance had changed

–Blind with grief

–Supernatural reason –                                    “their eyes were kept from                                   recognizing him”

–Disbelief was stronger than faith

JESUS’ APPEARANCE CHANGED

  • Transfiguration?
  • Resurrected appearance — more perfect?
  • Apparition/Spirit like –
  • Able to pass through walls

Suddenly disappearing when recognized

 

BLIND WITH GRIEF/FEAR

  • In such pain, can’t see world around them
  • Wrapped up in grief – unable to process
  • Worried about what is next for them
  • Will they be arrested?
  • Have they wasted three years?

SUPERNATURAL

  • Eyes were prevented from seeing
  • Had to understand to see
  • Needed more information to see

DISBELIEF STRONGER THAN FAITH

  • Ancient times understanding of such things were very                     limited
  • Illiterate
  • Uneducated
  • No history of resurrection like we have
  • Only believe what they can see
  • Unable to believe the unbelievable
  • “What I know” stronger than               “What I have been told”
  • How can one see the dead?
  • Not expecting to see Jesus, so eyes overlook him

 

These are people were human…. People who could only understand what they could see/experience…

And they followed a man who was human as well, though with a special connection with God…

———————————–

Their understanding of Jesus’ being the Messiah was one of him being a HUMAN who would free them from the Roman government… a king, warrior or leader…

When this special human was arrested and killed – all that they had been holding onto was destroyed…

their hopes and expectations were gone…. Jesus was dead and buried and they could not see tomorrow…

They lost their leader, their mission, their future and their hope all in one day. Their minds had to have been reeling/.///

 

Anyone who has had a friend or family member die may have experienced disorienting grief –

  • Confusion about the death
  • Denial
  • Fear – of what the death means to their life and future.
  • The changes that will be forced upon them.

Some people go into a form of shock and disassociation – unable to absorb and process the reality of the death.

Mary was probably a good example of that…

Stress from watching the beating and crucifixion – fear of being taken herself – and panic of what the next day would bring.

Then hearing the familiar voice – broke through the confusion and fear.

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The two disciples on the road to Emmaus –were not of the close group of 12,  but were followers just the same and             knew what Jesus looked like…

–Do not recognize him when he comes         up to them…spends time and               even shares a meal –

–until Jesus breaks the bread and                 their eyes are opened…

Why?

Why did they not recognize him… and why did he disappear when they did?

Whatever the reason, stories of his appearances provided future believers hope of seeing him and experiencing him.

Even if they were NOT members of the original disciples/followers…

Remember John’s story of Jesus’     appearance in the upper room –   Jesus tells Thomas — blessed are    those who believe without seeing

And

This week’s story of Cleopas and the other disciple on the Road to Emmaus –

announces that more than just Mary and the 12 closest disciples        get to see and experience the   resurrected Jesus.

Even the common believer will have the chance…

What an amazing affirmation the disciples and followers received —-

Reverend George Anastos of First Plymouth Church of Englewood Colorado describes the atmosphere in that upper room when Jesus suddenly appeared behind locked doors…

What a revelation the 12 had when they all could admit to themselves and to each other that they had not stopped having experiences of Jesus when he died.

Jesus somehow lived on, he was somehow not dead, and there must have been such joy in saying so.

There must have been such comfort in that room. So it is with us.

If resurrection is to have any meaning for us, it is in the sense that Jesus walks among us unrecognized all the time.

We catch glimpses, we see flashes, we overhear hints and insinuations.

We see this refracted Christ, never head-on, never fully, but fleeting like something that catches our eye and then is gone.

This is the way of resurrection—not in a resuscitated body but in a sweet kind of suggestion that lingers in the world and makes us know that we’ve seen it.

This is the resurrection—always hidden, always smiling, always beguiling in its playful apparitions.

It’s there for the seeing,                                    but not the pinning down;

it’s there for the perceiving,                              but not for study.

And all that is required of us to see this strange    familiar Christ is a pair of open eyes.

Blessed are those who believe yet have not seen…

ILLustration

Kathryn Johnston, a pastor at Mechanicsburg Presbyterian Church, tweeted —-

“When grief and the dark of the valley engulf you, you cannot even see Jesus in front of your face. He’s there. Just. keep. walking.”

Amen

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EASTER – 2018 Resurrection of Mary

Homily –

Today’s message is not mine to give. It is not one that I received from Spirit, but one that spoke to me just the same. The author/composer of this message is Rev. Bret S. Myers – Faith UCC in PA.

This message is meant for all of us.

“The Resurrection of Mary”                        Rev. Bret S. Myers

Mary Magdalene was the first person, male or female, to witness the empty tomb…

the first to see angels who reported the resurrection…

the first to hear the voice of, and see, the risen Christ…

and the first to be commissioned to go tell the others.

 

Given her prominent place in John’s gospel as the one who first,

and arguably best,

experiences the risen Christ she might be considered Jesus’ most faithful follower.

And the one for whom the greatest miracle was achieved.

When Jesus found her, she was claimed to have 7 evil spirits in her.

She, too, according to tradition, was considered to be a woman of ill repute by society: a prostitute.

 

If these things about her were true, then her life would have been the epitome of a despised existence in her society.

She would have been familiar with heartache, ostracization,

and the close-mindedness of those who thought they had a grip on reality in thinking themselves superior to her.

 

But it was she who ended up teaching them about a different reality:

that of resurrection – a life full of possibilities beyond all the prisons of our past.

 

From the start, in her darkest hour, she opened herself up to the message of one who told us we all have the image of God within us;

and to the example of how transformative love can be when it is given unconditionally.

She was on the lowest rung of life when Jesus exorcised her spirit from one of waywardness and despair                                           to a path of meaning and purpose.                                       She trusted that her life could be transformed through living in accordance with the values and virtues of Jesus.

And that she was!

Her life is perhaps the best example of what it means to be resurrected –

of having abided in the tomb of social alienation

until Jesus taught her the way of abundant living. (and thus resurrected /transformed)

In the Bible, it is usually the “least of these” that God most seems to be able to speak to most readily.

Why do you think that is?

God was able to get their attention.

They hear God, and talk with God, in ways that the self-assured seldom experience.

Consider that Jesus’ self-chosen disciples were hiding away in an upper room for fear that what happened to him might happen to them.

But it was Mary Magdalene who had the fearlessness to venture out in public to visit Jesus’ burial site.

And when she went back to report what she found, she followed the two disciples who went to the abandoned tomb to see for themselves.

When the two male disciples arrived and found a missing Jesus, they assumed the worst:

that his body had been stolen.

Sullen and feeling helpless, they went back to their homes.

Perhaps they did not want to face their sorrows, fears, and feelings of impotence.

But Mary stuck around. And she wept.

Sometimes allowing ourselves to cry,

openly and prolifically, opens us to

new dimensions of reality that we cannot experience without going into that pit of despair.

It takes courage to go to that place where we are unsure whether we’ll ever be able to recover.

But when we confront the worst that is imaginable, we see solutions unavailable to our understanding when we are in denial of what is happening.

Hiding from their fears, the male disciples were closed to the initial experience of the risen Christ.

They wanted to go back to their homes, to safety and security, to a place which was familiar, even if not revitalizing, in order to see what they could salvage of their previous lives. But Mary’s history of delving into the depths of human emotion opened up her heart, mind, and soul to seeing life, reality, and God’s presence in a whole new way.

She was open to transformation…to resurrection.

Granted, she was not quick to perceive this. She had to wrestle with what others, and her own way of thinking, told her was impossible. But when she heard her name called, she recognized that the one who had loved her for who God made her to be was as present to her as he had ever been.

Her experience of his reality post-resurrection was even more enlivening for her than her prior encounters with him.

She was herself given the resurrection spirit that changed her whole outlook on life.

What would get us to take this kind of life-altering chance?

Would we have to be at our lowest ebb before we’d be open to the turning of the tide?                                          Might we see, instead, that more is possible for our lives, through faith, than what we would ordinarily dare to conceive?

Does the need for safety and security, comfort and pleasure, keep us from opening our lives to opportunities and possibilities that only those with a daring courage of Mary Magdalene can perceive?

Could it be that we, like Mary, would prefer to “hold on” to those who have made life easier for us rather than venturing out on an adventure that God is calling us to?

Is this why Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me?”

As much as he had been a blessing to her in changing her life around, she was now a true disciple who had learned to live by the values and virtues that Jesus had taught her.

She did not need his continual physical presence in her life for her to live out the lessons and mission that had become a part of her own being.

Jesus later reminded all of the disciples that he would always be with them in spirit, but he commissioned them to go out into the world and carry out his purposes without his doing it for them.

They were no longer children of the faith, but adults of conviction who were to leave their houses and go out into the world.

If God let you know your life could be transformed, would you take the offer?

If it meant trying new things? Helping those most in need? Serving those who might not appreciate it?

Putting yourself at risk or in harm’s way?

Mary Magdalene teaches us the lesson about how we all, even the least of us, can be transformed and resurrected into an abundant life of love, peace, justice, faith, kindness, hope, compassion, and gentleness. These are the qualities and character traits of Christ – the things we need to live by and follow if we are to be true disciples rather than pretenders.

If Easter is not about the transformation of each of our spirits, then we are underestimating its power.

It was not just about Jesus. It was about Mary, who was one of the least of us.

And this is good news;

for if resurrection could be about her, then most certainly it could be about each and every one of us.  – Rev. Bret S. Myers, 4/12-13/2017

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Let us remember that resurrection is more than mere resuscitation!

It is life transformed!
It is faith in possibilities, when others are convinced of inevitability.

It is the courage to love others, when they don’t love you in return…

to show compassion, when others are heaping judgment…

to live by peace, when others are being violent…

to work for justice, when others are working for wealth…
to respond with gentleness, when others are reacting with rage…

and to trust that life, well-lived, even if short-lived,  is preferable to longevity without virtue.
Don’t remain caterpillars when you can become butterflies!
Live beautifully! Birth goodness in all you think, say, and do!
For you are called to life abundant!
God’s blessings be with you.

Jesus is on the Loose. April 8, 2018

John 20: 19-34       HOMILY

 

Jesus is on the Loose –

 

Post Resurrection appearances

Garden – Mary     (John/Mark)

Garden – Mary, Mary mother of  James, Salome Joanna                                   (Matthew)

Peter –              (Luke)

Two Disciples /Emmaus  Road            (Luke)

11 Disciples/upper room                       (Luke / John)

12 Disciples 8 days later  (John)

7 Disciples at Sea of  Galilee    (John)

Or Mt in Galilee    (Mark)

500 people at same  time         (1st Corin)

James                  (1st Corin)

Apostles – ate meal    (Acts)

Ascension            (Mark / Luke)

Saul / Paul       (Acts / 1st Corin)

Ananias (31-36 AD)         (Acts)

Paul in Temple                (Acts)

 

1205,   Saint Francis Of Assisi while           praying in the Church

1246 Saint Lutgarde (d.1246), a Cistercian mystic of Belgium

1302: ST. GERTRUDE THE GREAT
She received private revelations from Jesus regarding the devotion to the Sacred Heart and the importance of the Communion of Saints.

1366: Saint Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church by Tiepolo,
Saint Catherine of Siena was a withdrawn Dominican tertiary who lived, fasted and prayed at home in Siena Italy.
In 1366, when she was 19 years old she reported her first vision of Jesus after which she started to tend to the sick and the poor.
1372 Saint Julian of Norwich was on her deathbed and had been given her last rites when she reported a series of visions of Jesus, followed by a sudden recovery.

 

1425: THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
Next to the Bible, this has been the most sold book in the world. Its content concerns the dialogue between Christ and Thomas Kempis.

1559:  Saint Teresa of Avila (Teresa de Jesús) reported a vision of Jesus present to her in bodily form.
For almost two years thereafter she reported similar visions. Saint Teresa’s visions transformed her life and she became a key figure in the Catholic Church eventually being recognized as one of only three female Doctors of the Church.

 

From 1673 to 1675, Saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque recounted a series of visions of Christ speaking to her.
1697: Saint Veronica Giuliani expressed a great desire to suffer in union with the crucified Jesus for the conversion of sinners.
Shortly after that time she reported a series of vision of Jesus

On Good Friday 1697 she received the five wounds of Christ as stigmata.

1843: 1843 Sister Marie of St Peter, a Carmelite nun in Tours France reported visions of conversations with Jesus

1859: ST. JOHN VIANNEY
Known as a great exorcist, he was blessed with countless visions of Jesus,

 

In 1866 Venerable Marie Martha Chambon began to report visions of Jesus telling her to contemplate the Holy Wounds, although it is said that she had received her first vision when only five years old.

 

1898; Secondo Pia’s 1898 negative of the image on the Shroud of Turin, used in the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.

 

1899 Saint Gemma Galgani reported a vision of Jesus after which she experienced recurring stigmata- she also reported further conversations with Jesus.

 

1910: The Franciscan Italian priest Saint Pio of Pietrelcina reported visions of both Jesus and Mary as early as 1910.

1923: SISTER JOSEFA MENENDEZ
From 1919 to 1923 when she died, Sister Menendez received apparitions of Jesus]

 

.

1931 Saint Faustina Kowalska reported visions of a conversation with Jesus when she was a Polish nun.

 

1936: Blessed Maria Pierina De Micheli.

On the first Friday in Lent 1936,

_____________

Can anyone share a story about a time when they saw Jesus — ?

Dream

Art

Music

Vision ?

Special Services

Camp

Revival

Hospital

_________________

 

Colleague shared

After losing an adult son to an overdose –

Riding motorcycle – angry

Jesus appeared behind him on his cycle –

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The strange case of Debbie Cain, a woman who was declared dead, has doctors intrigued.

The woman was unconscious and her heart stopped during appendectomy surgery.

She explained that she had been in heaven:

“I started to feel a great love from within.

I was warm and I saw a bright light that began to clean everything.

I saw Jesus there.

He looked at me and without saying a word, he spoke to me and said:

´Not now my child´.

I can´t remember anything else and then I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit”,

explained Debbie.

 

Debbie explains that before her supernatural experience, she was not a religious person,

but now she is certain that God does exist.

 

An encounter with Jesus:

  1. Will often not be what we expected
  2. Addresses questions we didn’t know needed answers
  3. Reveals the gross parts of us
  4. Gets to the true heart of the issue
  5. Sends us out to tell others about Him

 

One theologian says there are three ways of seeing Jesus…

  1. Jesus is alive in the word – the Gospel stories and the living tradition of our church.
  2. We meet Jesus in Baptism and our weekly Communion.
  3. We meet Jesus in our loving service to those in need, those who live on the periphery of society.

What does Jesus look like – how will we know when we see him?

Regardless of how someone looks or lives… we are looking into the eyes of Jesus – who comes to us in many faces and many places…

When we look into the face of someone caught up in addiction – Jesus is there

When we look into the eyes of a man who has committed horrible crimes… Jesus is there.

The writer of Matthew records Jesus saying

Matthew 25:36-40 English Standard Version (ESV)

 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

When we see Jesus, we finally understand what the love of God can do for all of us