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Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter

Augustana, 2011

35 Sermon for Easter 3.mp3

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The text for the sermon today is the Gospel reading, the account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Sometimes, in a conversation with Jesus, we find out we’re wrong.  It’s Jesus who’s walking along with these two disciples back to Emmaus.  How long he was walking with them before he spoke to them we don’t really know.  He simply drew near and went with them.  And Jesus said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?”  It is as if these two disciples are New Yorkers having a conversation with someone on the evening of September 11th.  How could this fellow walking from Jerusalem this very day with them not know the events that had taken place there this past week?  And so they recounted to this stranger the events of what we now call Holy Week, and then they add, “But 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 happened.”  And then you can sense their confusion as they continue to relate to him the events of this morning, Easter morning.  And Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  They just didn’t understand what they had experienced.  Sometimes, in a conversation with Jesus, we find out we’re wrong.

“Slow of heart to believe” describes us when we doubt or do not accept all that the Scriptures teach about Jesus.  Slow of heart to believe describes us when we think any less of Jesus than what He says about Himself.  Slow of heart to believe describes us when we treat the Scriptures and Bible Study as anything less than the teaching of the Holy Spirit to make us “wise for salvation” (2Tm 3:15).  How is that we can hear these Scriptures week after week and year after year and not be moved by them?  How is that we hear the very Word of God and think with such arrogance, it hasn’t spoken to me?  How is that year after year we begin with a new system of Bible Study only to fall flat after w few weeks?  How is that after 30, 40, 50, years or more of attending church we actually know less of the Scriptures and the catechism and don’t feel capable of defending the truth faith from the attacks of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses that knock on our doors?  “Slow of heart to believe” describes us when we doubt or do not accept all that the Scriptures teach about Jesus.

If you want to see what “slow of heart” looks like outside a spiritual context just remember back to what it was like to be a kid and to have your mom trying to correct you and bring you along and yet still fail expectations.  I know over the course of my growing up it was simply inconceivable to my mom that I could walk past heaps of clothes in my room or a table that needed clearing or laundry that needed folding and not do it.  I’m sure she thought I had a strange superpower not to be able to see the chaos and disorder in the world that needed straightening.  God bless all mothers today and may He continue to give them strength to serve in God’s place their children who are so often slow in heart.

“What are we going to do now?”  That must have been the question on the minds of these two disciples.  We may never have walked the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus but that feeling is a place we’ve all been before.  What are we going to do now?  These situations run the gamut do they not, changing shape over time?  What am I going to do now that she is not my friend, that I failed this test, that I made my parents angry, that my boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with me?  What am I going to do now that I didn’t get the promotion, that I lost my job, that my company got sold, that I’m losing business, that my kids are angry with me, that my marriage is pretty rough right now?  What am I going to do now that the government is changing all the rules, that my health is failing, that my husband has died, that my grandkids are angry with me?  What am I going to do now?  The answer is the same as Jesus’ answer to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  And the answer is the same as Peter’s answer to the crowd in Jerusalem, when they asked him, “What then shall we do?”  “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Because the answer is the same as God’s answer in Jerusalem on Good Friday.  Your sin is atoned for, covered with the blood of Jesus.

Because we are the disciples on the road to Emmaus, slow in heart to believe.  Because we are the crowd at Pentecost cut to the heart in the heart of Peter’s great sermon.  Because are the crowd who called for Jesus crucifixion and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”  And how great a God we have that what we meant as a curse He turned into blessing, that the shed blood of Jesus was for us and for our children even as Peter preaches to the crowd, “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

The disciples recognized Jesus finally when He broke bread with them.  The Gospel readings for the first few Sundays after Easter are still that first Easter Day.  If we had an Easter Evening service, which, by the way, there are prescribed readings for in the lectionary, we would have read this Gospel lesson then.  And so last week the reading began with Jesus appearing to the 10 in the upper room (that’s the Twelve minus Judas and Thomas) and then today’s reading with these evenings happening on the evening of that first Easter.  It’s just two disciples, walking back to Emmaus late in the afternoon.  Jesus joins two disciples discussing what happened in Jerusalem.  They don’t recognize Jesus when He’s walking with Him.  They don’t recognize Jesus when He’s explaining to them from the Old Testament everything about the mission of the death and resurrection of the Christ.  Jesus says to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”  Their hearts were burning, but don’t recognize its Jesus talking to them.  They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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