United Presbyterian Church  2360 Longwood Ave., Reedsport, OR 97467  (541) 271-3214
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 Disclaimer: The sermon below is what was prepared and sat on the pulpit; it may not be what was heard.  

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Pastor Buck during Joys and Concerns

Sermon based on: Luke 24:34-53

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

36. While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37. They were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39. Look 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.” 40. And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

41. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42. They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43. and he took it and ate in their presence. 44. 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, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46. and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47. and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48. You are witnesses of these things. 49. And 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.”

Sermon for Sunday, April 15, 2018     

 

Our reading this morning is about the same event as last week’s reading from John.  But, there are differences. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus doesn’t breathe the Holy Spirit into them...instead, He tells them to remain in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit arrives, which is what which is what is meant when He says, “...so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

There are other differences; John says, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

But Luke says, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in HIS name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Thus forgiveness is a Godly prerogative and not man’s. As I’ve said before, the translated as nations is more accurate to say ethnicities.

Another difference is that In Luke’s Gospel Jesus eats a broiled fish.

So, why the discrepancies?  There’s a couple of probabilities, one of which is that there’s about thirty years difference between Luke’s writing and John’s. Luke’s Gospel wasn’t written until 30-odd years after Jesus’ death; John’s was about thirty years after that.  Memories grow foggy, and by the time John wrote his, he was in his nineties.

What remains consistent is what we must focus on, and that’s Jesus’ sudden appearance in a closed room with a flesh and bone body that was seen by quite a handful of believers.

Last week I talked about what John had intimated, but not written—that there must have been pandemonium in that room when Jesus suddenly appeared.  Well, this morning Luke confirmed it—for even though they had been told that Mary Magdalene, Peter, and the two from Emmaus had seen the risen Jesus, it still hadn’t sunk in.  And even if it had sunk in, it would be unsettling to have someone suddenly materialize, unexpectedly, right in front of you…then or now. It would be scary because we’re not used to that. In fact, I can probably say that you’ve never had that experience…nor have I.

The sudden and unexpected appearance caused panic—out of control fear.  That is probably why, in the biblical accounts of angelic appearances, the angels always begin the conversation by saying, “Fear not.”  Jesus’ didn’t, however.  Instead He said in both John and Luke, “Peace be with you.” Probably because He knew them, and they knew Him, and He was not expecting fear—surprise, perhaps, but not fear.

Even though He was among them and they rejoiced, we’re told that some still doubted. I suspect that’s why He ate the broiled fish because, as we all know, ghosts, specters, don’t eat.

What’s important to understand is this: Christ is flesh and bone.    He’s not a ghost or a spirit…ghosts don’t eat.  He may be flesh and bone, but He is different.  He has what Paul referred to as a “Glorified” body.  The body that we have is temporary…it wears out in time.  It’s merely a shell for the “who” of us, meaning our minds, memories and personalities.  When we die we get a permanent and perfected body; one that does not age, wrinkle, scar or wear out.

Though it’s true that Jesus showed them His scars, I think that was for proof as to who He is.  Today we would have proof in the form of finger prints, or dental records.  This was His way of saying, “Here, see, these are my fingerprints.”  It was proof positive that it was Him.  It was like your picture on your driver’s license, or your signature on a check. Scars and tattoos are still means of identification.

But in the past I’ve heard the police say, “Be on the lookout for a man, blond, blue eyed, with a scar above his left eye going all the way down his cheek. He also a tattoo of an anchor on his left forearm.”

A preacher one mentioned a disconnect between the pictures in the obituaries and at memorials of elderly persons who had passed away.  The photos are when they were young and healthy. Not when they’re old, shriveled or in pain.  Your new body will be perfect, but it will be you. That’s why in near-death experiences, when a person’s relatives greet them, they don’t look like a ghost or spirit, but flesh and bone.

This also helps explain why there those early disciples lost their fear of the authorities, “Do with me as you will, because I will live again.”  That knowledge would have been vitally important for them, because it allayed the fear of dying that would have crippled the movement.  Jesus had to die and be seen in the flesh in order that the new teaching could take root.

Now those disciples—the new teachers—could take the teachings of Jesus to the world and honestly say, “We will live again. We have but to repent and follow Jesus’ teachings.”

And what were those teachings? 

They were all about loving one another.

In his book, Sources of Strength, Jimmy Carter tells the story of a Cuban pastor, Eloy Cruz. Carter noticed that Cruz had a wonderful rapport with the extremely poor Puerto Rican immigrants.  He somehow possessed the wonderful ability to influence the direction of their lives. Carter asked Cruz for his secret. Though embarrassed to be singled out by the former president, he finally said, “Senor Jimmy, we only need to have two loves in our lives. For God, and for the person who happens to be in front of us at any time.”

That was Jesus’ command… “Love one another as I have loved you.”

I have to admit, sometimes that’s hard to do. 

So, what does all this mean? How can we put it into terms we can all relate to and understand? First, this mortal body we live in is only a shell. It’s not meant to last forever. Nor is it meant to be resuscitated at some future point after we die. It’s only a temporary dwelling. Our permanent dwelling is yet to come. The way Paul put it was this way, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

It does not matter if the body is embalmed, cremated, placed in a pine box and put in the ground, or if it’s buried at sea. It’s not this body that will be resurrected, but a new, glorified body. And it’s this glorified body by which we will be recognized in heaven … a body not defined by age, race, gender or any other physical attributes.

Amen