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Third Sunday of Easter 18th April 2021

Sermon 3rd Sunday after Easter             18 April 2021    Delivered at St Andrew’s

Acts 3:12-20,   Ps 4,   1 Jn 2:15-17, 3:1-6,    Luke 24:36b-48

Walking with friends can be one of the most pleasurable things to do in life. Walking and talking. It is often surprising what comes out of those wandering conversations. Today’s gospel reading comes as the second part of the Emmaus road reading and there is something wonderful about the two disciples walking along the road discussing the events that occurred in Jerusalem. Along the way they are met by Jesus, but they do not recognise him for their eyes were kept from seeing him (Lk 24:15). 

I love the way that Jesus joins their conversation. He asks them what they are talking about and their response tells us quite a lot. They stopped, ‘stood still and looked sad’ (Lk 24:17). Cleopas is quite taken aback exclaiming if Jesus is ‘the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place in Jerusalem in these days’. And Jesus, in Luke’s gospel strings them along, ‘What things?’.

They then went on to tell Jesus of all the things that had transpired and Jesus response is a bit like a slap in the face. ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!’ (Lk 24:25). Jesus then expounds to them beginning at Moses and all the prophets, interpreting the scriptures about himself. Now I find that quite amazing. Jesus opened the scriptures for these two disciples that point to Jesus as the Messiah. There is no way of obtaining a transcript of all that Jesus said, there is no such record. Luke paints a picture of Jesus providing such incontrovertible evidence of his claim as the Messiah, the Son of God. But the best is yet to come in Luke’s gospel.

The two disciples urge Jesus to stay with them as evening draws near. Jesus sits down at the table with them, took bread, broke it and gave it to them. The their eyes were opened. This is the moment that Jesus is revealed to the disciples. This is the moment that Jesus is made real to them. This is the moment the eyes of their understanding were fully open. And it is also just after this moment that Jesus vanishes from their sight. Just as Jesus had stood among the disciples, appearing in locked rooms in our past Sunday gospel readings, we find a reversal, Jesus disappears.

I wonder if there has been a moment in your life when something someone said to you stirred your heart. These two disciples are so struck with amazement. ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he was talking with us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ (Lk 24:32). Jesus has given them a memory they will not forget, so much so that the writer of Luke’s gospel felt it needed to be recorded.

It tells us so much about the disciples but also tells us so much about ourselves in our humanity. In a little book I’ve taken to read during the Easter season, ‘What wondrous Love: devotions for home for Lent, Holy Week and Easter’[1], there is a lovely reflection on the Emmaus road. The disciples on the road to Emmaus are a lot like us: ‘limited… by our human understanding, [they] tend to break up the work of God in our world into more manageable chunks: Jesus Christ was born. He lived and ministered among us. He died. He was raised. He will come again’[2] But just like those disciples on the road to Emmaus, they missed ‘the mystery that God has broken in upon us’.

Jesus walked with them along the way, listened to them and then opened to them the scriptures that they may understand. But it is not until Jesus broke bread with them that their eyes were opened. It is in the Eucharist, it is in the breaking of bread that we meet the risen Christ. Jesus opened the scriptures to the disciples, yet their eyes remained closed. It is not clear why God would not want them to understand what Jesus was revealing to them, but once they are seated at the table with Jesus, they discover exactly who it is that walked along the road with them.

I want to finish today with a poem I wrote sometime ago. And so I invite you to close your eyes and listen.

May each one of us be like the disciples, our hearts burn within us as God is revealed to us through the scriptures, but also in the breaking of bread and wine.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] Wondrous Love: Devotions for home for Lent, Holy Week and Easter. p.

[2] Wondrous Love, p. 60.


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