Logo of church

Thought for the Week - w/b 14th April

# Church Without Walls

Published by Bimbola Adediran on Wednesday, 17 April 2024 09:53
Thought for the Week - w/b 14th April

Thought for the Week, Easter 3, 17 April 2024

I have drawn my thoughts for this week from Sunday’s sermon based on Acts 3 12-19 and Luke 24:36b-48.

 

I don’t know about you, but one thing I don’t appreciate is walking into the lounge where my husband or daughters are already watching a series on TV which I want to watch too. I want to know how it began so I can join in. I experience FOMO  - fear of missing out - and I AM missing out! so I ask them to press pause and explain to me what has already happened. You may have already noticed that our Gospel starts in the middle of a conversation - ‘So while they were talking about this…’ - What is it they were talking about? What have I missed out on? Before we turn to the main theme, let’s press pause and find out what the 11 were talking about.

 

They were discussing the appearance of Jesus to the two on the road to Emmaus, and also to Peter. All this unbelievable news! And while they were talking, experiencing a sense of ‘if he did appear, why to them and not to me?’ Jesus himself stood among them, and said ‘Peace be with you.’

 

I’ve got a couple of questions about Jesus rising from the dead and his appearances:

  • Why didn’t Jesus just wait until they were altogether and then ‘tada’ - dramatically appear?
  • Is Jesus’ resurrection just a conspiracy theory - a huge scam? Maybe the disciples took his body then decided to tell everyone that Jesus had risen from the dead?
  • Why is it even important that he has risen from the dead?

So firstly, Why didn’t Jesus just wait until they were all together and then appear? Eyewitness testimony is really important

This is what happened: Jesus chose to appear first to the women, then to the Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus, and to Peter and now to the 11 and those with them. This is Luke’s account. He has based it on Eyewitness accounts which he has carefully checked out.  To me these accounts ring true of who Jesus is and of the way he proclaimed the Good news in word and action when he was alive. He took his time. He never seemed in a rush, but listened to whoever he was with. He walked with them, talked with them and taught them – usually in parables, only revealing himself to them when they were ready. He was no power hungry showman. No attention seeking, manipulative con-man. He was gentle and humble, yet powerful. He waited, sensing how people were feeling and thinking – remember the 5000 who needed feeding, or the Zacchaeus who had climbed the tree to see him, or the woman who was bleeding, who touched Jesus’ cloak? All these people he took time with and cared for and explained things to and some, he healed. Three times in this chapter, Luke emphasizes that Jesus ‘opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures, saying, ‘this is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead in the third day and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.That’s how this passage ends.

 

What about the idea that this was a great conspiracy or scam which the disciples fabricated? Many a Christian disciple has been cross-examined with this question.

I have two responses:

  1. This is a bunch of uneducated disciples who are, frankly, terrified of both the Roman and the Jewish authorities. Why would they come up with a story which would put them in more danger? And if they knew it was all a hoax, how would they have had the courage (let alone power) to walk about in Jerusalem, heal a crippled man and go into the temple to preach, as Peter did? These were people who were totally convinced by their own scriptures, by the appearance of Jesus to them, and by the coming of the Holy Spirit. They were convinced eye-witnesses.
  2. Secondly, I’d like to draw on the testimony of Charles Coulson, aide to President Nixon during the Watergate scandal. He said this: “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren't true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn't keep a lie for three weeks. You're telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”

 

So witness testimony was central to people spreading the word about Jesus – then and now.

 

It mattered that people weren’t testifying to a vague emotional experience, or a nice feeling they had. They were talking about a real, walking, talking man, who they had listened to, eaten with, watched die, and seen raised. That mattered. Witnessing mattered.

 

And everything Jesus did, he did on purpose.

  • He made sure the disciples could witness to his resurrection on purpose.
  • When he appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden, he did so on purpose.
  • When he showed the disciples the wounds in his hand and side and invited Thomas to touch his wounds, he did so on purpose.
  • When he appeared to more than 500 of the believers, he did so on purpose.
  • When he appeared to his followers on the road to Emmaus, explained the prophecies about his resurrection to them and ate with them, he did so on purpose.
  • When he ate a piece of fish in front of the disciples, to show he had a working stomach and digestive system, he did so on purpose.
  • When he cooked the disciples breakfast on the beach, to prove he had a physical body, he did so on purpose.

 

My final question: why is it so important that Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead? This is the same question which Paul answers in 1 Corinthians 15 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

 

The truth of the resurrection is what makes all the difference to you and me when we take the Good News of Jesus into our communities. This is what gives us hope for our lives, and conquers our fear of death.

You may have heard the news this week that Prof Richard Dawkins has ‘come out’. How? Well he - the arch-enemy of Christianity- has described himself as a ‘cultural Christian’. By this he means that he likes a lot of what Christianity has to offer - the beauty of churches, the peace and reflection of the services. He even acknowledges that he likes Evensong! I think there are a number of people we know who would identify with him, liking all that surrounds Christianity, but still not being able to believe the central truths that Jesus is the son of God, who became flesh; who was crucified and rose again, ascending to heaven where he sits at the right hand of the Father.

 

  • Jesus’ purpose in appearing was so that none of the believers could possible doubt his resurrection.
  • His purpose was to build their faith, so that their hearts were filled to bursting with the good news: ‘did not our hearts burn within us when he opened the Scriptures to us.’
  • His purpose was to send them out, equipped, to tell others.
  • His purpose is that we, too, will be witnesses. Not just in the safety of church, but out there.

 

Today, we worship together, break bread, give thanks and partake of Holy Communion together. But then we are sent out: we go in peace to love and serve the Lord. That means being witnesses to this amazing truth: Jesus is risen! Alleluia!

You might also like...