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  • Fr Daniel

The Third Sunday of Easter

You may wish to listen/sing along to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgIx_0jhW1Y

Pray:

Almighty Father,

who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples

with the sight of the risen Lord:

give us such knowledge of his presence with us,

that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life

and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Please read: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=41

‘Return to me with all your heart’ (Joel 2.12)

‘One does not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4.7)

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life’ (John 3.16)

‘We have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world’ (John 4.42)

‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’(John 9.35)

‘I am going to open your graves and bring you up out of your graves’ (Ezekiel 34.12)

‘he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave’ (Philippians 2.7)

‘he shall be exalted and lifted up’ (Isaiah 52. 13)

‘he has been raised from the dead and goes before you into Galilee’(Matthew 28.7)

‘Peace be with you’ (John 20. 19)

‘He made himself known in the breaking of the bread’ (Luke 24. 35)

We have been on a journey these last 8 weeks, and to get to the destination, we’ve had to endure many things, it’s been a journey of sorrow, tears, grief, sadness, abandonment, betrayal, denial, suffering and death. But out of this journey, there have been times of discovery, joy, hope, life, peace, and now, more recently, there has been resurrection.

For me, one of the best parts of going somewhere is getting there (save the drive to Walsingham, but even that’s important!) If I’m going on holiday, I love nothing more that sitting in the airport and taking it all in, watching the planes take off, getting onto the plane and speeding down the runway into the air – for me the journey is important – because it takes us to where we want to go. Planning is another important stage, planning and preparing. Getting things ready, having all the information are essential, only then will you be able to arrive.

Today, we go on a journey with two disciples. It’s the evening of the first day of the week, that’s Easter Sunday night, and the two of disciples are on the move. Where might they be going? Surely they are travelling to Jerusalem, the epicentre of Luke’s gospel?

No – the destination is Emmaus. They’re travelling away from Jerusalem, they’re travelling away from Jerusalem even after, to quote the Gospel, they had talked about ‘all the things that had happened’. Then, their travelling companion draws near. Jesus himself stands in their midst. But they are ‘prevented from seeing him’. Their eyes have been closed – it’s not that they don’t recognise him, it’s that he will choose to reveal himself to them in a special way. But nonetheless, they are walking away, they had lost sight of what had happened. And when they’re questioned by the man in their midst they respond: ‘we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel’. We had hoped. That hope had all but disappeared.

So what does Jesus do? ‘Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself’. What does Jesus do before they reach where they are going? He journeys with them, and prepares them by opening the scriptures.

The journey that Jesus takes the disciples on is an important one, it’s one that we should all make, because it’s one of discipleship, it’s about the fundamental call to love and know Jesus. What does Jesus do? He prepares them again, as he had done before, but they had forgotten all too quickly… they had left it behind with them, they had left their documents before they set out, and they were all but lost, heading in the wrong direction, heading away from Jerusalem.

Jesus journeys with them, and unfolds the scriptures.

All the chunks of scripture I began with explain to us the events of the last weeks. They begin with the Ash Wednesday and First Sunday of Lent with the call to repentance and trust:

‘Return to me with all your heart’ (Joel 2.12)

‘One does not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4.7)

These words call us to come back to God – and call us to place not our trust in the things of the world, but in the truth of God.

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life’ (John 3.16)

‘We have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world’ (John 4.42)

John then in the second and third Sundays of Lent starts to reveal a little of who Jesus is – and what he will do. The Father will give his Son out of love, for the salvation of the world.

‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’(John 9.35)

‘I am going to open your graves and bring you up out of your graves’ (Ezekiel 34.12)

John continues in the fourth Sunday of Lent with the question; do you believe the question is put to us today, as it was put to the disciples on the road. By walking away from Jerusalem they had answered no, for they ‘had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel’. The fifth Sunday of Lent we are promised by the prophet Ezekiel that graves will be opened – redemption will come about, God will do it.

And then, Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, we hear:

he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave’ (Philippians 2.7)

Jesus the slave prepares for his emptying, the giving of himself out of that love. How will he give himself? We hear on Good Friday:

‘he shall be exalted and lifted up’ (Isaiah 52. 13)

Jesus was lifted up. He died on the cross for our sins. He paid the price that we could not pay. He was dead and then buried.

But the disciples did not believe. That was the end of the story or so it seemed.

And then, Easter Day:

‘he has been raised from the dead and goes before you into Galilee’(Matthew 28.7)

He was raised from the dead – the women find the tomb empty. Surely this is a joke? A hallucination? A trick?

Last Sunday, the second of Easter:

‘Peace be with you’ (John 20. 19)

Jesus speaks, in his resurrected body, he speaks to his disciples locked in the upper room out of fear, and he speaks in his body, ‘peace’. Doubting Thomas gives way to Thomas who believes and who proclaims: ‘my Lord and my God’.

But these two disciples are moving away from Jerusalem, their hope dashed. And Jesus comes into their midst.

What does all of this teach us? It teaches us that walking the path of discipleship is not an easy one, and if we miss the key parts of the story we won’t be able to understand the truth of the Gospel. What does this require of us? It requires us to live of the Christian life ‘knowing’ and ‘loving’. We know the Lord when we know what he promises – when we know the scriptures, because if we don’t, we end up walking to Emmaus and not to Jerusalem. We walk away from the Lord.

To walk with him, we must devote ourselves to learning about him – we to encourage one another in the faith – to pray that we may then ‘love him’. We will only love him when we realise his love for us – shown in his death – and in his resurrection.

How do we know these things? In our final verse: ‘He made himself known in the breaking of the bread’. The two disciples’ eyes are then opened. They realise that the news of the resurrection is real – that he is truly risen from the dead.

In the reading of the scriptures and in the breaking of the bread, Jesus reveals who he really is. They realise and believe.

And what do they do? They ‘returned to Jerusalem’. They moved towards the place where it happened – they are confident because they now understand the scriptures and have met Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Prepared for their journey they reach their destination, and back at Jerusalem they speak the truth.

As we journey through life we must turn to the scriptures to understand who this Jesus is. And we must receive the bread he gives to sustain us as we walk towards the heavenly Jerusalem – to heaven.

As we travel towards that destination, let us tell everyone whom we meet on the road of life, that ‘the Lord has risen indeed’ and let us invite them to join us on that journey.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed, alleluia!

Pray:

Living God,

your Son made himself known to his disciples

in the breaking of bread:

open the eyes of our faith,

that we may see him in all his redeeming work;

who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.

You may wish to listen/sing along to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJjq4RFnLnk

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