Saturday 29 April 2017

Luke 24

When this passage begins it is Easter Sunday and two followers of Jesus were walking along a road when they were joined by Jesus. They did not know who He was but they got into conversation, telling Jesus of events that had happened. Eventually they realised who He was, but Jesus suddenly disappeared. The two men made their way to Jerusalem and heard the Lord had arisen and they were able to tell of their experience.

The disciples were met behind locked doors for fear of being attacked when Jesus came in amongst them. The eleven men there were those who had shamelessly denied and fled from Him, denying they knew Him, yet Jesus was prepared to forgive them. This shows us that no one is too bad to be forgiven and offered salvation.

Jesus showed them His hands and feet to convince them of His real presence, and we know from John’s gospel that Thomas was not present and would not believe without proof. There are many people who just cannot accept that Jesus was physically resurrected, even some holding high office in the Church. Here we have testimony from men who lived with Jesus and gave us statements that Jesus was real, objective and physical, and we must be prepared to believe them over some academic sitting in a study somewhere, looking for some objection and probably the chance to make a (dubious) name for himself.

Those disciples were hard men, not likely to be deluded or kidded by an impostor. The Apostles Creed states ‘I believe in the resurrection of the body’ not ‘I believe in the resurrection of Jesus’. No one should recite the Creed if they cannot accept the physical resurrection.

An Anglican priest has no justification for doubting this. All ordained clergy swear to accept the Articles of the Church of England, one of which states’ Christ did surely rise again from the dead and took again his body with flesh bones and all things appertaining to the perfection of man‘s nature’. We are bound to honour this for the Bible expects us to believe in the solid, tangible resurrection. If we are going to be faithful to Jesus we must be prepared to believe He conquered death and as Lord of heaven and earth is One who can give life to the dead. It was long part of the plan of God that all that took place should have done so.

We are told that Jesus ate fish with them and instructed them in the Scriptures. He promises to send the Holy Spirit, but they are to stay in Jerusalem until they are filled with power. He then ascended back to His Father in heaven.

The fact that Jesus entered through locked doors indicates that His body must have been of a different kind to His earthly body. Paul in his Letter to the Corinthian Church explained this when he drew the analogy of a seed being planted to grow into a plant, and likens it to our one day being changed to a spiritual body. Paul went in to great detail to try and make this understood that our new bodies will be totally different to our old one.

An awesome duty has been placed on the Church to continue the mission Jesus gave to those first Apostles that they were to take the gospel to all people. Jesus wanted us to tell that forgiveness is real and available to those who will accept Him as Saviour. Most people of course will never confess to being a sinner they are confident in the misplaced belief that as long as they help others, and are honest and kind they have a ready made passport to heaven.

The Church has too often not lived up to our Lord’s expectations. The doctrine of heaven and hell is widely rejected as being positively unacceptable, with claims actually being made that all will be in heaven when they die. It is accepted that men like Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein etc, may not, but it cannot be told what will happen to them or where they will end up. The purpose of the Church is to proclaim the teachings of Jesus Christ, this is given in all four gospels, and if the Church does not rest on Scripture it has no function in life, and any such Church should be avoided.

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