Friday 24 April 2020

                        Luke 24 v.13./35
When this passage begins it is Easter Sunday and God had raised Jesus from the dead. Many people who have no faith, or like many people even within the Church, find this story hard to believe.  Islam does not believe this story because they have a tomb for their leader, and point out Christianity has none to prove its belief. Such however is the strength not the weakness, for if there was a tomb there would be no Christianity, for our whole faith teaches and rests, on the fact Jesus died on the Cross, and rose to new life. Our Bible tells us, with God all is possible.

Following his resurrection, the Apostles met in a room behind locked doors, terrified in fear for their lives. Jesus came and proved his risen being, and the Apostles went out in his strength.

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.  They had a conversation in which Jesus amazed them by his knowledge. The men begged Jesus to stay with them to have a meal. Jesus had shown his courtesy by not forcing himself, but waiting for an invitation from them. Jesus is still standing outside the door of many people’s hearts waiting for an invitation to come in, when he will gladly enter and be with them.

It was sad they did not know who Jesus was, but least they had the chance to find out.   It is even sadder that now when there is so much opportunity to know Jesus, few even have the interest to learn about him, which means they never get to know.

A further lesson is given to us, in that is shown the benefit of Christians meeting and talking together.  Our minds are opened and broadened as collective thoughts lead to a deeper understanding of the faith and increase fellowship. If we just read our Bibles alone and pray in private, we miss the chance to learn fully and should be encouraging and getting encouraged.

The Bible states, ’they that love the Lord speak often together and they shall be mine says the Lord’. The Bible also states, ‘we should seek to build each other up, for whatever is in your heart, the mouth speaks’
Of course, to so many people, even men and women holding high Offices in the Church, this story is too much for them to believe; O ye of little faith. An Archbishop is quoted as saying we can’t expect people to believe in the resurrection story.

 When anyone comes to doubt this story, just remember those Apostles were prepared to risk their lives by proclaiming Jesus, and faced persecution, beatings and death.

Hardy men do not so act without conviction, and don’t invent a story.  They were like Peter and the others, who eventually were put to death for praising their Lord and yours.

Over the ages many men and women have given their lives to go out across the world, and still do so, facing all manner of hazards and danger to do the same. Many others of us have given up lucrative careers, and been pleased to do so to carry on the faith; a lot have been brilliant minded people who would only have done so with a true faith and deep conviction too.

The disciples had 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. 

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. 
If you were about to board a plane to America from London when an announcement was made that there was just a very small chance of the plane crossing the Atlantic safely, would you still board.  Why then doubt the Word of God? (the Bible)

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 if there is  no hell. 

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 which does not proclaim that should be avoided.

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