Sunday 18 April 2021

Luke 24 v. 36/48

The gospel  passage for this Sunday morning concerning the resurrection of Jesus is one which has been the subject of controversy, more so in recent times as the liberal factions within the Church have been challenging the account in Scripture, and then pushing their own beliefs.

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 and were talking about the news they had just heard that Jesus was alive again when Jesus came in amongst them Jesus just materialising out of nowhere,it makes them think they are seeing a ghost.

They had just mourned his death for the situation seemed hopeless, yet now he is amongst them, and it seemed too good to be true.

The fact that he was able to enter through locked doors suggests that his body was of a different kind, the glorified body of the resurrection.

The hardest part of the Easter story, and indeed the whole Christian story, is what kind of body did the resurrected Jesus have.  How could it be solid with flesh and bones, able to eat fish, and yet able to appear through closed doors?

Jesus have them the traditional Jewish greeting, so let us see to whom he is giving it. 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 told them to look at his hands and feet, showing the corporeal nature of a body  not a disembodied spirit, but the risen Christ and the Jesus of Nazareth were one and the same person. This is why he allowed them to touch him,  he wanted to satisfy them.

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.

We know from St John’s gospel that Thomas was not at this meeting and refused to believe what he was told 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 doesn’t say I believe in the forgiveness of sin and the resurrection of Jesus, it states  ‘I believe in the resurrection of the body’. No one should recite the Creed if they cannot accept the physical resurrection.

The Bible wants us to know about this corporal, solid, tangible, bodily resurrection, which liberal Christianity denies. When this is denied it is not on the basis of evidence, but in face of it

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.

Thirty five years ago there was a very controversial and extrovert bishop who had denied this story, and made a derogatory remark about the resurrection prior to actually having been instituted as a bishop, and the time came when he was at York Minster. After the service was over, a freak lightning stroke struck the Minster causing two millions of pounds worth of damage caused by fire which destroyed a glorious decorated rose window.

The Bible believing Christians spoke of God’s wrath, that such an unworthy man had been so appointed, but the then Archbishop of York, who I found it hard to credit was an  actual Christian believer, of course mocked the idea, stating God did not do such things now. However, a group of meteorologists discussed the incident, and having ascertained that the Minster was the only place in the county of Yorkshire so affected, concluded unanimously that the only explanation they could come to was it was an act of God.

If we are going to be of service to Christ, we must be persuaded that he is the victor over sin and death and the Lord of heaven and earth, the one who gives life.  We are the only religion which believes a man died for us, that he was the Son of God and by His Holy Spirit is alive now, all other faiths follow men who died.

Jesus told from the Scriptures, that it was God’s plan of salvation that he should die and rise again. The Apostles had six weeks of bible study from the finest of teachers. If Jesus had not died, sin could not be pardoned and God would not have been able to show mercy, and we could not be justified.

Before Jesus left them he gave a farewell commission to go in his name.  ‘As the Father sent me, I send you, to proclaim the gospel of repentance and forgiveness’.  In consequence of the Apostles obeying that command, we have the Acts of the Apostles and the rest of the New Testament.  Others have continued to follow the command of our |Lord so that we have that teaching today.

When the world hears the Church preaching those words, it is hearing Jesus speaking. 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.

Every times the gospel is faithfully preached we are holding out the hope we can live with God for ever.  If people will not believe, they should tremble for they face a fearful future

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.

A hospital chaplain was visiting a lady who was very ill and knew she would soon die. She said she knew she would be soon dead in heaven.  She said she never went to church, read the bible, but had been a good person and her hands had helped so many they will see her to heaven. She did not realise the only hands to see her in heaven, were those which hung from the Cross.

The Church in many places has not lived up to our Lord’s expectations, with the doctrine of heaven and hell being widely rejected, despite the fact that whenever Jesus spoke of heaven, he quoted hell as being the alternative. Claims are 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 The Church must rest upon Scripture and be active in preaching it.  Jesus promised we would be given power to do so. 

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