After Fear / Luke 24:36–49 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Friday April 18th 2021 / Season of Easter / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday April 18th 2021: Season of Easter / Luke 24:36–49 "After Fear"
As they were talking about these things, Jesus Himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate before them.
Then He said to them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. The doors are shut. The doors are locked. Who comes in? Who goes out? No one when they are locked. Why the locks? Why the shut doors? Fear: They, that is the disciples of Jesus, were afraid and unsure what to do next, unsure of what might happen next; gripped by it, paralyzed by fear.
Even though we are three weeks from Easter Sunday for Jesus’ disciples in our Gospel Reading today they are still walking through the events of the Resurrection of our Lord. It is Easter Sunday for them. The day is growing long, a lot has happened, like I said they’re locked together in the upper room — where they had received that first Lord’s Supper from Jesus the previous Thursday night before everything went haywire — and as they sit there, filled with fear. These perplexed and afraid disciples are trying to figure out what was going on because during that very day, that very Sunday, the first day of the week, they had began to receive reports that further troubled them. So there they were talking about how Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them told them that they had found the stone rolled away from Jesus’ tomb and when they went into the tomb they did not find Jesus’ there. They were talking about how these women were perplexed about this, and how they expected to find Jesus’ dead body but saw instead two men standing by them there dressed in dazzling apparel. How they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, and how the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
Peter was likely going over and over again his running to Jesus’ tomb with John at this news and the fact that they found the tomb empty just like the women. Mary Magdalene would have told them how she had mistook Jesus for the gardener until Jesus said her name and then she knew it was Jesus back from the dead. Was that just grief? Did that really happen? And then just before our reading from today begins St. Luke tells us in his Gospel how these remaining disciples had had two additional visitors, men who had left Jerusalem on their way to the village of Emmaus who suddenly returned with their own personal witness of having seen Jesus with them as they walked. How these two men at first didn’t recognize Jesus even though He’d interpreted all the Scriptures to them beginning with Moses and all the Prophets as they walked teaching them all about Himself from God’s Word. And these men said that when this seeming stranger sat with them at the table to eat and gave the blessing how “their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him [it was Jesus!] And He vanished from their sight.”
It was as they were talking about these things on that first Easter Sunday that Jesus Himself interrupted their fear, interrupted their talk and all their attempts to figure out what was happening and what they were to do next and stood among them, and Jesus said to them, “Peace to you!” At first, as you might imagine, this only further bewildered them.
If a dead relative three days after the funeral was suddenly standing in front of you in your kitchen, in your house, with the front and back doors locked after you had had a couple odd phone calls maybe an email or a text message or two from people about:
1) The grave being dug up and empty
2) Someone having seen them at the graveyard that morning or somewhere else nearby later that afternoon
You might have gone through the roller coaster ride of emotions that the disciples went through when Jesus was suddenly standing before them saying, “Peace to you!” Luke tells us that they were startled and frightened; how they thought they were looking at first at a ghost; how they were troubled by what was happening, how they doubted what they were looking at.
So here with this Gospel reading from the Gospel of St. Luke we’ve back tracked, last week’s Gospel Reading from the Gospel of St. John focused on Thomas seeing the risen Lord Jesus in the flesh about a week after today’s events, in this reading recorded by St. Luke the disciple Thomas would be absent. The rest of them who were present that evening on the first Easter were now hearing Jesus say to their astonishment “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And after showing them His hands and His feet while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, Jesus said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate it before them.
That piece of broiled fish was the cherry on top of the Easter Sunday! They had spent three years with Jesus almost entirely around the Sea of Galilee, catching fish, eating fish, Jesus eating the fish that Easter Sunday was something they had witnessed before but not like this. What Joy! John who had looked upon the beaten and dead Jesus hung upon the cross now looks upon the risen Lord; Peter who had shamefully denied Jesus three times as Jesus’ trial was unfolding now looked upon “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Against all hope they now stood with Jesus marveling at what was happening. All the things they had been talking about, the accounts of the women and the men on the road to Emmaus were confirmed with their own eyes. St. John’s words in last week’s Epistle reading come alive when you think on what he personally witnessed that first Easter: In 1 John chapter one John writes, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— the Life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal Life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” Heard; Seen; Looked Upon; Touched: Jesus the Lord.
What happens next? What are they to do? What marching orders are they given? What happens when they unlock the door of the upper room and walk out into the World? What happens when they no longer fear the Jews or the Romans or anyone opposed to them? What happens then? What are they to do?
The risen Lord Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” Christ Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection had all just happened so they were to follow these things by proclaiming repentance for the forgiveness of sins in His name to all nations starting right where they are in Jerusalem. Once they are clothed with power from on high, once the promise of Jesus’ Father was upon them then they would be ready. Here Jesus points to the Day of Pentecost which will take place fifty days after Easter. Many things will happen between Easter and that day, and many, many things will happen after that day and in all of those things they will go forth without fear. As Saint Paul would later say, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” For three days the disciples were wracked with fear; paralyzed with fear; locked away in that upper room. Then they saw the risen Lord and their fears melted away like the snow in spring.
Are you afraid? Can you live without fear? What would it be like to live without fear? What are you most afraid of? Are you afraid of getting sick? Suffering pain? Abuse? Divorce? Being a burden to others? Having your private sins exposed to the prying eyes and wagging tongues of the World? Embarrassment? Humiliation? Ruin of Reputation? Scorn? Shunning? Failure … public failure? Death? Dying alone? Living alone? Poverty? Unemployment? Homelessness? Having to ask others for help? Being unable to help your child in trouble? Maybe you’re afraid of talking to friends and family or even perfect strangers about Jesus? Are you afraid? Can you live without fear? Yes you can. You can live without fear when you remember what Jesus says to you, “do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.” On another occasion recorded in the book of Revelation the risen Lord Jesus laid His right hand on St. John and likewise said to him, “Fear not, I Am The First and The Last, and The Living One. I died, and behold I Am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Heaven and Hell, Life and death are in His hands. Whatever, or whoever, you are afraid of has limited power. This one, this Jesus has unlimited power and He is the one who also says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” So in this life as a Christian if the worst thing you fear comes true it will only be temporary. As Saint Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” In the resurrection you will be made new: Your health, your relationships, your reputation, your feelings and emotions, your mind, your soul, your body, all things. Trusting this you can have great resolve; great courage in the face of trouble and in the face of your fears.
In the mean time when fear has gotten the better of you and you have fallen into sin to avoid what you fear most, or have sinned sins of omission failing to rise to the occasion set before you when there is a genuine need for you to act within your vocation, repent and take heart your forgiveness is found in Christ Jesus alone. Your Jesus says, “Peace to you,” and brings you His forgiveness. He opens His nail pierced hand and gives you that peace that the World cannot give, for He “is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
And when it comes to sharing the Good News of Easter, the fact that Jesus is no ghost, that He is physically risen from the dead and that He will raise us up from the dead to Eternal Life on The Last Day, that final justice will come to all who suffered needlessly in this life, when it comes to all these things if you find yourself afraid to talk, afraid to confess these things publicly or privately remember your baptism into Jesus, and remember your freedom in the Gospel. Remember your freedom to direct people to Jesus and His forgiveness. And most importantly remember that it is the Holy Spirit who calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. Yours in the mouth to speak, theirs are the ears to heart and the hearts to receive. Remember also that today we do not give Jesus broiled fish to eat - He gives Himself to us in Holy Communion. He comes to us where we are locked up in fear and brings us peace. He comes to you in His Word and in His Supper. Take heart be not afraid: “Peace to you,” in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
(The Sermon after the sermon … if you are in the Regina Saskatchewan area and able to get out and you are not yet ready to attended the Divine Service with others on Sunday but you are ready to come and receive the Lord’s Supper at the church then remember you can call and register to come during the week to receive it privately from the pastor at the altar rail. Now we also understand that you might not be able to venture out at this time just as we are not yet completely able to get in and see members where they are due to pandemic health guidelines and restrictions. However we are very much looking forward to being able to see you again and being free and able to give you Holy Communion when and where we can. In the mean time “Peace to you” in Christ Jesus, and remember these days, however long, lonely and hard they are, are only temporary and will pass away in The End. They are drawing to a close; pray they accomplish what they are meant to accomplish repentant hearts and lives turned away from selfishness to God and the needs of others in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.)
 Luke 24:10
 Luke 24:2–7
 Luke 24:27
 Luke 24:31
 Luke 24:38–43
 Matthew 16:16
 1 John 1:1–4
 Romans 8:31
 Luke 12:4
 Revelation 1:17–18
 Revelation 21:5
 Psalm 103:8
 “The Creed, III Article,” Luther’s Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2006, 17.
Photo credits: Main Photo Yellow Flower With Wooden Cross from pxhere; Locked Door Green from pexels; Empty Tomb from unsplash; Locked Door Blue from pexels; Jesus' Hands from pxhere; Detail of Men Joining Hands from pexels; Fish Dinner from unsplash; Hand in Water from pexels; Detail of Hand About to Drop Marble into Water from pexels; Woman Afraid from pexels; Fear from pexels; Jesus holding Communion Chalice from Pexhere.