Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Sunday April 30th 2017 - / Luke 24:13-35 / Hearing Jesus - Seeing Jesus
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday April 30th year: Easter 2017 / Luke 24:13-35 "Hearing Jesus - Seeing Jesus"
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered Him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find His body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if He were going farther, but they urged Him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So He went in to stay with them. When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. And He vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
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. I’m not sure what they expected to see, I’m not sure what they expected to happen, I’m not sure what they expected to hear, but “suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, [Jesus] charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.”
It had happened before that first Easter Sunday, before Jesus’ Good Friday Crucifixion and death, before the events of Holy Week, it happened in the previous calendar year just eight days after Saint Peter had confessed Jesus to be “the Christ of God,” just eight days after Jesus had begun to teach the twelve that, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” That’s when it happened that, “[Jesus] took with Him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as [Jesus] was praying, the appearance of His face was altered, and His clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with Him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His departure, which [Jesus] was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with Him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. And as the men were parting from Him, Peter [— not knowing what he said,] said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here: Let us make three tents, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” As [Peter] was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.” Again, I’m not sure what they expected to see when Jesus took them up on the mountain to pray, I’m not sure what they expected to happen, I’m not sure what they expected to hear as they walked with Jesus up the side of the mountain but I’m guessing it wasn’t the Voice of God the Father, I’m guessing they didn’t expect Jesus’ appearance to transform, I’m guessing they didn’t expect to see Moses and Elijah. Maybe, Peter, James, and John had, after a couple years, begun to expect the un-expected.
So here we are it’s the season of Easter and we have another unexpected encounter, another unexpected event; Jesus has risen from the dead, today’s account set on the road to Emmaus happens on that first Easter Day. In the morning the women went to the tomb (This we heard read on Easter Sunday), later that day Jesus appeared to ten of the eleven remaining original disciples in the locked upper room (Thomas then has to wait a week to see Jesus for himself, this we heard read last Sunday) and now we have these two followers of Jesus heading on foot to Emmaus and they are talking with each other about everything that had happened. This would include the resurrection of Lazarus, the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the clearing out of the money changers from the temple, the celebration of the Passover, the arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, how Judas had betrayed Jesus and then hung himself, Jesus’ trial and crucifixion under the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate, how devastating all this was because they thought Jesus would be the Messiah, and how the women had amazed them with a story that very morning that Jesus had risen from the dead and just in the midst of all of this a stranger interjects Himself into the conversation and joins them on the road and doesn’t “seem” to know what has happened, they bring the stranger up to speed, but their shock that he didn’t know what was going on is very great. All of this: the women, the disciples, the men on the road all happened on that first Easter Sunday, we break it all up over three weeks to better contemplate the magnitude of it.
In your own life you can think of moments when things happen, when something pivotal happens and everyone seems to know about it. Or they know about it quickly. These are the “where were you moments” of life. Those of you who are older will have been asked, “Where were you when you heard J.F.K. was shot!” or “Where were you when you heard about the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion,” maybe you were even watching it on live television. Or more recently “Where where you on September 11th 2001, when the twin towers of the World Trade Center where hit with airplanes and came crashing down in that tragic terrorist attack?” I remember watching the first plan hit when I was getting ready for work, news that both the towers had collapsed came while I was at work at the grocery store that morning.
So if you and a friend were taking a walk after one of these monumental events and you were talking about the sheer magnitude of what had happened and someone joined you saying, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk,” or “What are you talking about?” I’m sure you’d be surprised, I’m sure you’d think that they had been living under a rock if they knew nothing about it? I’m sure you’d be just as surprised as the two followers of Jesus were when the stranger asked them the same sort of question about the events of their last week. I mean hadn’t they all be in the same city for the same reason, to celebrate the Passover! How could you have been in Jerusalem and not have known what had happened? For these two followers of Jesus on that road that day the events that were being discussed weren’t about a foreign president, or an unexpected tragic mechanical failure and explosion or a terrorist attack; for these two men the events were very close to home, they were about someone they loved and knew well, someone who had been a life changing part of their last three years. Practically family! Their shock was very great!
So why did I start out with the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus? Did I do it just because it included the warning to keep quiet about the Transfiguration until after Jesus had risen from the dead? No. Is the Transfiguration somehow connected to this day’s events? Yes! But first, there is another reason! The two followers of Jesus walking to Emmaus ended up engaged in a Bible Study, a Bible Study that I would love to have been at? They still don’t know it’s Jesus because their eyes were kept from recognizing Him, but as they walked together on the road this “stranger” opened all of Scripture concerning Jesus starting with Moses! Moses who was one of the two visitors who showed up with Jesus at the transfiguration! The Bible study continues as they walk to their destination, with Jesus also speaking of Himself in Scripture as relating to all the Prophets. Elijah is included in “all the prophets” of the Old Testament.
What does Jesus’ conversation with these two men tell us about Scripture? 1) The Old Testament is full of Jesus; Jesus isn’t relegated to the New Testament Only. When Jesus interpreted to them in Scripture all things concerning Himself He did so from the Old Testament, the New Testament wasn’t written yet! 2) What Saint Paul wrote about the Bible to the young Timothy in his letter to Timothy in 2 Timothy is true, the Bible is ... “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. [And that] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” This is what Jesus was doing with them as they walked the road to Emmaus, this is what God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) does for you when you study the Holy Scriptures.
Notice two other important things 1) they do not come to this realization on their own, Jesus is the one who teaches them, who instructs them, who opens Scripture to them, who opens their eyes to see Him. And 2) remember that when you need someone to teach you about Jesus from Scripture today, from the whole of Scripture both Old and New Testaments, Jesus has prepared for this need first by sending His Disciples, His Apostles, His Evangelists, and down through the ages Jesus sends His Pastors, His under-shepherds of the Good Shepherd, to preach teach and administer the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion to the unfolding generations right down to you. If you find yourself stuck or if you find yourself with questions and you need some answers; some comfort; some encouragement come to us and Jesus will use us to help you.
The Glory of Jesus shone on the Mount of Transfiguration to Peter, James and John: and for the two followers of Jesus on the Road to Emmaus the Glory of Jesus shone in the breaking of the bread at table that evening: We experience this in the breaking of the bread that we share in at Holy Communion: Saint Paul writes, “The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ,” “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?” Yes, yes, yes it is! At the Transfiguration Peter, James and John left the mountaintop having been told to keep it all silent until Jesus was risen from the dead; for the two followers of Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, having experienced the risen Lord, (this good news was no longer a thing to keep silent. What Jesus had said had come to pass!) He has Risen, He’s risen indeed! Alleluia! You in this place, this day, are not charged to keep this resurrection of Jesus silent; you are not asked to hold off in telling others until some future date! You, along with the followers of Jesus who walked with Him on the road, you along with the followers of Jesus who break bread with Christ Jesus today at this table need not keep quiet: You are free to, encouraged to, asked to, commanded to go out and tell everyone what Jesus has done, to tell everyone that He recalls His promises and leads His people forth in joy, joy of the resurrection. You are here in this place because, Jesus, through the promised Holy Spirit, is opening your eyes to recognize Him, to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread, in His holy Word, in your Holy Baptism. In these things Jesus is changing your life.
And what of those men on the Road to Emmaus: What a dramatic change Jesus made in their lives! By His presence with them, Jesus took them from being gloomy sad folk who were beside themselves in grief, to folk who had their eyes opened by God, who were overjoyed at the good news of the resurrection! Because of the resurrection they could trust that all the promises of Jesus were just as He said they were, True!
Moses and Elijah testified to the coming Messiah in their lives and in their Holy Spirit inspired words: Moses and Elijah stood with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration and now they with the followers of Jesus on the road to Emmaus in the pages of Holy Scripture, in the Bible continue with Saint Peter to testify to who Jesus is: “the Christ of God,” the very Son of the Father: Our Savour. Who was not just willing to lay down His life for His friends, but was willing (and able) to lift that life back up and live it for them in everlasting perfection!
Last Sunday our Collect of the day, our prayer of the day contained this request: Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God. ... These two men on the road to Emmaus are excellent examples of Christians who upon recognizing Jesus go out with bold confidence and tell of their eye witness to the resurrection, What about us? We don’t have an eye witness account like them but we do have the same Jesus to share. Are we always as eager to share the Jesus we have recognized in the breaking of the bread with others? When a stranger joins our conversation do we include them into our talk of Jesus or do we clam up? Remember the remaining disciples of Jesus on Easter Day were all locked up for fear of the Jews, for fear that they may suffer and die at the hand of those who killed Jesus, they are laying low; Not so with the men on the road to Emmaus. Even though they don’t know the whole story just yet, they still go ahead and tell what they know about Jesus without fear of reprisals: Would that each of us had such guts in our lives. Maybe you identify more with the disciples locked up in the upper room, the ones that these men rushed back to tell about this miraculous event! If so then remember, Jesus didn’t scold them when He appeared to them, He said, “Peace be with you.” Jesus forgave them and He will forgive you. Ask and you shall receive.
One last connection with the Mount of Transfiguration: Peter didn’t understand what was going on at the Mount of Transfiguration, in the midst of everything he blurts out, , “Master, it is good that we are here: Let us make three tents, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said. The men on the road to Emmaus likewise didn’t understand what had happened on that other mountain, Mount Calvary, the place called Golgotha (The place of the skull), The true Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus was crucified and where He was truly Glorified. Not the way the world understands glory, yet full of glory as He made the ultimate sacrifice for you and me, for everyone. In both cases (in Peter’s case on the mountain top: in the men walking the road to Emmaus’ case) they required an outside source to reveal to them the true glory of Jesus. Saint Paul confirms this reality when He tell us that, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” This is exactly again like what Pr. Albrecht preached last week about the importance of hearing God’s Word.
Here in this life we await the day were we no longer have faith only by hearing: we look forward to the day when we too can hear the voice of Jesus in the way that the disciples did, when He said “Peace be with you,” the way the men on the road to Emmaus did, the way that Moses and Elijah did on the Mount of Transfiguration, and we await the day when we can see Jesus the way they saw Him too, so that we can say on The Last Day, in our resurrected bodies, on The Day when we are risen from the dead: “Dearest Jesus through my life I had heard You by the hearing of the ear through Your word, but now my eye sees You, now I see you face to Face.” When That Day comes it will arrive unexpectedly, just has Jesus’ Transfiguration was unexpected, just as Jesus’ Resurrection was unexpected, just as Jesus’ presence with the two men in Emmaus in the breaking of the bread had been unexpected. Unexpected, even though Jesus had been there the whole time, teaching, preaching, and giving of Himself for you and for me and for them.
I’m not sure what you expected to see, I’m not sure what you expected to happen, I’m not sure what you expected to hear today, but with Jesus expect that He will fulfil His promises, He promised that He would die and rise from the dead and He did, He promises to return again on The Last Day, and He will, He promises to be with you always to the end of the age, and He is. He is with you as you walk the road. 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.
 Mark 9:8-10
 Luke 9:20
 Luke 9:22
 Luke 9:28-36
2 Timothy 3:15-16
1 Corinthians 10:16
 Matthew 28:18-20, And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
 Romans 10:17
 Job 42:5