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“Now What?”
May 04, 2014


Acts 2:14a, 36-41 Luke 24:13-35 1 Peter 1:17-23
On Easter Sunday I asked the question, “So What?” We heard that Jesus rose from the dead but so what? The
answer is that we are called to tell the world what we have seen and what we have heard, but once we know
that, then what? We know that Jesus rose from the dead and we know that our mission is to tell the world. So
now what? What is the next step? What should we do? And that is a trickier question. The answer to that is
harder and it isn‟t necessarily just one thing. All of us are different. God‟s call upon each of our lives is
different, and so the next step isn‟t always going to be the same. On the other hand, since we are all parts of
the body of Christ, there will be a few things that every one of us will have in common. But before we get too
far down that road, let‟s join with some of Jesus‟ followers and see what the next steps were for them in the
hours after Jesus rose from the dead. In Luke 24:13-35 we meet two men who, although not members of the
twelve disciples, were clearly followers of Jesus and may have been among those whom Jesus had sent out to
preach.
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Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.
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They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.
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As they talked and discussed these
things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;
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but they were kept from
recognizing him.
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He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast.
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One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one
visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
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“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all
the people.
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The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified
him;
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but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third
day since all this took place.
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In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this
morning
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but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he
was alive.
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Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they
did not see Jesus.”
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He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
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Did not
the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”
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And beginning with Moses and all the
Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
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As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther.
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But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to
stay with them.
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When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.
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Then
their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
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They asked each
other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to
us?”
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They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled
together
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and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”
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Then the two told what
had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
The followers of Jesus had heard the testimony of the women and they had heard from John and Peter who had
seen the empty tomb, but they didn‟t understand. Even though the women told them that they had seen Jesus
and that he would meet them in Galilee, they didn‟t get it. And so they head home, depressed, discouraged,
disappointed and despondent. It was a great adventure, but now it‟s over. Jesus was a great teacher, but now
he‟s dead. So well-known were the events of Jesus‟ arrest, trial, crucifixion and death that everyone in
Jerusalem had been talking about it. So talked about were these events, that these two men are amazed that
anyone who is leaving Jerusalem had not heard the stories.
Jesus is amazed that they hadn‟t yet put two and two together. He accuses them of being foolish and slow to
believe because the prophets had already explained exactly what was going to happen hundreds of years before
it happened. And so, as they walk, Jesus walks them through the scriptures and explains to them why
everything that happened, had happened exactly the way that God had intended for it to happen, and exactly
the way that the prophets had said that they would.
As they arrive at the home where they were staying, Jesus, whom they still have not recognized, continues on
as if he is going farther, but the men beg him to stay with them. Even though they did not realize that this was
Jesus, as they had walked and talked over the course of seven miles, they had built a relationship and had come
to know the heart of the man they were with. They urged him to stay because it was almost dark and everyone
knew that it bandits and thieves had made it too dangerous to be out on the roads after dark. Jesus consents to
stay, but as he prays over dinner and gives thanks to God, they realize who he is, and as they do, Jesus
disappears from the middle of the room.
As they realize that they had been walking and talking to the risen Jesus all evening, the two men immediately
head back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples what they had seen and heard. Only moments ago, they were
pleading with Jesus to stay the night with them because everyone knew that it was far too dangerous to be out
on the roads after dark, but now the news they carry is so important that any consideration of their own safety
is irrelevant.
And so now the disciples and the others followers know that Jesus really has risen from the dead. But so what?
Now what?
And in answer, we return to Acts 2:14a, 36-41, where we hear Peter continue his speech in the streets of
Jerusalem…
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Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:
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“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and
Messiah.”
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When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers,
what shall we do?”
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Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of
your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
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The promise is for you and your children and for
all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
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With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt
generation.”
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Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their
number that day.
As Peter preaches and reminds the people what they had seen and what they had heard, they suddenly realize
that after Israel had waited for thousands of years for the arrival of the Messiah, they had been given the gift of
being in the generation that saw him and heard him, but then had rejected him and become responsible for his
death. Luke says that they were “cut to the heart,” they were heartbroken when they realized what they had
done and they ask Peter?
So now what?
And Peter is ready with an answer. If you believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead, if you believe that
Jesus is the rescuer of humanity who forgives your sins against God, then there is one thing that must be next.
You must repent of your sin and be baptized. What‟s more, this call to repentance and baptism, and this
promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit is not just for you, but also for your children and for anyone you know.
This call to repentance and baptism is not just for the people who had seen and heard and participated in the
events of Passover and Easter in Jerusalem, but also for those who were far away, separated from those events
by distance and time. This call to repentance is for all people.
But so what? What if we have already been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Spirit? Then what?
And again, Peter has an answer. In 1 Peter 1:17-23, we read this…
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Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here
in reverent fear.
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For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were
redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,
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but with the precious blood of
Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
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He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed
in these last times for your sake.
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Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and
glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
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Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love
one another deeply, from the heart.
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For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of
imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
Peter says, “Since you call on God,” since you believe, then this is what you should do:
Live your life as if you are a foreigner living far from home. The things this world values are not the things
that we value. The world values money, sex, power, fame and glory but none of those things can save you.
You were rescued by the blood of Jesus. You were rescued because Jesus hung on a cross, died, and rose from
the grave.
But again so what?
Peter says that since you have called on God and believed in Jesus for your rescue, and since you have been
baptized and accepted the gift of the Holy Spirit, then the next thing to do is to love one another deeply from
the heart.
Every time that the „so what‟ question is asked there is something for us to do.
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If we know that Jesus rose from the dead, then we should tell the world.
If we have believed that Jesus is the Messiah, the rescuer of humanity, then we must repent, be baptized and
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
If we‟ve done that, then purify yourself. Put away the values of our culture and live as if you were a foreigner
living far from home. Live a life that values the things that God values instead of the things that the world
values.
If you‟ve done that, then love one another. But don‟t just love with an ordinary love; don‟t love with a love
that looks like everyone else‟s love, love with a deep and sincere love that comes from the heart. Love with
the kind of love that is moved and motivated by the Spirit of God that lives inside of you.
But even then, you‟re not done. This isn‟t a „to do‟ list that we work through, check off, and call it a day.
There is no need to keep on asking what‟s next. This is like the directions on your shampoo bottle.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Tell the world, repent, purify, live like you don‟t belong, love, repeat.
And then keep on repeating until you meet Jesus face to face.







You have been reading a message presented at Trinity United Methodist Church on the date noted at the top of the first page. Rev.
John Partridge is the pastor at Trinity of Perry heights in Massillon, Ohio. Duplication of this message is a part of our Media
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noted.

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