Easter 3—April 6, 2008 “Christ’s Constant Comfort” He is Risen! (He is Risen Indeed.

Alleluia) “Every Day God Opens My Eyes is a Good Day.” That is one of my mother’s favorite sayings. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true; that every day was a good day? Unfortunately, we all have bad days. Those days when nothing seems to go right. The type of day when circumstances are beyond our control and we find ourselves asking how we ever got into this situation in the first place. That’s the kind of day these two disciples that we meet walking on the road to Emmaus were having. In fact, for the past week nothing had seemed to go right! Their Lord had been betrayed, arrested and crucified. And if that weren’t bad enough, they had heard a report that His body was now missing. We’re told they were sad. They were no doubt wondering about what had happened—and worried about what would happen to them. But then, suddenly, Jesus is with them. They didn’t recognize Him— at least not initially. It wasn’t until He celebrated the Supper and opened the Word to them that their eyes were opened. We’re told that after they saw Him their hearts were burning within them. Their heartache had been replaced by heart burn. That’s what need—not heart burn in the literal sense, but rather Hearts and lives filled with the abiding presence of Jesus. But alas, Jesus doesn’t come and walk with us like He did with them. We all know that He has gone into heaven and left us alone—left us only with stories, and memories and emotions—none of which can sustain us. Wrong! Yes, Jesus has ascended into heaven---but He has not left us.
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He is with us just as He promised, in a far more firm and fundamental way. The Lord Jesus, is alive. He is risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, but He remains with us in His Word and Sacraments. Don’t believe it—listen again to the lessons. Jesus was walking with the disciples—but they didn’t recognize Him. Why? Two reasons: 1—Glorified Body. 2—Jesus desires to be seen in His Word and Sacrament. Jesus spoke to them—specifically, He spoke the Word to them—(vs. 2527). By doing so Jesus-1. Asserts the authority of the Scriptures.

2. The truth of the Scriptures. 3. The centrality of the Scriptures in the life of the believer. 4. The Subject of the Scriptures—which is Christ Himself! The One who was lifted up on the cross and then raised from the dead in turn lifts up the hearts of His disciples and raises their spirits—both figuratively and literally speaking—by speaking The Word. This is what Peter did on the first Pentecost—and what we hear him doing in his first epistle, where he is writing to Christians who were having some REALLY bad days—because they were being persecuted by the emperors of Rome. Last week you heard how that first chapter begins— speaking of the terrible (though temporary) trial that they must suffer. And now this week we hear how it ends—“Don’t worry about suffering and dying” Peter says, “For you have been born again through the living and abiding word of God. The word that remains forever. The word—the Good News—that was preached to you.”

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If that word can sustain those Christians suffering persecution then—it certainly can do the same for you now. If this Word of God is the ONLY thing we had it would be enough to lift our hearts now, our spirits to heaven when we die, and raise our bodies to be with Jesus on the last day. It would be all that we need to grant us a good and godly day on a daily basis. But God, in His abundant grace, has given us more. He has given us the Sacraments—which are called the means of Grace. Tangible, touchable things which, combined with His Word, bestow His grace, and bring Jesus to us. There are two of these sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and they are both referred to in the readings. In Acts 2 Peter has preached the Gospel and the people are cut to the heart. And they respond by asking what they should do. Note, Peter does not tell them to form a committee or immediately get busy doing the work of the Lord. He says “repent and be baptized EVERY ONE OF YOU in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.” (Passive and For All) Baptism is for The forgiveness of sins. It is not a sign or symbol of our intention to live a good life—but rather, the Holy Spirit, who cut the hearts of these people through the preaching of the Word, works in and through baptism to deliver the gifts which the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ has won for His people—foremost of which is the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Are you having a bad day? Need lifting up? Then remember that you have already been raised up with Christ in your baptism! And the other sacrament is The Lord’s Supper, which we see being celebrated here in Luke. Here in this 24th chapter of Luke we see Jesus
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breaking bread with the disciples—in the bible when you see the term “breaking bread” it means communion. In Acts 2:42 we are told that the Christians devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to fellowship and the breaking of bread and prayer. In 1 Cor. 10 Paul is teaching about the Lord’s Supper and says this: “The cup of blessing that we belss, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Now listen to what Jesus does with these disciples on this first Easter —“When He was at table with them he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.” What is Jesus doing? He is celebrating His supper with the disciples—and it is THEN that their eyes are opened. And when they are, He disappears. Why? Because henceforth He will be seen in the breaking of the bread. It is in the Lord’s Supper that our eyes are opened in faith to see, believe in, and receive the Living Lord Jesus Christ who comes to be with His people. It is in the Lord’s Supper that we are united with one another as The Lord’s Body—His church—on earth. It is in the Lord’s Supper that our hearts are lifted up unto the Lord, and that we receive the assurance that He will lift us up to be with Him in the resurrection from the dead. Last Saturday—funeral of John and Jennifer Frahm’s baby boy—that the Lord’s Supper was celebrated. Sunday—Why? Doesn’t usually happen at Lutheran funerals. John and Jennifer close to their son who had been taken to be with the Lord. They wanted the special and unique comfort that they received by communing with their congregation, and with their Lord.

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Dear friends, we are going to have bad days. We’re going to have sad days. Days when we, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, can’t make sense of what is going on. Days when we wish Jesus would come and walk with us. Be assured that He is with you—in His Word and Sacraments. And because He is with you—you will one day be with Him. Amen .

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