Scripture/Sermon of the Day. April 18, 2021

Scripture Reading: Acts 3:12-19

12 Seeing this, Peter addressed the people: “You Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why are you staring at us as if we made him walk by our own power or piety? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of our ancestors—has glorified his servant Jesus. This is the one you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, even though he had already decided to release him. 14 You rejected the holy and righteous one, and asked that a murderer be released to you instead. 15 You killed the author of life, the very one whom God raised from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 His name itself has made this man strong. That is, because of faith in Jesus’ name, God has strengthened this man whom you see and know. The faith that comes through Jesus gave him complete health right before your eyes.
17 “Brothers and sisters, I know you acted in ignorance. So did your rulers. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he foretold through all the prophets: that his Christ would suffer. 19 Change your hearts and lives! Turn back to God so that your sins may be wiped away.


Luke 24:36-48

Jesus appears to the disciples
36 While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 37 They were terrified and afraid. They thought they were seeing a ghost.
38 He said to them, “Why are you startled? Why are doubts arising in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It’s really me! Touch me and see, for a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones like you see I have.” 40 As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 Because they were wondering and questioning in the midst of their happiness, he said to them, “Do you have anything to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish. 43 Taking it, he ate it in front of them.
44 Jesus 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 from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 He said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

Reflection/Sermon:

I. A few weeks ago we read the Gospel story of the three women who went to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ dead body with spices. They couldn’t do it after his body was brought down from the cross because it was the Sabbath. When they got to the tomb his body wasn’t there — but they were greeted by a heavenly being who looked like a man. They were frightened. He told them to go tell the disciples that Jesus had risen, but they ran away and didn’t tell anybody.

II. An interesting detail here — one of the things we don’t talk about is the spices brought to Jesus’ tomb. Why did they do this — why the spices? Usually the spices used for Jewish burial are 75 pounds of aloe mixed with myrrh — a large amount because it had to cover the smell of the decaying body.
This is important because even though Jesus had often talked about being resurrected on the third day and he’d return and he said this various times — after he was crucified no one understood what he meant. He always talked in metaphor, parable and hyperbole anyway. The women didn’t expect anything other than a dead body.
For our own humility, need to keep our minds open about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus because even the people who lived with him often didn’t know what he was talking about. When the man in glowing white clothes confirmed that Jesus had risen — the women were afraid. They were not expecting anything other than death.

III. In today’s reading, Jesus himself appeared to the disciples and their response wasn’t: “Wonderful! WE WERE EXPECTING TO SEE YOU Jesus! Just like you said!” No, they were terrified because THEY WERE NOT EXPECTING HIM.
IV. NO ONE EXPECTED JESUS. Even Mary Magdalene thought he was the landscaper. She thought he was going to cut the grass and mulch the garden.
The gospels, in all of these accounts, hold up a mirror to us and say — “You see all these people? Mary, the disciples? Doubting Thomas? The two men on the way to Emmaus? Saul on the road to Damascus? THEY ARE ALL OF US — NEITHER THEY NOR WE ARE EXPECTING JESUS. Even when we go to church on Sunday and Zoom our Bible Study and sing “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” — WE DON’T THINK WE’RE ACTUALLY GOING TO WALK WITH HIM!
But the Bible tells us YES — he IS walking with us — eating with us — giving us support as we try to live our challenging lives. JESUS IS WITH US — in our hearts when we read the story about the refugees trying to cross our border and he is the reason we feel pain. Jesus in us is the reason we want these people to succeed and find life and happiness.

V. The presence of Jesus is the reason — when we see the injustice and prejudice and racism against people of color in this country — JESUS IS THE REASON we stand with those who march with Black Lives Matter. JESUS IS THE REASON WE WANT EVERY PERSON’S RIGHT TO VOTE RESPECTED AND PROTECTED. THE PRESENCE OF JESUS WITH US is why we want to take better care of our earth.
When we treat each other with kindness and love, it’s the power of Jesus in us. THE LOVE IN OUR LIVES IS THE CLEAREST SIGN THAT JESUS IS RISEN AND PRESENT WITH US.

VI. ONE MORE TIME: The only way we can say JESUS IS RISEN is by the way we treat each other, and the reverence we show to the earth and every animal and the whole creation.
Like Peter did. In the other reading today Peter healed a man who was born lame. People were impressed and thought Peter had all this power. But Peter didn’t have any more power than you or I. What he did have was the risen Lord flowing through him like an electric current. That same power is with us right now. The risen Lord, Jesus, is with us. Give him something to eat. His favorite food is love served with kindness.