Luke 24:36-49: Clarity in Christ, not Confusion

The risen Jesus appears again, breaking into His disciples’ lives, this time as they mull over recent events.  An astounded Peter witnessed an alive Jesus, no longer held by death.  Later, two disciples walking to Emmaus encounter Jesus, and they marvel.  Now, shocked and surprised, in an instant, He stands before His disciples, as out of nowhere.  Overwhelmed, they disbelieve in joy.

How easy we can relate to their emotions.  Though you and I never experienced someone coming back from the grave, we all understand disbelief and joy.  “This is unbelievable,” we gasp.

So, a disordered mind now grips Jesus’ disciples.  For when He stood before them, they became startled and frightened and thought Him to be a ghost.  In their hearts, doubts arose (vs. 37-38).  The picture Luke gives us is of hesitations arising from their depths, stirring up and coalescing into a muddle.

Think of a river turning muddy from its swirling undercurrents.  Like the mighty Mississippi, the rubbish from the recesses of their minds gurgles up within them, clouding their thinking.  Now, they aren’t so sure what is and what isn’t.  The settled order of things is now disturbed.

So many ideas, viewpoints, and human-derived wisdom embed and infuse inside them.  Those tendrils extend into every cranny.  No longer dormant, those conflicting thoughts agitate, causing them to hesitate about what to presuppose or believe.  “No one can live after he dies, not here.  Is this Jesus for real, who He says He is?  For He appears, pops up at will, with locked doors not stopping Him.”  So they are in a knot, confused and confounded, as many in our world are today.

The open-mindedness of this world can lead to confusion.  For us, to be open-minded is something valuable, allowing you to think past stifling problems and seek new solutions.  In what is unknown, we can find value in being open to other kinds of thinking, opinions, and views.  The world goes awry, however, by confirming no singular truth.  All is now differing interpretations and judgments.

So, being open-minded can carry a dark side on its underbelly, leaving you without an anchor in the stormy gale.  Those downpours do come.  Tell yourself otherwise, say the howling wind is only your perception.  Those sound bites do not survive the wind-blown night or the gauntlet of suffering.  In those struggles, you need something real, lest you drown in the tidal wave of uncertainty.

Despite the proof of a resurrected Jesus before their eyes, the disciples are still floundering with misgivings and skepticism.  All they soaked in over the years keeps asserting, “No one rises from the dead.”  All the glimmerings of worldly wisdom, which offer little insight into God’s ways, now commingle with Jesus’ words, mixing and intermingling together, creating confusion and distrust.

So, Jesus emerges to unclutter obscured and jumbled minds.  Now, He doesn’t draw close to let in more refuse but to throw out the garbage and pack their thoughts with His Word.  To clear away their clamoring falsehoods and fear, the death-destroying Messiah will fill them, once more, with His wisdom and truth.

Ponder this.  How you think is not static or stationary, but ever changing and in motion.  So, Christ’s authoritative Word approaches to open up and fill.  For He comes to clean out and replace the distorting debris of our disoriented thinking.

Through the liberating Spirit He sends, Jesus opens the tombs of shrouded minds, gracing them with the light of His truth-filled Word.  Without His labor and work, repentance, forgiveness, and faith remain distant and forlorn strangers.  Like God cracking open the tomb, so too must He break open our minds, so heaven is open for us.

Now, we understand not all the wisdom of this world is destructive.  The Father blesses many with a brilliant intellect and a keen mind.  Through their work, carrying out their vocations, God provides for our daily lives.  To help us understand, Scripture declares:

Honor the doctor for his services, for the Lord gave him his work to do, and the gift of healing comes from the Most-High.  To others, God gave such skills so he might be glorified in his marvelous works.  Through them, he heals and takes away our pain.  [Sirach 38:1, 6-7]

Nevertheless, an imperfect knowledge and capability link itself to the goodness, with a fallen corruption conjoining to our actions, cloaked within the beneficial.  The spiritual wisdom originating from our corrupted reality dims your mind and clouds your heart.  Why?  To “deceive and mislead us into false belief, despair, and other hideous and shameful sins” (Luther’s Small Catechism).

Another wisdom needs to pour down and saturate us.  A Divine Wisdom, a higher One from above, must descend to enlighten those walking in darkness.  Otherwise, we will remain rebellious creatures in matters spiritual, lost in our wandering ways.

With Christ, we can discern truth from lies, the virtuous from the wicked, and the holy from what is harmful.  This heavenly wisdom is of and from Christ, which is what He bestows on you when He showers you with His gifts.

So, your Lord enters to forgive your doubt and give you peace, which is an objective reality earned for you in His sacrificial death.  Here, He comes to you in His life-giving body and blood.  With what you receive, you may now go and give—His Spirit, truth, life, and words, His love and forgiveness.  The enlivening Spirit works in and through us as we speak our Lord’s words, the reality of Him to another.  Through this, He opens and pours down eternity—granting heaven to those who believe.

What did Jesus do for His followers so long ago?  “To understand the Scriptures,” St. Luke tells us, He opened their clouded minds (vs. 45).  How wondrous!  The Word of God, Jesus, uses His Word to bring clarity to their murky mentality.  The victory over death now changes from the abstract into something real, with moving flesh and pulsing blood before them.  Baffled intellects regain their bearings, and hesitant hearts find their footing again.

How does this happen?  In words Jesus delivers.  First, He reveals the Scripture to them.  With the life-revealing Word expounded to them by their grave-conquering Lord, they believe once more.  With Jesus, as they trust in what He does, joy abounds and leaps to life in them, once again.

From doubters to believers to His designated preachers.  For Christ tells them the content of their sermons to come—repentance for the forgiveness of sins is to be preached in His name.  Now, they are to call others to flee from their sin and find delight in Christ’s acquittal, the ongoing result of His resurrection for the entire world.

So also with us—our sins against God are now forgiven in His Son!  For God spared no expense, and the sacrifice of His only Son’s body and blood is enough.  The Savior died, but now He lives, which means your slate is clean.

First, God acts.  Next, we receive what He gives and, only after, can we respond in faith.  Like children learn how to speak by being spoken to, so, too, with us as the children of the heavenly Father.  After opening and cleaning out the minds of His doubting disciples, Jesus fills them with His truth.  Next, He calls them to preach, speaking what they witnessed and in whom they now trust.

Unlike them, we can’t be witnesses.  With their eyes, they regaled their risen Redeemer, which made them eyewitnesses.  Given the heaven-sent Spirit for their preaching task, they will speak as Jesus spoke to them, delivering the words He gave them to say.

Turn from your sinfulness and live in the Lord’s forgiveness—this is the sermon’s purpose to this day.  Still, this is not the preacher’s work at all.  No, this is the work of the Father’s Spirit given to them, who will work through their spoken Word.

The death-conquering Christ is still doing this today, in His Church.  Now, we aren’t witnesses because Jesus didn’t walk or talk with us, but we still believe in Him.  Not because He came to us in person and our eyes beheld Him in physical form.  No, the faith within us is because of what others told us.

So, we confess, not witness, and this confessing consists of two parts.  First, this involves hearing something—in this case, the Gospel of Christ Jesus.  The second part of confessing is repeating what you received, saying the same thing.

So, you tell others what you also received.  All this is the working of the Word.  Though we may find this dull and tedious, this is God’s way.  Both you and I are confessors, echoing what the first disciples of Jesus’ resurrection witnessed.  How we bring Jesus may differ, for we all serve in various vocations.  In our given duties, we are to be an eternity-bestowing voice to all and a light shining in the gloom.

The Epistle for today calls us “children of God.”  What a beautiful picture of us and our fellowship with our blessed Father.  Regardless of age, we are all children born through the water and Word of Baptism.  Given birth from above into a new life, the faith-giving Spirit joins us to our Savior’s death and resurrection.  Through this washing of regeneration, the Spirit opens our entombed minds and fills us with the living truth of the resurrected Christ.

Now, the Word coming to us isn’t only a one-time deal.  No, we need this over and again because our thoughts are ever-changing and meandering.  So, we come to where Christ promises to be, to repent and receive His pardon anew.  For He washes out the junk pouring in from the world, absolving us of our sinful thoughts, words, deeds, and desires.  In its place, Jesus pours into us the truth and love of His life and love for us.

The resurrection of your crucified Lord is for your everlasting joy.  No longer dead, He is alive.  Turn away from your sin before God.  Repent of your failings to your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Revel in Your Redeemer’s forgiveness.  Live in the joy of Jesus.  Forgive as He forgives, and inhabit the life flowing from Your risen Savior.  For Jesus, who died, lives evermore.  An eternity of splendor now awaits you.  Amen.

 

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