The Tide Has Turned – Easter Sunday 2018

Scripture Lesson:

Luke 24:13-35 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Walk to Emmaus

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 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 took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiahshould suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

The Tide Has Turned

On this the journey of life, many if not all of us sitting here this morning have felt a disappointment either by someone we did not expect or even by God. Maybe it has been the untimely death of a parent, a child, a mate, or another loved one. It may have been through a painful divorce that took place despite all your efforts and fervent prayer against it. Or perhaps it was the lost of a job and you were gradually worn down as every door slammed shut in your face. Or maybe it is a personal matter that you have prayed about for months or even years, but God has not answer in the manner you wished. Whatever the case, we all have had times when we felt disappointed by someone we had hoped not, or even God.

In like manner, the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday was a great shock to the disciples. For three years, they had built a good relationship and their hope on Jesus. But now everything seems lost; they were bewildered and disappointed; their hope was shattered, and it seems their world had come to a crushing end.  Like I mentioned before, some of life experiences have got us to feel this way at times.

We get a sense of this hopelessness in the words of Cleopas, ones of the two travelers making the seven-mile trek from Jerusalem to Emmaus this morning.  As they discussed in deep grief about the crucifixion, the text says, Jesus came up and walked with them, but the men were kept from recognizing him. Then Jesus asked them, “what are you discussing?” Luke says, the men stood with their faces cast down. And Cleopas asked the unknown intruder, “are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who do not know “all the things that have happened these few days?”

“What things?”   Jesus’s question stops them in their tracks, and they stood sad, and downcast. “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, Cleopas responded. He was a prophet mighty in words and deeds, and how our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be crucified………..

I realize how patient our Lord is as he listens to us every time telling him things he already knows about us. Sometimes he even listens patiently to our distorted version of the truth he already knows.

The two travelers’ utter despair is voiced in verse 21: “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. “These are the words of men whose hopes and dreams are buried, and this is what despair and doubt can do to us. They prevent us from seeing nor depending on God’s assurances and promises.

I have preached this passage many times, but for the first time I come to discover something in this text that had never occurred to me before. That sometimes we allow ourselves to be guided by conventional wisdom instead of God’s word. This is what is hindering the faith of these men.

  1. The first one is: “Where there is life, there is hope.”

I have held on to this conventional wisdom and even quoted to people many times, but from my study of this text, I have come to realize that this is just half-truth. These men believed that without life, all hope is lost.      This explains why their hope is crushed. For us, our hope goes beyond this physical life.

  1. The next conventional wisdom guiding these men over scripture

is “seeing is believing.”

The men have already been told that the tide has turned; Jesus has been raised; the tomb is empty, yet they cannot believe. Look at their own words in verse 22-24:

” But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.”

So, what more did these men want? The evidence was there. The apostles, in addition to the women have confirmed this morning that the tomb is empty; an angel has proclaimed that Jesus is risen.

Like these men, sometimes our troubling emotions blinds us to what God is doing right before our very eyes. Sometimes the presence and work of God are evident in our life, in our family and in our church, but we just can’t see it because our hearts and minds are troubled.

It took two things that Jesus did to open the eyes of these men to the reality that that the Tide Has Turned; that Jesus is alive.

This is the Goodness this morning. God has turned the tide. Christ is risen. There is Victory over sin and death.  No need to live in fear, or doubt or shame. Christ is risen. Alleluia!

The two things Jesus did to dispel the despair of these men, to bring them to the point of accepting that the tide has turned:  

He cited and reviewed the Holy Scripture with them. v.25-27, he says:

How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter into this glory?” And beginning with Moses and the prophets, he explained all the prophets had said about him in scripture.

I know of no other evidence to turn to regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ than the Holy Scripture. That is why we must give time to the study of scripture. Bible studies, Sunday school and Sunday worship are all intended to help us understand God’s will and purpose for us.

  1. The last thing that Jesus did to dispel the despair of these men,             he

sat with them at the fellowship or dinner table, which underscores the importance of Christian fellowship. Sitting around the table. It was when Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke, and gave it to them, that starred their awareness of his presence, and they recognize him as their risen savior. Once again, Christian fellowship is very important.

At this point, everything changed for these men. They asked each other: “Were not our hearts burning while he talked with us on the road when he opened the scripture?” Their entire mood changed; for the tide has been turned from despair to hope; from sorry to joy; from death to life; from doubt to faith; from condemnation to redemption; from defeat to victory and from sinners to be the saints of Christ.

This is what the Resurrection does for us; this is what Easter means to us. The Tide that Turned for them, also turns for us .

Finally, they got up and ran back to Jerusalem with the Good news that God has turned the tide this morning. This is what Easter challenges us to do. It gives us hope and empowers us to share the good news.

May the God who has brought Christ back to life continue to strengthen us in our Easter faith.

God bless you.

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