“Hey, open up! Let us in. You’ve got to hear this!” Perhaps those were the words of the two Emmaus road disciples who had just hurried back to the disciples in Jerusalem. It was Easter Sunday, and for one reason or another, they had made the seven mile trip to a little town of Emmaus. Jesus falls in with them, though to them He appears to be a stranger. He joins them in conversation, interprets the scriptures for them, and then finally made Himself known to them in the breaking of the bread at their evening meal. Then He disappears from their eyes.
Full of joy, these two disciples, one named of Cleopas (the other we’re not exactly sure of), book it back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples what happened. This is where our text picks up for today: 36As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”
The resurrected Jesus comes and stands in their midst. It’s difficult for us to grasp. But for those who got to see it, hear it, and smell it, it was the real deal. He was there in the flesh. The same flesh they saw ripped to shreds by the whip a few days ago. The same flesh they saw nailed to a cross, gory and grotesque. He stands among them and says, “Peace to you.”
This, too, is hard for us to grasp. Attempts to wax eloquent on the peace of Jesus can often end up becoming more of a do it yourself speech on how to will peace in your life, rather than receiving the actual sense of peace. So it does us well to note the source of that peace.
For the disciples, Jesus spoke peace, and so He gave peace. His Word was not void. It was not empty. He demonstrated that to the Emmanus road disciples. He opened the scriptures for them to understand. When Jesus, spoke things happened. The disciples saw it countless times before. So when Jesus speaks peace there is peace to be felt.
Of course, you and I long for this peace. We’ve seen enough, heard enough, and felt enough unrest in this life to know what it is to hope for peace. And not just any old ordinary peace, we long for a peace that brings some “joy and marveling,” something that breathes life into our souls and puts passion into your daily routine, as mundane and ordinary as it might be.
But for this to happen, we need some sweet Jesus action to come into our souls to raise to life the hopes and dreams that so often feel like are just dead and gone. So let’s take some more Jesus action in: Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
That’s what we want! We want a Jesus we can touch. We want a Jesus we can feel. One who we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt is real and is really with us. However, Jesus has not made an appearance to us like this yet. So what are we left to do?
Too often life, and faith with it, is blurred by our own burning desires and the best of this world’s liars. “If Jesus is real, prove it! If Jesus can help me, why can’t I feel it? If God is so loving, why do bad things happen?” Satan tries to rip the very fiber of faith from your soul. He aims to make belief in Jesus too difficult for some, or too simple and silly for others. Make no mistake, he will tempt you and harass you the same way Jesus was harassed while on the cross.
Remember how the crowds jeered at Jesus? “He saved others, if He is the Chosen One let’s see if He can save Himself!” “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Even the criminal crucified with Jesus derides Him, “Are you not the Christ? Then save yourself and us!”
He certainly could have. He could have went all Wolverine (or Superman), healed Himself, ripped the nails out of His flesh, and then unleashed a can of terror and might rivaling any comic book super hero. But to what end? What would that had proved? The power of the Gospel is rooted in God’s love, not in His almighty omnipotence. Smashing heads and taking names is not love, its pride. But willingly dying for the very people who meant Him harm is unconditional, unfathomable, and unbelievable love. That’s the faith you are called to believe.
Yet, the Devil, the world, and your sinful flesh fight and flail to destroy what it means to believe in Jesus Christ—to believe in what we cannot see, to trust in one whom we cannot feel, and to love Him whom we cannot touch. To live by faith is a difficult thing indeed. But that’s why we call it faith.
However, don’t worry if you struggle off and on. You’re in good company: 40And when [Jesus] had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate before them. 44Then he 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 of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
The mass and mixture of emotions going on here is really quite astounding, “while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling...” What’s that all about? Though Jesus is standing in front of them, they are still disbelieving? Yet because Jesus is standing in front of them they are full of joy! They were disbelieving and they were marveling all over the same person! It’s a seeming incongruence of emotions. But it masterfully shows what it is to be human.
It reminds us that being a walking contradiction of emotions is not all that unusual—that peace and unrest, that joy and pain, and that faith and doubt can somehow, by the grace of God, exist together. Plenty of you here know this feeling. How’s it possible? How can this joy, disbelief, and marveling coexist? The text doesn’t tell us. It only describes the intensity of these emotions and then tells us what Jesus does next: “[H]e opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”
And there it is. It’s the sweet action of Jesus unleashing a fury of joy and amazement on His disciples. He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures—short, sweet and to the point. Faith is rooted in and revealed by the Scriptures.
The incarnate Jesus pointed to them. The crucified Jesus fulfilled them. And the resurrected Jesus opens minds to them. And it’s not just for those disciples. It’s for you and for me, right here and right now. Still today Jesus unleashes the fury of His Amazing love. So get ready, because there’s going to be some crazy good, joy filled, disbelieving yet believing, Jesus loving, massive marveling going on in the roller coaster of your life. That’s what happens when the resurrected Jesus opens your mind to the Scriptures and reveals Himself to you in the breaking of the bread you are about to partake.
He knows the frailty of your flesh and the fickleness of your faith. Yet, He calls you to faith—to believe in what seems unbelievable—even when you hurt, even when you’re confused or angry, and even when you sin and fall short of the glory of God. Through it all, He calls you to faith, and passionately declares that you’ve been redeemed by the blood of the lamb.
To have peace in this world means we must know the Scriptures. If you want joy, believe the Scriptures. If you want some mind blowing, game changing, faith filled marveling, all-in joy then read, hear, learn, and believe the Scriptures! They declare the Good News.
Jesus loves you! Crucified, dead, risen and ascended, He loves you like nobody else loves you. He never gives up on you. He never leaves you nor forsakes you, but declares that you are a beautiful, beloved, and precious child of God. Where Jesus is, there is joy. Where Jesus is, there is marveling. Take some home. Share it with others. The resurrected Jesus is on the loose. Amen.