Summary: The followers of Christ are Good-News people whose lives are marked by joy.
Title: Getting Rid of the Delight Deficit
Text: Luke 24:36-53
Thesis: Followers of Christ are Good-News people whose lives are marked by joy.
The Season of Easter Series: When Jesus Shows Up
During the Season of Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Christ as he shows up in unusual and unexpected ways.
After Easter we saw how Jesus understood the need for his followers to see him… seeing is believing. In seeing Jesus, Thomas’ doubts were allayed.
Then we saw how Jesus walked with two of his followers… Just as Jesus accompanied them on their journey, Jesus accompanies us on our journeys as well. The Christian life is going the distance with Jesus as a companion.
On the fourth Sunday of Easter we saw how Jesus knew he needed to encourage his followers to stay the course, so to speak. The Christian life is more than going the distance. It is also going the distance with Jesus - in the right direction.
Last week we saw how Jesus showed up in dramatic ways but accomplished his will through diligence.
Today is the Sixth Sunday of Easter. This week we will reflect on the text where Jesus “showed up” to bless his followers and to encourage them by showing them that their faith in him was not misplaced. We will focus on the unique post-resurrection appearance effect Jesus’ had on his followers… “While they still did not believe it, because of joy and amazement…” It was the joy of, “I don’t believe this is happening!”
In his book, Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis told the story of his conversion from atheist to Christianity. After what he described as God’s unrelenting approach, he gave in, knelt and prayed and admitted that God was God. He called that moment his conversion to Theism, not to Christianity. In that experience he understood that God was God and as God, to be obeyed. He began going to church merely as a matter of acknowledging that he now believed in God. His conversion to Christianity came later when he suddenly came to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He wrote, “I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning. When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo, I did.” (C.S. Lewis, Surprised By Joy, P. 237)
He went on to briefly describe the joy that he experienced in that moment as the joy a hiker who is hopelessly lost in the woods and suddenly comes upon a signpost pointing to the road. It is the joy of the person who swings from desperation to discovery and hope.
The person who had thought himself lost who discovers he is not and experiences a profound sense of relief as joy surges through those dark places where just moments before desperation had lurked waiting to swallow him up in despair.
But that is not what Jesus’ disciples were feeling that night when he showed up for a bite of fish. They had seen no signposts of hope. They were mired in doubt and discouragement.
I. Doubt uproots joy.
Jesus stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” Luke24:37-38
Doubt and despair uproot hope and joy.
Casey at the Bat is a poem written in 1888 by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. It was first published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888 and later popularized by DeWolf Hopper in his vaudeville performances. The Mudville team is down by two runs. It is the last inning of the game and all seems to be lost because there was little hope that mighty Casey would get to bat. But then after a couple of fluke plays Casey, the notorious homerun hitter, was up with a man on second and a man on third and his homerun would mean a win for the Mudville Nine.
Hope sprung eternal when Casey went to the plate… so confident of a home run he refused to swing at the first two pitches because they did not suit him. But the crowd was not worried. The mighty Casey was at the bat.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.
It seems in life that hope and joy can be uprooted in a moment by despair and disbelief.
There was no joy in Mudville in our text today. The disciples were not a happy lot. The mood in the room was dark and gloomy. Mighty Casey had struck out! Jesus was dead! The game was over!