Summary: In today’s text, we know that ten of Jesus’s twelve of disciples were staying behind closed doors in the Upper Room because of fear. This sermon seeks to address how Jesus ministers to us and how we are called to witness to others.
JESUS CALMS OUR FEARS AND RECONNECTS US
Text: Luke 24:36-49
Luke 24:36-49 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." (37) They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. (38) He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? (39) Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." (40) And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. (41) While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" (42) They gave him a piece of broiled fish, (43) and he took it and ate in their presence. (44) Then 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, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." (45) Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, (46) and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, (47) and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (48) You are witnesses of these things. (49) And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
On Easter morning, the women had gone to anoint the body of Jesus at the tomb. This was one of the responsibilities assumed by women of the first century in Jewish culture. (Kenneth J. Collins & Robert W. Wall. eds. John Wesley One Volume Commentary. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2020, p. 641). They were stunned when the tomb was empty. The angels in the tomb told the women that Jesus had risen from the dead. The resurrection changes everything! “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women who were with them told the eleven Apostles that Jesus had risen from the dead (Luke 24:10). Thomas was with them at this moment. They did not believe the women thinking of this report as idle talk. They went to investigate as Peter raced ahead to be the first one in the tomb to see for himself. Peter was amazed to see empty linen cloths there. Jesus appeared to those on the Emmaus Road and even appeared to Peter individually ( Luke 24:34 and I Corinthians 15:4 - 8) before later appearing in the Upper Room.
In today’ text, we know that ten of Jesus’s twelve disciples were staying behind closed doors because of fear. Judas Iscariot took his life out of guilt for betraying Jesus. Based upon John 20:19 and 24, we know that Thomas was not in the Upper Room at this moment. These ten were in hiding when in the Upper Room for fear of the of the Jews (John 20:19) when Jesus appeared to them.
Today we want to talk about fears, how Jesus calms our fears and how Jesus reconnects us. This sermon seeks to address how Jesus ministers to us and how we are called to witness to others.
Can fear paralyze us?
1) The Upper Room: It seems as though the Upper Room had become a Panic Room as the disciples stayed huddled and secluded behind locked doors. Perhaps, this scripture of being behind closed doors means more to us now than ever before. Why?
2) Covid 19: In the world we live in today, we can identify a lot with those disciples. Just last year, we were told to go on lock down because of Covid 19. We were told that essential businesses could stay open but that churches would have to close or reduce their size wear masks and social distance from one another. It seems that the world was conditioning us to live in fear because of Covid 19. It has been reported as recent as this week that some exaggerated the statistics of Covid 19 for the purpose of creating even more fear. Isn’t it interesting how the lectionary texts seem to always manage to address current issues?
3) Fear: If there was a common theme between all of the doors that we hide behind (from both the past and the present), then it seems that it would have to be fear. Is our fear creating distance between who we are and who God wants us to be? Isolation and fear create distance.
Do you remember how Jesus told His disciples that they would all run like scared sheep?