Summary: A look at how the disciples encountered Christ post resurrection, and how this speaks into the present day filled with hopelessness and apathy, and how as modern disciples the torch has passed to us to continue the work
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
As we continue to journey through our Easter Season, the Gospel continues to speak to us about the impact that the Resurrection had upon the disciples. Last week, the Gospel focussed on Thomas and his disbelief, and this week, we continue by looking at the reactions of all the disciples.
Luke’s gospel only has two accounts of Jesus appearing to his disciples, and if we had read back to the beginning of this chapter, we would have heard about the first encounter on the road to Emmaus.
Both our reading today and the previous encounter have an important message to tell us. They speak of the doubt, fear and uncertainty that the disciples had after the crucifixion. And although we can now read about these events with the benefit of hindsight, the emotions and challenges that the disciples faced are ones that we still face today.
None of us have ever been in the physical presence of Christ, and yet our faith allows us to move past this fact and have belief in him. But does that mean that we never have doubts or fears which distract us from our walk with God?
At the crucifixion, the disciples had been shattered by broken dreams of renewal for Israel, lost hopes for a better future, the ow unfulfilled and unrealised expectations that they had, and on top of all of this, the reality of their own failures and betrayals.
When Jesus died, their future died with him. Today the disciple’s pain personifies the plight of humans throughout the ages who have dreamed dreams that have ultimately turned into nightmares, whose hopes have been shattered, and seen bright futures, dissolve before their eyes.
These thoughts, these feelings hold true for all Christians and their significance to us is just as important for all of us who walked the journey through Lent and Holy Week as we faced the pain and desolation of the cross, where we experienced for ourselves the darkness that led to the crucifixion and finality of the cross, and Gods plan.
Of all the things that the human spirit yearns for, the biggest one is hope. Hope that tomorrow will be better than today, that healing will replace pain and that the tears and darkness of the present, will be replaced by a brighter happier future.
This is also the significance of the resurrection and why we celebrate the joys of Easter through these seven weeks!
When ours lives are shattered through the tragedy, heartache, betrayal and pain we endure, or through our own sin and failure, the only hope for any future lies in what God alone can do, and in our response to Him.
The disciples could not even believe the good news brought by the women and so when they saw Christ standing before them they thought he was a ghost, the remnant of the person they had known and loved.
Their hope for the future did not lie in their ability to summon enough faith to believe the unbelievable. They were without hope, too discouraged and afraid to have that much faith.
Christ recognised this fear and doubt, He gave them the opportunity to talk with him, to touch his wounds; he even asked them for food and ate with them. These were all actions that a ghost wouldn’t have been able to accomplish!
Christ wanted them to know that he wasn’t just an apparition, he was flesh and bone, and through his actions he was fulfilling all that had been written about the messiah in the Old Testament.
When they encountered the risen Lord, this was the turning point for them, the moment that faith was restored.
It was Christ who took the initiative to come to them and to open their eyes to the new reality, to the new possibilities that presented themselves because of this reality, and so Christ brought them a hope that went beyond the endings of the past.
But this hope didn’t end with the disciples in that room, because as we celebrate Easter, this in turn calls us to that encounter with the presence of the risen Christ today.
There are many ways, that given the choice, we would want to say how that encounter should happen. But the how is not the important part of the encounter.
We need to focus upon the opportunity we have in these Easter days as a time of renewal and restoration of faith, so that through our renewed belief, we can recognise that the encounters we have can bring healing, wholeness and hope, to us and to anyone who finds themselves lost.
To meet the risen Christ is as much of a possibility now as it was for the disciples, but for those who have lost their way, who are in the middle of despair or hopelessness it’s almost impossible.