Summary: A sermon for the third sunday after Easter A sermon about Jesus’ encounter on the Road to Emmaus
Third Sunday of Easter
"Remember who you are"
Many years ago my family and I attended an Institute for Renewal at Luther College, one of the morning speakers was Dr. William Willimon who is a pastor and a professor at a southern seminary. During his talks, which were always good, he mentioned something his mother always told him when he was leaving home for a date, or to go to a party, or out with the boys, or to meet a group of people to find something to do, she said,"Will, don’t forget who you are." What did Dr. Willimon’s mother mean by that phrase? Surely, she didn’t think her son would forget his name, or where he lived, or who, his parents were? Hardly, she was reminding him that alone on a date, in the midst of some party, or in the presence of some strangers, or fooling around with a group of boys, he might forget who he was. She knew he might in a moment of fun, under pressure of his peers, in an effort to be accepted and approved by the group, he might forget who he was. He might forget the values, the priorities, the faith, the discipline, the love, the acceptance that he had received from his parents and from his God. She knew he might be persuaded to take on a another name, to add to his identity by doing something in a moment that he might regret later, so she told her son whenever he left the house, "Will, remember who you are"
Our gospel lesson this morning focuses upon two disciple of Jesus who could have appreciated Mrs. Willimon’s advice or admonishment to her son, remember who you ore. These two disciples of Jesus, were walking home to Emmaus from Jerusalem on the evening of the first Easter. They were walking slowly, heads hung low, hearts heavy with grief, the dreams for their future hanging on a cross on the garbage heap of Jerusalem, They were headed back home to the dull, work a day world that Jesus had called them from when He asked them to join his ministry. They were heading home, talking, thinking, recalling the past, thinking about the glory, the majesty, the joy, the excitement of being with Jesus for those years. Recalling each moment, living in the fond memories of yesterday, for the reality of today was much too difficult, much too painful, much to harsh for them to bear.
"These men were like a golfer in the following story. ’A pastor tells the story about a golf game he an another pastor had one Monday afternoon. We were approaching the tenth tee, when a single golfer approached and asked if he could play through. They said yes, since they were in no hurry. He had all the appearance of a Monday morning Jack Nicklaus. He had more clubs in his bag than the pastors knew even existed.
He was all business. He approached the tee with a determined look and air about him as if he would hit the ball a mile. He swung and hit the ball, but at a 90 degree slice. The ball socked into a tree branch at the far right of the tee and bounced back in the direction of the pastors, landing some ten yards behind this Mr. Golfing Whiz. He glanced at us with a startled look as he faced the reality of his poor shot and said, "You should have been here yesterday!! I hit a drive off this tee at least 200 yards straight down the fairway, I cannot figure this out .... you should have been here yesterday.’
As the stranger approached and walked With the two disciples headed for Emmaus, they were caught up in the excitement, the joy, the majesty of yesterday, as they told him of the facts concerning Jesus. But when they came to the report of the women that Jesus had risen as he had promised, this, the reality of today was something they could not accept. It was like the sliced golf ball which landed 10 yards behind the golfer, something he wanted to forget about as he eagerly reported what had happened yesterday "You should have been here yesterday."
These two disciples had also forgotten who they were, disciples of Jesus, followers of the one who claimed to be the Messiah, listeners of the one who said after three days he would rise again. They had been so caught up in their grief, the sorrow, the pain, of Good Friday, that they forgot who they were, they forgot what Jesus had promised, they had abandoned all the hopes, the dreams, the promises of Jesus as they walked home, living in the past, thinking about the glory of yesterday and not applying that to the reality of today.