Summary: Woody Allen had no anchor for his soul. Fear dominated. On that first Easter fear dominated the disciples. The resurrection gave an anchor to their soul. The key... Jesus transferred the Holy Spirit to every disciple. with the result of Acts 4:1-13 (Leonard Sweet quote)
In Jesus Holy Name April 18, 2021
Text: Luke 24:36,38-39 Easter III Redeemer
“The Anchor in the Midst of Doubt”
Woody Allen could not sleep at night. He was a restless soul. He needed an anchor. Fears kept the moviemaker awake. He could have passed as everyone’s ideal uncle, polite, gentle smile. But he could not vacate fear from his soul. He feared that God was not real.
David wrote: “I will fear no evil”. How could he write those words. David’s anchor was holding to the solid grip of his “good shepherd”. Woody Allen had no anchor. He was a strident atheist. For him, life was a “meaningless little flicker”. No God, no purpose. No life after this life. So he made films to stay distracted.
Aristotle called death the thing to be feared most because “it appears to be the end of everything.” The Sadducees saw the grave as a tragic, a one way trip. No hope. No escape. ( That’s why they are so Sad..u see!)
They could not comprehend the words of Jesus when He promised: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you and I will return so that you may be where I am. (John 14:1-3) When Paul told the philosophers in Athens about Jesus who rose from death, they laughed.
Jesus promised His disciples that He would return from the dead, even after He was crucified. Dare they place their hope and hearts into the hands of a small town Jewish carpenter, who worked miracles? Though Jesus warned His disciples they were not prepared for the trauma of His death nor the shock of His resurrection. But faced with their own possible arrest by Jewish and Roman authorities, the disciples remained locked in hiding.
They were terrified that the same thing that happened to Jesus might happen to them. They were too afraid to attend the burial of Jesus. They had left it to a few women to help Nicodemus and Joseph. Fear was blinding them to the words of Jesus.
Fear comes to all of us. We fear the mole on our back. An ambulance ride demands valor when there is pain in the chest. There is fear that the present plague will never leave us alone. Fear herds us into a prison of familiar walls and slams the doors. Will we ever be able to walk out?
Fear can be a gift from God that keeps us safe. Not all fear is bad. A small child needs the fear of automobiles. Otherwise, he can easily be crippled by playing in the street. Adults who plunge rashly into fearful situations rarely come to a happy ending. Proper fear stops us from saying things we shouldn’t say and doing deeds that are downright dangerous. But fear loses that godly purpose when it cripples us when it dominates our lives and rules us with an iron hand.
The gospel less finds us with the disciples on the Sunday morning following Friday’s crucifixion. The disciples of Jesus had gathered, not to change the world, but to escape and hide. They were scared rabbits. Their hopes were buried with death of the Jewish carpenter, whom they thought to be the Messiah. It was a gruesome reminder about the consequences of going against those who hold the reins of power. They were hunkering down.
It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James that told the apostles about the empty grave and the words of the angel. “He is risen, He is no longer here. Go tell His disciples.” They did. But fear kept doubt alive and the doors and hearts locked.
The husband and wife from Emmaus had just finished their 2nd 7 mile walk back to Jerusalem. They told of their experience with the risen Jesus. Just as they were telling their story, Jesus appeared in the room. Luke tells us that they were startled and frightened at the sudden appearance. “I am no ghost”, Jesus said. Touch my scars. It is I myself. Even then doubts persisted until Jesus asked for something to eat. Jesus was patient with the doubters in the room.
John Drummond points out that Jesus consistently made a distinction between doubt and unbelief. “Doubt is “can’t believe”; unbelief is “won’t believe”. Doubt is honesty; unbelief is obstinacy. Doubt is looking for light; unbelief is content with darkness.”
In their moment of doubt Jesus then begins his second bible study of the day.
“Everything I told you while I was with you is found in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures. The words of scripture, validated by the physical resurrection of Jesus became their anchor.