Easter is over, Do you Recognize Jesus?
Adapted from my Easter sermon, 2001
It is a difficult world in which we live.Â The issues go from absurdity to absurdity.Â On any given day, we hear about shootings and attempted shootings at our public schools.Â Grade school children write up â€œhitâ€ lists of people they want to kill.Â Â We know something about the unfairness of life and the self destruction of a society.Â We know what it is like to hurt and suffer without understanding.Â But we still cling to our hopes in this terrible darkness.Â We do so because, even in the terrible shadows of death, we still recognize him. Like a Lighthouse, we can still see him in the storm.
We can understand the confusion and hurt felt by the Disciples.Â Some were hiding in fear for their lives. The two disciples in our text, one named Cleopas and the other one unnamed, got up on Sunday morning and headed home to Emmaus.Â Emmaus was west of Jerusalem about seven miles.
They were just out of town when a Stranger joined them.Â This Stranger approached them while they were still talking about the weekend’s events.Â “What are you discussing together as you walk along,” the Stranger asked?Â Luke said that they stood there looking sad.Â You can feel their pain.Â This word “sad” draws a word picture of someone with a sorrowful countenance.Â It is a look that reflects a dark, empty place in our soul, a look that cannot be hidden because our hope is gone.
Cleopas finally answered, “Are you such a stranger to Jerusalem that you do not know what has been happening here in the last few days?”Â Cleopas was exasperated, how could he not know?Â But it was Cleopas who did not know, his eyes could not see that the Stranger was Jesus.
So Cleopas explained it to him.Â It was about Jesus of Nazareth.Â He was a prophet from God.Â He did mighty things like healing the sick and raising the dead.Â But the chief priests and the rulers delivered him up and they crucified him.Â “We were hoping that he would deliver Israel,â€ but now he is dead, it has been three days.Â All of their hope was gone.
This Stranger who seemed so ignorant began to explain things to them.Â “Foolish men and slow of heart to believe,” have you not read the prophets, don’t you know they said that the Messiah must suffer in order to enter his glory?Â Jesus, beginning with Moses, explained all the things concerning what the Messiah must experience.Â You would have thought that by this time they would have guessed who Jesus was.Â But their grief was too deep and the disappointment too great, they had ears but could not hear, they had eyes but could not see.
They arrived at Emmaus and it was late, so they asked him to stay with them.Â Jesus went with them.Â When it was time to eat, Jesus took the loaf bread and blessed it and broke it into pieces and began to hand it to them.Â Suddenly their eyes were opened, it was Jesus!Â At that point Luke tells us that Jesus vanished from their sight.
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he was speaking to us on the road, while he was explaining the Scriptures to us?”Â Their eyes were opened, they had known something was different about this man but they could not see.
These words, “were not our heats burning,”Â are interesting.Â The word burning means to glow like an ember.Â Their faith was like small embers and as Jesus taught, the Spirit blew across their hearts and the embers became a glowing fire.
This was too great a thing to keep to themselves.Â So they returned to Jerusalem to the very room where they knew that the eleven and the other believers would be.Â Bursting in, “The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon,” even before they could open their mouths, they found that the others had seen Jesus as well.Â So they shared their story, how they recognized Jesus when he broke the bread.
What happened?Â What opened their eyes and caused them to run back to Jerusalem?Â The answer is, they experienced the resurrection.Â But, notice that it took Jesus to open their eyes.Â It was only after Jesus broke bread that they could see.Â There was something in the act of blessing that revealed to them that the Stranger who walked with them was Jesus raised from the dead.Â Maybe for the first time they looked at him.Â Â Maybe they heard his tone of voice.Â But it was God who opened their eyes.Â And it is the same for every person who comes to Jesus by faith. God opens their eyes and only then can they recognize him.
Do you recognize him?Â He is the promised Messiah.Â Can you see him?Â He is the light of the world. He is the Vine and we are the branches and all who abide him will never die.Â Do you know him?
In a world of ugliness he is our Rose of Sharon, the Bright, Morning Star. He is all that is graceful and beautiful and true.Â He is the King of Glory, our creator and sustainer and all things are through him. He is the Door and though him we enter the Kingdom of God. He is the bread of life who feeds our souls.Â He is the good Shepherd who gives us every good thing. He is the resurrection and the life, the First and the Last, the first of all things.Â Do you recognize him?
â€œIn Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form,Â and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.â€Â â€œHe is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.â€Â Do you recognize him?
Jesus is our Passover.Â He is the Lamb that takes away our sins.Â Â He is our redemption, our propitiation, our substitute, our sacrifice, our ram caught in the thicket. He is our justifier who makes us right before the Father.Â He is our sanctification who makes us holy. He is our glory and he causes eternity to flow through our veins.Â Do yo recognize him?
The Historians have tried to eradicate him and the theologians have tried to explain him away.Â The skeptics have twitched at his memory and the atheists have sneered at his name.Â But, the soldiers could not destroy him, the grave could keep him. And he rules in the lives of literally millions who believe in him.Â He storms the enemyâ€™s gates and sets us free. He is the dragon slayer who destroyed Satanâ€™s rule.Â He plunged onto the bowels of hades and plowed open a hole so that his children can follow him into eternity.Â Do you recognize him?
He is our eternal King at whose name every knee will bow.Â John said:
And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.Â And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself.Â And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God . . .Â Â And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
He is the Sovereign King.Â Â One day he will come, not as Savior, but as Judge and will judge the quick and the dead. He will separate the sheep from the goats, the holy ones from the dammed. And those who love his coming will reign with him in eternity.Â And those who are his enemy will be cast into outer darkness, separated from him forever.
Do you recognize him? Have your eyes been open? Do you have eyes that see and ears that hear?Â He is your Savior, your Lord and your King.