Finding the Lessons

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Easter 3A April 30, 2017

Quotes That Make Me Think

"I believe that although the two disciples did not recognize Jesus on the road to Emmaus, Jesus recognized them, that he saw them as if they were the only two people in the world. And I believe that the reason why the resurrection is more than just an extraordinary event that took place some two thousand years ago and then was over and done with is that, even as I speak these words and you listen to them, he also sees each of us like that." 

"Recognizing," sermon discussion from Frederick Buechner, Frederick Buechner Blog.

"Today's reading ends with the commissioning of the disciples. One will be able to make the connection with today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles."

Commentary, Luke 24:36b-48, Lucy Lind Hogan, Preaching This Week,, 2012.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from


As we hear the word that brings salvation, make our hearts burn within us. In the breaking of the bread, open our eyes to recognize the One whose feast it is. Through the presence of every friend and stranger, real to us the face of the Christ who had first to suffer but who has entered now into glory, the Lord Jesus, our Passover and our Peace. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year A, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some Thoughts on Luke 24:13-49
[Some lectionaries may have Matthew's transfiguration - 17:1-9. Please see last Epiphany A for this text commentary]

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

The Road to Emmaus comes in our reading cycle every year A the third Sunday of Easter. But what is so compelling about this story that as I think about it appears in my minds eye to be the strongest story of the Gospels?

Jesus appears to two disciples outside the walls; some seven miles from Jerusalem.  They are talking about all the things which have happened.  In this particular testimony we are watching the transition from the crucifixion and the Easter resurrection become the mission of a new community.  In Luke's Gospel we must remember we are marching always towards Pentecost and Acts.  We are given in today's lesson a memory of the events. We are reminded of what our story is; and in the author's own way he gives us permission to be somewhat concerned and curious about the past and what lays ahead.

If we remember that this Gospel is written that we may believe an in believing be transformed so as to offer and communicate the same Gospel for others.  Luke Timothy Johnson captures well the event of conversion in Lukes' testimony.  Conversion is for Luke an his community the following notion:

The Word of God demands the acceptance of the prophetic critique and a "turning" of one's life. Conversion is an important theme in Luke-Acts, closely joined to the pattern of the prophet and the people.  Jesus' ministry is preceded by the Word of God spoken through the prophet John, which called people to repentance.  Acts opens with the preaching of Peter which also calls for repentance. Those who enter the people that God forms around the prophet must "turn around. (Luke, Sacra Pagina, 23)
This reception of grace and turning births faith in the follower of Jesus.  After hearing one comes to believe and one seeks to mold one's life to the shape of the prophet's life - Jesus' life.  Here is what Luke Timothy Johnson writes about faith:

In Luke-Acts, "faith" combines obedient hearing of the Word and patient endurance.  It is not a momentary decision but a commitment of the heart that can grow and mature.  Essential to the response of faith is the practice of prayer.  Jesus prays throughout his ministry; and teaches his disciples to pray.  Luke also provides splendid samples of prayer, showing a people for whom life is defined first of all by its relationship with God. (Luke, Sacra Pagina, 24)
In the Gospel story we are seeing these two disciples, who have converted, who are faithful move through the enduring walk post Easter.  Like all of us wondering and maturing as we make our way with Jesus. 

So...they are walking and talking about all the events. They are wondering and one might even say wandering.  As they do this (reminding me always of the prayer of Chrysostom, "when two or three are gathered in his name you will be in the midst of them...") Jesus is present, physically with them.   He engages with them. 

The disciples do not recognize him, the text implies they aren't able...perhaps not allowed to know him.  We do not know why, it may be that their sadness and sorrow prevents them from seeing who is with them.  They are sad because they had hoped in Jesus.  The words seem here to play out two meanings. The first meaning certainly is the idea that Jesus was the new Moses to lead his people out.  The second meaning is found deeper in the text and is rooted in the idea the the words used are of a more spiritual nature.  Israel, the Abrahamic family of God, was hoping to be delivered.  This reluctance to believe, this inability to see the triumph of prophetic revelation in the resurrection of Jesus  is a failure of heart - Jesus says.

And, he opens up for them the story. He retells the story. One can imagine if we sat and read Luke all the way through in one sitting that we would hear and rehear the teaching that Jesus had indeed fulfilled all the scriptures and in and through his death onto the other side of resurrection had delivered the people of Israel from bondage.

In this retelling of the whole story from creation until Emmeus, in the breaking of the bread, and in his very presence with them their eyes are open to recognize him.   He then vanishes, he is no longer visible. In an instant realization, and in another moment gone.

They then quickly tell others and we can imagine Luke writing down this testimony; the Gospel of Luke itself recounting the first witness of events on the road to Emmeus.

So the work of conversion and faith begins its cyclical manifestation of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Luke Timothy Johnson remarks on Luke's writing, "As people tell the story to each other, they also interpret the story."  He continues:

Luke shows us narratively the process by which the first believers actually did learn to understand the significance of the events they had witnessed, and to resolve the cognitive dissonance between their experience and their conviction.  The resurrection shed new light on Jesus' death, on hi words, and on the Scriptures.  The "opening of the eyes" to see the texts truly and the "opening of the eyes" to see Jesus truly are both part of the same complex process of seeking and finding meaning....Luke shows us how the risen Lord taught the Church to read Torah as "prophecy about him." (Luke, Sacra Pagina, 399)
I have leaned on Luke Timothy Johnson a great deal in this passage as I think he does the very best with it.  The preacher has many opportunities for topics on this Mother's Day.  I encourage you to think deeply about speaking about how we have come to understand and to know the witness of Jesus both through others, and through our texts.  For Episcopalians we read the text in community. We read the texts of scripture on the road to Emmeus, struggling together and inviting Jesus to be in our midst revealing the truth, the way and the life that lies before us as people of the resurrected Christ.

"Old habits die hard, especially when they have had a lifetime to reach their roots deep into the human psyche." 

Commentary, 1 Peter 1:17-23, (Easter3A), Daniel G. Deffenbaugh, Preaching This Week,, 2011.

"The good news of God's announcement of grace could be matched with several aspects of the human condition. To give just one example we can mention our mortality."

Commentary, 1 Peter 1:17-23, Richard Jensen, Preaching This Week,, 2008.

Into Peter's letter we see an emerging concern over what happens when Jesus' returns. I will always remember how my NT professor drilled it into our heads that the first followers of Jesus thought that we would return soon and very soon - as the hymn goes.  Peter says be ready.  God is returning. Do good works. Peter says, in Texas speak, "Look you'all Jesus is coming back, he has purchased your freedom with his blood, so get busy doing his work."

Christians are receive grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love from God in Christ Jesus and then we are what is your response? Peter's is you need to live a life worthy of the cross.  Life an ethical life.  

This is going to separate you from the world. You will make different choices than the rest of the world and that is okay.  God keeps his promise, the one set from the foundation of the world, to give his love.  Your work is to recognize this gift and to approach the world with the gift in mind.

This is very important - approach the world as forgiven people who did not deserve to be forgiven Peter might say.  So meet all those around you with love and forgiveness as well.

Peter then offers the notion that this notion of forgiveness and love is rooted in baptism.  Baptism is a new birth reorienting our life.  Peter writes:
Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

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