came and stood with them
aster is not over! It continues on our church calendar for five more weeks and in our hearts forever. The early Christians never intended Easter to become a once a year holiday. It was for this very reason that they changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Thus, we have a perpetual reminder of the Resurrection on the first day of every week.
As all other liturgical days revolve around the day of Easter so do our lives keep spinning like a top because of the power that our weekly Easter launches in our lives. This central theme of our faith is never more than six days away from our thoughts. Just as we invest money in preparation for retirement, so we spiritually bank on Jesus' Resurrection, as our hope of glory. Easter is always with us. As our bodies are lowered into the grave our loved ones will hear words of confident expectation based on Jesus' Resurrection. Easter throws a rainbow around every situation that we face in life.
Today we have heard John the Beloved's account of how, "Jesus came and stood among them" on that first Easter Sunday evening. (v.19, NRSV). There has always been something inspiring about Sunday Evenings and Worship. Our souls seem more susceptible to hear in the quieter time of the day. The ending of a day clears away distractions and we have hearts of faith. Even though the Apostles were hiding behind locked doors in fear, they believed immediately when they heard his familiar voice of hope say, "Peace be with you." (v.19).
Jesus still wants to come and stand with us through all of the good times and bad times of life. He does nor cure our ills by taking the pain away; rather, he enables us to grow up into mature persons as he stands with us through the pain. But sometimes we miss it.
As has any Pastor, I have had a number of church members who have taken their own lives. Looking back on the ones I knew most intimately I think they just forgot to remember. A successful salesman had a son that he loved with all of his heart but in his moment of despair he just forgot to remember the boy that God had given him. If he could have had a passing thought, a mental picture of his son, I don't think he would have done it. Suicide is never the right answer.
The right answer
is to say "Yes!" to the inner peace that Jesus offers
Jesus also gave the Apostles something to do, a mission: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (v.21). We have been strengthened and made capable for a cause that is beyond ourselves. Salvation is always personal and social. Jesus sent and thousands of disciples went into the entire known world with good news of peace and hope. Our missionary mandate is to never let the world forget the peace he brings.
Easter brings us someone to love (The Risen Savior), something to do (our calling), and something to look forward to (Heaven).
John's stated purpose in writing his biography of Jesus Christ is, "that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing we might have life in his name." (v.31).
The life we seek is not limited to a fulfilled life in this world, but it hopes for an even better life with God forever in a real place called Heaven. Would it not be the most cruel turn of history if there turns out to be no heaven after so many have staked their only hope on it? It was the hope of heavenly rest that enabled African slaves to look up out of sweltering cotton fields and sing, "Glory Halleluiah!" They were not thanking God for the shape they were in, but were praising Him for the place they were going.
The People of the Book, The Bible, we of the Judeo-Christian tradition agree that life is a precious gift and that it should be preserved at all costs. It is natural for humans to cling to every moment of life because life is a gift from God. But, as did Jesus, we will all give it up someday. It is a sad day when a person dies because that stage of their existence is over. The page is turned forever, but there is another page and life goes on in another realm. There is a gladness that we are going, but a bit of sadness in that we do not have a clear picture of the place we are going.
Our text gives us some of the best insight that we have into heaven because we will have a resurrected body like that of the resurrected Christ. (I Cor. 15:20).
Jesus was recognized. This means that we will know and be known. "Believers never have to say goodbye; only, 'I will see you later!"
Although Jesus had a body, he was able to walk through the walls; or, he somehow appeared in the room without coming through an opened door. This implies that the body will be what we sometimes call, "a spiritual body." "We are sown as a perishable body, but raised as an imperishable body." Indeed, "Death is swallowed up in victory." (I Cor 15:35).
So, the Great News
of our perpetual spirit of Easter is that Christ was really resurrected
from the dead and that he wants to come and stand with us in adversity.
He also gives us a share in the mission of making new disciples. This
can become the apple of our eye and can be our passion for life. Also,
along the way we are given an assurance of heaven, a foretaste of glory.
Thus, we are already dual citizens of heaven and earth.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor