A Sermon delivered to St. Timothy Lutheran Church
April 19, 2015
Based on Luke 24 and I John 3: 1-7.
One of the ways of reading and studying Scripture is called Lectio Divina. It’s basically a way of reading a passage slowly and paying attention to what pops out at you.
As I was reading the Scriptures this week, the one concept that seemed to pop out at me was: ‘Seeing’. Along with the Seeing – comes ’Responding’. The old saying goes: “Seeing is Believing”
But it’s clear from Luke 24 that sometimes seeing is the farthest thing from believing. If we take in the whole chapter, starting with the account of the discovery of Jesus’ resurrection and his first appearance to the women at the empty tomb. We read in v. 9 that the women
[returned] from the tomb [and] they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. V9
The Disciples, of course did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. (He didn’t believe, he saw and he still didn’t really believe!
On the road to Emmaus, the two disciples, were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. They saw, but they didn’t see - much less believe.
Jesus goes on to school them: ”beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (v. 27) – Later we read that as Jesus did this teaching, ‘their hearts burned within them” - but still they did not see – or believe.
Only “when he was at table with them, [and] took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them… [were] their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. (v.30,31)
Sometimes people say, “If only I could see a miracle, then I would believe!”
Based on what I read in Scripture, that’s not necessarily so. To really believe means that you not only see something with your physical eyes, but that the eyes of your heart interpret accurately what is seen!
When “Jesus himself stood among [the disciples, and said to them, “Peace to you!” … they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. (V. 36,37) They had been watching too many of those ghost stories on TV!
Jesus admonished them by saying: “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. (vv 38,39)
At that point, Jesus resorts to the basics, “Whadya got around here to eat? Gimme some of that fish! There! Ya satisfied?”
He gave them the hard evidence their eyes demanded but they still had a hard time accepting that evidence. Then he gave them a lesson in Old Testament Christology, ‘opening their minds’ to the truth that he was indeed the Messiah, prophesied long ago.
What great lengths Jesus had to go to in order to get the disciples to open their physical eyes, to interpret correctly what they were seeing and then to understand it all theologically from the perspective of God’s master plan!
Mere seeing is not believing. It’s only when one’s eyes are opened by God that we truly see and understand what we see.
Without true sight, it’s possible to follow Jesus and actually be used by the Devil. Witness Jesus’ rebuke of Peter when Peter tried to prevent Jesus going to Jerusalem to fulfill his mission on the Cross:
“Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23.
Would being a hindrance to Jesus would be the right or wrong response?
Correct! The Wrong response! And we call the wrong response SIN!
Hear what John says to us about sinning from today’s reading:
6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
Yow! If you are sinning and keep on sinning, there seems to be a reason to question your salvation!
Fortunately, the solution to Sinning is a simple and Biblical injunction – to humble yourself before the mighty hand of God, to acknowledge that His ways are higher than our ways and to ask God to open the eyes of our heart so that we might see HIM lifted up in Glory and so that we might practice righteousness.As you may remember, the last time I spoke to you I challenged us to get our intra-family squabbles worked out before Resurrection day. Last week someone asked me how I thought that project was going. I am sad to report to you that although there have been ongoing efforts in this direction, we’re not there yet.
In all honestly I’d have to say there’s still some sinnin’ goin’ on out there – and it’s of such a quality that nonbelievers looking at us might well question whether we are in fact really believers. It appears that we See the Gospel with our physical eyes, but haven’t interpreted it rightly and haven’t walked in righteousness – or really fulfilled the mission Christ has given us to do.
We’re too busy squabbling about who is Right! We’re siblings of James and John – the Sons of Thunder – or maybe even the Sons of Anarchy at times. Either way it’s a public disgrace.
I will say that the Elders are currently working on another initiative to try to bring healing to our church body – but it’s entirely possible that these efforts could be thwarted by brothers and sisters refusing to be reconciled. I call this the “God’s Elder Sibling” mentality:“Forgiveness and Reconciliation may be fine in spirit, but if God really knew what I know, he would realize that certain people are WRONG and need to be brought over to the RIGHT way of thinking!”
That’s how God’s Elder Siblings think.
And just for the record, let’s ask if that kind of thinking would itself be the right way or the wrong way to respond to the Gospel?
Brothers and sisters, I am asking us in all sincerity to allow God to search our hearts, to see whether there is the spirit of God’s Elder Sibling there and to repent in humility.
Please pray for that spirit to be routed and for the eyes of our hearts to be opened so that we may see who is truly Lord, who is Truly Risen and who is Truly the Head of the Body, the Church. Amen.