Easter 3 A 2020 Sermon Luke 24:13-35
Grace to you and peace… Alleluia! Christ Is Risen!
Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
One TV show that has been popular for many years is the children’s program “Sesame Street.” The preschool educational TV program first aired on November 10, 1969 and recently celebrated its 50th season in 2019.
One thing that sticks out in my mind as I recall the show was that the show was always brought to you by a number and/or a letter. For example, a voice from afar would state “Today’s episode of Sesame Street has been brought to by the letters A and S, and by the number 7.” And then a character like “the Count” would “lift up” the number or letter sponsoring the show, and in the case of “the Count,” he would “count up” to the number. And “the Count” would always sound very pleased with himself. Aa, Aa, Aa.
Well… in keeping with this tradition, I would like to state that today’s sermon is brought to you by the letter D. Now, before you get too excited, I would like to point out that some of the saddest words in the English language begin with the letter D.
For example, disappointment, doubt, disillusionment, defeat, discouragement, depression, despair, and death. I am sure that you can think of a few more words that start with the letter “D” that sum up how one feels when life is not going the way one had hoped it would in their world.
I suspect Cleopas and his companion must have felt most, if not all, of the “D” words I just pointed out to you. The two characters must have been bewildered at all that had just taken place. And so, as the men traveled along the road to Emmaus, they felt downhearted and disappointed at what had just happened to Jesus on Good Friday.
The Master they had loved, the Lord that they followed had been put to death. So as the hopes and dreams bounced around in their heads as they recalled events on Palm Sunday, reality also set in and they realized that their hopes had been dashed, and their dreams were now over.
The text informs us that the two despondent disciples summed up the situation very well with the words "We had hoped that He would be the one who was going to set Israel free!"
In their misery the two men put it this way “We had hoped.” By this they meant… “We don’t expect it now, but once we did... We all had high hopes for the future, but now the hopes and dreams are gone and all we feel is disappointment.”
Let me ask you this. Can you identify with the two disciples? Yes. I know you can. I think it would be very rare for a person not to be affected by any of the “D” words that I just mentioned in this sermon.
Especially today, in the coronavirus filled world that we live in. As we go about our day to day activities it is very easy to feel down, and distressed, and discouraged at the state of the world today. And it is very easy for us to think that with all the advances in science and technology pandemics should be a thing of the past.
We too quietly say to ourselves “We had hoped…” that things would not have gotten this bad. “We had hoped…” that social distancing would not have been necessary. “We had hoped…” that people would not have fallen ill and died from the virus threatening our world today.
Like the two men walking towards Emmaus “We too had hoped…,” but we do not expect it now.” My friends… we truly live in a different world than we did a few months ago.
As the two men walk along on their journey in our text today, we are told that a stranger joined them. And the stranger asks them what they are discussing. And the two men told the stranger all that was happening in their lives.
And the stranger does not speak at first; but listens to them. Today we know that the stranger was Jesus. But the men in the text did not know this, at least not yet. And yet they spilled out their troubles to Him.
And that is why when we read this text in our present day, we realize what a wonderful message we have before us in this reading. As the two men walk along the road of life Jesus walks with them, listening to them, as they shared their disappointments with Him. Today when disappointments, doubt, defeat, depression, and despair fill our lives, Jesus is the unseen stranger walking with us, listening to us, as we continue our walk in our life journey.
As the two men talked about the cross, Jesus reassured them and helped them. “Jesus explained to them what was said about Himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with the Books of Moses and the writings of all the prophets.” He told them how sin had come into the world, and how the prophets foreshadowed a Savior who would be obedient even to the point of death.
Jesus reminded the men of Abraham - how he almost sacrificed his son – and how the Heavenly Father did sacrifice His Son for the sin of all people.
Jesus would have referred to Isaiah’s description of the Suffering Servant of God who “was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities.” (Isaiah 53) And with each step the two men took towards Emmaus, the two men would have felt a change occurring in their lives as the stranger explained that Christ’s death was a part of God’s Redeeming Activity in our world.
And that is why when despair, depression, and defeat dominate our lives, we know that just as Jesus walked with these two men on the road to Emmaus, Jesus walks with us.
And Christ informs us that we are God’s beloved and that He will stand/walk with us no matter what happens to us. And as He walks with us, He turns our despair into hope.
As evening approached, the two men ask “the stranger” to stop and stay with them for the night. And at the evening meal “Jesus took the bread; and said the blessing; then He broke the bread and gave it to them.” And suddenly it dawned on them who the stranger was that was journeying with them. It was Jesus, their Lord and Master.
It was Jesus Himself who had ministered to them in their sadness. It was Jesus Himself who had lifted-up their hearts when they were sad. Now they knew why a change had come over them as they walked on the road to Emmaus. Jesus had revealed Himself to them that through His Word and through the Sacrament.
And oh, what joy filled their hearts as they experienced Jesus in their lives that day.
As the two men embraced each other, they asked each other “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And just as things were beginning to make sense, the “stranger who is Jesus Christ” vanished from their sight. And the Good News is this… He is not gone; He is still visible to those who have eyes of faith.
Today our sermon has been brought to you by the letter “D.” Today we heard that the two men in our text experienced all the saddest things that begin with the letter “D” as they walked on the road to Emmaus.
But the two men also experienced the joy of seeing the Risen Lord who provides for us hope and joy when all we can see is disappointment, discouragement and despair. Today our text enables us to see the world, not as a place of death, social distancing, decay, and defeat; but as a place waiting, groaning towards God’s final victory over everything that separates us from God and from each other.
And that is why we can shout Alleluia! Christ Is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you came to us in our bondage, and led us to freedom by the cross and resurrection. May our lives praise you, and our lips proclaim your mighty power to all people that they may find their hope in you, and live to your honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.
Hymn of the Day: “Let Us Break Bread Together” ELW # 471
Prayer of the Day: O God, your Son makes himself known to all his disciples in the breaking of the bread. Open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in his redeeming work, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.