MESSAGE 23 April 3rd Sunday of EASTER Year A
THEME: Response and Revealed
GOSPEL = Good News leads us to respond, how?
HAPPY EASTER IN YOU! Easter is a verb.
How are we living the resurrection? How have we and how are we responding?
God’s life and grace, and the gift of resurrection, are wonderful things to know about, but they mean very little in real terms without a living response from us.
The power of Peter’s sermon was only realised by his hearers when they responded to what he had said.
In the reading from Acts, Peter speaks of the resurrection of Jesus with such power that some 3,000 people are numbered among the first Christians.
Peter gives his Pentecost sermon in response to the resurrection, and he invites us to continue to reflect, pray and respond to the resurrection with the words, in verse 37, “Brother/sisters (name some people) what should we do?
Forgiveness of sins (unpack this, healing, renewal, more like Christ) and the presence of the Holy Spirit (presence, power, placing on our hearts and minds scriptures, faithfulness of God) are amazing gifts offered to all who hear the Lord’s call. Hear the promise here: verse 39 “for the promise if for YOU, for YOUR CHILDREN, and for ALL WHO ARE FAR AWAY, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him. So, what are we praying, Lord call me, call my children, call ………………
Verse 11 in the Psalm, “how shall I repay the Lord: for all his benefits to me?” The psalmist recognises that God’s gracious rescue is made real when he responds with gratitude, praise and commitment.
In the 1 Peter reading, Peter invites the believers who have come to faith in Christ (REPENTANCE) and received God’s life (RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT) do do what? to respond by living lives of love toward one another, which of course, is how God’s life is experienced.
This is living the resurrection.
Therefore, do this: 1 Peter 1.13–25
13 Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.
14 Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance.
15 Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; (From study: for our sins, set apart to be holy like Jesus: Love the Lord you God and love your neighbour as yourself).
16 for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’
17 If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.
18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways (by Jesus) inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold,
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.
20 He was destined before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake.
21 Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.
22 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.
23 You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.
24 For ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord endures for ever.’ That word is the good news that was announced to you.
Response requires an encounter – and that is what we move into.
Encountering Jesus – When we “encounter” something, we are coming face-to-face with it. More specifically, Merriam-Webster says, to encounter is “to come upon or experience especially unexpectedly.”
Whether it was Paul on the road to Damascus, the Samaritan woman at the well, or the demon-possessed man on the shores of Galilee, those who encountered Jesus were changed in unexpected ways. We change in unexpected ways.
The two disciples on the Emmaus Road have heard about Jesus’ resurrection, but it is only when they recognise him at the meal as he breaks bread that the reality of the resurrection hits home to them and they experience it for themselves.
Luke tells us that “Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them” (Luke 24:15).
And then in verse 16 we read, “But God kept them from recognizing him.”
For the next several miles, the Son of God in disguise proceeds to give the troubled travellers a Bible lesson reminding them of all that the Scriptures had predicted concerning the Messiah.
Whatever Jesus shared with them on the journey was enough to whet the appetites of this pair. They wanted to hear more from their new mystery friend, so they invited him to crash at their place for the night.
Sitting at the dinner table, Jesus took some bread and blessed it before breaking it and giving it to the oblivious hosts. And then it happened:
“Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!” (Luke 24:31).
Look at our PRAYER FOR THE DAY:
O God, your Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in his redeeming work; who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Poof! Gone in sixty-hundredths of a second. I can almost visualize Jesus, twinkle in his eye, flashing a knowing grin just prior to his exit. It was all they needed to be filled with hope.
With the freshly broken bread still in their hands, they asked, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).
This call for response is a powerful and hopeful part of the Gospel we preach, and is the gift we are invited to share in worship each week.
It is not that God needs our response in order to love us, forgive us, or save us, but that for us to know, experience and live out of the life and grace of God, we need to appropriate what God has given us and respond to the realities that we encounter.
We must respond – not just once, as to a once-off event, but in every moment, as to something that is a constant reality in the universe.
It’s my hope that over this Easter Season, we’ll notice our own hearts burning within us as we walk with Jesus.
Perhaps we’ll find ourselves having a deeper desire to draw closer to the Son as we encounter Him in unexpected ways.
It is this challenge that makes this week of the Easter Season both meaningful and full of possibility.
May our worship this week lead us to encounter life such that we cannot avoid offering ourselves to life in response!
Blessings as we live into the power of Christ’s resurrection.