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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz

Apr 30, 2017  SERMON ARCHIVE

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our heavenly Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, AMEN

The text for our meditation today is the Gospel Lesson for today, Luke 24:13-35. There we read these words:

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

We begin in the name of Jesus, AMEN

When St. Peter wrote his first letter to the churches, some time had passed since Jesus had been crucified. Peter was an apostle of the church and had done much teaching before he wrote the letter. He had taught on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, which makes his words in chapter one all the more striking: "conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile"(1 Peter 1:17).

You know, it makes a person wonder why the church that preaches the resurrection would have such a notion that Christian journeying should be one of fear.

Of course, there is more to it all than that. The Scriptures also talk about joy, humility, quietness, love, and service. One of the less noticeable aspects of the gospels is that they show you pictures of yourselves through the disciples and the people around Jesus.

While the gospels glorify Jesus, they also demonstrate for you what happens with people when God enters their world and their lives. Sometimes you see the way things are supposed to be. Other times you see the opposite.

Dear friends in Christ. In the case of the Emmaus disciples, St. Luke writes an account that is unique to his gospel. Two disciples were walking to Emmaus. It was the day that Jesus had risen from the dead, yet they were sad.

Stained Glass Baptism Window

That is not what you would think to be a good example of the church of the resurrection. They should have been glad. They should have been rejoicing. They had just been told that Jesus had risen.

And yet, do these Emmaus disciples perhaps show you a picture of yourselves. Think about it. You journey in this world, having been shown the path to everlasting life through Jesus Christ. You have been baptized and are clothed with Christ. You hear the preaching that Jesus is risen, but do you sometimes still question it. Can it be? Is it possible? Could it be true that God took on flesh, died and rose on the third day?

Part of the sinful baggage that you carry is that you doubt. You grow weary on the journey. You risk losing hope. Sin threatens to tear you from Jesus. This is why St. Peter says in his epistle to "conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile".

The disciples would rather have had Jesus stay with them, but Jesus told them in his last sermon in St. John’s gospel that he had to go away for their sake.

What we see in the account of the road to Emmaus is the way of the church. We see demonstrated the life that Christ wants for the church after his ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus hid his true appearance from them as they journeyed on the road. If you look at the church and its life today you can guess as to the reason.

As they journeyed to Emmaus, Jesus joined them, but they thought He was a stranger. Jesus asked a few questions and then began to turn the table as he preached from the Old Testament about the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of the Messiah. What a sermon it must have been. To understand why Jesus hid his appearance from them, you need to understand the doctrine of the word.

Jesus is the word made flesh. When the gospel is preached, Jesus abides with you. He comes to you cloaked in the preaching of the gospel and makes His dwelling in you.

My friends, how often it is that when God’s word is preached, though, you grow tired and restless. When the gospel is read and you hear of Jesus, your hearts fail to see him. Though you hear the proclamation that Jesus is risen, you still grow weary and dull when the gospel sounds in and amongst you.

You have been given such a precious gift, yet you cannot seem to fully comprehend or appreciate what it means for you as you journey through life. It is for all sins, even sins such as these that Jesus died. Jesus came to suffer and die so that you would have him with you through the word and sacraments. His death pours his grace and mercy into the gospel and the sacraments.

In this Gospel Lesson, you are given a picture, here, of Christ’s love for his church. When the Emmaus disciples arrive with this supposed "stranger" they asked him to come in with them and rest. In striking imagery, we are told that Jesus did something else for them.

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

In a interesting twist, the words that are used are the same words that are used for the Lord’s Supper: "He took bread and giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them".

Just as Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper in the upper room before his arrest, it is as though he is reminding them of this. "Do this in remembrance of me."

The amazing thing is that their eyes were opened at the point where he broke bread and they saw Jesus. They even told the eleven disciples that Jesus was "known to them in the breaking of bread."

Is it possible that Jesus is trying to tell the church something about her journey in this world. Is it possible that Jesus is trying to tell you that in the preaching of the Word and in the administration of the sacrament He comes to you. Is it possible that Jesus is reminding yoy that he is not far away. Is it possible Jesus is saying that you should frequent the Divine Service until he returns.

Jesus took two sad, confused, and worried men and gave them the gospel--He gave them himself. Jesus came to them in the midst of preaching when they weren’t expecting it to remind them of himself. He revealed himself to them in the sacrament and reminded them of what they were to do. In the same way, then, we find the church’s life to be synonymous with the road to Emmaus.

The church is journeying, you are journeying through this life, and you will find Jesus no where but in preaching and in the sacrament. His love is evident in these things. Through these things, Jesus takes your sins, your sorrows and your worries, and gives Himself to you.

Peter reminds you in his first epistle that the word of the Lord endures forever. Jesus is your victor. His victory is your victory, and when you look at the cup you see Jesus. Your eyes are opened unto him in the bread. You eat and drink and you receive Jesus; His love; His forgiveness.

He journeys with you, ever abiding and leading you. When the road you walk seems dark and without direction, it is Jesus who forgives you and helps you. He journeys with you through the word even when you do not detect him. He cares for and nurtures his church along the road, as the psalmist aptly says about Christ Jesus and the church: "For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness"(Psalm 18:28).

And as the psalmist says in Psalm 119: Psalm 119:105-112 .....Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word! Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O LORD, and teach me your rules. I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.

Christ is Risen.

Luther Rose


Christ Is Risen
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