St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church

3800 East Third Street

Bloomington, Indiana 47401

(812) 332-5252

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter (April 19, 2015)

Liturgical Color: White

Marissa Tweed, Pastoral Intern

The "Real Deal" Meal

The Gospel of Luke is full of references to food and meals: the banquet at Levi's house, dinner at Simon's house, the feeding of the 5000, Mary and Martha's house, the sabbath meal at the pharisee's house, Dining at Zaccheus' house, the Last Supper, and the breaking of bread at Emmaus — just to name a few.

My New Testament professor in college used to joke that in Gospel of Luke if Jesus wasn't praying, then he was eating: implying that these are the two activities Jesus seems to be engaging in the most throughout Luke's gospel.

In our lesson for today it's much the same: we see yet another example of a profound spiritual event involving food. Jesus and his disciples share an intimate, enlightening experience around a shared meal together, and through this food something important is communicated to us.

So let's set the stage. At this particular point in Luke's gospel Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of Jesus have discovered the tomb to be empty. The stone has been rolled away and two men in dazzling clothes stand before them and say, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen." So amazed, they run to tell the disciples what they have encountered, but their story is met with disbelief and doubt.

Immediately after that Cleopas and his companion are walking to Emmaus and encounter a stranger who, in the breaking of the bread, is revealed to them to be Jesus, and once they realize who it is Jesus vanishes before them. So what do they do? They don't waste a minute. That very hour they return back to Jerusalem to tell the others what happened, and again, the story is met with disbelief and doubt.

The disciples are in the midst of discussing, and in my opinion probably arguing, about all this when Jesus arrives in their midst and says, "Peace be with you." There's a lot of confusion, disbelief, doubt, and wondering among the disciples, so Jesus sets the record straight: "Why are you frightened? Why do doubts arise in your hearts? Can't you see it's me? Touch my hands and my feet. See that it is I, myself."

Then Jesus shows them the ultimate proof of his presence — he eats! Jesus is real. The most human thing he could do was eat. After all, he probably worked up quite the appetite in all that dying and rising business.

Through the food, the simple act of sharing broiled fish, something important is communicated to the disciples and to us: This resurrection thing, this messiah thing, this Jesus thing is the real deal: God raised Jesus from the dead, God really raised Jesus from the dead! Luke goes to great lengths to assert this fact: The resurrected Christ is no disembodied spirit, nor is Jesus merely a resuscitated corpse. And Jesus is not a ghost either - Jesus is real.

The disciples are hungry for truth, for something real to hold onto, and Jesus delivers. Jesus really is the fulfillment of all of God's promises throughout the ages, Jesus really is the messiah who suffered, and who rose from the dead on the third day, and in whose name repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to all nations.

The disciples minds are opened and their lives transformed as the scriptures come alive in front of them around this meal together. The resurrection is their new reality.

As I was doing my sermon preparation this week I came across a quote that resonated with me in regards to this idea of a new reality. In the words of Stephen Cooper, "To insist on the reality of the resurrected body is to demand that we accept our present reality as the place where transformations of ultimate significance take place."

The resurrection breaks all the rules of reality that we've come to accept as dependable and true (and isn't that so characteristic of God?!). God did and is doing something new and real in the raising up of Jesus, and in a sense, God is doing something new and real each time we experience the Risen Christ together.

Like the disciples we too are hungry, and we are fed and transformed in our encounter with the Risen Christ in the Lord's Supper. We experience the Risen Christ in our midst when we gather around this meal together. We are filled with hope, forgiven our sins, and sent out as witnesses to this real thing.

Notice the tense of Jesus' assertion in our gospel reading: not you 'were' witnesses or you 'will be' witnesses, but "you are witnesses to this."

You are witnesses here and now, in this moment, in this life, in your daily life...for the sake of life. Jesus reminds us who we really are: resurrection people and resurrection witnesses.

There is great hunger in our world. Hunger for truth and justice and compassion and insight and perhaps most of all — hunger for purpose. After feeding us Jesus commissions us to bear witness to his life, ministry, and resurrection. The good news of Jesus Christ is good news for everyone, without exception. It is food for the soul, and it beckons us to share it!

We do this in a number of ways. For instance, this week the youth group will wrap up and then deliver our contributions to MCUM's spring food drive: Taking the Odds out of Hunger. In sharing food with others we proclaim and experience the presence of the Risen Christ in our midst.

When we gather around bread and wine and hear the words of Jesus saying 'take and eat' and 'this cup is given for you' we proclaim and experience the presence of the Risen Christ in our midst.

And perhaps what may seem at times the most difficult, in witnessing, in the verbal telling and hearing of the story we proclaim and experience the Risen Christ in our midst. The good news is not a message of what happened back then; it is alive right now in our very lives and interactions each day.

So I'd like to leave you today with a challenge. The next time you find yourself gathered around a meal or food, talk about the story. Talk about ways you experience the Risen Christ in your midst — What happened this past week where you felt the real presence of Jesus? Take a few moments to think about it.

Share the story of the Resurrected Christ — it is food for the hungry soul.

Proclaim the real food of life: Alleluia, Christ is Risen! (He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia)




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