The Third Sunday of Easter (4/18/21)

Ps. 4; Acts 3:11-21; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36-49

Appear, Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (v. 2).

What a difference a day makes! Last Sunday, Jesus urged Thomas and the Apostles to word and worship fidelity (Jn. 20:27b) blessing his church to NT sightedness (v. 29b).

Today’s Epistle continues to encourage the gospel of Christian sightedness, of God’s love for us and new status as his children in faith and hope. The church’s Easter season is about her sight in a world being transformed.

The great truth of the Resurrection and Ascension is that we live in “end-times” awaiting God’s new heavens and earth (Isa. 65:17; 2 Peter 3:10); or more positively, we live at the dawning of a “new creation” as the old passes away.

Jesus’ obedience on the cross atoned for all sin; there elevated our King and High Priest before God. In reconciling us to God, we have in Christ a new exodus out of this fading world to the presence of God, who wills to make all things new (Rev. 21:5). In Christ, God’s new Adam, we are now children of the Father.

Easter season moves the church in her knowledge of God as Father. That which was hidden of old is revealed Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day, from faith to faith in Jesus crucified, risen and ascended for mission to the world.

Observe Easter season’s confluence of earthly time with heaven’s eternality: faith, sight, and knowledge. In the forty-days before Jesus “parted” from the disciples’ sight (Lk. 24:51), one has the impression that heavenly things appear to phase in and out before our old eyes, until faith fully becomes the medium of seeing spiritual things.

Mary Magdalene failed to recognize Jesus risen in his burial garden; it was not until he spoke her name, that the Magdalene recognized her Lord, seeking physical reunion. In this new sight at Jesus’ word, she is type of the church.

But first, Jesus had to ascend, giving himself over to his Father and God (Jn. 20:17b), who restored his Son from Sheol. From Easter morning forward, Jesus would always be with his church (Mt. 28:20b); not as previously, merely in time and space, but in the mysterious way of heaven and eternity.

Jesus’ real bodily presence with his church in word and sacrament bridges us to the Father, the hidden God now revealed in his new Temple dwelling, Christ the Crucified, Resurrected, and Ascended.

After ascending to the Father, Jesus appeared to Peter and the Emmaus disciples wandering from the apostolic community. Like the Magdalene, these at first, failed to recognize the risen Lord. Incognito, Jesus instructed them of Scripture, that all testifies of him. Their “hearts burned within” (Luke 24:32); faith imparted by Voice of the HS.

Prepared by Jesus’ explication of Scripture on the road; the trio sat down to meal, at which the Two recognized Jesus “in the breaking of the bread”. Having imparted new sight, Jesus disappeared from their old eyes. This is pattern of the church’s fidelity to word and meal for faith and knowledge of God’s love in Christ.

Immediately, the Two went on mission, returning to Jesus’ fold in Jerusalem. They found the community as they left it, huddled “in fear of the Jews”. They proclaimed Jesus resurrected, his Scripture teaching, and revealing himself in the breaking of the bread.

Upon the Emmaus disciples’ catechesis to the apostolic body, Jesus appeared to old eyes in the same manner as he disappeared; appearing for faith’s new sight, “peace”, and fellowship in the coming new creation with heaven.

Jesus is present to his church in the mystery of his divinity in communion with his humanity, sacramental ways of real presence, encompassing time and eternity of which he is both Word and Lord.

Jesus invited his Apostles to handle body and wounds. They “disbelieved for joy”; so, Jesus shared their meal of roast fish, and taught the witness of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms, the necessity of his suffering and rising for repentance and forgiveness.

The church’s life in the presence of her Lord continues in the proclamation for recognizing the Lord in her meal; catechizing to dispel “disbelief” for the joy of sighted blessing of Jesus “parted” from old eyes. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn. 20:29b).

From the darkness of Jesus’ death, into the Light of his resurrected and ascended presence, the NT church perceives, the old economy of sin and death at an end; to faith and hope in the new creation, known in our status as beloved children of the Father.

For the sake of the church’s sight and peace, Jesus, spoke to the fears of absent Thomas, “do not be faithless, but faithful (Jn. 20:27b). It may not now appear to us what we will be, but we do know, by remaining faithful to all he commanded, we possess the expectation of hope, that we shall be like Christ when he appears to all on the Last Day.

What a difference a day makes! After Resurrection and Ascension, the NT church gathered, no longer hostage to fear, but located in our new Temple dwelling with God, the body of Jesus in the Apostle’s teaching, and fellowship of prayers and breaking the Bread.

From Jerusalem and the old temple, the NT church moved out with good news for a dying world until the time for making it new. On the Last Day, Jesus will appear to both old and new eyes; some to judgment, some to everlasting Life. Amen.