3rd Sunday of Easter
April 26, 2020
“Making Sense of the Confusion”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our living Good Shepherd Jesus. The sermon for today is from the assigned Gospel lesson from Luke chapter 24.
My Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
So what if, if I’m out for a walk, someone’s dog on a leash walks up to me and I instinctively reach out and pet the dog’s head? Can I give the dog Coronavirus? Can the dog give the virus to me? Can the owner get the virus if I leave it on the dog’s head? Let’s face it…we have a TON of questions about COVID-19 and social media has provided an avalanche of confusing misinformation. Webster’s Dictionary says that confusion is the act in which there is a “mixing or blending so that things cannot be distinguished.” To be confused is to have truth mixed or blended so that actions and true information cannot be properly distinguished.
That being the case, today’s Gospel lesson is loaded with confusion! On the surface this lesson from Luke 24 seems simple and straightforward. But, the more we search the text, the more we will see just how much confusion there is, and then we will have a greater appreciation for how Jesus comes to eliminate our confusion by making sense of the information not only for those two followers, but in our lives as disciples as well in bring a calming peace especially in these troubling and confusing times.
Let’s make sure we are all “up to speed” to this point so as not to create any further confusion! The women came on Easter morning for a post-Sabbath body-for-burial mission, but instead of finding Jesus’ body, an angel told them of His resurrection. The women then hurried to tell the remaining disciples what had happened. Now we get to today’s lesson. These two disciples, one named Cleopas and the other is unidentified (more confusion!), are walking to Emmaus in the afternoon when the resurrected Christ appears to them. And let the confusion begin!
First of all, there is even some confusion about where Emmaus was. Some Greek manuscripts say that Emmaus was “60 stadia” from Jerusalem, while some others say “160 stadia.” That’s a difference of 7 miles versus 18 miles, which makes a big difference when you have to walk from place to place. Most modern scholars associate Emmaus with the 7 mile distance slightly northwest of Jerusalem.
Secondly, we have Cleopas and his unnamed companion being confused about the events in Jerusalem that we know as Jesus’ Passion. They knew who Jesus was and had hoped that He was the Messiah of Israel (v. 21) who would save them from all their bondage and oppression. They also knew Jesus had been crucified and was dead. They knew that His body had not been found at the tomb. All this had left them very confused.
Why wouldn’t they be? They had desires and hopes and dreams of all that Jesus was going to do for them and do for their country. Now He was dead and His body couldn’t be located. They knew what they knew and they knew Jesus was dead. This acknowledgment of their reality made them confused and sad.
Welcome to the club. Sinful people are really good at confusing the issue. Rather than trust God’s promises in our lives, we fear and worry and wring our hands and hang our heads. Sinful people are very, very good at confusing matters, as if His divine promises are somehow not enough, especially during global pandemics. When the tough times in life come we look at our outward circumstances and situation and it causes us to worry and be anxious. Sinful people are good at remembering our woes and sadness and quick to forget the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?…So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6, NIV). In this life, I have found that It is easier to wallow in sin than to bask in God’s grace. It is easier to remember our own misery than God’s promises. It is easier, and less confusing, to be afraid than to trust in God’s never ending provision.
However, in the midst of sin-infested confusion, Jesus comes to make sense of all our confusion. Starting with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus explained to them all that was said of Him from the Holy Scriptures (v. 27). Just think of it…this may have been the greatest theological lecture of all time! The important word in the lecture is “necessary;” it expresses a divine “must.” As confusing as it seems, the Messiah had to experience these things. Why? These events were God’s salvation plan in action; confusing to some, but God’s will nonetheless.
It was important that especially the necessity of Jesus’ death be noted, to put an end to the confusion regarding what kind of Messiah Jesus Christ is. He is a Messiah who dies so that His people can live. He is a Messiah who suffers so that we can have peace in the face of bondage and oppression to sin. He is a Messiah, a Savior, who lovingly gives of Himself on the cross of Calvary so that we might receive; receive the forgiveness of our sins and live as such in this at-times confusing world.
I know these are confusing times, and you can’t even come to church! In this life, the time that we spend apart from our Lord can create loads of confusion. Confusion and fear erode our confidence in God’s goodness. Are you feeling confused about life? Not sure why things are happening the way they are? Uncertain about where life is taking you or the direction of your life’s events? How much time are you spending with God as compared to TV? What is your prayer life like other than a quick table prayer every once in awhile? Are you being taught and fed by your Lord on a regular basis even during the country’s shutdown?
Here’s something else I’ve learned in life: When you are down to nothing, God is up to something! He was in His meeting with those disciples on the road to Emmaus putting an end to their confusion. And He is up to something in your life too even as you shelter in place. He is there to end all your confusion and put your mind at eternal ease as we walk this road together. Be strong and stay safe, my friends, for our best as a church and nation is about to be.