Good morning First Baptist. We welcome you to worship this morning. Be sure to remember your brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the week as you pray for them, and as the Holy Spirit brings their faces to your mind. Be sure to also connect with them in the ways that are possible. And if you have any questions or would like to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to contact the church through the church telephone and leave a message. (519-733-4144)
Call to Worship
Nor will they say, “Lo, here it is!” or “There!” For behold … the Kingdom of God is within you.”
— Luke 17:21
How wonderful it is to be reminded, gracious Father … that because of what Jesus accomplished through His life, death and resurrection, we are a part of the progress of the greatest movement in the history of humankind. May our worship today reflect our joy and gratitude … in the name of the One who reigns with You, even Jesus … amen.
Today's Message: Jesus' Table Talk - Part 4
Scripture Reading: Luke 23:36-45
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
As we examine our last meal-time episode in the life of Jesus, we are reminded of something that has been largely lost in our post-modern, COVID lives … that of people “dropping in.” It is toward the end of the day, the disciples are reflecting with the two who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus when, without warning, “Jesus Himself stood among them (v. 26).” Most of us today wouldn’t like to be surprised like this … we find ourselves grumbling when our doorbell might ring. But Jesus’ “pop visit” yields remarkable results … and we know this is sometimes true for us, when we can get beyond the “cocooning” that has become such a standard part of our lives.
The words spoken by our Lord dominate this passage. Knowing that this post-resurrection visit is the first one to His closest companions, He asks an important question … “Why are you troubled?” (v. 38). In his classic Greek grammar, New Testament scholar Gresham Machen describes the perfect tense (which is used in the verb “troubled”) as “a present state resultant on a past action.” It is no doubt that the disciples are still reeling from the crucifixion, which has resulted in them huddling together somewhere in Jerusalem, out of sight of the authorities. It is sometimes true for us as well, as we remember sad episodes of the past that might yet haunt our current lives. Surely this is something that has an impact on all societies, as CBM medical missionary Connie Smith reflected upon after serving in Zaire during the ethnic cleansing crisis in Rwanda in the 1990’s:
“A tragic element of African culture is that past wrongs (individual and associated with tribe) are never forgotten. If you have read anything about why Rwanda “happened” this year you will understand the revenge factor between Hutus and Tutsis for abuse that goes back for centuries.”
As gripped as they all were with the violent events of the past few days, Jesus directly addresses their pain. “Look at my hands and feet …” He exclaims in v. 39. It became a common component of Jesus’ resurrection appearances that He would draw attention to His wounds … but it goes beyond the misplaced enthusiasm of the “wanna see my scar?” remark of one recently experiencing surgery. Our Lord went to great lengths to explain to His followers that He, the resurrected Lord, was the same as the one who died an ugly death at the hands of the Roman and Jewish authorities. Although there may be occasions when our past pain appears to leave no lasting marks (see the prophet Daniel and the lions’ den) those occasions are rare indeed. We sometimes wonder if the scars from the painful experiences of life might render us unusable to represent the cause of His kingdom … but nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps one of the first representatives of the gospel said it best;
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed to us.”
— Romans 8:18
Not just the glory of the future, beyond this life … but I wonder if Paul is talking about something else as well. The glory of seeing the Spirit work in the lives of others … the glory of the Kingdom progressing, even in corners of our world where it is vehemently opposed … the glory of the continued popularity of “righteousness” even when the evil seems so strong. The powerful image of a resurrected Jesus, still bearing the scars of His cruel torture gives us the encouragement to continue on in the confidence that the weakness of humankind simply accentuates the strength and purpose of the Father.
As the acts and words of Jesus in this passage trumpet the truth to set us free, His next words seem out of place … “Do you have anything here to eat?” (v. 41). We would be correct in seeing in this question yet another proof of His physicality to His shell-shocked disciples … but there may be more than that. A close examination of the previous verses might indicate that Jesus’ dinner of that very evening had been interrupted before He had the opportunity to partake (see v. 30-31). Could His question above simply mean that He was hungry? If so, then this might be a good lesson for us, when life seems to get in the way of our desire to serve. It is in the routine of life … the eating, drinking, working, relating, resting part of life … which forms the context of discipleship. It is often when people discover that we, as followers of Jesus, experience the same joys and heartaches of life that our faith truly becomes relevant and inspiring to others.
The final verse in our passage under consideration this morning forms a fitting conclusion to Jesus’ “drop-in” visit. Luke writes in v. 45;
“Then he opened their minds
so they could understand the Scriptures.”
At the end of it all, this may be the one best thing that can happen to a person in life. The troubled prophet Jeremiah puts it so wonderfully … “I have to suffer those who despise thy words, but thy word is joy and happiness to me (Jeremiah 15:16).” More than anyone else, Jesus understood the power of the Word in our lives as we deal with the scars of the past. In his inspiring book, “Letters of Faith Through the Seasons”, professor emeritus from Regent College in Vancouver (one of our Canadian Baptist schools) Dr. James Houston recounts a letter he received from a 38 year old woman whose health crisis had taken her to the brink. Obese, a chain smoker and afflicted with depression, she had spent time in a sleep clinic after her concerned husband, a neurologist, woke early one morning worried that she was not breathing properly. After being thoroughly examined she was informed that she was not receiving 85% of the necessary oxygen to her heart and brain. She was told that she would die in a year if she didn’t lose a lot of weight. Having been suicidal for years but not having the courage to take her own life, this was just the news she wanted. She went home to die. I’ll let the woman, who requested anonymity out of concern for her husband’s distinguished medical career, tell the rest of the story …
“But God had other plans for my life. Sometime after I came home from the hospital, I woke early one morning, and walked downstairs to my living room. I took the Bible off the shelf and opened it to John 1:1. It was as if a light appeared under that verse, and suddenly immense joy filled my heart. I had no idea why – I could not in any way understand why the connection of Jesus’ Name with the Word and God was so wonderful, I just knew it was. I woke my husband and told him that it was going to be all right and it has been! My life changed dramatically in every way. I lost 153 lbs. in 16 months and quit the pills and cigarettes in one afternoon. I had no withdrawal symptoms, no seizures or heart problems, just more energy. I went back to school, have traveled the world, and speak publicly. When I go for check-ups, the doctors think they have the wrong chart, and people think my husband has remarried (also part of the miracle is my dear, faithful husband of 34 years).
I was in a dark world without hope, and then I met the One for Whom nothing is impossible, the Lord, Jesus Christ, Who died that I might live. There is no human reason for me to be sitting here writing this letter.”
May the One Himself who is the Word, open the scriptures to all of us … in such a way that we are able to live the abundant life He truly wills for all of us.
As we have spent time in Your presence again, our gracious Father, You have demonstrated, in the history of the church and in our own lives, Your ability to heal from the past, teach from Your word and challenge us to embrace your mission, all at the same time. As always, we note the remarkable character of Jesus Who arrived to uncertain disciples as an unexpected guest. We so value His sudden and blessed presence in so many facets of our lives …
Our passage today displays to us again, forgiving Father, our tendency to look for Your revelation in expected ways. As the disciples of old, we are taught the word of life but sometimes fail to truly hear. Relieve our anxious doubts, grant rest to our fatigued spirits and allow us to join in step with where Your Spirit leads …
As we close our prayer this day we pray for the many corners of Your world where Your unexpected spirit arrives in the hearts of Your servants. For those who represent You in these places we pray a special measure of courage and peace. May all of us find our place in extending Your glorious kingdom. In the name of the Prince of Peace we pray … amen.
“Put me to the proof,” says the Lord of hosts, “and see if I do not open windows in the sky and pour a blessing on you as long as there is need.”
— Malachi 3:10