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Conversations With Jesus - #13 "Easter"

Conversations With Jesus - #13

Easter


A man had been on a business trip for a week.


The flight out had been rough. The people with whom the businessman had met had not been cooperative. Negotiations had been tense. Not everything he had hoped to accomplish had been completed.


All the while, he missed his family, and now, the day of his return to his home airport, things had been equally unpleasant. The first leg of his scheduled trip was cancelled, meaning he had to be re-routed through another city. Both the flights he did get on had been very crowded, many of his fellow passengers equally tired and disgruntled.


Then, upon landing, which was a couple hours later than originally scheduled, and getting inside the terminal, he found great crowds of people. Too many for the area to handle comfortably. There was lots of pushing and shoving on his way to where his luggage could be picked up, if it had arrived. From there the man would have to make his way outside and hail a cab. He wondered if there would be enough cabs for him to hire one to get him home.


The trip had been difficult. The return flights had been difficult. At the airport things were difficult. It was a bad time for the businessman. His energy was gone. His nerves were on edge.


Then he heard it. “John. John. Over here.”


Was that his name he heard? Yes, it was. He was able to pick out his name in the midst of all the confusion. Was that his wife calling his name? His wife, who he expected to be home with the rest of the family? Yes, it was. John’s wife, knowing her husband had had a difficult week and day, had got a babysitter and driven to the airport to meet him and take him home in comfort.


Immediately, the businessman’s energy was restored. His nerves calmed down. His discouragement disappeared. He heard his name and saw his wife. His entire mood changed for the better.


Just about 2000 years ago, there was a woman who was discouraged, her energy gone, her nerves on edge. She - Mary Magdalene - was not the only person who felt that way. All who had followed Jesus during His earthly ministry felt the same way because of what had happened on Good Friday - the death of Jesus, the burial of Jesus, the one they had followed for three years dead and gone.


Early on the first Easter morning, things were very difficult for all who had followed Jesus. Including Mary Magdalene, who, early that day, garnered as much energy as she could. Enough to go to where Jesus had been buried.


There were some other women with her. Their intent was to make sure Jesus had been properly prepared for burial. But when they got to Jesus’ tomb, they noticed a strange sight. The stone that had been placed over the tomb’s entrance to close it and then sealed by Roman authorities had been moved. The tomb was once again open.


Because of what she would soon report to others, Mary must have looked into the tomb, which provided another shock. The tomb was empty.


That greatly frightened Mary Magdalene, who, according to the Gospel of John, chapter 20, ran from the tomb to where Jesus’ disciples were that morning. She told them the news of the tomb being empty, which caused Peter and John to go to the tomb, I guess to check out the truth of what Mary had said.


They, too, saw the tomb was empty. All that was in the tomb were the cloths in which Jesus had been wrapped on Friday. No body. Just the cloths.


Peter and John, as amazed and confused as Mary was, returned to where they had spent the night, but Mary, who had returned to the tomb with them stayed a bit longer. While there, she wept. The emotion had got to her. She was sad Jesus’ body had apparently been moved.


Then, as she looked into the tomb again, Mary saw two angels, both in white, one sitting where Jesus’ head had been, the other sitting where Jesus’ feet had been.


Mary was still crying. The angels asked her why. She responded, “Because they…” Who knows who “they were.” Maybe the religious leaders who had been so opposed to Jesus. Maybe the Roman authorities. Maybe grave robbers. Mary was crying because someone, she said, “has taken away my Lord and I do not know where.” That bothered Mary because she could not pay her last respects to Jesus if she did not know where His body was.


Saying that, Mary noticed someone behind her. That someone also asked her why she was weeping. “Who are you looking for?” that someone asked.


Mary did not answer the question. Instead, thinking it might have been the gardener, she asked the one behind her that if that someone had carried Jesus away, would he - the one behind her - share that information so she could go get Him.


With that, in the midst of the crowd of troubles she had experienced with Jesus’ death and burial and now His disappearance, in her nervousness and discouragement and confusion, that someone said, “Mary.”

Wait. Was that her name she heard? Yes, it was. She was able to pick out her name in the midst of all the confusion. And was that Jesus’ voice she heard? Jesus, who had died and been buried? Was that Jesus calling her name? Yes, it was.


Immediately, Mary’s energy was restored. Her nerves calmed down. Her discouragement disappeared. That happened as she heard her name and then turned around and saw Jesus. In an instant, her entire mood changed for the better.


Mary cried out, “Rabboni," which means “Teacher,” who gave her an assignment, which was to tell the disciples He had risen from the dead. Mary did that.


What an wonderful conversation Jesus and Mary had. It was a short one, but how important it was. A mood-changing conversation. A conversation of both announcement and love on the part of Jesus.


That conversation happened Easter morning. Later that day, sometime in the afternoon, another conversation took place, this one recorded in Luke 24. A conversation between Jesus and two men walking from Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus. Emmaus was about seven miles from Jerusalem.


The two men are not identified. Actually, the name of one of them is mentioned. One of the two men was Cleopas. But other information about them is not given.


Apparently, though, according to the conversation they would have with Jesus, they had been followers of Jesus. Not disciples, but other followers. Followers brave enough to be on the road so shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion. Followers who had heard, at least through the rumor mill, that Jesus’ tomb had, that morning, been discovered to be empty.


As the men were walking and as they talked with each other, suddenly they were joined by another traveler. Someone they did not recognize. We know, because Luke tells us, the someone was Jesus, but the fellow travelers did not recognize Him. It is reported God kept them from knowing who it was.


Jesus asked the two men what they were talking about. “What is the conversation you are having?”


Hearing that question, the two men stopped and stood still for a moment, both in sadness - it is recorded they looked sad - and in amazement - recorded in their response. “What are we talking about? Really? Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”


Jesus said, “What things?”


What things?” they responded ‘Things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people. And things about how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. We had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel, but we guess He was not the redeemer since He died . And besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. This morning some women amazed all Jesus’ followers with the report the tomb in which Jesus was placed is empty. The women gave some story about seeing angels who said Jesus is alive. Peter and John went to the tomb. They found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus. That is what we are talking about.”


Jesus listened. He then said to the two men, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.”


That was an interesting statement, was it not? I mean, the men had allowed a stranger to join them. The stranger called them foolish and slow. I wonder what the two men thought of that.


But Jesus continued. He added, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer the things Jesus suffered and enter into His glory?”


Then, as the three resumed their walk, Jesus, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, interpreted to the two men in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.


What an instructive, educational walk it was. A walk that came to end as they arrived at Emmaus.


It appeared Jesus intended to continue on, but the two men encouraged Him to stay with them.


The reasons for their invitation were valid. It was toward evening, which means all of them, including their walking companion, would be tired. It would soon be dark. Traveling in the dark, especially alone, could be very dangerous because of robbers and other evil people. It would be safer for Jesus to spend the night with the two men. Plus, Jesus had been so informative about spiritual things. The least the two men could do was offer hospitality.


“Do not go on,” they said. “Stay with us.”


Jesus agreed to do that, and before long, the hospitality included the evening meal. A meal that included bread that needed to be broken. Which Jesus did. He took the loaf of bread. He blessed it. He broke it. He gave it to them.


That sound familiar. That is exactly what Jesus had done at the Last Supper - the last meal Jesus had had with His disciples before His arrest, which had led to His crucifixion.


The two men, being followers other than Jesus’ disciples, had not been at that meal, but the disciples must have talked about what Jesus had done. The two men had heard about it. That must have been the case because as soon as Jesus blessed the bread and broke it and served it, the eyes of the men were opened and they recognized Him.


They probably noticed the nail holes in His hands. That, too, would have helped them recognize Jesus. But how He blessed, broke, and served the bread, along with God allowing them to recognize Him, resulted in them suddenly knowing that the one with whom they had spent the afternoon was Jesus.


At that very instant, Jesus vanished out of their sight, whereupon the two men had another conversation of their own before doing an amazing thing.


The conversation? “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” They had been very impressed by their fellow traveler’s knowledge of spiritual things. They had been impressed by His teaching skill. They suddenly realized why their companion had been so smart. Their companion  Jesus.


The amazing thing they did? They rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem.


“That same hour” was at the beginning of the night, which means it was getting dark. Remember one of the reasons the men had invited Jesus to stay with them? It was dangerous to travel at night? Danger was not a concern of the two men. Their excitement over having seen Jesus overcame any fear they might have had, including the fear of having been followers of Jesus and being in public in the first place.


Remember the other reason they gave Jesus to stay with them? They were tired after the emotion of all that had happened and after a seven-mile walk? Fatigue was no longer a concern of the two men. Having seen Jesus - maybe He had called them by name - their energy was restored.


The two men rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. I picture them not walking, but running back to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, they found where Jesus’ disciples were. Where the disciples were hiding for fear of also being arrested and executed. The two men went to the disciples, their intent being to tell them what had happened.


The two men did share what they knew, but not before the disciples had news for them. The news that Jesus had risen from the dead - from His tomb. News that was fact, not because of what Mary Magdalene had told them earlier, but because Jesus had, by that time, appeared to Peter.


It was then the two men were able to share what had happened to them on the road to Emmaus and at that evening’s meal.


What a wonderful conversation Jesus and the two men on their way to Emmaus had. How important it was. A mood-changing conversation. A conversation of teaching. A conversation that energized the two men to share what they knew.


As the disciples of Jesus and the two men just arrived from Emmaus shared news about Jesus, suddenly Jesus, as quickly as He had vanished from the meal in Emmaus, appeared where the disciples and the two men were, which continues Luke 24.


Again, the disciples were in hiding because of their fear of also being arrested and executed. The doors of where they were hiding were closed tightly. Jesus, though, was suddenly there. He just appeared among them.


The disciples were startled. They were frightened. They supposed they saw a spirit. Which, I think, were all very natural reactions. No one had heard or seen a door open. Jesus was just suddenly in the room. And while Peter, the two from Emmaus, and Mary Magdalene had seen Jesus that day, the others had not. Yes, they knew He was alive. They knew that in their heads because of what had been reported. But seeing Jesus for the first time since His resurrection would have been a shock. They might have assumed it was just a spirit they were seeing, maybe even an hallucination.


But Jesus then talked to them, asking, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts?”


He then did some things to prove it was Him and that He was indeed alive, rather than a spirit or a ghost or a figment of their imaginations. Jesus said, “See My hands and My feet. See where the nails went to hang Me on the cross. Touch Me. Feel My bones and My skin. [A spirit does not have flesh and bones. Feel to discover I have both those things].” He asked, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish. He took it and ate in front of them. That was further proof He was once again alive.


According to the Gospel of John, Jesus also wished peace to those gathered that evening. In addition, He announced He was going to send them out, with the power of the Holy Spirit, to continue His ministry.

The whole conversation was important in proving Jesus was alive. In changing the followers of Jesus from fear to courageous joy, from discouragement to a purpose. The purpose of doing Jesus’ work.


Have you had - I ask myself this same question - have you had a rough time? Are you having a rough time now?


I dare say all of us have at least some difficult days. Maybe not with travel and business negotiations, like the man in the story that opened today’s message, but maybe with some other things - economic things, medical things, emotional difficulties, some relationship issues. Maybe you have some spiritual problems with questions or tests you are facing or family members or friends giving you a hard time about your faith.


All those things can sap energy and be discouraging and put your nerves on edge. But listen. There is someone who knows you very well. His name is Jesus, who, on the first Easter Sunday, rose from the grave. He is the Savior who knows the names, not only of Mary and the two men on the road to Emmaus and His disciples, but of everyone everywhere - including John in the story and including you.


If you already believe in Jesus as your Savior, listen for Him to continue to call your name. Let that encourage you to keep on believing and worshiping and serving Him.


If you have not accepted Jesus, know He still knows you. Please listen for Him to call your name as He invites you to come to Him. As today’s conversations proclaim, hearing Him is designed to change our moods from fear and discouragement to joy and confidence.


Let’s respond to Him in that way. What a wonderful Easter gift that will be for Jesus, the one who rose from the grave. The one still alive, today and forever.


The closing hymn is verses 1 and 3 of He Lives!


I serve a risen Savior,

He’s in the world today;

I know that He is living,

whatever foes may say;

I see His hand of mercy,

I hear His voice of cheer,

and just the time I need Him

He’s always near.


He lives, He lives,

Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me

Along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives,

Salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?

He lives within my heart.


Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,

Lift up your voice and sing

Eternal hallelujahs

To Jesus Christ the King!

The Hope of all who seek Him,

The Help of all who find,

None other is so loving,

So good and kind.


He lives, He lives,

Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me

Along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives,

Salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?


Say it with me please.


The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

Praise the risen Savior!

Amen.















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