Archives: 3 Easter

Seven Miles From Jerusalem, Chased Down By Jesus

As you all remember, the Road to Damascus is the story of when the Apostle Paul had a vision of Jesus and was so overcome by the glory that he was knocked off his horse and went blind.

The Road to Damascus moment is an incredibly vivid and immediate experience of God that instantly changes your life forever.

Many people in the Bible have Road to Damascus moments besides just Paul. Moses sees the burning bush. Isaiah is taken into God’s throne room. The shepherds tending their flocks by night are overwhelmed by the heavenly host of angels.

Each of these is a life-changing experience of God that floods the senses and sets one’s soul ablaze with the Holy Spirit.

But we aren’t studying the Road to Damascus moment in our Gospel lesson today.

We’re given the Road to Emmaus.

The Road to Emmaus is the polar opposite of the Road to Damascus.

The Road to Damascus is marked by suddenness, awe, intensity and clarity.

The Road to Emmaus is shadowed by fear, uncertainty, grief and delay, and the final, healing understanding comes only in the aftermath. Continue reading

Talk Is Cheap, Jump Out of the Boat

Today we read the breakfast on the beach, a surprisingly earthy and physical text for John to give us.

One way of describing the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, vs. John, the strange, outlier mystical gospel is that the synoptics tell us what Jesus did, and John tells us what Jesus means.

This text is rich with symbolism and meaning, so let’s explore it a bit.

First, we look at the numbers in the story.

The disciples, perhaps a bit overwhelmed with the recent events of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, return to what they know best: fishing.

But remember what fishing symbolizes in the gospels: evangelism.

“Come and follow me and I will make you fishers of people,” Jesus says.

And so the disciples fish all night, but they catch nothing.  Without Jesus, their labors are in vain.

And then, in the morning, Jesus comes to them.

He tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, and suddenly it is near to breaking with the weight of the fish.

And John tells us exactly how many of them there were: 153.

153 was thought in those days to be the total number of species of fish that existed in the world, and Jesus had helped the disciples catch every single one of them.

This is meant to remind us that on our own, our evangelism efforts are fruitless, but with Jesus, we can touch the soul of every single person that we meet, by trusting in him and following his commandments.

153 is the first important number in this gospel, and 3 is the second important number. Continue reading

Enough With the Miracles Already

The status quo is the most powerful force in the world.

And sometimes it seems like Jesus’ mission is life is to break up the status quo, to challenge it, to upend it, to hit us over the head with how very un-normal life with him is.

And we kind of hate it.

Consider our stories today from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Luke. They are marked with fear and astonishment at the miracles being witnessed.

In the Book of Acts, Peter and John are going to prayer, and in the name of Jesus Christ they heal a man who cannot walk.

“All the people saw him walking and praising God,” Acts says, “and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished.”

The same thing happens in our gospel story, tinged with even more intensity.

“Jesus himself stood among the disciples and their companions and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.”

Even the very people who walked with Jesus on earth, who saw him perform miracles every day, kept getting caught off guard.

Why?

You would think after walking around with him for three years, seeing the healing and the feeding and the walking on water, they would be a little more adjusted to living among the miraculous.

Especially after Jesus had told them repeatedly that he would be raised from the dead.

Jesus wants an answer to the same question.

“Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” he says.

The truth is that we don’t want to live in a miraculous world because that would force us to give up control. Continue reading

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