The Gospel text for this Sunday (Luke 24:36b-48, the third Sunday of Easter, is so full of amazing content, it’s hard to focus on just one idea for a sermon.
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’* They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.* While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish,and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah* is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses* of these things. (NRSV from Oremus Bible Browser)
There is the reality of peace as Jesus enters among the disciples, the matter of Jesus eating fish to demonstrate his flesh and bone resurrected nature, and his call to the disciples to be witnesses for him throughout the world. These are all big preaching topics, subjects of interest for any congregation. But, there is one other part of this that stands out the most to me this week. It is found in verse 45, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. . .”
It must have been an amazing experience to have their minds open by Jesus in this way. I’m trying to visualize what this must have been like for them, thinking there must have been some real candles (or whatever lightbulb equivalent) going off in the thought bubbles above their heads. I’m also wondering how quickly they began to close that which Jesus had so gently and persistently opened. It wasn’t long before followers of Jesus would begin building a box and closing their minds to what else Jesus had for them to understand from the Scriptures.
We continue in that line of open-minded box builders at times. Don’t we?