I have the privilege to give the communion message tomorrow at church. I can’t think of a better day, than Easter Sunday. This is the gist of what I am sharing.
Imagine what it would be like to be the disciples of Jesus. They are in shock, trauma and tremendous pain. Their grief was immense on a number of fronts. The guy they thought was the messiah, had been brutally tortured and then executed. The reality is, the guy they thought was the messiah, was the messiah – but, their expectations of the messiah – were vastly different to the real purpose of the messiah. A purpose they were soon to encounter. An encounter, which was to eternally change their lives.
The era in which Jesus was executed, had no electricity, the only ice they may have encountered was from snow. The only way they could stop death bodies from stinking to high heaven, was to cover them in herbs and spices. Some scholars say they used up to 30kg of spice matter to cover the bodies with.
A group of women go to the tomb to prepare and tend to his body properly – Imagine their grief. Their pain. And then imagine their heart ache and confusion when they discover the tombstone had been rolled away, and the graveclothes sitting on the tomb floor. Luke records that an angel appears to them telling them Jesus is alive. Other gospel accounts tell us that Jesus appeared and spoke with them. With great joy, they ran to the others and told them the news. But, apart from Peter who ran to the tombs to see for himself, the others scolded the women with disbelief.
For some reason, a couple of the disciples decided to take off and walk to Emmaus. A town some 7 miles away. During their walk, an apparent stranger came up to them and walked along with them. He was asking them questions to which they told him the story of the birth, ministry and death of Jesus. To make matters worse, they continued, some silly, very silly women, came and told us a story about how they had seen angels who said Jesus is alive. We don’t know what to make of it all.
The stranger starts to talk to them, rebuking them for being foolish, explaining that the law and prophets foretold this very thing. They continued their conversation, and entered the village. They invited the man to stay with them, as it seemed he was going to move on.
During the meal, the stranger took the bread and he gave thanks. He broke it, and began to give it to them. And it was here, during the receiving of the broken bread, their eyes were opened. They recognised him, and Jesus disappeared before their eyes. They got up and hurried back to Jerusalem, found the others and told them the news. Jesus is alive. He is risen. We have seen him ourselves. And they continued to tell them the news of what had happened.
While they were talking, Jesus appeared in their midst. I’m not a ghost, touch my hands and my feet. Give me something to eat. And then once again, opened their mind to the Scriptures which told of his birth, ministry, death and resurrection. That repentance and forgiveness of sin for all nations will be preached in his name.
There was tremendous power when Jesus broke the bread with his disciples. When Jesus broke bread with the disciples in Emmaus, their eyes were open, and they saw Jesus as he really was. There is tremendous power when we also break bread, and drink from the cup with each other, when we celebrate not only the death of Christ – but his resurrection.
And just as those disciples eyes were opened to know the fullness of Christ in their midst as they took the bread – let us continue to remember Jesus through the breaking the bread and drinking from the cup, so that our own eyes – both our natural and our spiritual eyes, that they will continually be opened to recognise Christ and all he has done.
Jesus took the bread and broke it. Saying this is my body, given to you, eat this in remembrance of me. In the same way, he took the cup, and shared it, saying, drink, this is my blood of the new covenant. Drink this in remembrance of me.
Before we praise God for all he has done, I would like to pray the prayer that the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians.
18 I pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know the hope to which he has called us, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Come Holy Spirit, we pray. Come.