Friday, February 11, 2011

Week 3 - A Missing Body

That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.  As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.  But God kept them from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”  
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”
“What things?” Jesus asked.
“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.
“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”
Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus unfolded to them the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!
 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”
Luke 24:13-34

Rumors. The reports they had heard before leaving Jerusalem to get out of town to Emmaus were all so confusing. It was bad enough that their long hoped-for Messiah had been killed by their own religious leaders, but now His body was missing. Now, there would only be an empty shrine to this significant Man in their lives.

The rumors claimed that Jesus had been raised from the dead – and He had made some ethereal comments about this Himself before He died – but was that really even possible? Could that be true?

These questions carried by Jesus’ followers are similar to the questions that the world still asks about Jesus. Where is His body – not His physical body, but His Body, the Church? Religious leaders have proven fallible. The Church has remained silent in the face of suffering and injustice. Many churches are more like shrines to a once-upon-a-time memory of God rather than places of His living presence.

But, just as it was then in Jerusalem, there is still the nagging rumor of a resurrection; an insistent New Life still whispers about. It is more organic than systemic, more dynamic than dogmatic. People with incredible stories of finding Jesus keep showing up everywhere, and their eyes are so filled with light that it is obvious that they are telling the truth.

Are we people of the resurrection? Do we carry the new life of Jesus in us? Perhaps if we did, the rumor might be believed, the truth might get out. Perhaps if we lived the life of Jesus here and now, our world would be changed with His presence.

The Real Question: Is the true life of Jesus recognizable in me or do I simply carry the rumor of a resurrection?

Family Talk: How do you think our family is doing at being the “body of Christ” in the world today? How are we living and acting in ways that look like Jesus? What else could we do?

ONE in Prayer: Jesus, I want to be filled with Your life so that others may know that You are able to be their life as well. Show me where I have an opportunity today to share Your story. Amen.

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