Recently our Sunday school lessons focused on the post-resurrection
appear-ances of Jesus. Some scholars believe the Emmaus Road encounter is the
most beautiful true story in all of literature. On the Emmaus road Jesus gave
Cleopas and his companion a Bible lesson, ‘opening their minds’ to the truth that all Scripture is about
Himself. [A remarkable insight is that prayer is crucial before opening the Word to read or study, so that the Holy Spirit
might open one’s mind. The birthday of the Christian church is recorded in Acts 2 when Peter taught about Jesus from
the Old Testament scriptures and 3000 believed and were baptized.] We marvel
that Jesus, defying the laws of physics, suddenly stood in the presence of His disciples, passing through walls and ceilings.
He had a physical body with “flesh and bones”, but apparently without blood. High and/or low blood sugar will
not be the plight of believers in the new Jerusalem where we too will have bodies like the risen Jesus. That in several encounters, Jesus was not at first recognizable in His glorified body, some scholars believe,
is because of the still visible scars on His face suffered at the hands of Roman
soldiers. Are they chiseled there for eternity?
The gospel stories thunder the reality that He was alive, convincing those
who saw and touched Him to go and tell His story to the world.
E. Stanley Jones contrasts the “Nos” of some other religions to the Yes of Jesus in a brilliant essay:
“The Stoics to shut out sorrow had to shut out love and pity--a No. Buddhism,
believing that suffering and existence were the same, had to cut the root of desire even for life--a No. Hinduism, in wanting
to get from the personal to the impersonal Brahma is a No to human personality. Modern
materialism in affirming that life is a combustion of chemical elements like a flame reduced to ashes, is a No. Hedonism is summed up in the last words of an actor: ‘let
down the curtain, the farce is done’ – a No.
At the end of the recital of the No-verdicts on life, the Divine
Yes has at last sounded in Jesus, for He is the Yes that affirms all the promises of God.
He does not verbally affirm Yes to life as a philosopher, He is
the Yes. The Yes is His very Person.
And yet it is no cheap, easy Polyanna Yes. It is a Yes with scars on it. It is a Yes won out of a No, an Easter morning won out of a cross. He turned the worst thing that can happen to man, a cross, into the best thing that can happen to man,
redemption…. Jesus cleansed the universe of many gods and goddesses and gave us one holy God, our Father. The gods of self-seeking adoration gave way to the God of self-giving sacrifice…He cleansed prayer
from self-seeking benefits to the benefit of self-surrender. He cleansed greatness
from having a great many servants to serving a great many. He cleansed life from
basic pessimism to basic optimism.…Jesus is the Great Affirmation. He affirms
the most radical proposition ever made to the mind of man, the proposition that the present unworkable world order, based
upon greed and self-seeking, be replaced by God’s order – the kingdom of God based upon self-giving service and
love.” E. Stanley Jones, Victory through Surrender
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the pesence of His glory
with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty
Dominion and Power
Both Now and Forevermore. Amen