From Pastor Kenny's Desk
April 15, 2018
While they were still talking about this, Jesus actually stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
In their panic and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. Jesus said to them, “Why are you disturbed? Why do such ideas cross your mind? Look at my hands and my feet; it is I, really. Touch me and see – a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones as I do.” After saying this, Jesus showed them the wounds.
They were still incredulous for sheer joy and wonder, so Jesus said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” After being given a piece of cooked fish, the savior ate in their presence.
Then Jesus said to them, “Remember the words I spoke when I was still with you: everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the psalms had to be fulfilled.”
Then Jesus opened their minds to the understanding of the scriptures, saying, “That is why the scriptures say that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. In the Messiah’s name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of all this.” Luke 24:36-48
This text from Luke’s story is full of ideas and things to consider about Jesus resurrection. For instance, Jesus willingness to eat, drink and be touched in order to convince he is not a ghost. He accommodates his disciples' fear rather than condemn it. Or the disciples' persistent doubt. Luke's description is stunning ... and rings true: they were still incredulous for sheer joy and wonder … So even those who saw the resurrected Jesus had a hard time! Or Jesus opening up the Scriptures so that they could understand how what had just happened fit into the larger story of God's plan of salvation for all people.
Here's where I'm focusing: Jesus calls his disciples … then and now … to be witnesses.
That's right. I'd love to soft-pedal it, but I just don't think there's any way to get around it: we are called to be witnesses to what God has done … and is still doing … for us and all the world in and through Jesus.
And here's what I think is particularly wonderful about Luke's description of this scene: even though the disciples don't believe … or at least experience faith as this mixture of joy, doubt and wonder … they are still called to be witnesses. And if that's true for them … we're certainly not exempt. Part of being resurrection people … is being witnesses.
So having said that, I know witness frightens a lot of people. We don't think we can witness or we might have had a bad experience on the receiving end of someone else's witness, or don't know what we'd say or ... and the list goes on. But I actually think we do witness all the time.
No, I'm not talking about "life-style evangelism" … what I mean is that we bear witness to things that are important to us all the time. We bear witness to the great movies or television programs we've seen and want others to enjoy. We bear witness to the accomplishments … or failures … of our sports teams. We bear witness to the important events in our family or work lives. We bear witness … that is, tell someone about … the things that matter to us all the time.
It's not really all that different when it comes to faith. Witnessing does not mean shoving our faith down someone's throat or threatening them with eternal hellfire if they don't believe like we do. Witnessing is not insisting others believe exactly what you believe. It's simply telling others where we sensed God at work … at home or work, at church or school, through a stranger or a friend, a doctor or teacher or neighbor, even through ourselves. Bearing witness is nothing more than saying where you think God is at work in your life and the world. We bear witness all the time; we're just not used to thinking about doing it in terms of our faith.
As a congregation here's what I'm proposing we try this week: bear witness to something your used to talking about … sports, work, family, school, fashion, your favorite wine, glitter … whatever. Be aware of how you share … what makes a good witness … speaking with candor, honesty, passion, simply, conversationally, about something good that happened. Is there only one way to do it? No. Does it have to be perfect? Absolutely not. In fact, what is perfect when you're sharing news of something you love? See? Witnessing is easier than we think.
Then do it again, this time talking about faith … where have you sensed God at work in the world, whether in their personal life, through the work of the government or school or the church or through someone else's life. Whatever. Sure, it's new, but most people really can do this ... you just don't think you can. At first it might seem odd and uncomfortable but with practice becomes more natural and easy.
Here’s the best part … you never know how or when God will use your efforts to bless someone else. So many are hurting in our world and need to hear the message of God’s healing, transforming love and grace … for all people … just the way they are! God will use your witness to bring blessing and healing.
So there you have it: Resurrected people witness, perhaps not yet with great confidence, but who knows … before long in our joy, while disbelieving and still wondering, we will hear and respond to Jesus' call to be his witnesses.