Our Lord Simply Will Not Quit Giving

Text: Luke 24:36-49 

So here we see the disciples in the text. They are in a locked up room of a house and then “Bam” Jesus appears right before them. The text says that they thought they saw a ghost. They were troubled and doubted what they saw. We can imagine them thinking, “Is this Jesus? Has he been risen? Am I believing what I am seeing?” As we look to the disciples it is great to be able to see their humanity and their struggles. We see realness to them. They doubted, they were troubled, they had a tough time believing and their minds were closed to the scriptures. 

 Now if you can imagine at this point the disciples have had a little time to wrestle with the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead, but what kind of resurrection was it? Was Jesus simply a spirit come back from the grave to haunt them some way? Was this resurrection just a vision? Maybe this resurrection was some extreme case of their wishful thinking! When Jesus came before them they didn’t know what to make of what they saw. 

Needless to say, this group of disciples was hardly a robust, confident group of men who wanted to take on the whole Roman Empire. Rather, they were scared, overwhelmed and confused. 

This story of the disciple isn’t just an empty historical lesson. This story in the Gospel of Luke is not only our history but it is “our” story too. We are no different than the disciples. None of us. Be honest now! There’s not one of us here who still doesn’t struggle with doubts and troubles and unbelief. That may rub some of you the wrong way, but we need to call it the way that it is. For example, we struggle when God calls the very things that we think, say and do “sin.” We struggle believing that forgiveness is really sufficient and we resort to trying to amend our sins by our own works. We are just like the disciples. We doubt, we are scared, we are troubled. 

What I find comforting in the midst of this passage is how Christ meets the disciples. He meets them by saying, “Peace be with you.” He meets them bringing gifts. 

My friends, all of the Christian life is one of gift! When we understand our sinful nature, our rebellion towards God, our rejection of everything that is good and true, and how we consistently choose ourselves and our agendas, we start to see that the story, message and essence of Christianity as pure gift. 

“But Pastor Matt, life is hard. Life is painful. Life is unpredictable. How can you say that all if gift? You are not advocating for a prosperity message are you?” I agree with you. This life is one that has been marred by sin. Everything that God created as good and true was marred, twisted and perverted by the disease of sin. Therefore, God is totally just to unleash His wrath upon sin and this world. God would be totally just to let the world go its way. God would be totally just to leave us to our sin. However, He does not. 

Think about this for a moment with me! Jesus is the one that chose the disciples, not the disciples who chose Him. He is the one that went to the cross even when Peter rebuked Him trying to persuade Him not to. The disciples abandoned Jesus, Peter even denied Him, yet He comes to them pronouncing Peace. They are full of doubt and fear; He comes to bear gifts of peace and assurance. They believe He is a Ghost, they can’t believe their eyes. He shows them what sort of resurrection He underwent. He said, to them, “Why are you troubled and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” He not only showed them His body but He also ate some fish. Jesus was establishing that He was truly alive, that He was truly resurrected. He met their doubt and fear by giving physical evidence that He was alive. What a gift for the disciples. 

For us today my friends we are gifted with the testimony of the scriptures. These scriptures are historical biographies and eyewitness accounts of Jesus. We have four Gospel and 23 other New Testament books that give us evidence that Jesus is resurrected. As we contemplated 2 weeks ago, the resurrection affirms to us so many things. The resurrection affirms to us that Jesus is truly divine, that Jesus really did pay for our sins, that Jesus truly is our advocate and that Jesus truly is life and that in His name we too are promised life. Jesus coming to grant evidence was a gift. His scriptural evidence is a gift to us right here and right now as we find ourselves facing doubts, uncertainty and troubles. 

Jesus does not quit giving either. He gives the disciples the gift of Faith to receive and understand Him. Have you ever thought about this before? Not only is salvation and forgiveness of sins a gift, the very faith to receive salvation is a wonderful gift! The disciples were full of unbelief. Thomas in the Gospel of John was full of doubt. Christ comes to the unbelieving disciples bearing gifts. He reveals Himself to the disciples and He opens their minds to understand the scriptures. My friends, your faith and my faith are very personal and extremely important. Without faith there is no salvation. However, the very essence of faith itself is a total gift to us. Think about why this is such great news! Faith isn’t something that you and I need to conjure up from some resource deep in our heart. It isn’t as if salvation is accomplished out there and then we are responsible to get enough faith mustered up to possess salvation. No, my friends! Faith happens when the Word impacts us. Faith comes not by our will but by hearing God’s Word. (Romans 10:17) Thomas believed when Jesus said, “Do not doubt, but believe.” You see Christ comes to the disciples who are full of fear and doubt and proclaims “Peace.” The same Christ that spoke to the disciples some 2000 years ago comes to us in His word and grants us faith through His Word saying, “I finished it all for you. Look upon me, for I am the Messiah. I was made sin for you. I give you my righteousness so that in Me you may become the righteousness of God.” 

"God changes or converts sinners into his newborn chosen children. God takes the dust of those who are dead in sin, those who have turned their back on the author of life and he breathes into them the forgiveness of sin through His re-creative Word." (Robert Kolb) 

To make things even better Jesus says that He will be granting them the Holy Spirit. It is the same to for you my friends. By faith we not only receive salvation and forgiveness of sins, we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to us, He is a gift. 

 Now, we live in a day and age where there are all sorts of controversy about the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that churches tend to polarize to two opposite extremes. Some churches stay completely away from the Holy Spirit and others submerge themselves into the Holy Spirit and can tend to find themselves doing and saying some things that tend to be controversial to say the least. Regardless of your background or experiences, we get to confess that the Holy Spirit is a gift. He is given to us. The Holy Spirit is the applier of the Word. John’s Gospel testifies to us that the Holy Spirit is our counselor; He teaches us; He reminds us of scriptures; He points us to Jesus; He convicts us of sin; He guides us; and He brings Glory to Jesus. All of this my friends is gift. 

Finally, God gives gifts to us in His proclaimed / preached Word. Keep in mind now that the devil, the world and even our sinful nature all hate the proclamation of the Word. The devil, the world and our flesh do not see the proclamation of the Word as a gift. They constantly try and substitute the proclamation of the Word with anything and everything. Our ears are always itching to hear something, in fact anything other than the Gospel. Nevertheless, the Word stands today. The Word regardless of itching ears goes forth because it must go forth. The Word of Law continually brings forth repentance and the Word of Gospel continually brings forth faith. This proclamation is a gift, a gift that rings loudly each and every Sunday from hundreds of thousands of pulpits in churches around the world. The Word continually goes forth and is proclaimed through the radio waves, on the internet and to one another. God’s gift to us in the midst of all the noise in this world is the sure and steady message that gifts us Jesus and His atoning sacrifice. The Word keeps going forth, announced, confessed, proclaimed… being a constant reminder to us that for the sake of Christ our sins are forgiven. What a gift.