Jesus is dead. All those wild and wondrous times on the road with him, sticking it up the religious leaders, welcoming the nobodies, sharing meals with Jesus is finished. Or maybe not…
Two disciples are on their way home to Jerusalem when they are joined by a stranger, and are shocked to find out he apparently knows nothing of what has just taken place in Jerusalem concerning Jesus of Nazareth. The stranger patiently listens and then begins to hold an impromptu bible study explaining what was really going on with Jesus. As they near home, the stranger makes out he is heading on somewhere else and they invite him in to stay the night. The stranger takes over as host, breaks bread and prays, and then disappears! They realise it was Jesus and run to tell the Eleven apostles “Jesus is alive!”
N.T. Wright wonderfully summarises what it means that Jesus has risen: “The message of the resurrection is that this world matters! That the injustices and pains of this present world must now be addressed with the news that healing, justice and love have won… If Easter means Jesus Christ is only raised in a spiritual sense – [then] it is only about me, and finding a new dimension in my spiritual life. But if Jesus Christ is truly risen from the dead, Christianity becomes good news for the whole world – news which warms our hearts precisely because it isn’t just about warming hearts. Easter means that in a world where injustice, violence and degradation are endemic, God is not prepared to tolerate such things – and that we will work and plan, with all the energy of God, to implement [the] victory of Jesus over them all. Take away Easter and Karl Marx was probably right to accuse Christianity of ignoring problems of the material world. Take it away and Freud was probably right to say Christianity is wish-fulfilment. Take it away and Nietzsche probably was right to say it was for wimps.” (N.T. Wright, For All God’s Worth).
There’s a pattern of discipleship here for us in this story: walk together with others in caring community; honestly share your heart and life story; invite Jesus in; see Jesus afresh in worship and the community of faith; go out and tell the good news of Jesus. What would your life look like if it centred on these rhythms of grace? What would our church be like? What would our meals look like?
(Painting by Caravaggio, 17th century)