A reading of John 20:1-18 by Pastor Kristina for Easter morning.
Filmed by Mark Ducommun
Easter 2020: The Hope of the Saviour
April 12th, 2020
Have you ever really hoped for something, only to be disappointed or let down? I think we all can, can’t we? Maybe even today, some of you are feeling some disappointment or loss of hope. For weeks you have been looking forward to having that Easter dinner with family and now you can’t. Or maybe a vacation you were looking forward to was cancelled. I think we can all fill in the blanks for our own situations.
It is Easter Sunday, a day where we celebrate hope because of what Jesus did for us. But that first Easter Sunday, almost 2000 years ago, didn’t begin for everyone on a hopeful note.
- i. Introduced to two people: Cleopas, and a fellow traveller (could be his wife, could be Luke, we don’t really know).
- ii. They were ‘disciples’ of Jesus – they were not the inner 12 we regularly think about, but part of a larger group who followed Jesus as He taught.
- iii. Coming home from Jerusalem, likely from the annual, mandatory Passover celebrations. It was a 7 mile trek to a place mentioned only here, Emmaus.
- iv. Intently engaged in a deep conversation with passion about everything that just happened, the Passover celebration, Jesus’ death, and likely what the prophets said in OT regarding the Messiah.
- v. Jesus suddenly shows up and walks alongside them, listening, like a stranger who is on the periphery.
- vi. They have no idea that it is Jesus as for some reason, God kept them from recognizing Jesus. We are not completely sure why, but we can assume that God needed them to go through the coming experience to teach them an important lesson.
- i. Jesus says (paraphrased) “hey, what’s up? What are you talking about?”
- ii. It catches them off guard completely. They actually have to stop walking. They feel the heaviness and lack of hope from the weekend. It is written across their face.
- iii. They respond by saying (paraphrased) “have you been asleep all this time? Where you been at? How could you not know what we are talking about? How could you not hear?”
- iv. Jesus prompts further by asking “what things – what you talking about?”
- v. They then unload all their disappointments, their discouragement, and hopelessness, their failed expectations. To them:
- a. Jesus was a good man, prophet, miracle worker, good teacher. But He was condemned to death.
- b. He was the same guy who they hoped would rescue them from Rome (as evidenced by Palm Sunday and the triumphal entry) but was now dead.
- c. On top of that, there is news that Jesus’ body is gone. The women saw angels who said He was alive, but no body was found later. And the two aren’t satisfied. They don’t know, or believe, and are still feeling like the wind knocked out of their sails.
- i. Jesus speaks a correction: “Do you not know what has been written in the Scriptures you know so well? Don’t you understand it? Don’t you get it?”
- ii. Jesus spends the rest of the journey (likely a long time as the whole journey was 7 miles) with captive audience. He shares from the entire Hebrew Scriptures, which they likely knew well (right from the beginning – writings of Moses to the end – prophets) about who the Messiah was and what was to happen to Him. All the of the Old Testament speaks to His death and new life.
- iii. Important as He was speaking (from the writings they would have known well) about who He truly was, not just a ‘king’.
- i. As they are sitting and having a meal, Jesus breaks the bread (reminiscent of the last supper), and instantly their eyes are opened to who this stranger was. They then look around to see He is gone.
- ii. They realize that as He taught them, their hearts were burning within them. Something was resonating.
- iii. In excitement, they go back to Jerusalem 7 miles to find where the 11 were gathered. Hear that Jesus had appeared and was risen. And they backed up that news from their experience. They had just experienced the hope of the Saviour.
Can you imagine what it would have been like to be Cleopas and his companion in that moment? To feel so full of despair and hopelessness, completely heavy from everything they had hoped in to come crashing down, to have their world be completely different and disappointing. Yet in a moment, a split second they had their hope, astonishment, and joy come flooding in as they see Jesus alive! As they put together the words Jesus spoke with recognizing who this stranger really was, they saw Jesus to be more than just a revolutionary leader. They saw Him to be the promised Lord and Saviour.
Important to remember that Jesus returned to them hope – but not in the way they expected or initially wanted, but in the way they needed. They didn’t need freed from Rome. Jesus offered freedom from the religious system of the day (with all of its restrictions and requirements), a real and personal relationship with God that had been restored, a message of spiritual healing and life, and a message of purpose and future in a world filled with chaos and unrest.
Picture today that you are Cleopas or his travelling companion. Where today are you feeling hopeless, discouraged, disappointed, depressed, heavy, weighed down, with the wind knocked out of your sails? What is written across your face? Where do you need the Hope of a Saviour?
The heart of the Father pursued you with love, an unconditional, all encompassing, overflowing love. Enough so that God Himself, in the person of Jesus, came down to Earth to physically die for you, and then rise to life again so that today, you can have the Hope of the Saviour. Because of Jesus, we can be invited into a personal relationship with God, where regardless of what we face, we don’t have to feel alone and hopeless. Where we can experience the love of God in a personal way that is bigger than any circumstance, pain, or failed expectation we face. Where, because of this relationship, we can experience His strength, His peace, His joy, His comfort, His presence. And we can know that whatever we are facing, because He lives, we also can live too. We can live beyond the here and now. We can live facing tomorrow, we can live facing eternity. We can know that whatever we face, we have the Hope of the Saviour who is bigger than all of it, and who promises us a life beyond this mere mortal life that is beyond compare. That is perfect, that is the way God originally designed us for and completes our story. Because He lives.