Easter Day 2017Recognizing Jesus


St. Pauls Lutheran Church, Cambridge ON

Sunday April 16 2017, 10:00 am


      Acts 10:34-43 God raised Jesus on the third day

      Jeremiah 31:1-6 (alternate) Joy at the restoration of God’s people
      Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

      (Ps. 118:24)


      Colossians 3:1-4 Raised with Christ to seek the higher things

      Acts 10:34-43 (alternate) God raised Jesus on the third day


      Matthew 28:1-10 Proclaim the resurrection

      John 20:1-18 (alternate) Seeing the risen Christ


Sermon Preparation:

·      Download Bp Susan’s Easter message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIMK7nnBan4



Prayer of the Day[1]

God of mercy, we no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for he is alive and has become the Lord of life.

Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ, and help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life with you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Psalm and Refrain[2] None today

Gospel Reading (alternate): John 20:1-18

P.   The holy gospel according to John.

C.  Glory to you, O Lord.

1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that Jesus must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

_ 11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’_” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

P.   The gospel of the Lord. C.  Praise to you, O Christ.


Sermon: Recognizing Jesus                                                                        SERMON TITLE SLIDE

-It was not the empty tomb which persuaded Mary that Jesus had risen

-It’s only when she hears Jesus call her by name, that she believes.

-The tomb being empty was of secondary importance.

-It was the continuing presence of Jesus that was primary to their belief that Jesus had been raised.


-So, today I want to look at some of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, because I think that looking at how Jesus appeared among his earliest disciples, after the resurrection, can help us

 to recognize Jesus' presence with us today!


-Let's start with John's telling of the Easter Sunday story.[3]                        1. EASTER MORNING

-Having just discovered that Jesus' tomb is empty, Mary Magdalene is weeping.

-Then she asks a man whom she assumes to be the gardener, if he has taken away the body of Jesus.

-Jesus then calls Mary by name, and Mary recognizes him.

-But as she tries to take hold of Jesus, Jesus instructs Mary "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.

 But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father,

 to my God and your God."[4]

-Mary doesn't at first recognize Jesus.

      -That's a theme common among stories of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.

-Jesus appears to Mary in bodily form: he's visible; he speaks.

-But his form must be somewhat different from before the resurrection, because Mary Magdalene doesn't recognize Jesus.

      -It's only after Jesus has been speaking for a bit,       1a. MARY DOESN'T RECOGNIZE …

       when Jesus calls Mary by name, that she recognizes him.

-Jesus tells Mary to let him go,                                                    1b. JESUS THEN INSTRUCTS …

 and then Jesus sends Mary away                                                                   1c.  SENT TO TELL …

 to share the good news of his resurrection and ascension.


-The "Road to Emmaus"                                                   2. EASTER AFTERNOON … EMMAUS

 is one of my favourite stories about the resurrected Jesus.[5]

-The story takes place on the first Easter Sunday, late in the afternoon, and again, Jesus is at first, unrecognized as he walks with the disciples.

-It's only when the disciples are sharing a meal with Jesus that they recognize him.

-Luke writes: 30When [Jesus] was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.[6]

-Jesus appears, unrecognized, in bodily form to these two disciples, but it must not have been the usual body they were accustomed to.

      -This time,                                                                               2a. THEY DON'T RECOGNIZE …

       it's the action of breaking bread that reminds them of the Last Supper, which results in Jesus being recognized.

      -But as soon as they recognize Jesus,                                2b. THEN JESUS "VANISHED …"

       he disappears.

-Then, of their own volition,                                                     2c. THEY GO TO JERUSALEM …

 they go to Jerusalem  and tell the eleven " what had happened on the road, and how [Jesus] had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread."[7]


-Another story of Jesus’ appearing to the disciples begins at the same time as the Road to Emmaus story: the evening of the first Easter Sunday.                      3. EASTER AFTERNOON … DISCIPLES

-In this story, Jesus appears in bodily form —but it's a body which can pass through locked doors,

 so not a normal physical body.

-Jesus shows them the wounds of the crucifixion on "his hands and his side.

 Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord."[8]                     3a. THEY RECOGNIZE …

-Jesus sends them out, saying: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”[9]

-The duration of this meeting isn't specified,                                              3b. THE DURATION …

 but presumably it ends quickly when Jesus sends the disciples out                                                                   3c. THEY ARE SENT

 to forgive and retain sins.


-Later — John says only "After these things" —is a story of Jesus again not being recognized — at first.           4. AFTER THESE THINGS ….

-This story is told in John chapter 21, verses 1 through 19.

-Seven of the disciples are in a boat, fishing, in the Sea of Tiberias.

      -They fish all night, but are unsuccessful.

-A man on the shore inquires about their luck, and then suggests they should throw their nets

 to the other side of the boat.

      -The 7 disciples do what the stranger suggested, and their catch of fish is so big

       that they aren't even able to haul the nets in!

-The disciples catch-on to the hidden identity of this stranger,        4a. THEY RECOGNIZE …

 and Jesus serves them breakfast.

-When they have finished breakfast,                                                       4b. JESUS IS PRESENT …

 Jesus asks Peter three times  if Peter loves him.

      -And each time that Peter replies, he's told to follow Jesus by feeding Jesus' sheep.                                                                            4c. PETER IS TOLD …


-Time doesn't allow us to look at all the stories of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances,

 but we've covered a good sampling of them.

-And there's a common pattern:                                                                   COMMON PATTERN …

1.    Jesus isn't at first recognized;                                                                             1. Jesus isn't …

2.    His body has the usual physical characteristics —                                    2. His body has …

 often including his wounds from the crucifixion —

 his body has the usual physical characteristics, but also some additional qualities —like the ability to pass through locked doors, to suddenly vanish, or to do miracles;
    The encounter is of short duration;                                                   3. The encounter is brief


4.    Those who have been met by the risen Christ are sent, or go of their own volition, to do ministry —                                                                                        4. Ministry follows

 sharing the good news; proclaiming forgiveness, or taking care of those whom Jesus loves.


-It was often difficult for those first disciples to recognize the risen Lord!

      -And if it was difficult for them, it will be even more problematic for us!

-But we can anticipate that we will be enabled to see brief glimpses of Christ Jesus present among us!

      -And those brief glimpses will likely have something to do with Jesus' wounds —

       that is with pain or hurt — and those brief glimpses will likely have something to do with ministry.


-Liz Brignac is a freelance writer who frequently works with an online Christian education group called "ChurchNext.."

-And she compares Jesus' disciples not recognizing Jesus, with the friends of Clark Kent

 not recognizing him as Superman!

-Liz writes: We might remember, sometimes, to look for Jesus in the hungry, the stranger, the prisoner. But do we recognize Jesus in the people whom we see every day?


It is a question so common that it has become a cliché:  CLICK FOR SUPERMAN/CLARK

How do Clark Kent’s friends not recognize that he is Superman? Take off the glasses, and add a cape, and he looks just like Superman. He awkwardly disappears in every emergency for which super powers might be needed. He is a reporter who presumably covers the big events of Metropolis, but he is never around when Superman shows up.


Why don’t they recognize him? Because it’s easier to imagine Superman as an exotic stranger than as the bumbling, semi-competent reporter whose flaws are all too clear.

                                                                           "HOW TO RECOGNIZE JESUS SUPERMAN"

Here are some ways to take off the glasses of the Clark Kents in your life and recognize that they are Superman — THE super man — Jesus himself.

                                                                         CLICK TO ADD EACH BOLD TITLE IN TURN

1.    Look for moments of self-sacrifice for the sake of others. The person who quietly washes the coffee pot in the break room every day; the spouse who takes on the dishes AND the kids when she sees that you are exhausted — take off their glasses, and add a cape.

2.    Look for moments of deepest need. The friend battling addiction; the child who simply cannot seem to behave in school no matter what you try; the co-worker who is clearly overwhelmed and keeps making mistakes — take off their glasses, and add a cape.

3.    Look for healing. The person who comes and stands with you when you are off by yourself watching your son at a barbecue because he is the one who is most likely to spray the other kids with the garden hose; the doctor or nurse who takes the time to focus on listening to a frightened patient — take off their glasses, and add a cape.

4.    Look for patience. The puppy-rescue lady who takes on the problem dogs; the administrative officer who calmly puts out endless office fires; the grad student instructor who is never too busy to help a confused freshman, even if the confused freshman never really seems to get it — take off their glasses, and add a cape.


5.    Look in the mirror. When was the last time you sacrificed your time for a friend? Were patient with a child? Offered kindness to someone who needed you? Take off your glasses — which can so often only see weight gain, wrinkles, and problematic behavior — and add a cape.[10]


-Today, Jesus doesn't come in his own bodily form.

-Today Jesus comes to us in the bodily form of others — and sometimes, even,

 in the bodily form of you and me.

-Today, Jesus continues to make his "post-resurrection appearances."

-Today and every day, Jesus is in our midst, even though we might not always recognize him.


-May God grant each of us the eyes to see, and the ears to hear, Jesus' presence with us everyday. Amen.


Hymn of the Day: The Risen Christ ELW 390 (NO LICENSE so we'll sing from the books)


 Sending Thought: NONE ON EASTER


Please rise as you're able for

The Commission and Blessing[11]:

Go now, glad and rejoicing, for Christ is risen, and has become your saviour.
Set your minds on the things of God for your lives are hidden in Christ.
Preach and testify that he is the one ordained by God to [bring light and life to all].

And may God surround you with everlasting love.
May Christ Jesus raise you with him to life in glory.
And may the Holy Spirit + anoint you with power to do good. Amen.


[1] Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #47256.

[2] Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #47256.

[3] John 20.11-18

[4] John 20.16-17

[5] Luke 24.13-33

[6] Luke 24.30-31

[7] Luke 24.35

[8] John 20.20

[9] John 20.21-23

[10] Elizabeth Brignac "How to Recognize Superman." Posted March 30, 2016. https://churchnextblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/how-to-recognize-superman/

[11] From www.laughingbird.net