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Welcome to

ST MICHAEL & All ANGELS CHURCH

(Church of England)

St Michael's Green, Warwick Road, Beaconsfield, Bucks HP9 2BN

 

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             Sermon given by Revd Kevin Beer

At St Michael’s 8am & 10.30am

19th April 2015

 

Acts 3:12-19  Luke 24:36b-48

 

Aim:    I believe in the resurrection of the body

 

It is sometimes the small details that stick out when you read the scriptures…  “Broiled fish”!

Why is Luke concerned about Jesus’ diet?

Nothing in the Bible is irrelevant!

 

Well, presumably the fish was broiled because Jesus didn’t have any batter and a deep-fat fryer to hand…

 

But that is not Luke’s point here.  It is the ordinariness of the resurrected Jesus eating the normal meal that the fisherman would have often shared with him, reminding them of those earlier times around Lake Galilee.

 

So, let’s rewind a bit.  The context of this story is an early resurrection appearance, following on directly from the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus – indeed, “while they were still talking about this”, so presumably that same evening which presumably is the same event that John chooses to highlight Thomas’ absence.  It was the first time that the disciples had seen the risen Christ for themselves.  What would be your reaction if you saw someone alive again who was dead and buried?  I don’t think it would be a pleasant surprise, even if it were someone you loved.  Luke tells us that they were startled and frightened thinking that they had seen a ghost.  But a ghost is not what they were seeing.  Before them stood a physical body, although able to appear mysteriously despite the locked doors.  So, it is not surprising that Jesus first words to them are “Peace be with you”.

 

Incidentally, last Tuesday I took the school assembly at St Mary’s and the theme was “What is peace?”  Of course, it is a traditional greeting shared by many faiths: Shalom for Jews, Salaam for Muslims, but given a special significance for Christians as we remember Jesus’ greeting from the other side of death.  This is why we usually add verse 27 to the usual John 14 passage that we have at funerals: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  Yes, as Christians, we share a peace that goes beyond death.

 

Like John, Luke records Jesus showed them his hands and the wounds that he sustained during his crucifixion and invited them to touch him.  There could be no doubt that it was him and not a mere ghost or spiritual apparition.  His resurrection body was somehow different so that sometimes it was not immediately recognisable, but it was definitely him appearing in the flesh – a sort of second incarnation, very closely related to the first, so not a re-incarnation as understood by some other religions.

 

If you find that heard to believe, and let’s be honest, it is hard for us to believe, then perhaps it will help you to consider something that we can see and study today… and that is that a butterfly shares the same DNA through all stages of life, as a caterpillar, as a chrysalis when the insides turn to complete mush, and then finally as butterfly.  So, if God can do that with ordinary DNA, is it really such a leap of faith to trust him to transform your body?  After all, the body you have now is a pretty miraculous creation, formed from a microscopic union of a sperm and egg, and yet we take that for granted.  And there is so much more of the wonders of creation that we have still to discover or explain.  I suspect Jesus words to us would be the same as to his disciples: “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?”

 

We are told that the disciples were overcome with joy and excitement but still could not comprehend what was happening – they literally did not believe their eyes or their sense of touch.  More evidence was needed for them to become convinced reliable witnesses to the resurrection.

 

So, it is at this point that Luke adds the detail about Jesus request for something to eat.  He may well have been hungry, having not eaten since the last supper, but the real point for us to think about is that a resurrection body will still be able to eat – which is great news for us who enjoy the bodily pleasures of food and drink!  One of the most enduring images of heaven is of the wedding feast of the lamb, for example, in Psalm 23, in Revelation and Jesus’ own parable of Lazarus and the rich man.  By eating that broiled fish, Jesus is showing us that life after death will be as physical as the life we know now.

 

So, when we say in the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in the resurrection of the body”, then it is a body like Jesus’ resurrection body that we can expect.  That is the Christian hope.  Not a disembodied spirit or soul, spending eternity remembering the brief existence on earth, but a complete being with a fully-functioning physical body that will last forever.  At the time of writing, it has been suggested that Luke was combatting Gnosticism and the Greek dualistic thought that suggested that only the soul was good and worth redeeming and the body and all its physical desires were bad.  If so, then he certainly sets the record straight.

 

Now, that is good news worth sharing.  And that’s exactly what the disciples did.  So how about us?  Do we believe that we will be given a new and glorious resurrection body, one that will last forever and that will still enjoy the physical pleasures of life, with all the senses including touch and taste?  What kind of God would invite us to the wedding feast of the lamb if we couldn’t then eat and drink?  So, tell people the good news, that when we die, the next thing we know will be what Jesus promised that thief on the cross: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise”.  Your loved ones will recognise you, as the complete you – body, mind, soul, spirit with memories of the past and former relationships.  However, these may be secondary as we will be in the presence of God and we will need eternity to fully appreciate his glory.

 

That’s what I believe when I say, “I believe in the resurrection of the body”.  Nothing more and nothing less.

 

 


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