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Apr 10 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 8, 2012 – Present Your Bodies

Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. John 20:19-20 (read verses 19-23)

INTRO: The day after Easter 2004, I had an impression as if God were speaking to me

Church attendance swells on Easter–more than any other day of the year
– so there was always a lot of preparation for Easter weekend and we treated Easter Day as a big event
– then, like all big events, the day after we would experience an emotional let down
• but that year, I felt that God was saying, “Don’t draw an ‘X’ through that box on calendar–Easter isn’t over”

The following weekend I visited the Camadoli hermitage near Big Sur for first time
– there I met Fr. Romuald, and through his love and wisdom I discovered a new level of intimacy with God
– one morning that same weekend, while meditating in scripture, I received another impression, as though God was saying, “I am bringing something new to birth in you”
– this coincided with Easter, which they celebrate, not for a day, but all through April and May

Two years later, a few weeks before Easter, I had my last visit with Romuald
– he was dying of cancer
I told him, “I don’t see why God thinks it’s alright for him to take you now that I have just met you, learned so much from you, and still have so much more to learn”
– he smiled and said, “Oh Chuck, I am not your teacher. The Holy Spirit is your Teacher and he will continue to guide your spiritual progress”
• two weeks later I returned to the hermitage for his memorial service

I tell you this so you can understand why Easter isn’t just a holy day to me
– we don’t merely celebrate Easter, we come to life again through it

After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. (Jn. 14:19)

This morning, we are coming to life again
God is bringing something new to birth in you

What did Jesus do for his disciples that night?

This was an important encounter, right?
– it’s the first time the disciples saw Jesus after his resurrection
– what does he do?

  1. He reassures them, “Peace to you”
    – he has to begin here –if they’re afraid or anxious they’ll miss what’s happening
    – to reassure them, he shows them his hands and side — this was meant to establish the fact that it was Jesus himself
    – in the three years they had been with him, they may have come to know his soul, but it is through his body that he identifies himself
    – when human remains are discovered somewhere, they are identified by the idiosyncracies of their owner’s body — thumb print, dental records, DNA
    – our bodies carry the story of who we are
    – after showing them his wounds, Jesus repeated his greeting, “Peace to you”
    – at this point, they were ready to take his greeting more literally
  2. He assigned them their mission
    “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (Jn. 17:18)
    – their work was in the world
    – they were not to withdraw into a private, religious subculture, live in avoidance of the world, or ascend to an out-of-this-world astral plane
    – Easter did not remove them from the daily grind, but gave them a mission within it
  3. He breathed the Holy Spirit into them
    – the Spirit would move inside of them–touch with their hands, speak through their mouths (Mt. 10:19-20)
    “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’‘ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (Jn. 7:37-39)
  4. He authorized them forgive sins
    – release people from their slavery (addictions)
    – relieve people of their greatest burdens — the burden of their mistakes and bad choices

Their encounter with the risen Jesus changed their lives
– their lives in the world were no longer up for grabs or random
• remember in high school, “What will you do after graduate?” — you had to have your whole future planned out
– we think we have to come up with a purpose for our lives
• an encounter with the risen Jesus changes everything and Jesus wanted them to be at peace with that

What have we learned in the past few weeks?

In our first study, looking at what Bible says about our bodies we came across Romans 8:11

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

We learned that Christian spirituality is physical
– there are not two separate universes — one material and the other spiritual
– spirit is in our universe and part of it, but it is one level or dimension more (that our four space-time dimensions)
– according to Karl Rahner, a Christian is a “physical spirit”

Many people live at war with their bodies
– science sometimes tells us that’s all we are–the sum total of our biological and neurological functions — soulless organisms or machines
• the conclusion we draw from that is “Make the most of this brief material existence”
– the fashion industry and media attempt to define beauty for our culture and define it in terms of appearance
• having a specific body shape and facial features
• they do not look for or celebrate the beauty that is, nor do they seem to recognize or appreciate inner beauty

Earlier in this chapter in John, Mary Magdalene desperately begged for the body of Jesus
– not because it was the one perfect body, but because it was his
– the reason we shake your hand and give you a hug – to us, your body is you and it is you that we love

What does all of this mean? – there are two things I want to emphasize

First, listen to your body – pay attention to it as a spiritual conduit
– if you listen, you’ll learn to discern what the Spirit is telling you and what he is doing in you
– for example: When you become aware of a muscle group that is tight or sore, ask, “What is the conflict my body is carrying in that muscle group?”
• wanting to be at peace with others, but having trouble instead?
• wanting things to go smoothly, but they’re falling apart?
• wanting to get things done, but feeling overwhelmed?
• wanting to be satisfied with life, but feeling empty? Discontent?
– stay with your unpleasant feelings until they reveal their truth to you
• otherwise, there are lessons you will never learn, problems you will never outgrow

Second, we really have to discover the spirituality of ordinary things
– it is not always what we do, but the why and the how of things we do
– the why: to glorify God, strengthen other Christians, reveal Christ to world
– how: “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14)
– there is no activity in life, no matter how mundane, that we cannot dedicate to God
•  taking a walk can be spiritual, eating a meal can be spiritual, etc.

On Jesus’ short list:

And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. (Mt. 10:42)

This icon behind me [the Trinity Icon, by Andre Rublev] tells the story of the three angels who visited Abraham and Sarah
– here the angels were, interacting with a man and his wife and not doing anything supernatural or out of the ordinary
• they rested, they ate a meal, and they conversed
– neither did the human couple do anything extraordinary
• they showed hospitality, fed their guests, and conversed with them
Yet the whole scene glows with a divine light
– early on, people who looked intently at this icon saw symbols of the Trinity in it
– it’s a reminder that God is with us in the normal routine of our everyday lives
Our bodies and ordinary activities are never trivialized in scripture

CONC: Karl Rahner once compared Jesus’ resurrection to lighting a fuse

No one lights the fuse and says, “Well, I’m glad that’s over with”
– if the fuse is burning its way toward a bundle of dynamite, we know that lighting it was not merely a past event, but an initial event that is being carried forward

The resurrection of Jesus is not over and done
– it is ongoing – it connects the present to the future
– it is going to explode into everlasting life

Let’s return to our ordinary lives this week like men and women who have just come from the empty tomb

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