Is It Too Late? (Resurrected Witness – Part II)

Sermon Title: Is It Too Late?

Good News Statement: Jesus loves us

Preached: Sunday, May, 08 2022 at Dogwood Prairie UMC & Seed Chapel UMC

Pastor Daniel G. Skelton, M.Div.

 

Scripture (NRSV): Luke 24:28-35 Today’s scripture reading comes from the Gospel of Luke chapter twenty-four verses twenty-eight thru thirty-five. Listen to these words of certainty by Luke…

The Walk to Emmaus

28 As [the two men and Jesus] came near the village to which they were going, [Jesus] walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But [the two men] urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

This is the Word of God for the People of God; And all God’s people said, “Thanks be to God.”

Introduction:

One day, a little girl is sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly notices that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast to her brunet-colored hair. She looks at her mother and inquisitively asks: “Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?” Her mother replied: “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then asked: “Mom, how come all of grandma’s hairs are white?”

During class one day, the teacher asked her students to write a definition about their mom. One student wrote: Mom—supportive, makes great sandwiches, and always seems to work outside of time. Another student wrote: Mom—loving, caring, encouraging, and is always wanting me to clean my room. The third student wrote: Mom—a person who has the amazing ability to hear a sneeze through three closed doors in the middle of the night, three bedrooms away…while Dad snores next to her.

Finally, a son asks his father, “When is Mother’s Day, Dad?” And the boy’s father replies, while unplugging the vacuum, “Every day son, every day is Mother’s Day!”

Today is Mother’s Day! Mother’s Day gives people a special opportunity to show their gratitude to the moms, stepmoms, grandmas, great-grandmas, aunts, and other maternal figures in their lives. Mother’s Day is the day by which we remember the words of King Solomon who wrote when describing Lady Wisdom, “Her children bless her; her husband praises her…” (Proverbs 31:28), and “Strength and honor are her clothing; she is confident about the future. Her mouth is full of wisdom; kindly teaching is on her tongue…” (Proverbs 31:25-27). Mother’s Day is the day in which we stop what we are doing and take the time to notice the important women in our life before it is too late.

The idea of “too late” is played out in our text today. The story of the two men walking home on the road to Emmaus ends with inviting Jesus, who they have not yet recognized, to eat with them. It isn’t until after Jesus disappears that these two men recognize the stranger who walked with them from Jerusalem to Emmaus. But was it too late? Did the two men miss their opportunity to give praise and glory to the one, who was handed over to the authorities, crucified, laid in a tomb, and on the third day rose again? Did these two men miss their opportunity to say thank you to the one person who risked everything so that they may live? Was it too late?

Have any of you ever missed the opportunity to say thank you or I’m sorry or to simply acknowledge the one person in your life that has sacrificed so much so that you could face tomorrow without any worries? Have you ever felt as if you were too late for something or to recognize someone? The scripture today picks up where we left off two weeks ago: we are now in Emmaus, sitting around a table, and eating with a “stranger”—who we know is Jesus. We are in the presence of someone who has changed our lives, like the many maternal figures in our life have done, are doing, and will do. But have we noticed them before they have disappeared? Before they have vanished? Jesus loves us even when it feels like we missed our chance to say “I love you back.” It’s never too late to recognize certain people. It’s never too late…

Opening Prayer:

            Let us pray… Dear Lord Jesus, I pray that you allow today’s message to encourage all of us to recognize those in our life who have made a difference before it is too late. Help us and nurture us as we take the time to explore your word with hopes of becoming a better disciple than what we were yesterday. May my words fall to the ground as Your words find the hearts of all those before me. In your Resurrected name we pray, Amen.

Body:

Two weeks ago, we began our journey of travelling with Jesus during his resurrection by sojourning with him on the road to Emmaus. As we walked with Jesus and the other two men—one named Cleopas and the other man is unnamed—we learned several things. Frist, the road to Emmaus is our reminder that Jesus has work to do before he ascends; second, that we have Scripture yet to learn; and third, the road to Emmaus is our reminder that Jesus will not only sit with us but he walk with us even when our faith is low, even though we may not recognize him, he recognizes us. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus recognizes you.

Jesus recognizes us in our defeat. He recognizes us when our heads are down. He recognizes us when we don’t recognize him. He recognizes us when we shout for joy. He recognizes us when raise an alleluia and an amen. He recognizes us when we don’t recognize him. He recognizes us when we approach the altar. He recognizes us when we feel alone, abandoned. He recognizes us in our moments of greatness. He recognizes us when we don’t recognize him. He recognizes us when we need to be healed. He recognizes us in a world of selfishness. He recognizes us as we sit in our pew. Jesus recognizes us when we don’t recognize him. The road to Emmaus is our opportunity to witness the presence of Jesus Christ in our life before it is too late. This leads us to the next leg of our journey.

After travelling about seven miles west of Jerusalem, the two men plus Jesus have now made it to the small town of Emmaus (Luke 24:13). Keep in mind that the two men have yet to recognize Jesus: Jesus is still a stranger to them. Luke writes, “As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them” (Luke 24:28-29). Jesus, a stranger, is invited to stay with these two men. Just from these two verses, we get a glimpse of what we are to do as Christians today. We are to do as Jesus teaches in Matthew 25:35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” These two men provided food and drink and a place for Jesus, a stranger. When was the last time you welcomed a stranger—when you fed them, clothed them, and gave them a place to rest? Jesus is inviting us to notice those in our life who feel like strangers and to notice them before it is too late. We are called to care for them, feed them, nourish them, and welcome them. There are no strangers with Jesus; there are only friends who need love. Jesus is telling us to take care of those in our life who have the potential to change our life, to become our friends.

Luke continues, “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31). Studies have suggested that there is scientific meaning behind the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” Morgan Furbee, from the University of North Georgia, agrees with most behavioral scientists when she stated in her essay Actions Speak Louder Than Words: A Study in Body Language, “Body language expands current understanding of human communication….[it] serves an important role in communication.” Notice in the text that Jesus doesn’t say anything. Instead he simply does what he did before he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: Jesus takes the bread and blesses, breaks, and gives it to the two men. Jesus does what we are reminded to do in the hymn They’ll Know We Are Christians. Peter Scholtes writes, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yeah, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Jesus’ actions speak louder than his words: his love outshines anything in the world today.

Jesus, by his love, is allowing his actions to speak louder than his words. It is through his actions that the two men finally recognize who Jesus is. Jesus is no longer a stranger, but Jesus is now Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus is the light of the world. Unfortunately, though, by the time they recognize him, it is too late to say anything. However, their own actions—of feeding and giving him a place to rest—have spoken louder than any words that they could have said. Jesus has blessed them for their work and care. After this realization, the two men with burning hearts, as Luke describes, get up and go tell the eleven that “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” (Luke 24:31-34). The two men tell the others of how Jesus was made known through the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:35). Jesus is no longer a stranger. However, the two men have missed their opportunity to fully recognize Jesus. Jesus has vanished. Unlike a magician though, Jesus vanishes after giving the two men the answer to his ministry. Jesus makes himself known through his actions what we are to do as Christians. We are to offer care and support to all strangers in our life as we share and spread the good news.

The story of Jesus eating with these two men is our reminder that as Christians our actions, our love for all “strangers” speaks louder than our words, and that we must not miss our opportunity to notice the important people in our life. Secretly, this text is alluding to the love of Jesus. Jesus’ love is always present in our life whether or not we recognize it. Because Jesus recognizes us, his love is implanted in our heart: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Additionally, this text reminds us of the duty we have as Christians: to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We must love and recognize our neighbor before we can love and recognize ourselves. We must be willing to do the work, to break the bread, with those around us.

Lastly, this text reminds us of the love that we receive from certain people in our life: people who go above and beyond, without recognition, to make sure we are taken care of.  Specifically, we think about the women in our life. Like Jesus’ love, their love is a love that is always present and always giving even if we feel like we missed our opportunity to say something. It’s never too late to notice the important people in your life.

Knowing that it is Mother’s Day, we should all take the opportunity to recognize the women in our life. Proverbs 31 is the best place to begin! Here are five take a ways from Proverbs 31 that we should all recognize before it is too late: 1) If you look at verses 11, 12 and 23, you’ll see that a woman is trustworthy and devoted. She has her husband’s confidence, and she enhances his reputation. Her love is source of guidance. 2) We see in verses 13-19, that she is a woman of diligence and wisdom. She’s not afraid to work, she’s a wise shopper, and she plans ahead. Her love is our foundation. 3) She is a giving person. Verse 20 says that she extends her hand to the poor. In other words, she has planned ahead well enough to be able to not only take care of the family’s needs, but also the needs of the poor in her society—to take care of the strangers. Her love provides food, drink, clothing, and shelter to those whom she takes under her wings. 4) We see in verses 15, 21, and 27 that she is dependable. When adversity comes, be it bad weather, or something else… you know she’s already got a plan to deal with whatever it might be. Her love comforts us. 5) And lastly; she is a woman who loves the Lord. This is evident throughout the entirety of Proverbs 31. She is someone who is guided and directed by God’s Word and God’s wisdom. Her love is holistic, true, and authentic. The women in our life offer us attributes that prescribe to the Fruit of the Spirit and fulfill the love that Paul defines for us in his letter to the people of Corinth, a love that will never end. But have you taken the time to notice the impact of her love on your life? Or has the opportunity come to pass?

Now let’s look at the last two verses of Proverbs 31: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate” (Proverbs 31:30-31). The woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised! The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom! The woman who fears the LORD doesn’t have to toot her own horn, and she doesn’t have to brag or boast about what she’s accomplished. Her OWN works will praise her. People will see it and know it. Her children will rise up and call her blessed and her husband will praise her. The women in our lives don’t have to say anything because their actions speak louder than their words: their love, grace, understanding, forgiveness, and planning, are all attributes that have encouraged us to become better versions of ourselves. They have recognized us, like Jesus has, before we recognized them.

Conclusion:

            In closing, what the two men experienced around their table and what we experience today from the women in our life is the realization that it is never too late to recognize the important people in our life. Because of Jesus’ actions and words we have become better disciples than what we were yesterday. Because of the unconditional love from the many “mothers” in our lives, we have become better persons than what we were yesterday.

From every Band-Aid and cooking lesson, from every baseball, soccer, football, and volleyball practice and tumbling, scholastic bowl meet, and music rehearsal, the women in our life have provided us with encouragement. From every late night grocery store run to putting the finishing touches on a school project while their son or daughter is fast asleep, the dedication from the women in our life have allowed us to reach for the stars. From every truck driven and early mornings in the fields and taking care of the animals, the women in our life have truly paved a way for themselves. And from every tear to every hug, the women in our life have shown that nothing will stop them from loving us for who we are. The time has come to open your eyes and to notice the important people and the strangers in your life before it is too late. Take notice of who is at the table; and take notice of who is walking with you.

So let me just encourage all you moms out there today. God doesn’t call you to be perfect; He calls you to walk in His perfection. My mother once told me, “Daniel, I will never be perfect. I am not be able to do everything that you want me to do. I may not fully understand your entire drumming lingo. But remember, I will always love you.” It’s never too late to recognize the important people in your life. It’s never too late to say “I love you too.” May God bless all the mothers and women in our lives—who go above and beyond to make sure that we are taken care of before they vanish. One of life’s greatest jobs is being a mother like figure to all of God’s children. It’s never too late…

Communion Transition:

            Before proving to the two men who he was, Jesus sat with his disciples in the upper room and allowed the actions of breaking the bread and taking the cup to show how much he loved them. The disciples may not have recognized it then, but Jesus offered them a love that is always present in their heart. This love lets us know that it is never too late to sit and talk with the important people and strangers in our life. At the table we are fed and taken care of. At the table we are loved. At the table we are forgiven. At the table we eat with both strangers and friends alike. Holy Communion is our time to recognize Jesus and to give thanks for the many people who have led us to the table—who have showed us unconditional love. It is here we realize that it is never too late to recognize certain people in our life. Please join me in celebrating Holy Communion.

Benediction:

On this Mother’s Day, take time to honor the women in your life! Take time to recognize the love that you have for them and continue to receive from them. And take time to remember that it is never too late to recognize that Jesus is in your life. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, go, transforming lives as you live well and wisely in God’s world. Amen. Amen. Amen.


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