Preaching during the seven Sundays of the Easter season is my favorite time because I love to proclaim the risen Jesus—the things he said and did before he went up to heaven on Ascension Day. Luke records that just before he rose up into the clouds he said to his disciples, “Thus it stands written: the suffering of the Christ and the Resurrection of the Christ from among the dead on the third day and the preaching of His name of repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem.” Interesting sentence isn’t it? It’s not a command, nor is it a prophecy—it just is. When Jesus said this, his suffering and resurrection had already happened; but preaching must also happen and it does. You and I have become part of this third biblical certainty as we proclaim Jesus as his Church in our community.
And yet, for all its Resurrection festivity, I feel I have exhausted the texts for this season. What more can I say about Thomas and the apostles, the road to Emmaus, lunch on the beach with the disciples, and so on? Is there anything genuinely new about Jesus, something truly important that can really make a difference yet to be discovered? I think there is, because this year I’m going to preach on a text from John which does not appear in the Church’s Three-Year Lectionary at all: John 21: 20-24. That’s not many verses and I won’t be stretching it out over three or four Sundays in Easter; but it will give you and me an opportunity to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in faith and knowledge.
The other readings we’ve heard many times before will do the same because after all, the Word is not a lifeless thing; the Holy Spirit creates faith in people’s hearts through the words in Scripture, especially when they’ve been heard a hundred times or more, or preached on as many times. They are treasures of the Christian Church. Can you imagine not just Christendom, but even Western Civilization without the Resurrection, the visitation of Jesus to his apostles and unbelieving Thomas; the Great Commission; the witnessing of Jesus several times by his disciples and his ascension? There would be no Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to mourn over after a devastating fire. There would be no Christian martyrs in Sri Lanka. There would be no heaven—no hope of a resurrection and life eternal for you, me or anybody. All the accounts of the risen Christ, the Savior of the world are known to us through John, Luke, Mark, and Matthew. Christians built massive cathedrals because of what they said. Christians are killed on account of the person whom these apostles wrote about. Jesus established the Church to make sure we don’t have a world without these treasures—and more—because there’s certainly a lot more in the Bible about Jesus than just the post-resurrection happenings. For the next several weeks of Easter though, let’s enjoy Jesus walking amongst his people again with the marks of crucifixion on his body. Let’s learn from Him even more as he walks with us, building up our faith in God and hope in the resurrection.
Here are the Gospel readings I will be preaching on up to June 2nd:
Second Sunday of Easter, Apr 28th: John 20:19-31
Third Sunday of Easter, May 5th: John 21:1-14
Fourth Sunday of Easter, May 12th: John 21:15-19
Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 19th: John 21:20-24 (first time ever!)
Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 26th: Luke 24:36-49
Seventh Sunday of Easter, June 2nd: Mark 16:1-19