Luke 24: 36b-48

The man is out

A man was released from prison recently after serving his term. After many years in jail he still maintains his innocence. What a horrible thought to suffer lies and false accusations from people that one knows, and then spending many years in jail when one is innocent. We know from TV documentaries, news reports and movies that prison can seem like hell, even more so if one is innocent.

This man was accused and charged with molesting young children in his care at a day-care centre. His supporters are still continuing the fight to clear his name of all charges. Others aren’t so sure of his innocence and are lobbying for support to keep him in jail.

He is out now, out from his cell of captivity and isolation, and back out in the community. Everyone who had any involvement with him or followed the trial through the media are probably wondering, “What will he do next? Perhaps some of the people in the jury are thinking whether they had heard all the evidence. Were they tired at any stage and missed some vital clue? Had they been deceived? Had they made the right decision? The judges and lawyers may at times contemplate whether they had been fair or mischievous in the presentation of the trial. Parents could be feeling anxious at whether they had influenced their young child with questions and words that they did not understand. Some witnesses may be re-examining what they saw and said. People everywhere who followed the trial through the media are probably wondering what the truth was in this whole affair.

Meanwhile, he is out and about and everyone is wondering what will he do next? Did he learn is lesson in jail? Is he repentant? Will he just go away? Is he angry? Will he seek revenge or compensation? What will he do next?

This is not just a story about the release of a man from jail. It is more than that. It also partly describes our frail human nature and our various responses as we were caught up in a real life drama.

That drama continues for each one of us today as we continue to hear and respond to the report that Jesus is risen, he is alive, and the man is out. We share in many ways with the disciples of Jesus. In a sense, we too were there as they were when they crucified Jesus, when they crucified an innocent man. Let us not forget that Jesus who is the Son of God is also fully human. The very pain and suffering we bring to all people, we do it also to the Son of God. In that sense we were there with the disciples when Jesus was crucified. No one supported Jesus, or defended him. Many who knew him either denied him or falsely accused him. He was betrayed, and left to his misery and a cruel death.

On Eater night the disciples and others were in the upper-room hiding from the police in fear that they might be recognised as part of Jesus’ gang and also suffer a similar ending. But now they had heard that Jesus the one whom they deserted and allowed to suffer is alive. Jesus is out. What will he do next?

As they were talking about this in the upper-room Jesus appeared among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Those few words immediately revealed Jesus’ intentions to everyone in the room. He did not come to bring revenge, but to establish peace and well being for everyone.

Yes! Jesus is alive. He is out. Jesus continues to invite everyone to “Touch and see,” to be reassured that his presence is real and that his intentions for forgiveness are real. How awful to come forward to touch and see the scars in his hands and feet, to be reminded of our failure to him. While we are contemplating the pain and shame of it all, Jesus is only too ready to embrace us as a friend, a friend who forgives with open arms.

We have heard rumours and stories that Jesus of Nazareth had died on the cross for the sins of the world, that he had reconciled us all with God the Father. And so he has. Furthermore, there in the upper-room the disciples and others were experiencing what it meant to be truly forgiven. This is the forgiveness of the cross, made real to all those who were hiding in the upper-room. Each one was having a personal experience of what it means to be forgiven. Unless we too experience this forgiveness we remain frightened and in a sense continue to hide in the upper-room.

Jesus invites each one of us as he did with his disciples to come forward to “Touch and see.” He invites us to come out from our fears, to come out from our anxiety, to come out from our hiding place in life whatever it may be and to embrace life with Jesus. Yes! There will be some pain and shame in the process but there is more life waiting for you.

Jesus’ intentions are clear. He desires to be our friend through life now and forever. He said in the upper-room to those who had abandoned him earlier, “Peace be with you.” He continued to extend his open arms to his disciples, to tell about his love for them, and to eat with them as a good friend would do. What Jesus did there, he offers to all of us.

Repentance and forgiveness, renewal of friendship happened in the upper-room. The personal experience of forgiveness happened first in Jerusalem in the upper-room. Yes! The disciples were witnesses to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and now in the upper-room they were also witnesses indeed to the real experience of being forgiven by Jesus Christ.

We too can begin to experience that forgiveness that only Jesus can give through the Word of God, through reading and meditating on the Word of God in the Bible. Through the Word, Jesus comes to us and opens our minds to the Scriptures so that we can understand the love that Jesus has for us all.

Jesus asks all his disciples, all those who have experienced his forgiveness to go out and share his life with others. That means, not only to share the Word of God but also extend that experience of forgiveness to others. It means for you to go out and embrace your enemy, the one who has caused you pain and suffering. By doing so, we are bringing Jesus and healing to that relationship. By doing so, we are sharing in that same forgiving experience which first began in the upper-room.  Amen.

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