“Word for Today” – Luke 24 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

September 18, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

String Finger 1Mnemonic devices saved my college career.  As part of my studies to become a pastor, I had to take New Testament Greek.  And gazing at vocabulary list after vocabulary list caused my memory of these lists to eventually fade and falter.  I had to come up with a way to remember all these words and remember them well.  Thus, I turned to mnemonics.  For example, the verb for “see” in Greek is blepo.  “I see the blimp,” I would think to myself.  See = blepo.  Or how about the word for “good”?  In Greek, it’s kalos.  To remember this, I would think to myself, “She isn’t a callous person, she’s good.”  Good = kalos.  I know these associations may sound strange and even far-fetched.  But they worked.  I remember them to this day.

In our reading for today from Luke 24, we encounter a glorious account of Christ’s resurrection.  We know the story well.  It is early on a Sunday morning.  Mary Magdalene and Mary come to Jesus’ tomb to embalm Jesus’ body.  But instead of finding their deceased friend, they find two men clad in white who announce:

Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen!  Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” (verses 6-7)

Remember how Jesus told you: He will be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”  This is the angels’ instruction to these women.  That’s kind of a strange instruction, don’t you think?  I mean, how could they forget something as intriguing as a prophetic announcement of a resurrection?  If someone was to tell me that they would be killed, but then would be raised to life again, I would hope that I would remember their words, if for no other reason than that I would think they had taken leave of their senses!  How could the women forget such an unusual and seemingly outlandish claim?

The men in Luke 24 do not fair much better.  As the chapter continues, we meet two men journeying to Damascus.  Jesus appears to them on the road, but they do not recognize him.  Noticing that they are deep in conversation, Jesus asks them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along” (verse 17)?  These men respond:

We are discussing Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. (verses 19-23)

These men note that Jesus is reported to be alive, but they refuse to affirm this, even though he foretold his resurrection on many occasions.  Interestingly, Jewish tradition taught that the soul would remain near its body for three days, hoping to return to it, after which time it gave up hope and depart for good.  Thus, when these men say to Jesus, “It is the third day since all this took place” (verse 21), they seem to be saying, “Jesus’ body is missing, but he can’t be alive.  His soul has already departed. It’s already been three days!”  They too have forgotten Jesus’ promise of resurrection.

Besides mnemonic devices, one of the things which helps me remember important truth is sheer repetition.  When I am preparing for a sermon, for instance, you can find me holed up in my office, rehearsing my remarks again and again.  Eventually, after practicing my sermon several times, it is committed to memory.  Thus is the case with the women and men of Luke 24.  They have already heard Jesus’ promise of resurrection many times.  But they have forgotten.  And so they are reminded once more.  Jesus repeats himself.  He says to the men traveling to Damascus, “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory” (verse 26)?  Jesus reminds them of what they have been formerly taught.

Faulty human memory is the reason that week after week, month after month, year after year, and even decade after decade now, Concordia has proclaimed and will continue to proclaim the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.  Like the women at the tomb and the men on the road, we prove sadly forgetful if we are not reminded of Jesus’ gospel again and again.  And besides, this gospel is a gospel that never gets old.  For this gospel is a gospel which promises us our salvation.  And who wouldn’t want to be reminded of a gospel like that again and again?

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Luke 23 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Acts 1 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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