On Easter Sunday I stood before you and asked that you pray with me to invite Jesus back into this place. We had kicked him out and locked the doors behind him. But ohhh didn’t he stop back by the corner of 85th and S. Maryland that morning ya’ll? Didn’t he wake up from death and fill this house with his holy spirit? After all, this house is His house, amen? How were we so foolish to think we could lock God out of his own house? Have you ever tried to put somebody out of their own house? You know how we get arrogant and ornery and in the heat of that argument you yell get out of my house! Oh some of yall acting like yall don’t know what I’m talking about?! Let me talk to some folk who might know where I’m coming from. See, the bible says where two or three or gathered together in Jesus name, He is among them. But I say where one or two are gathered in disagreement there’s bound to be conflict. You know a disagreement between you and your spouse or partner and you can’t stand to look at them anymore, but instead of excusing yourself you tell them to “get out!” And then they have to remind you, “wait, this is my house too…this is OUR house…so we need to work through OUR issues, together.” My brothers and sisters in sainthood, this, is God’s house. And because we are partners with God in ministry, it’s our house too. It’s God’s work. Our hands. So we need to work through our issues together, with God on the inside, and not locked on the outside, amen?
So here we are in the aftermath of the resurrection and we find in last Sunday’s text that the disciples were in a similar circumstance then, to the peculiar position we as God’s people find ourselves in now. The disciples had locked themselves in the house, and in the process locked Jesus out. Just go back and look at the text; John 20: 19 reads,
“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them… the scripture goes on to say in verse 26 “A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them…”
Now notice nowhere in this scripture does it say that a disciple got up to unlock the door for Jesus. Notice nowhere does it say that they sent Benson to go and open the door. Notice nowhere does it say that they hit the buzzer on the callbox to let Jesus in. Notice the scripture doesn’t say that. Ooh but what it is clear, what it does say more than once, is that the doors were locked. And although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them. See God’s people been locking God out for ages. You can’t beat Jesus. You can’t keep Jesus out of where He wants to get in. He can get in anywhere when He’s ready, but sometimes Jesus wants to be invited in. You know we usually don’t wanna be anywhere we’re not welcomed. Sometimes Jesus wants to feel welcomed.
So this morning I’ve got some good news for Jesus. Yeeess good news according to Luke and only Luke. Good news from Luke that precedes the not so good news that we heard last week from John that Jesus had been locked out by his disbelieving disciples. Good news from Luke. See I like Luke. The scholars will tell you that Luke is different from the others. Different from Matthew, different from Mark, different from John. They’ll also tell you since Luke is the longest of the gospels he’s a little long winded. But that’s because Luke talks about things that the others don’t talk about. His language is not like that of the others. And His accounts of Jesus are unique among the gospels in that he pays special attention to the humanity of Jesus, featuring his compassion for the weak, the suffering, and the outcast. Certain popular stories like the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan are only found in the Gospel of Luke. Luke puts special emphasis on prayer, and the activity of the Holy Spirit, and women. Nobody talks about women in the gospels, more than Luke! I like Luke. Luke sounds like my kind of guy. Luke is different. Luke and I have a lot in common; part medicine man, part ministry man, and on the evening of the resurrection he tells the story of the two who encounter a mystery man on the road to Emmaus. And during this encounter, the two offer this mystery man, an invitation:
“Listen brother, we dig what you’ve been saying about the one they call Jesus, although we had hoped He was Lord; we had hoped He was messiah; we had hoped He was savior. But we’re not so sure about that after the high priests condemned Him to death. We’re not so sure after they pierced Him in side. We’re not so sure after He hung His head and died, but we dig what you’ve been saying about Jesus and because it’s getting late why don’t you come stay with us tonight? Maybe we’ll BBQ. By the way…what did you say your name was again??” Little did they know the stranger they had just extended this invitation to was in fact Jesus himself, and Jesus being Jesus, gladly accepted. You see sometimes Jesus just wants to be invited in. Sometimes Jesus wants to feel welcomed, even if you don’t it’s Him.
So my good friend Luke goes on to tell the story that they BBQ’d. And you know you can’t have a good BBQ without some type of bread to sop up that excess BBQ sauce, some of yall know what I’m talking about. So verse 30 says, that before they got to it they sat at the table and the Stranger, took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them…Hmm now haven’t we heard that before. Famous words from our Lord. See only Jesus can anoint your BBQ. Only Jesus can turn your water into wine. And in that moment their eyes were opened, and the two recognized Him, as Jesus. Then Jesus vanished. And the Gospel ends saying that the two immediately went to Jerusalem where the 11 were locked up and told them what had happened on the Road to Emmaus, and how Jesus was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, sometimes we don’t recognize God, until we invite Him to the table to break bread. Breaking bread is one of the most intimate things we can do with our neighbor. It’s why we have a food ministry where we feed the meek, not just because there are hungry people in the world, but because souls are starving for an invitation into God’s presence. It’s why we bless both a wedding and a funeral with a reception and repast of food afterward. Breaking bread is an intimate experience. And you can look at some of us and tell it might be too intimate. Some of us are looking for God at Popeye’s too often. But in all seriousness, this story that Luke the Evangelist shares with us, that no other Gospel tells, is a story about outreach. It’s a story about Christian worship, which includes scripture, proclamation, and sacrament- all elements of the interaction between Jesus and the two. It’s a story about Evangelism.
Unfortunately even with our best intent and our best attempts, evangelism has not been what we’ve been engaging in. What we’ve been doing, is what I like to call Evandalism. Evandalism. Evandalism is when vandalism meets evangelism. Now vandalism is defined as destroying or damaging something, usually property, and evangelism as simply sharing the Christian gospel. So I suggest to you this morning my brothers and sisters in Christ that Evandalism is when we damage or destroy the sharing of the Christian gospel. Evandalism is when we sabotage our outreach. It’s when we vandalize our evangelism. So this morning I want to spend a few moments talking about how to remove the vandalism from your evangelism, using lessons of the resurrection. 3 quick points and I’ll take my seat.
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
#1. If we are to remove the vandalism from our evangelism, we’ve got to first and foremost, show up. And when we come, come in peace. John 20: 19-21 read, “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Again in verse 26 “A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” That’s point #1.
#2. If we are to remove the vandalism from our evangelism, we’ve got to not only come, and come in peace, but when we show up, we can’t shut and lock doors behind us. “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them… the scripture goes on to say in verse 26 “A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them…” People locked in rooms with open doors. That’s point 2.
And finally if you are to remove the vandalism from your evangelism, we’ve got to not only show up and come in peace, but when we come we can’t shut and lock the doors behind us, and 3rd we can’t be afraid of our people. 19 “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews…”
So, if we are to engage in evangelism the way Christ intended, we’ve got to cease to be vandals of this ministry that God has entrusted us with. (List points 1-3)…then and only then will can we call this house, His house, a house of worship. After all the setting for most persons to come to faith is Christian worship, which includes Scripture, proclamation, and sacrament. That is also where the faith of all is sustained. Just like the interaction between Jesus and the two. It is the place where Jesus continues to reveal himself. The Christian faith is born and nurtured where people share in worship through word, gesture, and earthly means; the breaking of bread, the drinking of wine, and tactile expressions of mutual care–the smile, the clasp of another’s hand in the passing of peace, perhaps even an embrace. That is the true definition of evangelism, and evangelism is where the Road to Emmaus leads. Amen.