3 April 2021 Saint Athanasius Lutheran Church
Easter Vigil Meditation Vienna, VA
“Knowing Our Story”
Tonight we are the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Tonight we are the eleven gathered together on Easter evening.
We are not sad and frightened, not confused and uncertain, as they were.
For we know what is coming tomorrow. We anticipate it already tonight.
But Jesus is doing for us, tonight, what He did for them, then - we are learning of Him from the Scriptures. That is, the Old Testament.
For on the road to Emmaus, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27).
And then, when He was with the eleven, Jesus said: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:44-45).
He showed them. It was all about Him. Every bit of it. The history of Israel was no accident. It did not all happen by chance or fate. It foreshadowed Him, and He fulfilled it all.
And this is important for us to know. Past and present go together. Today, for example, people know we have a constitution, but many don’t know the history and how it came to be - and without that, the constitution doesn’t make sense to them. They don’t know why things were done as they were. But to know the history anchors the present and informs us why things are.
So, too, with Scripture. To know only the New without the Old is to know only part of the story; it leaves us anchorless and adrift. It can lead to misunderstanding and confusion.
That is, in fact, what happened in Jesus’ day. The Jews had forgotten. They thought they knew the Scriptures, but they were trying to understand them apart from Jesus, and so got them horribly wrong. So wrong, in fact, that they crucified the one those very Scriptures were talking about! So once Jesus fulfilled them, His first order of business is to teach this to those who were now to go and preach them. He opens their minds and fills them with the truth. All the stories, all the prophecies, all the Old, done, fulfilled, in Him.
And tonight, Jesus is doing that for us. Tonight our minds are being opened. We know what Jesus did. We know the joy that awaits us tomorrow. Tonight, we look back and marvel at how all the Scriptures talk about Jesus and find their fulfillment in Him. That in our minds, as we hear these stories, we hear Jesus.
Jesus, the creator and re-creator.
Jesus, the one who saves through water and the ark of His Church.
Jesus, the only son who was offered up for us.
Jesus, the one who brought us out of our slavery to sin and overthrew our satanic tyrant.
Jesus, the food and drink that is freely given to us.
Jesus, the forgiver of sins who took His own three day journey to deliver us from evil.
Jesus, the one who endured the flames for us, so that no flame will ever touch or harm us.
And then we’ll remember that all these stories are now our stories, for baptized into Christ, this is now our history, too. These are not just cool stories about certain people from long ago - these are our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, our ancestors. This is who we are. And it is important for us to know that.
For many, the Old Testament is a mysterious and hard to understand book. Different people, different times, different places, different cultures. But with Jesus, we are not so different. With Jesus, the unfamiliar becomes familiar. The more things change, the more they stay the same. They are sinners in need of redemption, we are sinners in need of redemption.
And tonight, we have been redeemed! What was foretold has been fulfilled. What has been promised has been delivered. Our hearts are glad, and tomorrow we will burst out in joy.
But not yet. Tonight, we gather in a peaceful joy. To take a deep breath and hear again our history. So that tomorrow, when we join the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we know a little better who that company is. And look forward to the day when we will see them and know them, all of us, finally together, around the throne of the Lamb.
So let us hear their story.
Let us hear our story.
Let us hear Jesus’ story.