Encountering the Risen Jesus
by Rev. Doug Burr
Lent is over. Easter is past. On the church calendar Eastertide has arrived . . . Easter tidings!
You see Easter isn’t finished just because the day itself is past. In fact, the season for encountering Jesus on the scene of his followers’ lives has only begun . . . and, believe it or not, is still in full swing! Yes, God’s people are still encountering the risen Jesus revealing himself at work in self-authenticating ways in and through their lives. The biblical case for the risen Jesus is not a verbal argument making a reasonable appeal for the resurrection. Instead the biblical case for the resurrection is cast in the witness borne from encounters with Jesus that attest (testify) to him showing up on the scene of their lives.
Ask Paul about his Easter faith and he shares encounters with Jesus . . . his and others . . . (see Acts 22:1-21; Acts 26:1—23; 2 Timothy 3:10-15) evidencing Jesus at work doing what only a living Lord could pull off! These ‘works’ were not referred to as ‘miracles’ – something so extraordinary as not to be expected. Such encounters instead were the standard fare of Jesus’ followers. It was their witness that in being led by Jesus in making disciples of him they found themselves being led to Jesus . . . encountering Jesus at work on the scene of their lives. “He IS risen!” was their witness! “He is LORD!” was their boast! It was their witness that often proved compelling enough to open the eyes of nonbelievers to encounter this Jesus for themselves and become new disciples of Jesus.
This was not a unique feature of New Testament Christianity . . . it has never stopped happening. In fact, Matthew concludes his Gospel with Jesus setting his followers (and readers) up, then and now, to be on the alert for such Jesus encounters – “All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus tells them. “Therefore, GO – make disciples of me of all nations . . . and LO (look out) I’m with you – showing up on the scene of your lives – until the end of the age.” Not until the end of the New Testament age . . . but until time itself runs out! GO and LO – LOOKOUT!!! – for by being led by the Lord in his mission Jesus’ followers are positioned to be led to the Lord . . . and to becoming witnesses to his resurrection.
The message in worship this Sunday is entitled, ‘Encountering the Risen Jesus’ inviting us to find ourselves in the narrative of Matthew 28 so we, too, may find Jesus at work on the scene of our lives. Let’s see where Jesus leads us as we engage this Scripture and it engages us. Retiring from ‘official’ appointed ministry at Chapel Hill in 2007 hasn’t altered my call in life to be led by Jesus . . . in route to being led to Jesus going forward as has been the case in the past! Easter tidings season has arrived . . . for us all!