SERMON 22 April 2012    EASTER 3       

Acts 3.12-19    1 John3 1-7    Luke 24. 36b-48

‘Then Jesus said to the eleven and those who were with them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me’.

When I was at the Federal Theological Seminary in Alice there was a Congregational student whose nickname was Marcion. I don’t know why. Perhaps like that Pontic mouse he nibbled at the holy scriptures because they didn’t fit his own ideas about God. The second century Marcion certainly did not include our verse in his version of S Luke’s Gospel because he completely rejected the Hebrew scriptures.

St Luke, though, stresses their importance for Christians. Twice he tells us that the risen Lord Jesus told his followers that the Law and the Prophets and Psalms foretold his passion and resurrection. St Luke ends the Acts of the Apostles telling us that St Paul , while under house arrest in Rome, was persuading those who came to him, concerning Jesus both from the Law of Moses and the Prophets.

The Christian understanding and use of the Old Testament differs from that of the Jews for to us it speaks of Jesus, foretelling his life and teaching. This dogma, interestingly, is given strong emphasis in the writings of the Gentile evangelist, St Luke.

It would be wonderful to hear Jesus himself interpreting the scriptures to us but we have to rely on the Church’s interpretation in the New Testament and the Fathers of the Church.

The very first chapter of  the Law of Moses tells of the creation of light and looks to that resurrection day of the new creation when the light of the world rose from the dead and Jesus redeemed the children of our first parents and, by his obedience on the tree of the cross, set us free and opened the gate of paradise.

The second book of Moses tells of the escape from slavery and the covenant of Sinai, prefiguring the victory of Christ over the powers of evil and the new covenant he accomplished on Calvary and the memorial he instituted in the sacramental food.   

As we go through the Old Testament, so we find the Word of God incarnate revealing himself as a Prophetic leader like Moses and Samuel, as Priest after the order of Melchizedek and anointed Messiah King like David.

Ezekiel the prophet and the book of Daniel show Christ is the Son of man coming in glory in the clouds.  A human, yet a divine, figure who will be our judge when the spirit of God breathes life into dead bones.

The story of the children of Abraham is one of desolation and deliverance and Jesus the servant saviour identifies with them in the suffering and, by his sacrificial death, made intercession for their transgressions.

At the burning bush Moses heard the voice of the Incarnate Word, whose birth of the ever Virgin was therein prefigured. There in the wilderness the Word of God revealed himself in the name of the Great I AM. Jesus himself claimed the name when he said ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’.

If we listen, guided by the New Testament and the Fathers of the Church, we will hear that glorious Word speaking to us in all the scriptures of the saving acts of the Lord Jesus, to whom with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit be glory, praise and might, now and to the end of the ages. Amen.

Crispin Harrison CR