ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

THE FINAL ENCOUNTERS

 

The first recorded human encounter with Jesus was that of the shepherds.

In response to the angel's message of the peace and joy that would come to the whole world because of the birth of the long-expected Saviour, the shepherds rushed to Bethlehem. Having seen Jesus they returned to the fields glorifying and praising God for all that they had seen and heard.

We come now to the last human encounters with the flesh-and-blood Jesus, and we find there the same elements: peace, joy and worship.

[1] Peace. The risen Jesus said to the disciples 'Peace be with you.' Just as the shepherds had been afraid when the angels appeared, so now the disciples are afraid, they think that Jesus is a ghost, because dead men don't rise. Yet this is the real flesh-and-blood Jesus. They see the scars in his hands and feet; they watch him eat.

His resurrection is real. It is also essential for 'peace'. Without this real resurrection all of the claims of Jesus Christ about his identity are proved false. Without this real resurrection, all of his promises to ransom and redeem us through his sin-bearing death are invalid.

[2] Joy. Both the shepherds and the disciples are told of the fulfilment of God's promises in Jesus Christ; both are also told of the world-wide focus of God's purpose in Jesus Christ. For both it is a message of 'great joy'. Here at last God's purposes have been fulfilled. Here at last is the message of hope for the whole world.

The joy of the shepherds was not dampened by the apparent weakness and insignificance of the infant Christ: they had heard and believed the word of God. Nor was the joy of the disciples dampened when Jesus returned to heaven: they had heard and believed his word.

[3] Worship and praise. The shepherds could not contain their exultant joy: it spilled over into praise and worship of God. Nor could the disciples contain their joy: it spilled over into worship of Jesus and continual praise of God.

To each of us comes the same message: that this Jesus, who was born, who died, and who rose again, is the Saviour of the world: our Saviour, sent by God to redeem us from the condemnation and penalty of our sins.

To those who receive him, to those who believe in him, comes the same peace, the same joy, and the same exultant, spontaneous praise.

Scriptures: Luke 2:8-20; 24:36-53.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004, 2009