Sermon on John 16 by Revd Peter Holman

Dear Christian Community,

Some of the Easter appearances of Christ to the disciples took place outdoors, some

indoors. In all instances they were characterised by warm and powerful fellowship.

The Risen One granted them experiences so deep, so intense, so convincing, that they

would for ever know that being with Him, walking with Him, was the purpose and

meaning of their lives.

There was the Easter breakfast on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and the mountain in

Galilee where He told His disciples He would be with us to the end of time. Then there

were the two visits to the locked upper room – one without Thomas, one with him, and

the words “Peace be with you!”

The long chapters in John`s Gospel, from 14 to 17, first spoken at the Last Supper as

farewell words of Christ, formed much of what was spoken about by Christ and

between them in those 40 days. He had, as we heard today in chapter 16, “still much

to say to you”.

A very special moment occurred when Christ joined the two on their walk to Emmaus,

as we can read in the Gospel of St Luke. Their way took them towards the setting sun,

and as peace descended around them on their country walk, they were engrossed in a

painful and perplexed dialogue, trying to make sense of all that had happened. Their

thoughts took them this way and that. They had no real way of comprehending the

truth, what had happened was so “out of this world”. (In fact that is precisely it:

something quite new had streamed into the world of earth from the heights of the

cosmos, a mighty healing deed of love and up-building.)

As they wrestled and pondered and walked, they were joined, silently, by a Third, who

belonged in their midst so naturally that they scarcely noticed Him for a time.

Gradually He entered the conversation, first with a question, then tenderly laying out

for them the beginnings of understanding … the beginnings of deeper

heart-knowledge that we, too, can find throughout the Scriptures, and especially in the

Farewell Discourses.

Until, in the evening inwardness of the home at Emmaus, as He took and consecrated

the bread with His beautiful hands and shared it with them – their eyes were opened

and they knew it was He. Their warming hearts had known it already. They had had

fellowship with Christ, they had communed with Him. Easter was real in their souls.

We all have our questions, concerns, doubts and fears – and the glimpses of light and

truth. Even when that truth is surrounded by darkness, we can continue on our way,

day by day, because He overcame death after three days, He is the Vanquisher of

Death. When the fear of death is past, then all else, even the threat of evil, is

secondary, for we know from everything in history and in all the literature of quests,

adventures, pilgrimages and battles that Good always overcomes in the end. We must

just stay the course, carry on along the path, for the Comforter of our Earth-existence

walks in the spirit before us. He will “see us again” – ever and again – and we can feel

His power in our hearts. We can “take courage, for [He has] overcome the world”.

Especially in these Easter days we can absolutely rely on His Presence around us and

within us. He has risen unto [us] as the meaning of the earth.

Yea, so be it.

Revd Peter Holman, Edinburgh

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