“Ralph” Responds to Luke: 24: 36-48 (Or … “Learning to Witness”)

Last Sunday I preached on the Gospel story from Luke 24: 36-38. Do you recall Bruce Conlin reading this amazing little “post-Emmaus” story about Jesus coming to see His 11 disciples for the very first time after He left the tomb empty? As a reminder, here it is:

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.

44 Then he said to them, “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, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

This week, I discovered a response to that story from someone named Ralph. I love the way that Ralph speaks so honestly and passionately. I found this on the blog “Rumors: Sermon Helps for Preachers with a Sense of Humor.” 

I share Ralph’s testimony with you to serve as an inspiration and motivation for all of us to take to heart what Jesus tells us at the end of the text. Jesus says, “You are witnesses of these things.” 

We need to do more of that “witnessing” thing that Jesus calls us to. Perhaps starting to share our own “witness” with others in the congregation is a good way to find comfort with it. In fact, I’ve started a new segment in our worship service called “Meet the Flock.” It’s an opportunity for us to get to know more about the faith life of our fellow disciples. If you’re interested in sharing, give me a shout.  

C’mon! Give it a try. Not because I ask you. But because He calls you. 

Now, check out Ralph’s little testimony:

After reading the scripture story above, Ralph says –



“It was perfectly clear. The facts were there staring them in the face.
The disciples had seen the horror of Jesus’ crucifixion. They had seen his corpse. They understood the finality of the stone rolled across the gaping, black mouth of the tomb.



There was nothing left to do but face up to reality and get on with life. One step at a time. One day at a time. Nothing but raw, bloody-minded, cold-as-steel determination to keep you going. If you can’t find that strength within yourself, you’re toast.



I am not prepared to argue with anyone about whether those disciples saw Jesus that day. Did he really eat that piece of fish? Did they really converse with him? Isn’t it true that in the depth of grief the human imagination soars, and we see and experience all sorts of weird and wonderful things?



I do know this. The story of a resurrected Christ – the cosmic Christ – the real presence of God among us – this fable, legend, myth or whatever you choose to call it – this graceful presence has rescued me from the depths of grief when there was nothing inside myself to help me stand and walk again.



In the ordinary times of life, in the day-by-day living, that presence offers a comfortable sense of purpose – a gentle, firm nudge toward a life of love in action. With forgiveness, over and over again when I fall short of my own standards, and firm, parental pushes to get me back in there and do better.



And the moments of high joy. Many of them. At many points in my life. The last one being in the combined choir of two congregations singing an Easter Cantata – it was one of those moments when everything came together and we sang with one voice! Shouting! Celebrating! Praising!



So, I will live inside that story. I’m just not tough enough to handle the alternative.” 

Thanks for sharing Ralph! I can relate …                                                                                A WITNESS: Pastor Bob <><