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Touch Me and See

April 22nd 2012 by Joel Schultz

In the midst of the disciple's fear Jesus comes and says, "touch me and see." Here is proof that I am alive and the sin and death and hell are defeated. He gives us the same assurance. read to find out more...

Easter 3B - Luke 24:36-49 - "Touch Me and See!" - April 22, 2012**

Rene Spitz has compiled some amazing evidence pertaining to the absence of touch. In a South American orphanage, Spitz observed and recorded what happened to 97 children who were deprived of emotional and physical contact with others. Because of a lack of funds, there was not enough staff to adequately care for these children, ages 3 months to 3 years old. Nurses changed diapers and fed and bathed the children. But there was little time to hold, touch, and talk to them as a parent would.

After 3 months, many of them showed signs of abnormality. Besides a loss of appetite and being unable to sleep well, many of the children lay with a vacant expression in their eyes. After 5 months, serious deterioration set in. They lay whimpering, with troubled and twisted faces. Often when a doctor or nurse would pick up an infant, it would scream in terror.

Twenty-seven, almost one third, of the children died the first year, but not from a lack of food or healthcare. They died of a lack of touch and emotional nurture. Because of this, seven more died the second year. Ultimately, only 21 of the 97 survived, most suffering from serious psychological damage.

As hard as that scenario is for us to imagine, it is a vivid example of how important touch is in our lives. Whether it is giving someone a pat on their back, holding hands, hugging your children, or kissing your spouse, the sensation of touch gives great comfort, peace, and security in our lives. Imagine if we had to live without the touch and love of Jesus Christ in our lives? What if we had to live without His presence because He remained in the tomb? Today He invites all of us to be touched in a new way by His promises, presence, and peace.

The disciples faced this prospect of living without Jesus’ presence and it made them fearful. They were fearful because their teacher B their king B was dead. They were fearful as they looked to an uncertain future without Him. They were fearful because the same men who killed Jesus might just turn their attention on His followers. Perhaps they were even fearful before God because they had abandoned His Messiah.

And then, as evening of that first Easter came, the disciples were becoming more and more convinced that the tomb was indeed empty. Jesus had reportedly appeared to Mary Magdalene, to Peter, and to the Emmaus disciples. But for many of them that brought another fear B the fear of ghosts. In Jesus’ day many people thought the spirits of the dead roamed the earth. And they thought that the appearances of Jesus may have been simply His spirit/ ghost.

But Jesus wanted to make certain His disciples knew He was alive. So Jesus comes and stands in the midst of His disciples. His greeting was familiar: “Peace be with you.” It is a Word they all need to hear because of their fear. Jesus showed them His hands and feet still marked with the wounds He suffered. “Touch me and see!” He said. Then He ate in their midst. He was alive! There could be no more doubt B no more fear!

Like those first followers of Jesus, I would imagine that we all struggle with doubts and fears in our lives. Satan must have a blast filling our lives with fear. In fact, we have so many fears that scientists have named them. Even some of the wildest fears imaginable have been named. For example, peladophobia, is the fear of baldness and bald people; Levophobia, is the fear of objects on the left side of the body; thalassophobia, is the fear of being seated; and phobophobia, is the fear of being afraid.

While these are extreme examples, we all at times struggle with fear: the fear of sickness and disease, the fear of unemployment, the fear of terrorism and war, the fear of death B of a child, a spouse, or ourselves.

And the reason Satan fills our hearts and minds with fear is because fear leads to doubt. Fear led the disciples to doubt that Jesus was alive. Fear led the disciples to doubt who Jesus really was. Peter had boldly confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). But was he that sure on Good Friday? The fear that at times overwhelms our hearts and minds leads us to doubt if Jesus is truly who He says He is. They lead us to doubt our Savior=s presence in our lives. They lead us to doubt His love and question His motives.

Often we find ourselves like Thomas and all the doubting disciples after Jesus’ resurrection B unsure of the unknown B fearful in our circumstances B doubtful if even God can help. Even after we hear the Good News of the Gospel in Church, Bible Class, Sunday School, and devotions we still at times struggle to believe His love and presence in our lives for a variety of reasons. We pretend to be bold, but Jesus sees right through us. So Jesus comes to us and says, “Touch me and see.” I’ll show you My resurrection B my living body B is for real.

Jesus touched His disciples’ fears and doubts with His peace and His physical presence. But even more, He gave them faith to trust this physical evidence of His resurrection. Our text says, “He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (v. 4-5). Jesus made clear to them that everything that had happened to Him - from manger to cross to empty tomb - was foretold in the Old Testament. He indeed is the promised Messiah. Jesus demonstrated that His death on the cross and His resurrection on the third day were the culmination of God’s long range plan of salvation going all the way back to eternity to save us from sin, death, and the devil. And the reality of Jesus= resurrection changed their lives. Their fears and doubts gave way to trust and confidence. Jesus= resurrection assured them of His continual presence with them and for them.

Today, Jesus touches our fears and doubts with His peace B peace which comes from sins forgiven B and with His physical presence B a physical presence which comes to us through His Word and through His body and blood in Holy Communion and through the water of Holy Baptism. And even more, through these gifts of Word and Sacrament the Holy Spirit creates, sustains, and strengthens faith.

Our prayer is that God would open our minds to understand Scripture. God calls us to dig into His Word so that it can take root in us. He wants us to study the Scriptures in Bible Class at church and in personal and family devotions at home so that our faith might be strengthened. You see, as faith is strengthened through His Word and Sacraments B as He touches us with His forgiveness and peace B as He dwells in us B our lives change. Our fears and doubts give way to trust and confidence.

Touched by our Savior, we can face the fears that come into our lives not doubting, but firmly believing that He is present in our lives with His forgiveness, peace, and strength. Come what may, we belong to Him. Paul reminds us of this in Romans 8: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? {37} No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. {38} For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, {39} neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35, 37-39). That love of Christ is an ever present reality in our lives.

Touched with His peace and presence, Jesus commissioned His disciples to share what they had seen and heard and received with the world. This becomes the focus of their lives B to share the Good News of Christ. Our first reading from Acts describes Peter witnessing to the Jewish leaders. John in His first Epistle writes about the purpose of his letter: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. {2} The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (v. 1 &2).

Touched with His peace and presence, Jesus has also commissioned you and me to share what we have seen and heard and received with the world. We have been called to share the Good News of the forgiveness of sins and life eternal in Jesus’ name with those around us who are gripped in fear and doubt. Our words and actions are to bear witness to the presence of Christ in our lives so that others may see and believe in Jesus as their Savior.

Today we were personally touched by the grace and knowledge of our living Savior, Jesus Christ. He has touched us today, gifting us with His peace, His presence, His power, and a commissioning to share with the world what we have seen and heard. The reality of Jesus’ resurrection changes lives...forever!

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