Easter 3 Sunday
“We hoped that he should redeem Israel. And besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.”
This gospel demonstrates and teaches chiefly three elements of the article of the resurrection of Christ. The first element is that these events took place and were recorded also in order to provide sure testimony and proof for our faith concerning this article. There are, first, the two disciples who had departed from the others in deep, strong unbelief concerning the resurrection. They spoke to one another concerning these matters as those who now had despaired of Christ. Among them, he was completely dead and buried forever in their hearts, no long doing or being able to do anything anymore. They confess it themselves with their words quoted above. And although they had heard from the women that they had seen a vision of the angels who say that he had risen and is alive, they had not seen or found him anywhere. There is, secondly, and this is the main thing here, Christ, who not only shows himself alive to the unbelieving disciples so that they are now certain of his resurrection and return right away to proclaim this to the others and to hear the same also from them, so that such testimony of both sides agrees and is confirmed. What is more, Christ also demonstrate richly and clearly from Scripture that he had to suffer and rise again from death and rebukes them for not believing this. They should know what Scripture says concerning Christ, as he had foretold them from Scripture concerning his suffering. The second element of the gospel is an example concerning the power and fruit of the resurrection that takes place in these two disciples while they take about him and listen to his sermon, which is also part of the testimony of the true resurrection. For Christ proves here in practical terms that he is not dead, as they at first thought, but that he works and exercises his strength in them by the Word even before they recognize him and brings it about that they believe and now have a different mind and reason, heart, and courage than before, as they also experience and confess it, “Did not our heart burn when he spoke with us,” etc. This he still does in all of Christendom where he is not seen while he exercises and demonstrates his work and rule by enlightening, comforting, and strengthening them as a living Lord by the Word and by defending and preserving them by his strength against the devil’s and the world’s raging and raving. The third element of this gospel is that here is demonstrated the manner in which Christ reveals his resurrection and how it is recognized and grasped, namely, by the Word and faith before physical sight or experience. This is why he is hidden and unknown to them first when he joins them and walks with them, although he is truly with them and is the very Christ whom they had seen and heard often and whom they know very well, but whom they now do not know at all and whom they cannot expect since they know that he has died and was buried three days before and about whom they cannot think anything about him but that he is a dead man. He had become so completely foreign and unrecognizable for them that they would not have recognized him, no matter how long he would have remained with them, until he has proclaimed to them the article of the resurrection and preached to them about it. As the text says, “Their eyes were restrained so as not to recognize him.” Not that he looked different or did not want them to recognize them, but that their heart and thoughts are foreign to him and far from him. In the same way, he is not recognized by Magdalena and the other disciples until they have heard the word concerning his resurrection. Hereby he wants to teach us also that the strength of his resurrection and his kingdom here on earth and in this life should go forth and prove themselves only through the Word and faith that clings to Christ although it does not see him. In this way, faith also overcomes sin and death and lays hold of righteousness and life in him.