Easter 3 - Year B
“A stranger in Jerusalem” would be a good title for a book. Knowing what others don’t is the equivalent of having questions others don’t - like the proverbial Martian visiting earth.
Notice the lack of overt evangelism here. Jesus walks with folks. Jesus listens to folks try to understand the not-understandable. He does reflect out loud about expected consequences (labeled as scriptural here, but simply a reality check that could be posited even without previous prophets).
Jesus’ comments captured their imagination, but it was the fellowship that confirmed it in their hearts. When this “click” happens the source becomes invisible in the same way that air is invisible to us and yet is all around and within, giving life, or water is for fish.
Note that it is while the travelers were sharing their moment of enlightenment that fellowship (loving one another) would confirm or dismiss any particular doctrinal formulation. Enlightenment also holds a mystery symbolized by a shift in attention. Jesus shifts from invisible background to visible foreground and back to invisible—just like in any good illusion.
As if to confirm the primacy of fellowship, Jesus moves his generic “Peace” language to “let’s get real” language - touch, feast, repentance, and forgiveness.
We need to be in touch, to eat together, to mutually correct courses and preemptively forgive. It is important to begin where we are. In this case, Jerusalem. In our case, church. If we are not in close enough contact to touch and feast we won’t be able to share in repentance and forgiveness. Without these the church loses contact with the world and there is no message or preaching that will trump these basics for more than a moment.
Remember John Wesley’s old purpose statement and its particular locus:
Question: What may we reasonably believe to be God’s design in raising up the Preachers called Methodists?
Response: Not to form any new sect; but to reform the nation, particularly the Church; and to spread scriptural holiness over the land.
After remembering, what greater reform does the church need than a renewal of touch, feast, repentance, forgiveness.