The Sermon for Sunday, April 14th, 2024, the Second Sunday after Easter

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The Lessons: Psalm 98:1-5; Micah 4:1-5; Luke 24:36-49

The Text: Luke 24:36-49


Dr. Gordon one Easter brought an old beat-up rusty bird cage and sat it next to the pulpit. As he gave his sermon that Easter morning, he held up the cage and said, “You might be wondering why this is here. In fact, that’s not the normal part of an Easter service, having a bird cage here.”

He said, “Let me tell you the story of it. “Several days ago I noticed a little boy in tattered and torn blue jeans and a dirty T-shirt, cap off to the side, whistling, walking down an alley, swinging this bird cage. Clinging to the bottom of the cage were little field sparrows he had caught. So I stopped him and asked, ‘Say, sonny, what do you have there?’ He said, ‘Oh, I’ve got some birds.’ ‘What are you gonna do with ‘em?’ I asked. ‘Oh, mess around with them, tease ‘em, something like that.’ ‘Well,’ I asked, ‘when you get tired of ‘em, what are you gonna do?’ He thought a moment and said, ‘Well, I got a couple of cats at home and they like birds. I think I’ll just let them have at ‘em.’”

Dr. Gordon said his heart went out to the little birds: so he made the little lad an offer. “How much do you want for the birds?” Surprised, the boy said, “Mister, these birds ain’t no good.” “Well,” Dr. Gordon said, “regardless, how much would you like for ‘em?” The little fellow said, “How about two bucks?” He said, “Sold.” So he reached in his pocket and peeled off two dollar bills. The little boy shoved the bird cage forward pleased with his stroke of good fortune.

When the boy left, the pastor walked a good distance away, lifted open the little cage door and said, “Shoo, shoo.” And he shoved them out of the door, and they flew free.

The empty bird cage was the perfect illustration of how Satan had the human race trapped and frightened. Jesus Christ not only paid the price for our freedom. He has set us free.[1]

– Paul Lee Tan: Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations

Writing about the Lord Jesus Christ’s deliverance of mankind from the fear of death, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews states this bold fact:

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

(Hebrews 2:14-15, KJV)


The opening words of our Gospel, “And as they thus spake,” (Luke 24:36a) refer to the two disciples’ words to the Apostles of how Jesus had appeared to them on the road to Emmaus, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of bread at their home in Emmaus. Just as the two were completing their account, the Lord Jesus Christ suddenly stood among them, saying, “Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36b). Though the Lord Jesus spoke peace to them, their immediate reactions were fear and terror, because they thought they were seeing a spirit. They had witnessed the death of Jesus on the cross, but had not understood or accepted Jesus’ own prophecy of his resurrection on the third day. A sudden visitation by a spirit caused fear in the disciples, because of the association of spirits with dying and death. This fear has no place in the hearts and minds of Christians since Jesus has delivered us from the fear of death by his own death on the cross and by his resurrection.

To quell these fears in the disciples, the Lord asks them why they are troubled and why doubts (a better translation than “thoughts”) are entering their hearts (Luke 24:38). The doubts of which the Lord speaks are doubts about his resurrection. Then he invites them to look at his hands and feet and to touch him, and know for certain that he has flesh and bones, which a spirit does not have (Luke 24:39). Even with this evidence before them, they hardly believe, but joy and amazement have replaced their fear and terror. Now he asks if they have any food. They give him a piece of broiled fish, which he eats in front of them, to show that he really is physically alive, having risen from the dead (Luke 24:41-43).

Now all this is an especially important part of the Gospel record. The Apostles were eyewitnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection, and yet, initially at any rate, they struggled to believe that Jesus was truly risen from the dead. Their initial skepticism enhances the Gospel record, since Jesus proved to them that he was not a spirit but bodily raised from the dead, having a spiritual body that was able to be touched and felt and could eat food, but could appear and disappear.


After this demonstration of his risen body, the Lord proceeds to teach his disciples how the various parts of the Jewish Bible prophesied his passion, death, and resurrection. He refers to the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the  Psalms as witnessing to him. He opens their mind to understand the Old Testament Books as proclaiming his death and resurrection, and that repentance leading to the remission of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:44-47). Now the Apostles, being eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, were the first to preach these truths, but before they could do so, they had to wait, watch, and pray in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them in power.

Notice how there are various elements in the Lord’s preparation of the disciples to preach the Gospel:

  • First, he dispels their fears that he is only a spirit and not bodily risen from the dead, so that they may believe his resurrection
  • Secondly, he opens their mind to correctly interpret those passages of the Old Testament that predict his passion and resurrection
  • Thirdly, he gives them the command to preach repentance in his name leading to the remission of sins (the KJV renders a variant reading “and remission of sins” instead of “for remission of sins”) among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem
  • Fourthly, he commands them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, the coming of the Holy Spirit on them in power.


To share the Gospel or preach it effectively, we must be free from fear and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; secondly, we must know the Scriptures that teach the doctrines of our faith; thirdly, we must preach repentance in the name of Jesus Christ leading to the forgiveness of sins; lastly, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit to do all these things. Have you let the Lord prepare you in all these ways to share the Gospel?

[1] Quoted on p. 171, Charles R. Swindoll: Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1998.

Categories: Sermons