Monday, March 31, 2008

The long walk home.

Luke 24:13 – 33

The long walk home

These followers of Jesus knew Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried. They had heard the women’s stories of Jesus being alive. The disciples had confirmed the empty tomb but had no other explanation.

It must have been a long walk home. Depression, confusion, and hope all mixed together. They had hoped Jesus was a powerful prophet. (“He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” v 19) They had hoped Jesus was special. (“We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” v 21a)

Hope is one of those sticky things that tends to spoil reality, cause despair, and inspire grumbling. Yet, hope can also transcend some bad circumstances. Now they were hearing stories of Jesus alive again. Now they meet a stranger who opens Scripture to them. Now they have burning hearts in response to Scripture.

Now they miss the presence of the living Lord Jesus Christ. It must have been a long walk home.


A.        A DISCOURAGING walk home.


            1.         Cleopas’ wife (Mary) had been at the cross and probably the empty tomb.


                        a.         Can you imagine being torn between what you are hearing and what you know to be true?


                        b.         Hope of a prophet, reality of a cross, and now the confusion of the story of the resurrection.


            2.         The two “talked and discussed” [v 15]


                        a.         Notice they had no insight without Scripture.


                        b.         Here is a promise Jesus had made and now fulfills: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” [Matthew 18:20]


            3.         Jesus appeared and they did not recognize Him. Why?


                        a.         Grief and confusion tend to focus us in the wrong direction by pre-occupying our assumptions about life.


                        b.         Stubbornness and unbelief and blind us outright.

It must have been a long walk home.


                        c.         Missing Jesus was not necessarily of God and they were not the only ones to miss Jesus.

Mary Magdalene had also failed to recognize Jesus. (See John 20:15 – 16)


B.        A DISCUSSION to find answers answered only in Jesus.


            1.         They were talking and they were discussing... but when asked, the conclusion was one of downcast faces (see v 17).


                        a.         They probably were rehearsing the events, its what we all do when we are trying to puzzle something out, trying to find meaning to an event....


                        b.         Going over the events to figure out what they were missing. Proposing ideas, discounting the others ideas, trying to remember.


            2.         What was not adding up?


                        a.         Jesus’ life seemed to point one direction... that Jesus was a powerful prophet.


                        b.         Jesus’ death pointed another direction... that Jesus was a dead friend (along with all their dead hopes and dreams of what would or could be).


                        c.         The possibilities of Jesus’ resurrection pointed another direction... the Jesus is God.

It must have been a long walk home.


            3.         They were even willing to discuss this with a complete stranger.


                        a.         Remember the disciples were very afraid. (See John 10:19)


                        b.         This discussion was risky, they might have been talking to an undercover agent for those who might want to “tie up loose ends” concerning Jesus.


                        c.         Yet, they listened to what seemed to be a superior grasp of Scripture.

“He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" [27] And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” [Luke 24:25 – 27]

It must have been a long walk home.


C.        A DISCOVERY is made as the end of the day nears.


            1.         It started on the road with “burning hearts.”


                        a.         While Jesus talked with them, their hearts were burning.


                        b.         While Jesus opened Scripture, their hearts were burning.


                        c.         The burning hearts pointed them toward an unmistakable hope. Jesus has risen from the grave!


            2.         At Emmaus, Jesus starts to continue on...


                        a.         At this point, a choice must be made. Here was an opportunity to hear more and continue the discussion with someone who was opening Scripture to them. OPPORTUNITY OFFERS POSSIBILITIES.


                        b.         It was nearly dark, the stranger was in need of a place to stay. They were all in need of supper. NEED FORCES DECISIONS.


            3.         Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread...


                        a.         “And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” [1 Corinthians 11:24]


                        b.         It was at this point they recognized Jesus. Something happened. Scripture made sense in light of Jesus action.


D.        The DEMONSTRATED their faith.


            1.         Some things cannot wait. “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem.” [Luke 24:33]


                        a.         But it was probably dark... imagine the possibilities; they could trip, fall, get hurt.


                        b.         When they recognized Jesus, nothing else mattered. Not personal safety, not supper, not reputation... absolutely nothing else mattered.


            2.         They testified to their encounter with Jesus. “Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.” [v 35]

Now that long walk home, became a long run back. (I don’t know that they ran, but it makes sense that they would want to convey their news as soon as possible.)

I think this walk to Emmaus is a parable for the church today. Where are you today?


            1.         You are on the long walk home. You are trying to make sense of all the shattered hopes and dreams you may have had at some point. You are going over the events of your life, the events of Jesus’ life, the events that have happened recently. Crushed hope mixes with confusion and further discussion does not help. Despair tries to down the possibility that the living Lord Jesus Christ is here, now.


            2.         You feel the burning heart. Somehow you know Scripture makes sense, you want it to make sense, still the pieces are not all there for you. You desperately desire an encounter with the living Lord Jesus Christ. You want a hope beyond hope that transcends the hurt, ugliness, and bitterness of life. You don’t want a prophet, you want a savior... not good words and advice but one who put their life on the line for you.


            3.         You have met the risen Lord. You know you have when an unqualified excitement runs so deep into who you are that there is no possibility of containing it. Hope has been replaced with experience. Life is the fulfillment of walking with Jesus.

(I hope to investigate what it takes to make walking with Jesus a reality in your life over the next few sermons.)

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