Based on: Luke 24:13-35
Imagine walking along the road and having Jesus come up to you and start talking to you. Wouldn’t you be surprised and shocked? Wouldn’t you listen to every word that he had to say? Wouldn’t your attention be focused on him and nothing else?
In our gospel for today we hear about two people who were walking along the road when Jesus starts walking with them and teaches them about himself.
Think about these two people. We only know one of their names, Cleopas. But why are they leaving Jerusalem? Did they think that now that Jesus was dead, it was all over? The gospel writer tells us that as Jesus came up to them, their faces were downcast. As they tell Jesus what has been on their mind they say, “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Did you hear that? “We had hoped.” It’s past tense. It seems that they had given up hope. The one with whom they had spent the past three years and in whom they had put their hope was now dead and they had to face that reality. As they were walking along the road they were talking about the things that happened and were trying to make sense of it all.
The fact that some had claimed to have seen Jesus only seemed to confuse matters. Now that the Passover was over perhaps they felt it was time to go back to their home and continue their lives without Jesus. Emmaus may have been only the first stopping point along their route.
But Jesus changes everything just as he always does. As Jesus comes up to them, the first thing he does is listen. Even though he knows everything, he asks questions. Then he tells them what the Bible says. Imagine that, he isn’t doing anything that we ourselves could not do. He is going back to Scripture. He is telling them what the Bible says.
They don’t know that this is Jesus. They have no reason to think that this is anyone besides just another traveler along the road going the same way they are. But as Jesus points them to God’s Word the Holy Spirit works through those words and convinces those two people walking to Emmaus that Jesus is the Messiah that was promised in Scripture and that this Messiah would have to suffer and die and then rise again.
Jesus is doing evangelism in the same way that you and I could do it, simply telling others what the Bible says. After all it is the Holy Spirit who does the real work as we share God’s word.
Do you remember the response these two people had? After they recognize Jesus, they said to each other, “Were not our hearts and burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened to the Scriptures to us?”
These people were excited. They understood so much more clearly what God was telling them in the Bible. Have you ever had an “Aha” moment? Have you ever had one of those times when after thinking about a problem for a long time you suddenly understand – you finally make the connection and things become clear? That’s what it was like for these two people walking to Emmaus. Their eyes opened and they started to make those connections as Jesus pointed out things like, “Remember what God said to the serpent back in the Garden of Eden. How the Messiah would crush Satan’s head, but that serpent would still bruise the Messiah’s heel. Do you remember the words of Isaiah who said, “ he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Do you also remember the psalm of David where David prophesied that God’s Holy one would not see decay?”
It was all there. It all happened just as God promised and all to repair your broken relationship with God. Can you imagine the light bulbs that were going on in the minds of those two disciples? It is exciting when faith is being kindled or when the flames of faith are being fanned into an even greater fire.
Wouldn’t it be exciting if Jesus Christ were here to teach us? I’m sure we would all give him our full attention.
But Jesus Christ is here to teach us. No, not physically, but he is here. Remember that those two disciples didn’t even know that it was Jesus talking to them. It was the words of Scripture and the Holy Spirit working through those words that had an impact on them. We have Jesus with us in the words of Scripture.
But someone might say, “That’s different. It would be far better if Jesus himself were here to speak to us.” Jesus once said to his disciples, “ He who listens to you, listens to me; he who rejects you, rejects me.” Jesus considers it the same, whether he is speaking to us directly or through one of his representatives.
So Jesus is with us to teach us about himself. Every time we pick up our Bibles we are asking Jesus to walk with us a little while as we travel down the path of our lives. We’re asking him to open our minds and reveal to us what the scriptures have to say about Him.
Jesus is here to teach us even as we worship in this building. He is here now standing in this pulpit. No, I am not Jesus,but when this church called me to be its Pastor, then Jesus made me his representative to this congregation in a public way. As pastor I speak for Christ. The people who built this church understood that and that is why they built to this pulpit to be a large and yet integral part of the architecture of this building.
I speak for Christ And that is why you listen. As you listen to me Christ is unfolding the scriptures so that you can understand more about him. You come to church and you come to Bible class so that you can hear Christ speak to you and so that Christ teaches you. You don’t come to church or Bible class thinking that you’re going to hear a dynamic speaker that is going to hold your attention for hours. You don’t come to church or Bible class thinking that you’re going to hear one of the Great communicators or great orators who will convince you with powerful inescapable arguments. No, you come to church and attend Bible class because you know that in spite of my imperfections, the Holy Spirit will work through the words I speak, and he will convince you of your salvation.
The same is true of other who speak on behalf of the church. Sunday school teachers, when they teach their classes, are representatives of Christ. Our day school teachers are speaking for Christ as they communicate the love of God in Christ in every subject that they teach. The Holy Spirit works through their words to reveal what God says in the Bible about Christ.
You also, when you tell others about their Savior, you are also Christ representative. Christ is also speaking through you when you tell others that they have sinned before God and also that they have a Savior from their sin in Jesus Christ.
What if Jesus were here with us to talk to us about himself and to tell us about our salvation? I would like to think that I would be focused on him and attentive to his every word, but I’m afraid that the truth would be that my mind would wander and start thinking my own thoughts instead of concentrating on my Savior. But that is exactly why Jesus tells us to look at the scriptures and see how everything that God promised in those scriptures about the Savior has been fulfilled. All those promises about who the Savior is and what he would do, that he would rescue us from our sin, they are all true. May your hearts burn with that excitement of knowing Christ more and more as your Savior.