Sermon 4-1-2018 EASTER
Pastor Edward Brouwer 4-1-18 “Traveling with Jesus: on the road to Emmaus” Luke 24:13-35
Traveling with Jesus: To Emmaus
Introduction—He is worthy to break the seal and open the scroll. Because Christ crushed death to death in His resurrection all power and authority has been given to Him. He died to put to death–death itself, and through His life we have eternal life. Our series Traveling with Jesus has taken us from his very first miracle in Cana of Galilee to the final miracle of his resurrection. And today we look at a story at the end of the Gospel of Luke in which we move with the disciples through their disappointments to the utter joy that comes with experiencing the living Christ. Follow long with me as we see Jesus walk with us in our grief, speak truth to our hearts and reveal himself to us in the simplicity of a meal.
Read Luke 24:13-35
This is such a winsome story and just like Jesus. This is a street level Jesus who meets us exactly where we are at—and Jesus wants to meet you exactly where you are. We come upon two disciples, one of whom is named Cleopas. They had been in Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover, as every Jewish person was called to do each year. But this year was special because their master, Jesus of Nazareth had ridden into Jerusalem just the Sunday before with so much promise. Whether these two had been long time disciples or new we don’t know but there hearts are heavy with grief. Now “it’s all is over but the crying (as the songs says). They went from the start of a week with a sense that Jesus would declare himself as Messiah and True King to crucified and dead by Friday. And now it was Sunday and time to return to their normal lives.
It’s at the moment that these two are processing this as they walk home that Jesus suddenly joins them. Isn’t that just like Jesus? I love how Jesus kind of comes up alongside of them and asks “what are you talking about?” And they stop in their tracks and be all like “have you been living under a rock?”
It would be at this point, once they got a really good look at the man they were talking to, that you would think they would recognize Jesus—their master and the One in whom they had put all their hopes. Something very curious is happening here—they are “kept from recognizing Jesus”. The same thing happened with Mary earlier that day—she mistook the man in the garden for the gardener. Did Jesus look so different in his new body that he was not instantly recognizable? Or is it possible that, since they had witnessed his death a few days before that it was impossible for them to wrap their heads around the idea that the man they see in front of them, a man who walks and talks like any other man, might be Jesus? Whatever the case, Jesus listens patiently to them as they explain everything, how their hopes and dreams had been crushed. Everything was so confusing since just that morning some of the women disciples had gone to pay their respects to the body of Jesus and it was gone. And that they had seen angels who said Jesus was alive! And sure enough other disciples went and didn’t find the body either.
Just like these two, Jesus meets us at street level in the midst of our questions and disappointments. Jesus wants to meet you wherever you are at. Jesus comes alongside of you today, in your doubts and fears, your hopes and dreams—where you live your everyday life and he wants to speak truth into your life. I can just see Jesus smiling and kinda shaking his head and saying essentially “you saw only what you wanted to see, you thought the Messiah would come as a conquering king, but the fact is, the Messiah needed to come as the suffering Servant—and then for the next couple of hours Jesus lays out to them from Genesis to Malachi—from start to finish, the truth about the Messiah.
I think we too often have a stunted view of Jesus. Maybe we have a sentimental Sunday school image of Jesus—meek and mild. Or maybe our Jesus is there for our convenience. When we need Him we call on Him but otherwise we basically just live our lives like he doesn’t exist. Jesus will not be put in a box—just like these two disciples Jesus is willing to disabuse them of their false notions and speak truth.
The two arrive in Emmaus. Home is in view. Jesus, not wanting to impose, makes a move as though he is continuing on. The two insist that this fellow traveler come in and stay the night since it’s getting dark. “Join us for a meal and stay the night”, they say. Jesus accepts their invitation. I wonder to myself, had they not invited Jesus into their home, would they not have missed the most joyous moment of their lives?
I’m reminded of the story of Mother Teresa. She and her fellow Sister’s of Mercy had a ministry to the dying. Each day they would go to the train station in Calcutta because people would leave dying family members that they could not care for at the station in the hopes that the Sister’s of Mercy would care for them. One day Mother Teresa was there and a man at the brink of death was found at the station and she took particular interest in caring for him. All through the night she washed his face with cold water as the fever raged. With tears in his eyes he thanked her and then breathed his last. The next morning at prayers, Mother Teresa had a radiant look on her face and one of the sister’s asked her why. And she said “I have ministered to the dying Christ himself through this man!”
Jesus meets us in the ordinary things of life as well as the extraordinary. Yes He is there in the moments that are inherently and deeply spiritual—in family love, in death, in the birth of a newborn. But also in the daily realities of life. As we eat! Jesus asks a blessing on the food that is prepared and breaks the bread and passes it to each of them, they recognize him! Some people say this is the spiritual mystery of experiencing Christ in communion. Yes there is that. But I want to challenge each of us to look for Jesus in everything we do. But before we can see him this way we need to invite Jesus into our lives—just like these two did that Resurrection evening so long ago. Have you asked Jesus into your life? Revelation 3:20 says “I stand at the door and knock. If any one hears my voice and opens the door me, I will enter in and sit down to a meal with him and he with me.” That’s the first step, the step that these two disciples took. And Jesus came, and shared a meal and entered into their life ever after.
Once we invite Jesus in we see the world in a different way. A fundamental shift has taken place. But we must also train our eyes to see the world through faith. Our culture teaches us to see everything through material reality. I would challenge us to see the deeper dynamic of Christ at work in and through everything we do. Brother Lawrence called this “Practicing the presence of Christ”. Here is a practical application for cultivating the presence of Christ in your daily life.
When you wake up, thank him for the new day. Consciously set your thoughts on Jesus. As you get up and start your routine invite Jesus to speak into your activities. Carry on a conversation with Jesus in your life and work. Why do this? Not just because Christ desires to be the central defining reality of your life. But because this life is a foretaste of heaven. Christ’s resurrection means that this life is not all there is. Jesus said “I am the Resurrection and the Life—he who believes in me will live even though he dies and everyone who believes in me shall never die. Thanks be to God!