May 1, 2022

“The Walk With The Risen Christ”

Passage: Luke 24:13-35

In the inspiring book, “This I Believe: Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women”, Susan Cosio wrote, “I believe in a daily walk just to listen.” This coming from a chaplain at a medical center, a motivational speaker and an author. This is an excerpt
from the book: “I believe I have to remove myself from the voices that engulfs me in order to find my true compass. The guiding light of my life is the still, small voice of Jesus as He accompanies me on life's road. My pursuit of spiritual truth is not about religion as much as it is about relationship…” That word, my friends, “relationship” is
the key for any follower of Jesus Christ. It's all about developing our relationship with the Living Lord as we continue on our daily journey until that time when we will enter God's heavenly realms. It was all about relationship Jesus wanted to teach Cleopas and his companion as they were on their way to a village, called Emmaus.

From our passage in Luke 24: 13-35, we first see something very realistic those two men had to deal with – The Harsh Reality Of Life. Prior to His arrest, Jesus traveled up and down the region once ruled by David and Solomon, inviting people to become a part of His kingdom, promising abundant life. His followers fully expected
that He would become their King and that Israel would again be prosperous and free. He was their Messiah. But on one fateful Friday afternoon, as the sun fell behind the horizon, the Son of God hung cold and lifeless on a Roman cross just outside the city
gates. As the sun rose on Sunday morning and the Passover feast came to an end, those two disciples left for home – their hearts were broken and their dreams shattered. They began the seven mile walk to Emmaus even though rumors of a resurrection circulated among Jesus’ disciples. Those rumors were going to make things even
worse for them. To them it would have been the same as a notice a family received after the passing of a loved one – “The news about your son dying in a car crash in Japan, was false.” And then just to receive the news over again – “No, it was affirmed.
He was in fact the one who died in the car crash.” Can you imagine how brutal such false news and then the truth must be for any family? Therefore Cleopas and his companion wasn't going to have their hopes up about the resurrection of Jesus. Luke says as they walked they talked and discussed all the events of the last few days. The Greek phrase homileo suzeteo for “talking and discussing” is more literally translated as “conversing and disputing.” Those disillusioned followers of Jesus desperately wanted to know why their expectations of the Messiah had come to such a tragic end. That was their only reality of life at the time – unfulfilled expectations; the why that was asked without the answers for it. It was back to Emmaus for them, back to their lives of
disappointments and hurts. We too face life’s harsh realities. Our world is overcome with grief about a senseless war in Ukraine and before that it was the conflict in Syria.
There is the reality of a world pandemic that is far from over and thousands of lives have been affected.

We don't read the exact details in Luke 24 about the two disciples' discussion as they walked to Emmaus. But you know, they most probably would have asked, “What now? Jesus is dead. How are we going to keep our faith?” Has this thought, “How am I going to keep the faith?”, ever come up in your mind? If it did, do not fear that God is going to expel you. No, we read a wonderful comfort in the word of God – “For He knows what we are made of.” Psalm 103: 14.

There was wonderful news for the two men on the road to Emmaus; there is wonderful news for us or any person that might have doubts about the end result of life. God will always come to us and give us renewed hope. Luke affirms this reality with something
wonderful that happened on the road for the two followers of Jesus. There was Predestined Intervention. While the two disciples were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him – He was only a stranger to them. And the Stranger said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” Jesus asked a question designed to engage the men in conversation, but Cleopas’ reply reveals astonishment – “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” Of course, if anyone fully understood what had happened at that time in Jerusalem, it was Jesus! But His intervention for those disciples was to work through their disbelief. With any kind of intervention or counseling the therapist will emphasize to the one receiving it: “There is only one person who can guide you through your problem and that person is yourself.”
Jesus wanted to point out to Cleopas and his brother – “You can blame only yourselves for the state you are. You have put yourselves in this state!” We read in verse 25, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” Jesus demonstrated that they knew the contents of Scripture but did not accept its message as truth. As a result, they failed to see God’s sovereign plan. His question, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” pointed to the reason for their unbelief. They had confused their own expectations with the hope
God was offering, and they had failed to see God’s ultimate purpose. But Jesus opened the door for them to enter through – they would eventually believe without keeping their own human perspective as the most important. There were so many Christians who shared that it needed to be a walk through difficult circumstances that took them to the point of believing without standing on a human foundation. In my first ministry a baby boy was born prematurely and the grandmother turned to the pediatrician and said,
“Doctor, save my grandchild's life.” His response was, “I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do. It's now only God Who can help this baby.” It was a trying time for the family over weeks and weeks. On many days they thought that the child would die, but in the end he made it. After his baptism, the family had a gathering at the grandmother's
house. She thanked people for their support and then commented, “It was a learning process God steered us through. There was nothing in ourselves we could stand on – no human backup. It was only God we had and through all of this, we know that His
purpose came into reality.”
We see the wonderful reality in the ending of our Gospel reading – Jesus Opens The Eyes Of His Followers. In keeping with Ancient Eastern rules of hospitality, the two followers then invited the “Stranger” to stay the night. Jesus accepted their offer, yet maintained His cover in order to complete the intervention He had begun on the road. Those disciples had been staring into the face of the Risen Jesus, yet they were prevented from seeing Him until they buried their faulty expectations. They were prepared by Jesus and were ready for spiritual enlightenment the moment when they
received the bread from the Lord. Then they saw Him as more than just a man before them Who broke bread with them. They looked into the eyes of the Living God. It moved them so much that after Jesus disappeared from their sight, they immediately
returned to Jerusalem to go and tell the other disciples of what happened.
How much have you and I been moved by the walk we had with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ up to this point in our lives? Have we listened enough to Him to be enlightened and to be equipped? What stories do we have to share with others? Do we feel like
sharing, “This is how Jesus touched my life?” Let's not be blinded with the things of life that we miss those encounters Jesus has with us on the road of life. Let's invite Him to be our ever-present Companion and to teach us. Then we will affirm on a daily basis
with Cleopas and the other one, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road?”
My friends, our walk with Jesus brought us to the table of the Lord – it's very much the same as when Jesus broke bread with Cleopas and his companion. He again wants to open our eyes, so that with a vision of faith you as a people of LPC can walk into God's
future. It's to some a challenging time, but you know it's a time of opportunities – a time to put your trust in God as He wants you to do. May God bless you all!
Rev. Willem H. van de Wall