Sermon on Luke 24:13-35
Text: Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah 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.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Some time ago, I kept getting telephone calls for a nondenominational event called “Acquire the Fire.” It was an event that I was to encourage the young people of our congregation to attend. I am sure that there were some very dynamic speakers at this event. In all likelihood, they got the assembly all fired up with their words and music. Those that attended were probably all excited about what they had seen and what they had heard. I often wonder how long that feeling lasted. Was it a quick fix and then, eventually, the teens returned to how life was before they heard this dynamic speaker? I cannot say for sure. What I do find interesting is the contrast between those very animated speakers with all their catchy music to Jesus and the quiet way he taught the disciples on the way to Emmaus. As Jesus taught them, they truly “acquired the fire.” So also, as we listen to Jesus this morning, we see that JESUS SETS OUR HEARTS ON FIRE. 1. The Gospel Fire Warms My Own Heart and 2. The Gospel Fire Is For Me To Spread.
The events of our text take place on Easter Sunday afternoon. There certainly had been a great deal of excitement going on that day. Some of the women had gone to the tomb of their dear friend, Jesus. They told of seeing angels, who said that Jesus had risen. With their hearts filled with fear, excitement and wonder, they had reported back to the disciples. According to verse 11 of this chapter, “They did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” Yet, Peter went to the tomb, himself. Finding it empty, it says, “He went away, wondering to himself what had happened.” (Luke 24:12)
It was later in the day and these two disciples were on their way to the village of Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. There is no doubt as to what the topic of conversation was. It says, “They were talking with each other about everything that had happened,” (Verse 14) that “They talked and discussed these things with each other.” (Verse 15) The Greek is very descriptive here. The first word has the idea of disputing, of questioning each other. The second word for discussing has the idea of throwing ideas back and forth to each other. They just could not figure out what was going on. They were like a child’s toy that rolls along, until it hits an obstacle. Then it changes course and goes forward until it hits another obstacle. Every explanation that they came up with just did not make sense. What had the women actually seen? What had happened to Jesus’ body? No matter what explanations that they came up with on their own, they seemed to run into one dead end after another.
Just then, Jesus came up to them, though they were kept from recognizing him. He listened for a while to their animated conversation and then asked them what they were talking about. It says that, at this question, “They stood still, their faces downcast.” (Verse 17) Their faces said it all. Their eyes were downcast. The twinkle and sparkle are gone. The mouth is turned downward. The forehead is deeply furrowed. The head hangs down. The shoulders slump. This drew an incredulous reply from the disciple named Cleopas, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (Verse 18) ‘How can you not know what we are talking about?’ Jesus merely has to ask, “What things?” (Verse 19) and the faucet of emotions is turned on. “About Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” (Verses 19-24) It just didn’t make sense! They thought Jesus was going to rescue the nation of Israel, yet their leaders had him put to death. Are there any sadder words than, “We had hoped?” They had watched. They had waited. They had lingered in Jerusalem. Their hopes were dashed. In addition, there were all those reports that they had heard from the women about the angels. That did not make any sense, either. These men were at their wit’s end.
How often can’t we see ourselves in the disciples’ place? What is it that just doesn’t make sense for you right now? Is it a physical problem or pain? Are there emotional things tearing you up inside? Are there conflicts in your life? What makes you stand still, with your faces downcast? Maybe, it is a sin that is bothering your conscience. It keeps you awake at night and fills your day with dread. Whatever can we do about these things that seem so overwhelming?
Look at how Jesus dealt with these two disciples. He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Verse 25) Jesus begins by scolding the disciples. When do we scold our children the most severely? It is when they should have known better, isn’t it? The disciples should have known better. Why? The Scriptures had prophesied so clearly that this was all going to happen as it did. In addition, Jesus had spoken clearly to his disciples that he would be arrested, put on trial, be put to death, and that he would rise on the third day.
However, he does not stay in scolding mode. As they continued their journey to Emmaus, Jesus went back to the basics. He led the disciples through the Old Testament, reminding them that this was all according to God’s plan. He took them back to the Garden of Eden and the first sin and the first promise of a Savior. He reminded them of the promises that God had made to the patriarchs. He brought to their attention all the prophecies that said that the coming Messiah would suffer and die and rise again. Everything had happened exactly as God had said it would.
Jesus continues to come to us in this same manner. Jesus doesn’t come to us with voice booming from the sky. He comes to us in his Word and reminds us of all that he has done for us. In his Word, he reminds us of what God has demanded of all mankind, including you and me. He reminds us that we are to put our trust completely in him. We are not to worry. He also reminds us of what the Scriptures say about those who disobey God’s holy will. There is an eternity of punishment in hell for those who do. Yet, Jesus also takes us to the cross and points to it, reminding us that he paid for our sins, as well. He continues to show us the empty tomb, assuring us that he has indeed won the victory. He also comes to us when we are feeling overwhelmed by life and reminds us that he will continue to be with us. There is nothing that comes in our lives that is beyond his control. When we are tempted to stand there in the middle of the road, with our faces downcast, Jesus comes up to us with words such as we find in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Jesus continues to build us up, as he did those two disciples on the way to Emmaus.
They continued their travels until they reached Emmaus. The disciples prevailed upon Jesus to stay with them for the night. Now the one who had been their teacher for the trip became the host for the meal. Even with the excitement of the conversation, the Lord did not forget to have table prayers. He broke the bread and began to give it to them. All at once, their eyes were opened, and they realized that it was Jesus who had been walking with them and teaching them. At that moment, Jesus disappeared from their sight. The disciples asked to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Verse 32) The words of Jesus had an effect on them. The fire of faith was burning brightly in their hearts.
By God’s grace, he works the same way for us, as well. As we hear God’s Word, the fire of our faith is stoked and burns brighter and brighter. This is why we want to keep in constant contact with God’s Word. When we continue in his Word, when we listen to his Word and apply it to our lives, we are on fire for the Lord. We find our strength to live for him. We find our strength to face each of the battles that come our way. As we continue in his Word, we fan into flame what God has placed there. When we keep ourselves away from the Word, the fire becomes weaker and weaker, and will eventually die out. The Gospel fire warms our hearts, so that we can, not only face each day, but also know that heaven is waiting for us.
What did these two disciples do when they realized that it was Jesus? “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem.” (Verse 33) They didn’t stop to eat their supper. They didn’t make excuses as to why they couldn’t make the seven-mile journey back to Jerusalem – they were tired, it was dark, etc. They didn’t say that they would do it “first thing in the morning.” This was news too good to keep to themselves. This was news that had to be shared. Feet that were weary just a few minutes ago barely touched the ground as they raced back to Jerusalem with news too good to be true. They had seen the risen Christ!
We, who have been warmed by this Gospel fire, are to share the fire’s warmth with others. Yet, we find many excuses as to why we cannot. What excuses do we come up with? We don’t want to upset our friends by talking about Jesus. After all, there are two things you are never supposed to talk about: politics and religion. Besides, I’m really busy right now. I’m really tired right now. They know where the church is. If they want to know about Jesus, they can come anytime they want. The list goes on and on.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we have heard this wonderful news ourselves. We have heard that Jesus suffered and died for our sins. We know that heaven is waiting for us. We know that God has the answers for life’s difficulties. Our hearts have been warmed by the Gospel’s warming fire. Now, may we go forward and share the Gospel’s warmth with others. Whom can we share the Gospel’s fire with? It may be that friend who is undergoing some stress or sadness, much as the Emmaus disciples were facing. Let them know that God loves them and is always there for them, even when it seems as though no one else is. It may be someone who is concerned about what the future holds for them. Should they do this or that? Assure them that, while we do not know what the future holds, we do know who holds the future. It may be someone who is riddled with guilt over something that has happened in the past. Let them know that Jesus suffered and died to pay for that sin, too. It may be someone who is facing the end of their life. Let them know that, because Jesus rose from the dead on that Easter morning, death has been defeated. Heaven awaits those who trust in Jesus as their Savior. God gives each of us opportunities every single day to share the Gospel’s fire with those around us. It may be a fellow Christian who needs a warmup. It may be someone who has never been touched by the Gospel’s fire, yet. Whatever the case, may the love of God continue to burn brightly in our hearts so that we, in turn, can spread that Gospel fire to those around us.
We have all seen how quickly fire can spread. All it takes is one little spark in the right place and you have a huge fire. We thank God that he has put the fire of the Gospel in our hearts. It warms us as we go through the storms of this life. We pray that God would continue to feed that fire in our hearts, so that it might burn ever more brightly. We also pray that God would continue to have the fire spread throughout the world, so that more and more people might be warmed by God’s amazing love. As we pray that prayer, we also pray that God would help us to be part of the answer to that prayer. Amen.
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