Burning hearts

Luke 24:32  They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

The Word of God has an effect on all who experience it.  As Jesus walked with the disciples that were headed to Emmaus, He opened up the Scriptures to them in a very real way, showing them the overall theme of the Bible – Himself.  As they heard all of this, presumably for the first time (though they “knew” the Scriptures), their hearts burned within them.  After inviting Jesus to stay with them their eyes were opened and they saw clearly who He was and that God had revealed Himself, through Jesus and through the Scriptures.

And what happened immediately after that?  The result was exactly what it was for anyone whose heart burns from within – they had to go share what they now knew.  When your heart is burning, you can’t help but tell the world what made it so.  After hearing Jesus’ words, experiencing Him, and having their eyes opened to the truth, they immediately went out and spread the news that the Christ had risen.  There was no doubt left in their minds that it was true and that everyone needed to know.  They knew the value of this news.  They knew what it meant to all mankind.

Experiencing Jesus does this to a person.  He has such an impact on us that our hearts burn from within and we can’t help but share the Gospel with all of those around us.  No one has ever had such an effect on all the world.  Those who experienced Him for who He is turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6) and we can continue to do so for His glory.

The Invitation

Luke 24:29  but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.

On the road to Emmaus, the disciples didn’t see Jesus for who He was.  Even after He had opened up the Scriptures to them as an ongoing story concerning Himself, they didn’t realize who was in their presence.  They were intrigued, maybe even amazed by His brilliance, but they did not yet see Him as the Christ because their eyes were still closed.

As they came upon their destination, Jesus acted like He was going to keep walking (knowing full well what was going to happen).  The disciples invited Him to come along with them.  They wanted to know more.  They wanted to spend more time with this man.  Only after this invitation were their eyes opened.  All that they knew in their heads became real finally when it hit them that they were talking with the Christ all that time on the road. He became more than they had ever expected.

The journey of a disciple requires an invitation to Jesus.  This doesn’t mean salvation, because He does the inviting in our hearts and we respond.  This is an invitation for Him to join us along the road as we travel into spiritual maturity.  We can’t understand it all on our own, we need Him walking with us.  As the disciples headed to Emmaus saw, Jesus is more than willing to accept and open up our eyes.

 

Head knowledge is not heart knowledge

Luke 24:25  And he said to them,“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

Our friends who encountered Jesus along the road to Emmaus days after His death on the cross were very knowledgable of the Scriptures.  They longed for the promised Jewish Messiah because they had been taught from a young age all about the manuscripts and the Law, the oral traditions and the customs.  They knew the stories of their ancestors inside and out.  But Jesus pointed out to them that their head knowledge did not equal knowing the Scripture in their hearts.

He rightly pointed out to the disciples that they were being foolish for knowing the promises of God through the prophets without realizing that they were being fulfilled right in front of their eyes — by the very man who stood before them!  They were so concerned with what they “knew” that they didn’t know anything.  They couldn’t see the forrest for the trees.  All of that teaching did them no good if they couldn’t recognize the One whom the prophets had foretold.

Before we get down on the poor disciples of this story let’s take a look at the modern day church, at ourselves.  We’re a very educated society, with so many schools and so much at our disposal for learning about God and His Word.  Many of us have quite a few verses memorized and have learned the stories of the Bible from a young age.  We could tell someone who asks almost anything about any story…but how do those stories apply to our lives?  Do we know that answer?

“Knowing” the Scriptures is not the same as seeing Jesus for who He is and what He’s done by seeking Him.  Knowing God on a personal level enables us to really know the Scriptures and see them with eyes wide open.  Jesus has enabled us to know Him if we’ll just seek Him out.  If we look for Him, we’ll see that the entirety of God’s Word is about Jesus. From Genesis to Revelation.

Jesus in the Scriptures

Luke 24:27  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Can you see Jesus?  There He is, in the Garden of Eden, as the serpent is cursed by God and promised that One would come who would crush him (Genesis 3:15).  He’s there as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stand among the flames without being burnt up (Daniel 3:24-25). He’s the one foretold by the prophets (2 Samuel 7:12–16; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 50:6; 52:13–53:12; 61:1; Jeremiah 23:5, 6; Daniel 7:13, 14; 9:24–27; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 6:12; 9:9;12:10; 13:7 and so on) and ushered in by The Baptist (John 1:29). And yes, we find that even in the very beginning, He was there (John 1:1). But so much more than these examples, He’s the central character of every story in every book of God’s Word.

As the disciples who walked to Emmaus spoke to Jesus, He pointed out to them how all of the Scriptures they knew concerned Him, they all had a purpose of shedding light on the man who was also God.  God revealed Himself to mankind through Jesus and He revealed Jesus through the Scripture.  When the eyes of the disciples were opened, they saw it.  When our eyes are opened to who Jesus is, we see it too.  It’s all about Him, every story, every prophesy, even the Law is given to show that we needed Jesus to come (Galatians 3:24-25).  It’s genius, if you think about it.  Who else, ever, in the entire history of the world, has written such an extensive story with so much action, so much rich dialogue, such beautiful poetry, such love, such applicable moral teaching, that reveals in the end to be about a great Hero that was the basis for the rest of the story up to that point?  It’s brilliant!  And it’s God-inspired.

What the disciples got that day is that Jesus is the central character.  He’s the one that matters in the big scheme of things.  We can learn a lot from Moses, David, Solomon and other heroes, but their main purpose was to point to Christ. Their good deeds and their flaws alike were to show us Jesus.  The prophesies, the plagues, the desert wandering, the flooding, all to point us to Jesus.  Not every view of theology agrees with this notion, but what matters is that Jesus did.  He’s the one who said Moses wrote about Him (John 5:46) and made claim to be the One that the prophets spoke of (Luke 4:21).  If Jesus believed it, it’s best to follow His lead.

Hoping for something more

Luke 24:21a  But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel…

Have you ever looked back on something in your life and realized how foolish you looked for not seeing what was right in front of you?  The story in Luke’s account of the Gospel about two disciples who were talking while they traveled, just days after Jesus’ death on the cross, makes one wonder just how foolish they felt as they looked back at their encounter with Jesus.

As they walked along sulking that this man they had followed, who that had placed their trust in as the promised Messiah, the one who would redeem His people Israel, the resurrected Jesus actually joined them.  These two of His disciples recounted the story of Jesus’ crucifixion to Him (because they didn’t recognize Him as being Jesus) and expressed lament over the fact that He hadn’t lived up to their hopes.  We look back now and wonder how on earth the risen Lord could have disappointed anyone’s hopes, but these Jewish men had been awaiting a Messiah who would establish an earthly kingdom to save them from their oppressors and Jesus did not do that.  No, instead He was killed by those oppressors.  This fell short of what they had wanted from Him.

But Jesus came to do so much more than just save Israel from an oppressive government. He came to bring reconciliation with God, to all, Jews and Gentiles alike.  But the men didn’t know this yet because they were so focused on their own expectations.  Can’t we do that sometimes?  Don’t we sometimes expect God to answer us in some small way and when we don’t see it we get all upset with Him, when really there’s a much bigger blessing in store if we’d only open our eyes?  The guys in this story opened their eyes and eventually saw Jesus for who He was and what He came to do.  That’s hope for all of us.

Jesus Will Reign

Luke 19:11-14 The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.

He said, “A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return.  Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, ‘Invest this for me while I am gone.’  But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want him to be our king.’

And as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king—bring them in and execute them right here in front of me.’”

It is interesting that Jesus used current events in this parable to teach the people about God’s Kingdom. In the true story Herod Archelaus went to Rome to stake a claim for the kingdom that his dad Herod the Great had left to him in his will. Archelaus had dealt harshly with the Jews before this and a lot of Jews went to Rome to protest his petition to become king. Despite their efforts, Caesar Augustus made him ruler from 4 BC to 6 BC. Archelaus was the reason that Joseph was afraid to leave Egypt and return to Nazareth.

Luke is very straight forward about the reason for this parable, Jesus told this parable before he left Jericho and headed for Jerusalem, he needed to correct a misunderstanding. There were many people that thought that Jesus would rule here on earth right away and they felt that this trip to Jerusalem was a good time for it to start.

Jesus had to tell them that it wasn’t time, he spoke to the issue before, trying to get people to realize that he wasn’t going to overthrow the Roman government and be their earthly king. They hungered for immediate relief from the Roman government but that wasn’t going to happen any time soon. (John 18:36)

Jesus told us that in God’s plan he wasn’t going to reign yet but instead he was going to die. Jesus was here to cover the death penalty that we are all facing for our sins. They thought that they wanted him as king but what they needed most was a Savior.  (John 3:16)

Jesus came to earth as a lowly servant, a sacrificial lamb, he was obedient to God’s will and as a result he has been crowned king and he will return to reign. (Phil 2:8-11) When he returns he will judge us for our allegiance to the king:

  • Did you accept him as king or did you reject him?
  • Did you use the resources that he gave you to help prosper the kingdom?

There will be a great reward for our faithfulness to the Lord, I need to be faithful like the servants that anticipated the kings return and invested his money, he has given me resources that I need to use wisely.

Thank you Lord for your great sacrifice that took the death penalty away from me. I acknowledge you as King and want to submit to your authority in my life at all times.

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Jesus, the risen Lord

Luke 24:5b-6a  “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.

Why do we look for the living among the dead?  Just as those who lived with Jesus while He was on the earth, we can tend to look for Jesus in the tomb.  But He’s not there.  Some think of Jesus with some sentimentality, as though He was once great, but now lives powerless in the grave.  But He’s not there.  He is alive.

If Jesus was not resurrected, He would be unable to act as our intercessor today.  But because He lives, He mediates between God and man.  Because He lives, He has the power to act as Lord.  Our God is not a dead god.  Our God has all power and authority.

What other god ever loved his own people so much that he would sacrifice his own life to save them?  Who, in the history of mankind, ever sacrificed himself only to rise from the dead?  Only one.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave His own life for us but lives now to act on our behalf.  He lives so we live.  If this wasn’t true, our faith would be in one who was powerless to be Lord of all.  But He does live.  And He is Lord of all.

He is risen!

Passage:  Matthew 28:1-10

Key verses:  Matthew 28:6  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

1 Corinthians 15:14  And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

The truth about the work of Christ on the cross, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reconciliation with God is that it all means nothing if our God is still lying in a tomb.  Jesus can’t mediate between God and man if He’s dead.  If His death is the end, then we’re no better off.

But – our God lives.  He isn’t dead.  Death couldn’t hold Him.  Hell couldn’t defeat Him.  He is risen.  He lives.  And because He lives, we live.  Jesus’ departure back into heaven is hope for us all that we’ll be resurrected as well, taken from this life into the next, never to die again.  But it means something now too.

Because Jesus departed, God sent the Holy Spirit to live within us.  His departure means we now act on His behalf as Christians, and He’s empowered us to do so.  No other religion on earth can make these claims because no other religion has a living Savior.  We have a God so loving that He would sacrifice His Son in our place, and that God is so powerful that death cannot be the end for Him.  HE IS RISEN!

Forgiveness in Christ

Passage:  John 19:28-30

Key verses:  Colossians 1:13-14  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Since the sin of our first parents, we’ve been on the path of destruction.  Only perfection can enter into the kingdom of heaven and we’re tainted.  Our sinful nature bought for us a ticket straight to eternity away from God.  But the story doesn’t end there.

You see, God couldn’t let it end that way.  He loved His creation far too much to let us have what we deserved, so in the ultimate act of love, Jesus became flesh, God bankrupted heaven of its treasure, and He delivered us from destruction.  Our debt was paid in His sacrifice.  Everything we owed was paid in full when He died on that cross.  He transferred us to His kingdom, a life spent with God, not apart from Him.  He redeemed us.

In Christ we have full forgiveness.  Our slate is clean, our record is wiped out.  We owe Him everything, because He has set us free.  In Him we have life.  His death finished the work that He was sent here to do.  But still the story doesn’t end there.  No, that part of the story gets us to Friday – but Sunday is the part that makes it all mean something.  Sunday is the main event.

The atonement


Passage:  Luke 23:26-49

Key verses:  Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Entire courses are taught at universities just to try and explain Jesus’ work on the cross.  The atonement is not easy to understand, but it is simple.  God came down to earth in human flesh, lived a sinless life, and then died as the one true spotless sacrifice that could take away our sins.  Without this one truth, all the rest falls apart.

Jesus took on our sins.  Read that again.  Jesus, the perfect Son of God, took on our sins upon Himself.  He took our punishment, bought our redemption.  That is the only reason you and I will ever see heaven.  It’s not because of how many good deeds we did or how nice we are.  It’s because we were bought and paid for by the blood of Christ.  Let that sink in.  Weep over the fact that it was necessary.

My sins nailed Him to that cross.  Your sins drove those spikes in.  Our rejection of God killed Him.  And He chose to be there.  As the one, true, all-powerful God, He could have ended this any way He wanted.  But He chose the cross.  He chose suffering in our place.  Because He loved us.  Even before we existed.  That’s the truth of the cross.