Archive for the ‘Luke 24:13-35’ Category

Our Burning Desire!

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Easter 3A, May 6, 2011
Click here for audio of this message

In our gospel reading, it’s once again the first day of the week, Easter Sunday.  Some of the women who were disciples of Jesus went to the tomb and found that He wasn’t there; instead they found angels who declared that He had risen from the dead!  They went back to where they were staying and found the 11 apostles and a vast number of disciples hiding behind locked doors, because they were afraid that they would be punished as well!  When the women reported what they discovered and what the angels told them, they were astounded, but soon the excitement wore off, and they all went back to normal living; ignoring the reports of the resurrection!

That same day, two of those disciples were on their way to a town named Emmaus, about 7 miles from Jerusalem, and they were trying to make sense of everything that had happened.  They must have been discussing their last three years with Jesus; how they were appointed witnesses and given authority to drive out demons and heal disease.  They must have recounted how they followed this man they thought was the messiah; the one who would anoint Israel to rule and bless the entire world.  They must have recalled how on Palm Sunday He made His triumphant entry into the city and then into the temple to purify it from evil, which was supposed to restore God’s rule on earth.  But now, their hopes had been dashed by Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, who was handed over to be killed by crucifixion and then sealed away in a tomb along with all of their hopes and dreams!

Now while they’re talking about these things and sharing their disappointment and shattered dreams, who is it that comes along side of them?  None other than Jesus Himself that’s who!  But their eyes are kept from knowing who He is?  Now that’s strange!  How did He do that?  Well first, let’s remember who Jesus is, shall we?!  He’s God, and He can do whatever He likes!  But we also need to remember our message last week about Thomas; he refused to believe until he could actually see and touch Jesus, right?  And what did Jesus have to say about that?  He said that Thomas believed because he saw Him, but more blessed are those who believe without seeing; those who see not with physical eyes, but eyes of faith!  Remember, Jesus is talking about you and me; we who believe because of the work of God’s Spirit that comes to us in His Word and Sacrament.  Remember this, because it will be an important truth at the end of our message.   

So back to our gospel reading and the two disciples who are kept from recognizing or seeing Jesus for whom He is. So Jesus asks them, “What is this conversation that you’re holding with each other as you’re walking along?”  And they stood still, looking sad.”  That means that they were actually frozen by grief; they were so sad and depressed they couldn’t even find the strength or motivation to walk any further because of what they felt they lost; the one they thought was the Messiah is dead!  “Then one of them named Cleopas, answered Him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened (in Jerusalem) these days?”  (Dude have you been locked away in a tomb?!)  And He said to them, “What things?”

Now that’s strange; I mean, why did Jesus ask “What things”; He’s God right?  He knew, didn’t He? Sure He did!  May I suggest that Jesus was testing their faith?  In other words, He was pointing out that they had no faith, or they had false faith!  He had to completely destroy their hope in what they saw and perceived so that He could give them faith in what they could not perceive or understand!  How?  By opening up the scriptures and explaining God’s Word!  What part of the Word?  All of the Word; He did this by showing them that every page of scripture was about Him!  He showed them that He was the key for not just unlocking scripture, but understanding it. How?  By knowing that the gospel, the forgiveness of sins is exactly the very thing that God has always been up to throughout the history of man; by seeing that every word is scripture is recorded for that very reason!  By showing them that Jesus, as the Lamb of God came as a sacrifice, the only sacrifice that could be made that would take away the sins of the world; even their sins! 

So, what we learn this morning is that Jesus wants to remove our fears and disappointment and put Himself in their place!  Listen to their confession after Jesus asked, “What things?” and see if you don’t hear fear and disappointment in their words.  They answered, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (oops they forgot the part that He was begotten by the Holy Spirit; they forgot the part that says He’s the Son of God), but at least they got the last part of the creed right.  Listen, “and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up (to Pontius Pilate), to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.  But “WE” had hoped that He was the one (who would) redeem Israel.”

Then they continued their testimony about how some of their women amazed them by declaring that when they went to the tomb of their former Messiah the body wasn’t there, but instead they were greeted by angels who said that Jesus wasn’t dead but alive!

And this is where Jesus begins to speak faith into their hearts and even into ours this morning, and He does it first with a scolding: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?”  And that is the fatal flaw of their false faith.  In their faith, their freedom, their new world order, their grief was central to everything.  Their lack of glory, or their desire for glory was the central reason for their unbelief in Jesus!  But Jesus reverses their thinking, their glory seeking and shows them that His glory should be the center of their faith; He shows them that without His suffering and death, there could be no hope for them or the world; it was necessary for Jesus to suffer and die!  Now Jesus brings faith and salvation into their hearts by preaching about Himself!  Now the living Word of God begins to open their eyes of faith and our own so that we might believe unto salvation.  But then He stopped the sermon as they were drawing close to the village, and He acted as if He was going on farther.

“But they urged Him strongly (they insisted), saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.”  So He went inside the home with them.  “(And) when He was at table with them, He took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.”  Now doesn’t that sound familiar?  Listen to the rest of that statement found in Luke 22:19, “saying “This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  Yes, this appears to be a repeat of His Words first spoken in the upper room when He instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion!  “And (once he spoke those words), their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.”  Where and how did they recognize Jesus?  In His Word and in His sacrament!  Here dear friends is the great transition from becoming a disciple through the act of being an eye witness to becoming a disciple by being a witness through the power of God’s Holy Word and Sacrament.  Once they were given faith through the Word and the breaking of the bread, their eyes were opened and they saw, they recognized Jesus!  “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?”  And that has been God’s means of bringing sinful men to faith ever since.  It is His means and not ours.  It is so He is glorified and not us!

Now, as I close our message, I would like to speak to you parents, especially you mothers and grandmothers on your special day.  I can think of no greater honor that you could give to God than to lovingly direct your children’s hearts to burn in love for God, His Word and Sacraments, and your Christian family.  Wouldn’t you agree with me that children seem to have a natural burning love, or at least a burning desire for the love of their mothers?  Isn’t that the reason that we have a national day to honor our mothers and grandmothers?  So, your task dear mother’s is to take that love and direct it first and foremost to God the Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  You have the challenge of teaching your children that if they value and respect your love, they must first value and respect the love of God the Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds.”  In other words, they are to develop a fear for God!  Or as our epistle lesson states, they are to learn to conduct themselves “with fear throughout (their) time in exile.”  What does that mean, their time in exile?  It means the time that they are living and waiting in this sinful world for Jesus to come back; the time that God has determined will be their last moment here on earth!  How will you accomplish this task?  By reminding them that they were purchased or ransomed out of this sinful world with the precious blood and sacrifice of God the Son, Jesus Christ!  In other words, you must help them see that their future does not depend on you or them, but upon Jesus Christ Crucified and Resurrected for them and the world!  Or as Martin Luther wrote, we must teach them to believe that Christ has “purchased and won (them)… not with silver or gold but with His holy, precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death, that (they) may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him!”

Now dear Christian parents is the time to begin directing the hearts and minds of our children towards God, no matter their age!  Do not stop to think about lost time; do not even wonder if it is too late!  Remember, their salvation is not up to you, it’s up to God and His work through His means.  It’s not what you have done or failed to do, it’s about what God has done through Jesus Christ and what He is continuing to do!  Our only job is to always point them to Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected for them and for us!  That is the beautiful thing about grace… it’s never too late for faith in Jesus Christ!  So for now on, when they ask you what you want for Mother’s day, or any other special day, tell them that you want them to come to church with you.  Give them the life changing exposure to God’s means of grace, His Word and Sacrament!  Today dear friends is the first day of the rest of their lives.  Let’s make it a blessed day by keeping Jesus Christ in the center of it!  He has risen, He has risen indeed!  AMEN!