Peninsula Community Church
April 24, 2019
Luke 24:13-21 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.
I love to watch movies. One of my favorite genres is the mystery/thriller genre. These movies weave a tale of adventure but there are always twists and turns throughout the movie. As these movies continue to draw on the emotions of the viewer, it is sometimes hard to understand how it will end. At other times it is hard to keep up with all of the plot changes. I am a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock and M. Night Shyamalan. These movies leave you in suspense and wondering what the outcome will be. I remember the movie called “Signs.” Throughout the movie there was this mysterious something out there but before the movie is over we find that it is a creature from outer space. The twist is that we find that the aliens are allergic to water. It was quite a twist.
If you were a follower of Jesus in His day I believe that you would have seen the times as being mysterious and that there many plot twists. The followers of Christ were in chaos. Just as they thought they had a handle on the ending of the story, it changed. Before, during, and after the cruxifixction and resurrection of Jesus there seemed to be times of great mystery and surprise for the disciples. The plot twists of the life of Jesus kept everyone in suspense and questioning what was next. But this was not a movie. It was real life. The sad part was that the disciples had already been given the outcome to the story and yet the disciples missed it. But, as always, this was an opportunity for God to teach us lessons that will impact us for an eternity.
It is noteworthy that Jesus had several encounters with the disciples as well as many others around Jerusalem before His ascension to Heaven. Today, we will look at just one of these encounters. In the passage we find that two men headed to Emmaus, a town about seven miles outside of Jerusalem. We do not know for sure but it has been suggested that they were leaving town. They had their fill of the drama and the excitement that had occurred in the city of Jerusalem over the last several days. They were getting out of town. They were leaving.
While our initial reaction to this is to judge them and criticize their response to the activities of the past week, we must be reminded that we have also experienced things in our life that have impacted us to the point where we have wanted to leave. We have wanted to skip town. We have wanted to hide our heads and hope that when we lifted them up that whatever the problem is, it would be gone. When we are confronted with things in our life that are beyond our control, we want to run. We want to get out of town. We want to quit our job. We want to get a divorce. We want change and we want it fast, because the burden of our heart is too hard to handle.
Too often, when we cannot align our beliefs with what is actually happening, we want to run and hide. The reality that exists is that there are times where what we believe and the reality of our life do not match or align itself with what we know to be the truth. Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance. This is where our belief system is challenged. It is here that our faith is tested big time. This occurs when we believe that God will provide our every need, but we find that we are deep in financial debt. We believe that God is a healer and takes care of those who belong to Him, and yet we have been diagnosed with a life threatening disease. We believe that the relationship we are in will last forever. We hold to the promises we made with that person only to find that they did not hold up their part of the commitment. We believe that God will take care of us and then someone in our life is taken from us prematurely and we become angry with God. We do not understand why He would allow such a tragedy to happen, and happen to us no less. In times like this, our faith is tested. What we hold to as truth can be challenged. The result is that we begin to ask questions and sort through the results of life.
I had a friend who was into the “name it and claim it” theology. His theological premise was that you could ask God for anything and God would have to listen to you, if you prayed the right prayer, at the right time, was righteousness enough, and had no sin. He had a very close friend who became very ill and eventually died. That event led him to a conflict in his belief structure and to a crisis of faith. He struggled to understand his friend’s death. He struggled to consolidate his beliefs with the facts. After sometime in prayer, he came to a powerful conclusion.
Robert Morris who is a pastor in Dallas Texas had his faith tested when his daughter was struggling with some major health issues. They were struggling with her illness and did not see an end in sight. Though the situation continued to get worse, He came to a powerful conclusion, the same conclusion my friend reached. Pastor Morris summarized his conclusion this way. “I believe God will, I believe God can, but even if He doesn’t I still believe God.” We pray with all of the faith we can muster. We trust God for healing and if He does not we will still trust Him. We will not give up hope and we will not lose our faith. Pastor Morris continued by saying that we should “pursue Him more than you pursue the healing and know that no matter what happens Christ will be magnified in your body whether by life or death.”
These men had lost sight of the promise that Jesus would be with them. These men who were walking on the road had seen their faith tested big time. So, let me ask you where is your faith being tested? Is there something in your life that seems to be overwhelming you right now? Is it financial? Is it relational? Is it spiritual? Is it emotional or mental? I can tell you that no matter what it is, He is with you and that if we will pursue Him more than an answer to prayer, we will see the miraculous take place.
As these men are taking their journey, notice what Jesus does. He mysteriously shows up and visits with them. The amazing thing is that they do not even know that it was Him. As Jesus encounters them, we find that He asks them what they are talking about. They are astounded at the fact that He would not know what is going on in the city. “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” They are in disbelief that He would not know what is going on. And yet, they are totally oblivious to who is standing in front of them.
I am so glad when Jesus mysteriously shows up in every day life. Jesus met them where they were. He also meets us where we are. I love the sudden moments of the Scripture. Things are happening and we need an answer from God. In that moment, He shows up suddenly and mysteriously. We do not need to hide our hurts from Him. We do not need to ignore what we are feeling. We do not have to hide the fact that we are being tested and that our faith is weakened by the events or issues we are confronting. I love the fact that He shows up in the mundane and in the miraculous. He shows up when we least expect it to do what we can only imagine and more.
They respond from the depths of their heart and in honesty. Listen to their own words. And they said to him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.
Do you hear their heart? We had hoped! We wanted Him to deliver Israel. We wanted Him to save us. But, He did not do what we thought He would do. In essence, they were feeling like He had let them down. They acknowledged that the women had reported the resurrection but it seems that they still did not believe it, or at least they could not understand it. It is amazing that even when we have evidence that God is working, we can miss it. Then Jesus begins to share the scripture and the prophecies regarding His life.
As they enter the village of Emmaus, Jesus acts as if He is headed on down the road but they convince Him to stay. So He did. At the meal that night He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and shared it with them. In that moment, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. And then He vanished. He was gone. Their hearts burned within them. They had an encounter with Jesus that would change them forever. They knew something was different in this encounter. They were so caught up in their moment, their pain, and their sadness that they almost missed Him. He was right there and they did not recognize Him. He was with them and they missed it. Let me tell you He is with you today. Do not miss Him. Do not skirt through life without acknowledging the presence of God in you today.
They felt their hearts burn in them. Jesus will encounter you throughout your life and your heart will testify to the fact that He is present. Do not miss those moments. It might be because someone is sharing the gospel. It might be that we have encountered a God moment. It could be just a moment when you are weak, despondent, and sad. In that moment there is a sense in your heart and you know He is there. You know that He is present. When that happens acknowledge it. Give Him praise for that experience. Recognize also that even when we do not feel Him He is there. He has never left you nor has He forsaken you. This reminds me of the following poem:
Footprints in the Sand Poem
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.
Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom