Objective: To Give Glory to God Bringing as many as possible into his marvelous light.
To do this, Life should include;
- A living relationship with Jesus.
- Experience based, unshakable faith.
- Mission as a result of that relationship.
I believe these principles are beautifully and plainly revealed in the story of Cleopas and his companion traveling to Emmaus on resurrection morning, you can find that in the Gospel of Luke, that is the 3rd book of the new testament firmly seated between the shorter yet eventful book of Mark, and the gospel written by the beloved disciple, John, this story is briefly mentioned by a meager 2 verses in the book of Mark (16:12,13) but Praise God, Luke the “Beloved Physician” sought to tell us the whole story that we may learn and be encouraged.
To set the scene, we join these soul weary sojourners three days after Jesus, their teacher, Savior and master, the one they knew would raise Israel up and overthrow their oppressors has just been nailed to a cross, and experienced the death of a common criminal, their spirits and indeed the movement they were a part of had received an unexpected and devastating blow. Let us start unpacking this story from Luke 24:13
13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
Having heard the testimony of the women who came from the tomb , saying that their savior lives (Luke 24:22-24) they still still decided to make the seven mile journey to the village of Emmaus, at the beginning of our walk with Christ we also find ourselves walking away from Him in ignorance of the free gift he has made available to us.
15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
This is not the only time this happens in scripture we see it occur also in John 20:14-16 when Mary saw the risen Jesus but did not know it was him. she did not realize to whom she was speaking until he called her by name “Mary!”(v.15) the other occurrence is found in John 21:4-7 where Jesus calls to his disciples from the shore and tells them to cast off the right side of the boat for a catch, upon doing so, they catch a miraculous amount of fish, John realizes who it is, and announces “it is the Lord!” Peter promptly put’s on his outer garment, dives into the water and swims to Jesus. but it had to be revealed to him by a miracle and the testimony of a fellow disciple. Some of us are like Mary who find the Lord while we are searching for him, others are like Peter who not only needed a miracle but the testimony of a trusted friend to see the Lord, and finally, yet still others are like Cleopas and his traveling companion where Jesus must come after you, as you depart from him in disbelief. How amazing is the Savior we have? he provides each of us with the experience we need to find him.
17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”[b]
18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”
19 And He said to them, “What things?”
So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
This whole discourse is one of disbelief, and as usual, we find Jesus, probing to the core of the situation, with simple and effective questions… not only that, but they were walking along talking about him… how human and typical of our times… how often do we discuss Jesus at an academic level, without a true heart-knowledge of who he is, though it is often (just like our friends in the passage) in spite of the compelling first hand testimony offered to them.
25 Then He [Jesus] said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Even after this positively explosive Bible study they did not realize who He was, even after all this teaching, this wonderful revelation that Christ had to suffer, and die, they still knew him not. However, this is when their Hearts began to burn within them, as they realized Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah, this is also so often the case with us, we experience the maker’s hand in our lives but do not realize it is his mighty hand at work, attributing it to chance or our own toil.
28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.
This is a passage we may gloss over quickly but I urge you to dwell upon it… at this point, our two travelers are moved by the Saviors words but that is all… If they had not constrained him to stay with them… the Lord would have walked on, leaving them where they were… we have a loving Redeemer who reveals himself to those who seek, but never forces his way into an unwilling heart, it is true that he is knocking at your heart but you have a part to play, and that is acceptance, you will catch glimpses but you will never know the true joy he offers without taking the plunge and putting your life in his hands.
30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
At the cresciendo of this story, as Jesus breaks the bread and blesses it, just as he had done at supper with the disciples less than a week prior, it was at this time they finally recognized him for who He was, Jesus Christ the righteous. He then vanished from their sight as if to confirm their realization.
They rose immediately and returned through the night to Jerusalem, carrying the Good News of the Gospel, HE IS RISEN! praise God that although our hearts do at times weary as we make life’s journey, when we return to our first love and find the Gospel afresh, we realize just how good the news is! and we cannot help but share it with others… that is when Christianity becomes contagious.
At this point did Cleopas or his friend need to be told how to share their faith?, did they need to be coerced into action? no, they had been ignited we should seek to be ignited in the same way, witnessing is not a conscious activity, it is a lifestyle full of temporal and eternal rewards, when we find Christ, “our hearts burn within us” and we are automatically compelled into mission, and contrary to popular belief, the mission field is not “Over there” it is “Right here” every person you come into contact with is potentially a soul for you to encourage and inspire.
I also praise God for Mark’s Record of the story, although it is but two versus, it warns us of an obstacle we will come up against… it says that when they arrived back at Jerusalem and spoke with the remaining eleven disciples, they did not believe them, with all the testimony that had been presented, they still did not believe. Unfortunately we must be prepared for this, it is inevitable that people will ignore the light that we are called to bear, but it is not our our job to change their heart… that is the endeavor of the Holy Spirit, we should never take it personally as it is not us but the Gospel that is being rejected, instead we should feel sorrow for them and pray the Lord would send another worker into the field.
In Conclusion, wherever you are on your personal “Emmaus Road” do not be willingly ignorant of where you are, I challenge you to find some time and a quiet place, evaluate where you are and what is next, maybe Jesus’ words are burning in your heart and it is time for you to invite him to stay with you, or maybe you, now having cultivated your relationship with the master are ready to run and proclaim the message, wherever you are, know that Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith is in control and just waiting for you to reach out to him.