May 20, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Blessed are those whom You cause to come near, that they may dwell in Your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house. Your holy temple.”
Psalm 65: 4
“I said: ‘Lord, look at me
Just look at me
All of life upside down –
Tangled emotions smeared with fear
A prisoner of myself.
The hopeless thing is that
It’s all decided.
At the end of the rope
And I’ve tried, Lord
But how does one see without eyes
Or walk without feet?
You said: ‘Come unto Me.
You need not cringe
Come even without feeling
Without merit or hope
And all of life
Turned right side up.”
Ruth Harms Calkin
Tell Me Again Lord, I Forget
Today’s Study Text:
“Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. And He said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed Him over 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 took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find His body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Him. Then He said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them the things about Himself in all the Scriptures.”
Luke 24: 13-27
“He is Risen” Part 6
“The Road Out of Town”
“You can’t appreciate the miracle of the sunrise unless you’ve waited in the darkness.”
Has there been a time in my life when I felt I was alone on a road to nowhere?
“I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light.”
Mary Gardiner Brainard
“Christ chargeth me to believe His daylight at midnight.”
Two friends. Deeply disappointed and heart-broken by the horrible death of the “Person” they had pinned all their hopes for the future on. What do you think their conversation would have been like? “How could we have gotten things so wrong? What did we miss?” This might have been some of the questions that would have filled my mind.
As they continued their seven-mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus, the men were joined by another traveler, who did more than just walk with them. This unknown and unrecognized figure pointedly began to ask questions about their obvious confusion and sorrow.
Several months ago, I came upon an old book entitled, The Friend On The Road, by J. H. Jowett, written in 1922. His words so eloquently draw us into the scene on the road to Emmaus: “The Friend whose absence (the men) were mourning was with them on the road. They walked in sadness because their minds were fastened upon a grave, and lo! The bars of death had been broken, and the buried One was even now at their side. They thought that the glory had departed, while all the time a greater glory had arrived. On that apparently desolate road there walked the Conqueror of death, the Lord of resurrection. It was not midnight, but sunrise with all the promise of a superlatively glorious day! They thought they were journeying westward, in the direction of a dawning of whose splendor they had never even dreamed.”
It isn’t too difficult for me to put myself in the place of these two followers of Jesus. I can understand why they felt absolutely forgotten for at times in all our lives, we’ve felt alone – all by ourselves wondering what the future holds. Questioning the purpose of our lives. And so we take the road out of Emmaus and hope it gets us somewhere. As author Ken Gire so eloquently describes in his tremendous book, Intense Moments With The Savior: The road to Emmaus is the road you take after we’ve been to Golgotha. It’s the road we take when the other roads we’ve taken turn out to be dead ends. It’s the road out of town, the road to getting away from it all.” Maybe it’s a road you’ve traveled by yourself.
But in the case of the “Emmaus Road,” not a one of us, in reality, is all alone. For as Dr. Luke tells us, something instructive took place on that road out of town. The accompanying visitor began by asking: “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” Thinking that the stranger must not be well-versed in the horrendous events which happened in Jerusalem, Cleopas turned and asked: “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” And then, in pushing for more information, their guest asks, “What things?” Dr. Luke tells us the answer: “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed Him over to be condemned to death and crucified Him.” And then the two lonely followers explained why their hopes had been so severely dashed: “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 took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning and when they did not find His body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see Him” (Luke 24: 19-24, N.R.S.V.)
There’s so much in these few verses it’s hard to know where to start. So let’s begin by looking at the fact that these precious followers of Jesus did not have misplaced beliefs. Jesus was the Messiah. And their hope in Jesus as their Redeemer wasn’t wrong either. Then why so down and disappointed? Simply put, things didn’t work out according to their thought process. The crucifixion wasn’t even on their radar, no matter how many times the Old Testament prophets wrote about a “suffering Savior.” And what’s more, they even ignored Jesus’ own words to His followers because the image they had of their Messiah was what I’d liken to a “Kingly” claim to power. And when things didn’t work out the way they planned – down in the dumps they slipped.
Thankfully, our kind Savior didn’t leave them in a heap of despondency. Instead, He gave them a heaven-sent, power-filled Bible study. He took them to the Scriptures: “Then He said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared.’” I want to also point out that it wasn’t just the prophets they were “slow of heart” to believe, they chose to disbelieve the women who came first with a message of hope. Instead, they cited the report by the women as “a vision of angels.” Why? Because the story, the plot, the plan in their heads didn’t follow a scenario where women were given the message of Jesus’ resurrection before the men-folk. And so instead of having their hearts filled with rejoicing and returning to Jerusalem at the first news of an empty tomb, they continued to plod their way down the road to Emmaus. And their traveling companion continued to take the Scriptures and reveal the truths contained in the words “beginning with Moses and all the prophets.” In fact, Luke underscores that their guest didn’t just share prophetic words, “He interpreted to them the things about Himself in all the Scriptures.” How I would have loved to be part of that Bible Study group. For as the walk continued, the entire atmosphere began to reverse itself…from hopelessness to hope…from faithlessness to faithfulness. From death to life.
Author Ken Gire offers a unique insight into Jesus’ revelation about the Messiah, “Jesus does not chide them for not believing the testimony of the women or the testimony of the empty tomb. He chides them for not believing the testimony of the Scripture.” What a lesson for us in the dark times of our lives when the road is long and we are weary. How frequently do we miss the opportunity of having God’s word sustain us during the moments when we feel forgotten and all alone.
There may be times in your own life, perhaps right now, when as Pastor Shannon Pater so descriptively describes, “The soles of our shoes know the brokenhearted steps of a road away from an unrecognized resurrection.”
When in the darkness, we too feel that all which is good is lost, let us never forget, as Pastor J. H. Jowett shares, “Jesus is left, and in Him the graves shall give up their dead. We shall be amazed what He will ‘bring with Him.’ Beautiful things which we thought were dead and buried will rise again…Lovely hopes, which we thought had dropped and withered like autumn leaves, will appear again as everlasting flowers, blooming in the fair paradise of eternal life and love.”
Thank God, the Emmaus Road, the road out of town is not where the story ends. In fact, this is just the beginning of a new journey of untold heavenly blessings and power. For when Jesus walks with us, our eyes are opened and hope will burn within our hearts again. I invite you back tomorrow for the rest of the journey.
“We are disappointed and worn down.
Lord, walk with us.
We doubt what we believe,
Lord, teach us.
We need a sign,
Lord, break the bread.
We seek Your kingdom
Lord, fill our hearts with fire.”
Fire and Bread
“Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You that whatever road I take to get away from the pain in my past, that is the road where You meet me. Thank You that even as I am walking away, You are walking after me. Wanting to draw near. Offering Your companionship. Hoping to clear up the confusion in my life.
Thank You for Your Word that sheds so much light on whatever road I take. Without it, how would I have ever found my way? Or my way back?
Help me to be sensitive to the way You speak to me through that Word. And to be sensitive to the many other ways You speak, which are often unfamiliar ways, spoken in unfamiliar voices from unfamiliar faces.
Thank You for the searching conversations that can only take place on the Emmaus road. Please break into those conversations, Lord, especially when I’m walking away and wondering why hopes I believed would come true didn’t. Why suffering I prayed would be relieved wasn’t. Why questions I asked to be answered weren’t.
Stay with me, Lord, especially in times when I am disheartened. Show Yourself to me, even if it is only for a moment. For Your presence means more to me than my understanding. And seeing You when life doesn’t make sense is better than not seeing You when it does.”
Intense Moments With Jesus
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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