Summary: It is so common, it is so known, that we forget about the transformational power of the story of Christ. It is a sermon of allowing the story to burn again.
BURNING OF THE HEART
THEME: DEEPING FAITH THROUGH A LOVE OF THE STORY.
TEXT: LUKE 24:13-33
It was an hour and a half from the center of Dallas-Fort Worth. It was in a small little Texas town. The building was an old school house that was moved to function as a church building. It was my first real-kind of job preaching. I was at Brown Trail for approximately six months when Gary Garner approached me taking over the Sunday Morning service for this tiny congregation. The little church met once on Sunday morning, and I was required to preach the lesson, not Bible class, just the sermon. In the building, we met on the side in a little classroom because the church did not have enough funds to heat or cool the worship center. Up to this point, I preached about 2 lessons before in a congregational setting. Both of these times, everyone knew me and desired to support me in this work. There were numerous eyes focused and heads nodding. But this church was different. I was just another young preacher trying to improve in speaking. This experience shocked me, but mostly one man. One man would come to worship and partake of the Lord’s Supper. After this, I would stand up to preach. As I was standing, he was arranging the chairs. This created some nervous feelings, this never happened before. He turned the chair in front of him, he stretched out on the chair under him, and he placed his cowboy hat over his head. And the man slept. This was not a big congregation. Maybe there were 12 people. It was a small room, you could not hide. People get tired in church, but most people try to stay with you. Not this man, sermon time was nap time for him. This show really bothered me. I really thought what I was talking about was interesting. For the first three weeks, I tired to preach strong, enthusiastic lessons. But this did not work. Finally, I thought I would preach on the death of Christ. There is no way; a man will sleep through the death of the Lord. As always, the man turned the chair and placed the hat. I started preaching in a too loud tone for the small room. I raised my voiced; I told the story of the death of Jesus Christ. And the man slept, he did not move until the invitation song. He slept through the death of the Lord.
Two disciples on the road to Emmaus must have thought that this fellow traveler was sleeping also. These two men were astonished that he seemed to be unaware of the great events that transpired in Jerusalem. It seemed that this man was the only one who did not hear the story yet. Luke 24:13-18 tells of the situation. “And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were conversing with each other about all these things which had taken place. And it came about that while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus Himself approached, and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. And He said to them, "What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?" And they stood still, looking sad. And one of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, "Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?"
The two men take for granted that this stranger to them has heard about the Jesus story. There is no way he is not familiar with the events that transpired in Jerusalem. It is too shocking that the stranger does not automatically bring up the death of the man Jesus Christ. He has to know about this story. Everyone knows the story of Jesus. And this is the classic assumption of the church. We assume everyone knows the story of Jesus. We believe that those within the church know the story. We believe that those outside of the church know the story. But in reality, most people have not heard the story of the Lord. They know the name Jesus, they know about church, in name only. But people have now heard the story of the Lord. This assumption has created problems in the church. We assume that people are familiar with Jesus. But this is not always the case. The man who went to sleep every Sunday morning at church, he never heard the story. It might have been preached about, read about, but he never heard it. There is a big difference in having the story told, and hearing the story of Christ. We think others have heard the story, because we have heard it before. So we jump to other topics. We talk about the church, we talk about the Lord’s Supper, we talk about Elders and Deacons, we talk about morality, and baptism. And we assume that we can talk about these topics because everyone knows the story of Jesus already. We have said it, but they have not heard it yet.