Summary: Moving past hurts and turning them into usefulness is difficult, but Jesus wants to change us.
Luke 24:13-32 – From Heartbreak to Heartburn
I remember reading once a true story about a man who was saved from his burning house in the middle of the night. The house was a total loss, but no-one was hurt. After some work, it was discovered that the fire started in the bedroom, the same room the man was sleeping in when he discovered the fire. The man, being a smoker, was questioned as to whether or not he was smoking in bed. “Of course not,” he said. He was pressed a little further: “Well, how did the fire start? Where did the fire come from? Are you sure your cigarette didn’t set the bed on fire?” The man, flustered, tired, and discovered, said, “No, the bed was on fire when I got in it.”
Fire can be a dangerous thing. It can also be a wonderful thing, depending on its use. It’s been said fire makes a great servant but a horrible taskmaster.
The truth is God wants to set our hearts on fire. To give us a burning passion in life. We all long for the eternal but are too easily contented with the temporary. We want to do something worthwhile but spend too much time wasted. We come, we go, we do our part. We go through motions. We lack purpose. We lack passion. We lack burning hearts.
We are not alone. Most people have to deal with hearts that are breaking instead of hearts that are burning. Most people have too many hurts in their own lives to seriously invest in others. Some of you would like to be more involved, but you’ve got too much on your plates already. So what happens is your time and energy gets sapped on things that won’t matter when it all ends. What we need is God’s fire upon our lives, giving us purpose and direction, taking us farther than salvation. How do we get heartburn – that is, hearts burning with passion and purpose? Our passage today gives us two clues to fuel a fire in our lives, to move from breaking hearts to burning hearts. Luke 24:13-33.
Let’s paint the picture. It’s the first Easter Sunday. Jesus has risen and appeared to Mary Magdalene, who at first thought he was a gardener. Then he appeared to several women: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, Joanna and Salome, the mother of James and John. There was one other: Mary, the other Mary, the wife of Clopas or Cleopas or Cleophas, also known as Alpheus. It’s very possible that this Mary also appears in our story today.
Two followers of Jesus, shaken up by the last week of events – Jesus’ trials, death and so-called appearances – were headed out of Jerusalem and all the events there, to the town of Emmaus, present day Khan el Khamaseh. V13-16. These folks were battling the big D’s: depression, discouragement, disillusionment.
V17 says they were downcast. Heartbroken. Why were they heartbroken? Why were they downcast? Because all that they had known was turned upside down. V18-24.
Once they had been sure that Jesus was the answer to all the world’s problems. Look at v21 – “We had hoped”. How sad are those words. When hope dies in someone is a terrible thing. When what you hope happens doesn’t happen is sad, but when it seems that God has let you down, it’s worse. We all have been let down by others; it hurts, but we come to expect it somewhat. But when God doesn’t do what you hoped He would, the pain is greater. Why didn’t you save this life? Why didn’t you save this marriage? Why did you let this happen?
Understand: all that they knew was based on what they could see. All they could see was chaos and confusion. All they could see was with their physical eyes. Heartbreak comes from walking by sight. Heartbreak happens to all of us from time to time. And while we’re in it, it’s so easy to get together with our friends and talk and whine and complain and relive the past and run away from it all, just as these two followers were doing. Sometimes it’s so hard to see what God is doing while we are in the middle of a painful experience – in the sea of a heartbreak. Just as Jesus promised that He would die but be raised from the dead 3 days later, it’s so easy for us to forget all of His promises too. When He says He would never leave us or forsake us, that applies even in the middle of a heartbreak. When He says that He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory, that’s true in tough times too. And especially when He says that all things are working for the good for those who love Him, even our heartbreaks can be redeemed and turned into something useful. But if all you know is what you can see with your own two eyes, you’re in trouble.