Summary: Join Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus! Let Jesus deal with your disappointments, clear up your confusion, and set your heart on fire.
Recall with me some of the post-resurrection appearances made by Jesus. Mark’s gospel tells us that early on Easter Sunday Jesus made his first appearance to Mary Magdalene. In his gospel John gives us the details of that meeting. Mary was bawling her eyes out over what she thought was the senseless desecration of Jesus’ tomb. Through her tears she pleaded with a man that she thought was a gardener. “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him,” she blubbered. “Mary,” was Jesus’ warm response. Luke’s gospel tells us that Jesus also appeared to Peter sometime during that same glorious resurrection day. We are not told what Jesus said to Peter but their visit was no doubt exactly what Peter needed. In the evening of the first Easter Sunday Jesus appeared to ten of the disciples and said, “Peace be with you.” He then went on to prove that he was alive by inviting them to touch his body. Jesus also ate a piece of broiled fish in front of them. A week after his resurrection Jesus again appeared to the disciples to prove to Thomas that he was indeed alive. Remember how adamant Thomas had been about not believing that Jesus rose from the dead unless he received physical confirmation of the fact. Later on Jesus also appeared to seven of the disciples while they were fishing in Galilee. In 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus appeared to him, to more than five hundred believers, and to James (who seems to have been Jesus’ half-brother.)
Although all of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances served the purpose of proving that he was alive they also met the specific spiritual needs of individuals. From Mary Magdalene, to Peter, to Thomas, to James, and concluding with the Apostle Paul, Jesus interacted with people after his resurrection to comfort them, encourage them, and to strengthen their faith.
In the gospel lesson for this Sunday we heard about one of the many post-resurrection appearances by Jesus. He appeared to two disciples who were walking from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus. The very detailed account illustrates the point of how the resurrected Jesus appeared to his followers not only to prove that he was alive but also to meet their spiritual needs.
Each of us here this morning is in need of a visit from our living Lord Jesus. Through his many post-Easter appearances Jesus comes to us and meets our spiritual needs. We now ask him to walk beside us as he did beside Cleopas and the other unnamed disciple. I invite you to:
“WALK WITH YOUR LIVING LORD”
I. Let him deal with your disappointment
II. Let him clear up your confusion
III. Let him set your heart on fire
This portion of Scripture takes us back to Easter Sunday. “13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.” We don’t know a lot about these two disciples or why they were going to Emmaus. But we do know what was on their minds. “14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.” Jesus could have stopped these two disciples and simply said, “Hi, I’m alive.” But instead he wanted to walk with them for a while. As he walked next to their bodies he led their souls on a walk into the Scriptures. That spiritual journey was exactly what they needed. Jesus dealt with their disappointment, cleared up their confusion, and set their hearts ablaze with the fire of faith. Today as we walk with our living Lord he will do the same things for us. We need Jesus to deal with our disappointment, clear up our confusion, and to set our hearts on fire with faith in him.
It is a challenge for us to truly appreciate the disappointment that the two disciples must have felt concerning Jesus. Like so many others at that time Cleopas and the other disciple saw some promising things in Jesus. For a while it seemed as though he was the Messiah for whom they were waiting. He taught with authority, performed miracles, and showed concern for everyone. But on Good Friday Jesus’ lifeless body was placed in a tomb. It looked like he wasn’t what they had hoped for after all.
To begin addressing their disappointment Jesus asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” Luke describes the depth of their discouragement. “They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?’ 19 ‘What things?’ he asked.” After Cleopas expressed his amazement that Jesus apparently hadn’t heard about what just happened in Jerusalem the two disciples spilled their guts to Jesus, “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. ‘‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” The events of Good Friday had dashed the hopes of these disciples. They were living under a dark cloud of disappointment. They had carefully observed the facts about Jesus but they had been hoping for a very different conclusion to his story. To them it seemed as though they would have to keep waiting for the redeemer to come.