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U-Turn on the Road to Emmaus

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U-Turn on the Road to Emmaus

 

 

 I.        Introduction:

 

Text: Luke 24:13-35

 

13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him.

 17He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"

   They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One 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.

   "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."

 25He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

 28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.

 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

 33They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." 35Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

 

Preach this as a strong message of hope.  Not as an indictment

Where we are going:  I want to speak to you today about an encounter two confused, depressed and lost disciples had with Jesus and how they were changed by it.  I think it says a lot to this congregation at this point in time.  It has been on my heart for over 2 months now. 

 

Background:

It is the first Easter and two disciples are leaving Jerusalem and walking towards Emmaus a town about 7 miles northwest of Jerusalem.  These two are walking along talking about a dead Jesus and all that has happened over the past week. 

 

Transition:

 

As we read the story, don’t be too hard on these two because if we are honest they are just like us!

What is God saying to Morton Memorial through this story?

 

II.        Emmaus is in the wrong direction

 

What does it look like when we are going in the wrong direction from God’s will? 

Do you think you will know it? 

Ever been lost and not known it? 

These two disciples in our text were lost and they didn’t know it. They were walking in the wrong direction….

1st—They were walking towards the sunset…. Emmaus is north west of Jerusalem… William Barclay, the great commentator, says, Walking in this direction says to me they thought the sun was setting on their dream.

2nd—Jerusalem is were the action was… They were actually heading away from what God was doing…

They were lost and didn’t know it…

So what are the warning signs of that we may be walking in the wrong direction from God?

In this story there are four…

 

A.   They were focused on a past

14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.

"About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.

What I noticed about this passage is that they are speaking entirely in the past tense.

How does this feel today?

·         The good days are gone in the past..

·         Our hope was in the past…

·         We are washed up…

 

How tragic it is to meet someone who thinks the best has already occurred…

·         They live their lives in their past…

·         To these people in our text, Jesus is a has-been…

 

I have good news!  God is not about the past tense.  Look at Exodus 3:13 – 14.  This is the story of God giving Moses his name.  This is God’s name…

 

 13 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

 14 God said to Moses, "I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "

What is God’s name? 

I AM…

AM is the present tense… nothing past tense about this…

God wants us to live with a focus on the now and the future as a people of destiny. 

 

I don’t want you to think, I don’t have any respect for the past… I do.  As we will see in just a few minutes,  the issue is how we view the past.

Transition:  You can’t see where you are going if you are looking in your rear view mirror. If you want to see what’s ahead you have to look ahead.  As long as you are looking in the rearview mirror—you can’t see what is happening now and in the future.

(Tell the story of looking at Cindy and not looking at the road and going off the road and blowing a tire and bending 2 rims-- $450.00 to fix the tires and Cindy lost a day of work)

B.   They couldn’t recognize their current situation

15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him.

They couldn’t see Jesus and he was walking with them.  The language of the text indicates their inability to recognize him may have been divinely inspired. 

What keeps us from seeing Jesus when he is in our midst?

Focus on the past?

Stubbornness?

Sinful attitudes?

Prejudices?

A preconceived notion about how God should work? (Review paradigm blindness)

Do we have our eyes closed or have closed minds?

Cognitive Dissonance (explain)

Transition:

Well so far, we have seen these disciples are entirely focused on the past and are blind to what to their current situation… What about the future?  Where were they on their journey to the future. . .

C.   They had no hope in their future

17He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"

   They stood still, their faces downcast

Think they were Depressed?

In a state of shock?

Lost?

All three?

 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.

 
This is the most telling phrase in the entire passage.

Without hope!

My question is, what’s next? 

This statement is almost the opposite of Hebrews 11:1

 1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see

The phrase “we had hoped” says even their faith was destroyed.

Transition:

So what do you get with two disciples who are focused on the past, blind to the present and who are depressed and have no hope for the future?

Not much!

D.   They weren’t doing anything for God

In fact they were running away from the place where God was doing something… Kind of reminds me of Jonah who ran away from God’s call and ended up being swallowed by a great fish!

 

20fAnd what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.

They knew the story of the resurrection but they didn’t have faith in the story. 

22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."

They have heard Jesus talk of the significance of the third day

They have heard the testimony of the women who found an empty tomb and the vision of an angel

Why did they leave Jerusalem? Couldn’t they have given it one more day?

Sometimes we need to hold on just one more day—one more step.



Transition:

These two have set up a pretty sad story…

Lost in the past, blind to the present and hopeless about the future

Here is the crux… “What is God saying to us Morton Memorial UMC through this story?”

III.        U-Turn on the Road To Emmaus:  What Is the Direction God Wants Us to Go?

 

Four things happen in the last half of this story that actually parallel and respond directly to the events in the first half of the story. 

It is really the antidote to the first part of the story.

 

A.   Jesus also talks about the past (in past tense) but refers to it in an entirely different way

In parallel to the first part of the story, Jesus talks about the past!

 25He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself

Jesus goes back to Moses and the prophets and talks about the past… but with a big difference… Jesus is not living in the past… He views the past as informing the present and future.  The purpose of the past was to bring us to this point in the present. 

We are people of destiny.  God uses the past to bring us to our destiny.

What has God done here at Morton?

I believe he is getting the right people on the bus!

What do I mean… he is building the people here that he wants here…

Don’t be dismayed about those who have left this body for another church.  Perhaps God is getting them on the right bus for their ministry.  Let’s focus on what God is doing here now and for the future.

Cindy and I are here because we believe God brought us here.  I’ll admit it took me 2 years to figure it out… I may be slow but I do eventually get the message.

I believe you are here because God wants you on here and He always has a reason for that…

Transition:  Once we get out head our of our past, God can begin to deal with what’s happening right now…

God is challenging us to live as people of destiny and he is challenging Morton Memorial to go forth with a sense of destiny!

B.   They recognized Jesus

31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.

The could see the reality of what is happening right before them. 

Their eyes were opened indicates this eye opening was divine…


We can’t do this on our own! We need to ask God for it!

What can we do to have our eyes opened to the reality of God’s work here?

May I suggest a solemn assembly!

           

C.   Their perspective changed

They went from being downcast to a heart burning within them...

32They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

 

There is a big difference between downcast and no hope and hearts burning within us!

An encounter with Jesus always leaves us burning!  In fact, Jesus says we will be baptized with fire and the Holy Spirit!

It is this filling of the Holy Spirit that keeps our heart burning!  The tense of the words  Ephesians 5:18  we are instructed to “Be filled with the Holy Spirit”  the verb phrase indicates this filling is continuous.

Why do you think we need to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit?

I think it is because we leak!

Transition:  Speaking of leaking the Holy Spirit

Once the disciples were energized by their encounter with Jesus they didn’t just sit around.  They made a U-turn and got back to where God was moving and back to the task at hand!

D.   Back on Track

They wasted no time taking action

  33They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem.

 

They wasted no time taking action.  It was obvious to them now they were going in the wrong direction and they corrected that immediately!

 

Not only did they head back to Jerusalem… they began proclaiming the truth of the resurrection…

33fThere they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." 35Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

 

The only true reaction to an encounter with Jesus is to take action.  This action is to:

·         Tell your story to others and proclaim his resurrection to the world. 

·         In other words, get about the work of God.

Now is decision time.  From what we see in the story it must not be put off… we, like these disciples, must take action AT ONCE.

 

 

IV.        Conclusion

This message is not about constructing a church building but it is about building a church

This message is about getting before God and moving ourselves as a body of believers into the will of God

It is about honoring our past and letting it inform our future.

It is about seeing God in the present

It is about having faith to become what God wants us to be

It is about taking action NOW, not at some point in the future.   To be the church (the body of believers) God is calling us to be

All this supercedes building a structure

Its about living our lives for God as People of Destiny!

Its about asking him to change us and this church into what he wants us to be.

Its about Living Your Life For A Change!

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