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From Heartbreak to Heartburn

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From Heartbreak to Heartburn

Luke 24:13-35 NIV


Thesis - The risen Christ can take us from a heartbreaking experience to a heartburning experience.

Evangelistic Objective - To cause people to have a heartburning experience.

I read about a minister who was given the honor of preaching at an important meeting of his denomination.  Just before he was to start his sermon he was seen to be looking anxiously around the congregation.  The chairman whispered to him, “What’s the problem?  Is there someone here who’s heard the sermon before?”  “No,” replied the minister, “I was looking to see if there’s anybody who hasn’t heard it before!”  How embarrassing!  I’m in a somewhat similar position, because at Easter, it’s almost certain you’ve all heard a sermon based on what happened on the road to Emmaus - although not from me!

It’s a story worth repeating again and again because it’s at the very heart of the Gospel.  It highlights the living hope found only in the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul wrote to his friends at Corinth, If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:19, 20a).  But on that first Easter day that living hope was far from being established in the experience of the two people we read of in our scripture lesson.  For them the last three days had been

I.  A heartbreaking experience (vv. 13-21).

A.  The two travelers ...

1.  The scripture tells us almost nothing about the two making the seven mile trek from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

a) We know one of them was a man named Cleopas (v. 18).

b) We don’t know the name or gender of the other traveler.

(1) My personal opinion is that it was Cleopas’ wife.

(2) My reason for thinking this is twofold.

(a) To not mention women was common in this time.

(b) They apparently lived together (v. 29).

c) They were part of the larger company of disciples who had welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. 

(1) In addition, some of our women amazed us (v.22a) (boldface mine).                            

(2) Then some of our companions ... (V. 24a) (boldface mine).

(3) They were not part of the Eleven to whom they went (v.33).

2.  It is significant that these two are “unknown and undistinguished.”

a) It makes their story our story.

b) What Christ did for them he can do for us.

B.  The two travelers were without hope ... (v. 21).

1.  “These two disciples [had thought (NLT), had their hopes up (The Message)] that Jesus would set up a political kingdom; therefore, His death was a tragedy” (v. 21).  -Robert Moore, Asbury College

2.  “What they were saying is ‘We don’t expect it now, but once we did.  We had it, this thing called hope, but now it’s gone.’”  -Owen Bourgaize

3.  Can you identify with these hopeless travelers?

a) “Human hope is a fragile thing, and when it withers it’s difficult to  revive.  Hopelessness as a disease of the human spirit is desperately hard to cure.  When you see someone you love and care for overtaken by illness, which goes on, and on, despair sets in.  It almost becomes impossible to hope for recovery, to be even afraid to hope because of not being able to cope with another letdown.”  -Owen Bourgaize

b) Have you lost hope in Christ?  Have your expectations concerning Him not been met?

C.  The two travelers were without hope and joy (v. 17).

1.  They were sad and gloomy (CEV), long-faced, like they had lost their best friend (The Message).

2.  “So these two disciples, having lost their hopes had lost that gladness which is the child of hope, and as they walked together they were sad.”  -George H. Morrison

3.  Have you lost your joy?

Jesus himself came up and walked along with them (v. 15) turning their heartbreaking experience into

II.  A heart-filling experience (vv. 19-27).

A.  Their turning point began with a question: What are you discussing together as you walk along? (v. 17).

1.  “In his infinite courtesy, Jesus remembered the frailty of over-strained nerves and bewildered minds and came, not too suddenly or overwhelming upon them, but with gracious signs and tokens, and messages from one to the other.”

2.  “The way that Jesus dealt with the situation is a lesson to all that are put in a position to help those who have lost hope.  They need a listening ear before a stream of good advice.  The last thing they need is a brisk ‘cheering up’ talk or being told to ‘snap out of it.’  Instead, let’s be there with them.  Let’s love them by listening, by accepting what it is that they feel.  There’ll be time later to point them to the way of hope, to the One in [who] hope is found, but first things first.”  -Owen Bourgaize

B.  The two Emmaus bound disciples expressed correct theology in their answer to His question, it just wasn’t a complete theology (vv. 19-24).

1.  They were living in the past - He was… (v. 19).

2.  They hadn’t gotten past the cross!

C.  Jesus gave what must be the greatest Old Testament exposition in history - to this congregation of two (v. 27).

1.  “It was then that the jigsaw of the types, shadows and symbols of the Old Testament revelation began to come together.  He would have reminded them that right back at the Fall of Mankind the apparently victorious Satan, in the form of the serpent, was told that the seed, the offspring of the woman ‘will crush your head, and you will strike his heel’ (Genesis 3:15).             

            “And so was foretold the story of the cosmic struggle between death and life, of the pattern of death and resurrection in the Old Testament revelation.  It’s clearly visible in the life of Abraham, sacrificing his dear and only son Isaac and getting him back again; of Joseph, preserved to become the benefactor of his brothers who tried to destroy him; of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt after having been saved from the angel of death through the sign of the blood of the Passover lamb.

“Jesus would have recalled his own teaching of how the Israelites escaped physical death in the wilderness from a plague of serpents when they looked trustingly to a great bronze serpent which Moses raised on a pole, pointing out that he too would be lifted up on the Cross, ‘that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life in him’ (John 3:15).  Jesus would surely have taken the now speechless disciples through the Suffering Servant of Jehovah passages in Isaiah.  He would have recounted how the nation of Israel, was taken into exile and brought back again to rebuild!  Jerusalem, was a symbol of the greater redemption through personal salvation through faith in him.

“Here was proof that Jesus had fulfilled that which had been prophesied over the centuries; that these Old Testament anticipations of his passion and triumph of life over death, proved that he was indeed the Messiah.  The two disciples couldn’t have expected that sharing their problem with the stranger on the Emmaus road brought them towards a solution.  But there was more to it than that.  Christ wasn’t there beside them simply to help them to find solutions - he was in the problem itself.  Jesus told his two listeners, ‘Did not the Christ have to suffer these things ...’”  -Owen Bourgaize

2.  Jesus showed these two that the cross wasn’t a tragedy but the creative act of God, taught throughout the Old Testament, as the way for Him to accomplish the salvation of all who would come to Him in repentance and faith.

D.  Are you regularly listening to heart-filling expositions of the Word?

The heart-filling they experienced as the “lights came on” soon gave way to

III.  A heartburning experience (vv. 28-35).

A.  Jesus waited for an invitation to come in and sup with them (vv. 28, 29).

1.  Holman Hunt’s picture depicts the truth of Revelation 3:20 that is acted out here.

                                                      2.  “God gave to the world the greatest and the most perilous gift in the world, the gift of free will; and we can use it to invite Christ into our hearts or allow him to pass on.”  -Owen Bourgaize

3.  Christ’s self-disclosure is somewhat “controlled” by the response of His fellow travelers.

B.  His true identity was revealed to them in the breaking of bread (vv. 30, 31).

1.  Perhaps it was what He said.

2.  It might have been His mannerisms.

3.  It could be they saw the nail-scarred hands.

4.  Possibly, they looked Him in the face for the first time.

5.  Somehow they “recognized” He was with them in spite of their fear, doubt and confusion.

6.  This recognition caused their hearts to burn (v. 32).

C.  He disappeared at that moment (v. 31).

1.  He was preparing them to get along without His physical presence.

2.  Just as we have to do 2,000 years later.

D.  Does your heart burn with the recognition of His presence with you?

        A songwriter has written: Somewhere between where you are and Emmaus/ A stranger wants to come and walk with you/ Somewhere along the way your heart will be burning/ Drawn into the holy flame of truth/ Right now He may be a stranger to you/ What will He be when your journey’s through/ Somewhere between where you are and Emmaus/ A stranger wants to walk with you.

Pearl, MS - 03/27/05

Wyoming, PA - 04/08/07

Bangor, ME – 04/12/09

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