When we encounter Jesus, our hearts are changed forever.
I have some scripture to cover as an entry point. I didn’t want to assume that everyone is either familiar with what happens in Luke 24 or has been here the past few weeks. I only have so much room in the handout and they put as much scripture as they could in there. If you have your Bible or Bible app, you can turn to Luke 24. I’m going to read through it. I’m not going to spend a lot of time covering what we’ve already addressed. Just use it as a setup, setting the table if you will. Luke 24:13 says, “That very day, two of them were going to a village named Emmaus.”
The village was about seven miles from Jerusalem. That very day would have been Easter. It would have been the first Sunday, the day that Jesus rose. They didn’t know or believe that at the time. They were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, we’re told that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. We’re also told, “their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.” So they didn’t know it was Him. He was a stranger who had joined them on the road to Emmaus and was entering into their conversation. He said to them, this stranger, what was this conversation that you were holding with each other as you walked? They stood still looking sad. One of them named Cleopas answered Him.
You’re the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there these days? He said to them, what things? They said the things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a mighty prophet indeed and was before God and all the people. Did you hear about how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death? The Romans crucified Him. We had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel, the promised one, the Messiah. Besides all this, it’s been three days since this happened. Moreover, there were some women in our company. They amazed us. They had gone to the tomb early this morning and they didn’t find His body. Something happened. They came back and said that they had seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive.
Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it. It was true, just as the women said. It was empty, but they didn’t find His body. They didn’t see Him. The stranger must’ve shocked them with His words. “Oh, foolish one and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and then enter into His glory?” Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them and all the scriptures, the things concerning Himself. We talked about what an amazing Bible study that must have been. As they walked along the road to Emmaus, they had this stranger who was Jesus, incognito sharing with them all the things in the scriptures that prophesied His suffering and glory.
It must have been an astonishing tour through the scriptures. To continue with Luke 24:28, “So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted,” this one who had joined them on the road. “He acted as if He were going farther. They urged Him strongly saying, stay with us. Stay with us for it is towards evening. The day is now far spent.” It’s almost night, the day is done. So would you stay with us? “He went to stay with them. When He was at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed and broke it and He gave it to them.” This is where we left off last week. The one who had been invited in as the guest had assumed the role of the host. He took the bread. He blessed it. He broke it and gave it to them. The movement of Jesus, this stranger breaking the bread and giving it to them, connects us to another incident that occurred four days earlier. It was a moment as well. It was the night of his betrayal. On the night of his betrayal, when Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His disciples, the Passover will become known as the last supper. Luke 22, I just want to revisit it for a moment. Thinking about the connection, this goes back again to the night of His betrayal. When the time had come, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table, and Jesus said, I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins.
This was a tender, sacred moment. For I tell you now because Jesus knows where it’s all going. He’s with the people He loves the most, poured His life into. He’s trained them. He’s given His best and knows what’s going to happen. This Passover, in so many ways, was connected to Him for all the Passover lamb. He would become the very idea of the blood of the lamb that becomes the marking point of deliverance in Israel, out of their Egyptian bondage. It connects all the way back to this moment. Jesus saw it so clearly. He says, “for I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He said, “take this and I need you to share it among yourselves. I’m not going to drink wine again until the kingdom of God has come in this ceremony of Passover. Its fulfillment is about to happen.” Then he took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. He broke it into pieces and gave it to the disciples saying, “this is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After supper, he took another cup of wine and said, “this cup of new covenant between God and His people in agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend is the man who will betray me for it has been determined that the son of man must die. This is the plan, but what sorrow awaits the one who betrays Him.”
The disciples begin to ask each other who it was that He was talking about. The Passover table was a place of intimacy and friendship. The betrayal by Judas was ultimately an abusive intimacy as all betrayal really is at a relational level. As a result, it stands out in perverse contrast to the melancholy beauty of that moment. Jesus is sharing the sacrificial beauty that that meal represented. The self-imposed vulnerability of the Lord. It symbolized the point that having us think about it though, was the bread. Jesus says, take this bread, something they had been doing for generations. When you eat it, think of this as my body, that will be broken for you. As long as you do this, do this in remembrance of me. We still do this.
That’s something we’ll be doing again next week in the evening together. There’s something about it. It’s always interesting because earlier on in His ministry in John 6, Jesus literally called himself the bread of life. It was a curious designation that actually went all the way back to the time of Moses. There was a time when God miraculously delivered Israel out of Egyptian bondage. This newly emancipated nation is sustained by God in the wilderness with what is described as food or seed that they could make bread out of. It was called manna.
Jesus identifies Himself as the bread of life. The bread that sustains. Let me show you a couple of verses. Jesus said to them in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger.” See, ‘I am the bread’ is one of those. “I am the bread of life and He who believes in me shall never thirst.” You’ll never be hungry. John 6:47-48. “Most assuredly, truly I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life.” There it is; I am the bread of life. Chapter 51, “I am the living bread.” Look at that, which came down from heaven. “If anyone eats of this bread, you will live forever. The bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
This is what Jesus was talking about, His brokenness, His body. In Emmaus, when He’s breaking the bread, it’s fascinating. Go back if you can, to that 24th chapter verse 30, 24:30. It says when He was at the table with them, He took the bread. I want us to see it in our minds. I tried to imagine it myself. He’s at the table with them. The one who has been the stranger is now welcomed in, stay with us. He does, then all of a sudden He assumes the role of the host. He takes the bread and then He breaks the bread. He blesses it. He takes the bread. He blesses it, He breaks it, and He gives it to them. Look at verse 31, it says their eyes were opened and they recognized Him immediately. Then He vanished from their side. There are a lot of things happening here. He takes the bread. He breaks the bread, as the bread is breaking and as He is giving it to them, all of a sudden, He’s revealed to them. In that moment of the breaking, they recognize who He is. There’s this exchange all happening at once. He breaks the bread. As He’s giving it to them, they immediately recognize Him. Then He’s gone just like that. He’s gone. He breaks the bread, hands it to them, and their eyes are opened. I thought, is it not so that in Christ’s brokenness God is made known. Just like they knew Him as He broke the bread. So it is that God is known through the breaking or crucifixion of Jesus.
He is made knowable in a way that was not possible before because of the cross. The brokenness of Christ, the sacrifice that He said He had come to give to pay a price for us we can never pay. In His brokenness, God has made knowable at a relational level in a way that was not possible before. The same thing, He breaks the bread and they see Him. He breaks Himself and we can see Him. It’s a beautiful thing when we realize it. Then it says He vanished, which is fascinating. I was thinking about this. You start reading the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus and it’s really interesting. It has a lot to say about what we can think about what is yet to come. People are always interested in “about.” Hey, what’s it going to be like when I die? Am I going to have my body?
There’s a lot of discussion around that in the scriptures. There are a lot of things that we don’t know. One of the things that people tend to look at a lot is, what happened to the body of Jesus after His resurrection? He still had a body, but His body was different. It was the same. He could be recognized and unrecognized, interesting. He could eat and drink and do things that we would normally do in His body. At the same time, it was clearly different. He could move here in time and space. It did not have the same kind of limitation on Him. He could be touched and yet He could be gone.
I think it was Pope Benedict. I was reading something he wrote. He said, “the resurrected body of Jesus represents an evolutionary leap in the human condition,” which I found fascinating. It’s almost as if there is something about where we’re going, based on the resurrection of Jesus that tells us that we’re going to have the same body, but it’s going to be so much better and so much different. Recognizable and yet unrecognizable, movement is not limited in the way it is now. Matter the way we can engage matter differently. Fascinating things to think about. So what happens is this stranger who they didn’t know breaks the bread. As it’s breaking and handing it to them, they take it and they recognize who He is. As soon as they recognize who He is, He’s gone.
They turned to one another and said in verse 32, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road. Wasn’t that unlike anything you had ever experienced? When He opened up the scriptures to us, what did you feel? I felt like my heart was on fire.” As you reveal and open up that word to me, can you hear me when I say that is exactly what we need? We need this. We need to have hearts on fire. I need to have a heart on fire, a heart of flame, hearts in love with God. The Christian life at its core is a matter of the heart. It always has been and always will be. It’s about loving God. They asked Jesus, what is the greatest thing you can ever do? He said, “it is to love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and to love your neighbor, love your others.”
I would say, especially those closest to us as you love yourself. It has a lot to do with learning how to love ourselves properly, which some of us struggle with. We can either love ourselves too much or too little. Learning how to have healthy self-love, I think, enhances our ability to love others as the Lord would have us to. But it’s interesting what Jesus said. When we talk about real greatness, it has nothing to do with what we acquire in life. I’m not anti-ambition. That is truly not the case. I’ve worked on myself in degrees. You have three of them.
It’s good to want to achieve, but in the end, can you hear me when I say, for the Lord, it doesn’t matter to Him, the degrees, how much we’ve acquired, how high we go, social status, and how much power we temporarily possess. Jesus warned us on more than one occasion. Be very careful about the seduction of power. Do not live your life, he says, as the Gentiles do, only pursuing authority. They loved to lord it over those who are below them, Jesus says, do not live like that. He who is greatest among you, let Him become a servant of all. There’s a lesson there. There was no one greater than Jesus. He says, do not think that a man or a woman’s life consists of the abundance of the things that they possess temporarily.
It’s not what we own. We’re going to leave it all behind. We leave it behind for others. We have no idea what they’re going to do with it. He says, be very careful about building up only a cache for this life. Do not be poor towards God. Instead, be rich towards God. Be a blesser, be a giver. If the Lord has given you means, then use that. Use that to bless, use that to help, use that to advance His kingdom. Use that to be a blessing to those who have less. Use the resources God gives us. But my point is anything we’ve been given is just borrowed and we’ve been given the choice to manage it. How we manage what is actually the Lord’s. But remember what true success is in the eyes of Jesus.
Love the Lord your God. Love the Lord your God, love the Lord your God. I was sitting with this passage and as I thought about this, I thought, Lord, because I had a way I wanted to go with this message. I was struck a couple of days ago as I was not happy with the way I had conducted myself. I felt like I had not honored the Lord properly. I was sitting with this passage and I said, Lord, I understand what it is when you said to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “oh, foolish and slow to believe.” I said, Lord, I have not always loved you as I should. I have been foolish and slow to believe. I have. I kept thinking about when He said, oh foolish and slow to believe. Foolish, when I’m not listening or honoring you the way I should. Or I’m slow to have faith in things that I’m afraid of, whatever it is. I think, “I’ve been them.” I started drilling down deep. I think, “I’ve been them. I’ve been foolish. I’ve been slow to believe. I haven’t always loved you the way you’ve loved me. My heart is not always on fire for you.” I thought, am I only being like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, foolish and slow to believe? I probably have been like Judas and I’ve been like Peter. I also have betrayed and denied Him in different ways. Things worse that should’ve been said, what are the words that were said that shouldn’t have been said, deeds that should have been done?
He loves us. Works with us. One of the things I want to suggest is that God wants us to be tender. Tender, childlike, open to wonder, alive, on fire. I was thinking about that. God wants me to be tender. God wants me to not be jaded, not to be an angry person, not to be resistant to Him, to have a tender heart. This is best for us. I know a lot of us learned to protect, but in the Lord, we need to have tenderness. That tenderness to the Lord will need to show up in our relationships with the people we say we love. Tender, childlike. I didn’t say childish. There’s a difference.
Childlike faith comes easy to a child. Childlike, not childish. Open to wonder, open to the ability to just be available to the beauty that’s all around us and the things that God wants to say to us. Also, alive and on fire. Jesus was a man on fire. He was a burning Bush, to use the language of scripture, that was not consumed. In the book of Exodus when God speaks to Moses about setting His people free and Moses is like a shepherd in the middle of nowhere. He sees this bush that was burning, but yet it was not consumed. He goes up to the bush and says, what is this? The bush speaks. God’s presence is there burning. I am that I am. Think about even when Jesus uses those I am statements. I am the bread of life. He’s connecting back to that moment of a burning bush when Moses asks, who shall I say sent me? Say that I am, that I am.
I was thinking about that bush. It was burning and what God was saying. When God speaks to Moses out of that burning bush, he’s basically saying I want you to set my people free. When God decides to speak to humanity about being set free, He speaks through a burning man, if you will. The son of man, the son of God, a man utterly alive with the fire of God. So when God speaks to Moses it is about setting His people free. He speaks to the burning bush. When God speaks to humanity about being set free, He speaks to a burning man. If we’re truly alive, a man totally consumed with the path to the zeal of his house has consumed him. If we’re truly alive to God and want to be difference makers for the Lord, we too have to catch that flame. That flame will always be connected to stay close to the fire. By spending time with Him, by making Him a priority in our busy lives. If I can put it in a different way, there are just many distractions in life or distracted life. We have many options, don’t we? Do you know what I noticed? Even the busiest people among us, we make time for what we love.
It’s amazing how much time we actually have to pursue things. Do we love Him? I go back to the sea, the edge of the sea of Galilee when the Lord is working with Peter to recover after his damage, his failure, his life-defining failure. He says to him, do you love me? You know I love you. Do you love me? You know I love you. Feed my sheep, feed my sheep. That’s a beautiful moment too. When our hearts are on fire. In the minutes that we have left, I want to talk about this from the angle of a heart that’s on fire. I’m going to suggest that when our heart is on fire, dig. When our heart is on fire, a couple of things will happen. We get on fire by getting close to Him. Sometimes you just need to say, Lord, warm my heart again, stir my heart again, open me up again, Lord. Let your words come alive in me again. The word that has carried me, I need a new word to carry me. My eyes are dry. My heart is hard. Prayers are cold. What can be done for an old heart like mine? Soften it up as Keith Green said, with your oil and wine, the oil is you. Spirit of love, wash me anew in the wine of your blood. When our hearts are on fire, we tend to recognize Him in fresh new ways. His words become alive in us. Just like the disciples realize Jesus was at the table. He was there all the time. They just didn’t know it.
When your hearts get on fire, we recognize the Lord. We see things right in front of us, beautiful things that we were missing. It’s like our eyes see differently. The disciples on the road to Emmaus, it’s like their eyes were veiled. They didn’t see Him. He was there. It’s almost as if when our heart is on fire and an opening comes, we start to see them in different ways when our heart is on fire. Our love for God is alive in us, pages that we’ve read a hundred times in the scriptures come alive in a different way. They surge with new meaning to us. All of a sudden the passage we’ve read many, many times comes alive. It’s alive. Revelation breaks out, new perspectives, new understandings. We hear something. It’s a word. It resonates inside of us. It gets in there. It starts to burn in there. When we’re alive with God, His words, far from being something tired and familiar, start to take on a new life, fresh fire. That’s why it’s important to shake things up every now and then in our devotional life with God. I’m talking to those who have been following the Lord for a little while. You have to move things around every now and then. When the logs in a fire get some oxygen flow going, the fire lights up again.
In addition, when our hearts are on fire, we find that creation is alive with lessons all over the place. Gratitude comes easy or more easily. When our heart is on fire with God and when God is alive in us, we start to feel Jesus moving in our life. When His word starts to come alive to us, it starts to have meaning to us. We hear it speaking to our life. We start listening to our life in a different way. All of a sudden we look around us and we see things. When you think about it, when our heart is on fire, we will hear the Lord everywhere.
I bought myself a little poem: “in the smile in the morning, light in the conversation late at night in the wind and in the sun, walking home. When the day is done, I see you in the evening. In the turning of the day, I hear you in the laughter and in the sadness and the things that people say. I hear you all over, lord.” Indeed as Psalm 19 says, the heavens declare the glory of the Lord. The firmament, the skies above, shows His handiwork, His craftsmanship for those of you who are artisans and builders day on the day. Utter speech every day speaks and night of the night reveals knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. God is speaking all over the place all over every day. He has not only a word that He speaks in general.
He has a word that He speaks for us uniquely. They will come in many times in ways that we were not expecting. It is as simple as taking a walk down a road. His word will show up and shake us to the core if we’re open to it. His word comes. It can be, we can see Him all over. I was thinking, Lord, give me eyes to see and a heart to hear, hear your voice. I want to feel it inside of me. He speaks to us all along the way throughout the day. What’s more, when our hearts are on fire, gratitude flows easier, doesn’t it? We realize this is when we’re doing it right. This is how you know. Gratitude is easy. When our hearts are not on fire, we’re negative, quick to be cynical.
We own our wounds, but not in a way that is healthy. We own them in a way that defines us in a negative path. It comes out in our words. Be careful about bitterness, the Bible says, because it corrupts many things. You say, well, you don’t know my hurt. That’s true. But I do know the pain that bitterness brings into other people’s lives. The Lord has called us to be a people of gratitude. Life is not only a gift, but it’s a gift to be alive. Because of His life, our life is different. When we realize what a gift that is to be alive, and that life is different because He is alive, then even the worst is better because of who we know.
I don’t know how to say it, but I guess I was thinking about this. I was thinking, I am once more anchored in your promise. We start to realize that life is too short and also too long to get stuck in anger or malice. Life is too short on this side and too long on the big side. In other words, if I think about it, my life is so, so small really, and its duration. Do I want to get stuck in negative places? Do I want to get stuck in places that really aren’t going to do anything for me? No. On the other hand, my life has got a long arc to it because if I walk with Jesus. So in either case, whether it’s the short or the long, I have reasons to not allow myself to get stuck in negative thinking. I’ll tell you, you gotta work harder at it the older you get because the longer we live, the more hurt we sometimes experience. The more stuff we see the easier it is to let that thing seep into us and define us. I’m going to tell you something about Jesus. I’ve said this before. I’m not the first one to say it. I think it was Dallas Willard who said it, but when they saw Jesus, they did not say “there He goes, the unhappy man.”
He was the happy man on fire. I was sending a note to my mother today. She was telling me that she was bearing some weight. I said, how are you doing? I knew my son was not there. My youngest son has been helping her in her restaurant up north in Florence, Oregon called The Waterfront Depot. He is in Israel. My mother, I knew she was bearing the weight on her own. She’s an amazing woman. Just test the rest because I knew Jake’s not there. She says, you know, I’m under a lot of stress. I don’t carry a lot of weight. This first came to me. I said, mom, remember, this “don’t carry things” He has an assigned. We don’t control anything. You do your best, trust the Lord. Remember His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We are called to live lightly.
Are you bearing weight? Am I bearing weight that He did not assign me? Some things we cannot control. We do our best. We leave it in His hands. I’m starting to get myself defined, wrapped up, tight, wound up, and tangled in anger. That is not the Lord, that is not Him. Whatever that is, it’s not Him. Verse 33, “they rose that same hour, returned to Jerusalem, and found the 11. Those who were with them gathered together saying, the Lord is risen indeed. He’s appeared to Simon. This is almost like He appeared to Peter. So the Lord is alive, they come back and tell them what happened on the road and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread. Remember they had told the stranger Jesus, you’ve got to stay with us. The day’s coming to a close. Night’s about to fall, no need to travel on the road. It’s dangerous. Besides, we’ve got a place for you to stay. Stay with us, let’s share a meal together. They have this moment. Jesus breaks the bread. They recognize who He is. He’s gone. Did not our heart burn within us? He’s alive. Do you know what they decide? We’re heading back to Jerusalem, seven miles in the other direction.
Not a hesitation because when your heart’s on fire, you’ll go, oh, so hard. Why do I have to do this? When your heart’s on fire, seven miles is nothing in the night. What do they want to do? They want to get back. They want to tell you, you’re not going to believe what happened. We have to tell them Jesus is alive. They get there and they’re beaten before they even have a chance; Did you hear the news? Jesus is alive. We were going to tell you that. Yeah, but we got you first. He appeared to Simon. Listen to what happened to us. We were walking on the road and He showed up. We didn’t know it at the time. He started teaching the scriptures and we broke bread. It was amazing. You see Cleopas and his friend. That got me thinking, I really have to hustle here. We want to tell our stories of God’s doings. We look for fellowship with others when our heart’s on fire, don’t we? We want to find others who share our love for the Lord. That’s the gathering place of community. That’s what I’m talking about. It’s what we yearn for. Because it’s the place where we get to share the story of what Jesus is doing among us like we’re doing right now. It’s been said that logs close together burn brighter.
Do you want to catch fire? One of the ways to do it, I’m talking about with the Lord, is to get next to somebody who’s on fire. Spend some time. Sometimes I’m in a certain place. I think I need to be around that person. Let’s pray together. Can you pray with me? I need some of that fire. Do you see it? What begins in communion ends in community. I love that. He breaks the bread and they end up in community. What begins in communion ends up in community and turns into ministry. The last piece of this is whenever our hearts are on fire, we want to even do more than just come together. We want to start sharing our stories with others who don’t know Him on the outside. That’s what happens because when our hearts are on fire, we want to be with those who love Him. When our heart is on fire, His word takes on new meaning. When our heart is on fire, we see lessons everywhere. Everywhere I hear His voice I see His goodness. When our heart’s on fire, we want to be with those who share a love for Him. When our heart’s on fire, we can’t keep it to ourselves. We’ve got to share it with somebody else. That’s our cornerstone mission statement. To live out our faith in Jesus and invite others to life with Him. That is so good. He’s going to do it. Live out our faith in Jesus and invite others into life with Him. That’s the way, because a heart that is on fire, it’s a contagious one.
It loves His name and spreads the flame. Let’s pray. Lord, we want to have a greater love for you. We want to be a life giver. Imperfect as we are and we are, sometimes foolish and slow to believe. But you use us. You’ll have us. You love us. You want us to love you back. How can I love you? Share this with someone last night, Lord. How can I love you not to earn your love, but because I’m loved. I want to live out my life for you as best as I can. Help me, Lord. The love of Christ as Paul said a man on fire said it. The love of Christ constrains me. Lord, pull us to pray, light the fire in our hearts. Bless our closing time. Bless our giving time. All the faithful ones who make our church, who honor you with their first fruits. We ask for you to bless our time of giving. Bless this song becomes our closing song. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.