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Burning Hearts on the Emmaus Road - Luke 24:13-35

Raised but Not Recognized
On the day that Jesus was raised from the dead, a funny thing happened on the road to Emmaus. Two disciples of Jesus spent several hours in His company on Resurrection Sunday, and didn’t have a clue who they were talking to! Evidently it’s possible to spent a great deal of time with Jesus and to have a strong appreciation for Jesus, but not to even recognize Him when He shows up next to you. Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t let that situation last very long.

Blind and Lame
V. 16 tells us that these two disciples’ eyes were kept from recognizing Him, and this seems to be something of a judgment on them for being “foolish and slow of heart to believe” (v. 25). The physical description we get mirrors their hearts: they can’t see what’s right in front of them, and as Jesus engages them in conversation, they stop moving and stand still. Spiritually, they are blind and lame, and they need Jesus to heal them!

Getting it All Wrong
These disciples were foolish and slow to believe because they were caught up in trying to interpret their experience based on their own expectations. When they do this, instead of looking to God’s Word to explain things, not only do they miss the obvious, but even what they think they know turns out to be wrong: for them, Jesus’ suffering and death means that He can’t be the Christ, the Redeemer they were hoping for. All the same, they aren’t settled in this unbelief – they’ve heard rumors of resurrection, but because Jesus hasn’t been seen (v. 24), they don’t believe.

Moses for the Mindless
This is the strangest part: Their eyes have been kept from seeing Jesus for who He is; they don’t believe that He’s been raised because He hasn’t been seen, and He’s standing right in front of them! You’d think this would be the moment when Jesus would open their eyes and reveal Himself, but that’s not what He does at all. Why not? Skeptics throughout history have long demanded that God show Himself, or talk to them face to face, or do some miracle in front of them, and at this moment in history, all those options are on the table, and Jesus doesn’t do any of that! Instead, He turns to these sad and discouraged disciples, rebukes them, and then launches into Leviticus and Lamentations, taking them on a tour of the Old Testament and interpreting everything the Bible says about the Messiah and His mission.

How Jesus Makes Himself Known
Even before God wanted them to know that Jesus was risen and standing right there with them, He wanted them to understand from God’s Word who the Christ was and what He came to do. A dead man walking out of a tomb is amazing, but unless the resurrection finds its place as the culmination of the old old story of God’s covenant promise to rescue His people, it’s just a deeply unsettling magic trick or a medical curiosity. Unless you know from the Scriptures that the Christ must suffer these things on the way to glory, you run the risk of standing right next to the risen Jesus without being able to recognize Him.

As we see in their response in vs. 31-35, the disciples on the Emmaus road had their eyes opened by hearing the Scriptures interpreted and by breaking bread together. Jesus brings people to faith using spoken words and broken bread, the same things you will find at any faithful church anywhere in the world for the next two thousand years.

Resurrection and Redemption
As the story concludes, we see a complete reversal: the disciples who were standing still and looking sad on the way to Emmaus are now running back the other way to Jerusalem, hearts burning with joy at having seen the risen Christ! And the encouragement for us is that what set their hearts on fire was that they met Jesus through preaching and breaking bread, which is the same way that Jesus meets with His people today.

These disciples completely misunderstood who Jesus was and what He was doing. They thought that Jesus was gone, and that God’s people weren’t redeemed. But all the while, Jesus was right there with them. And so I want you to consider what it is that seems unredeemed in your life and in the world around you, and where it is that Jesus seems absent to you. How have your own expectations of Jesus caused you to miss seeing Him right there with you?

What you need is a gentle but powerful rebuke: O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe the Word of God! It is necessary for Jesus the Messiah and His beloved Church to suffer these things on the way to glory! You need to hear the voice of Jesus in the opening of His Word, and to have your eyes opened again as He takes bread, blesses it, and gives it to you. May your hearts burn as you walk this road with Jesus, now and always.

Posted on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 by CJ Bowen