13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 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. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast.
Have you ever had the experience of being in the middle of a conversation only to have someone sneak up on you and join the conversation? They just sort of invite themselves into the middle of your discussion? That is exactly what happened when Jesus snuck up on two of His disciples, not 2 of the 12, but two of His followers as they were processing the events of the previous days. He sort of appears and says, “Sup?” Ok. Well, He asked them what they were discussing. What happens next has a lot to say to us about how Jesus wants to interact with each one of us on our life’s journey. This passage tells us first,
As we walk with Jesus, He joins our conversation.
These two followers, Cleopas and maybe his wife, we don’t know who the second one was, but these two disciples had been walking and talking about all that had taken place regarding the torture and crucifixion of Jesus. They didn’t recognize that it was Jesus who had become the tagalong. Jesus asked them what they had been talking about. He already knew, but engaging them in conversation was a way to bring them to a new understanding. It was a way to bring hope into their thought process where despair had taken up residence. Read verse 18ff:
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. “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. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
The conversation with this third person, a seeming stranger, got deep pretty quick. Talking with Jesus is like that. You find yourself pouring your heart out at just a simple invitation to talk. They quickly brought Jesus up to speed on His own death and burial and the latest news regarding his missing body and the rumor that He was alive.
One pivotal phrase flashes like an electronic sign. It is in verse 21. “But we had hoped.” How many times have you talked with Jesus only to tell Him that things haven’t gone as you had hoped? Things haven’t worked out like you worked to make them happen? Things haven’t gone according to plan, and prayer hasn’t been answered the way you believed it would. Now there is all this speculation about what really happened and about what is really true.
When we allow Jesus to join the conversations of our lives we will quickly learn that it’s not about what we hope for, but it’s about in whom we have placed our hope.
They had relied only on what they had seen. They had seen Jesus being tortured and killed. They saw him die. When Jesus died, so did their hope. What they yet had to learn is that hope goes beyond the unseen, beyond the conceivable, and hope is more than an event.
These disciples along with most of Jesus’s other followers thought Jesus had come to pull off an event. They thought He would overthrow the Roman government and somehow bring political freedom to an oppressed Israel. They had put their hope in a one-time event that would perhaps bring instant, but temporary relief until the next government came along to oppress the Jewish people. They had heard Jesus say, “It is finished” from the cross. How did they interpret that? Did they think Jesus was done doing anything and everything from that moment? Did they think that not only was He finished, but that they were finished as well? What had gone through their minds wasn’t good. The Scripture says in Luke 24:17 that even though Jesus had joined them and asked them a question, they were still looking at the ground. Usually when someone joins you or addresses you, you at least acknowledge them in some way with your body language or eye contact. There they were, lamenting the end of their hope, when their Hope, was standing right in their midst. (This is just a tidbit for free, but sometimes HOPE is closer than you think!)
As they walked and talked with Jesus they began to learn that hope isn’t about a change in political or social or even physical circumstances. It is about the fact that Jesus comes to journey with us on the journey of life for the rest of our lives and into eternity because of the Resurrection.
For the believer, hope isn’t something that can be killed, destroyed or ever gone. HOPE is a person. Hope is Jesus. And even when what we hoped for doesn’t come to pass, Hope will not disappoint us, Hope will deliver us, Hope will journey with us because HOPE is Jesus, and He is alive. Where do we go from here? We go on a walk of daily hope during which we speak to Jesus about our dreams and disappointments and allow Him to speak to us in response.
As we walk with Jesus, He reorients our mind to His Word.
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
After Jesus listened, He took them back to the Word. What He shared was nothing new. They had learned the Scriptures. He started with Moses and taught them from there. Anyone here ever have to be taught the same thing more than once? It’s not that they didn’t know what Jesus was saying, but they had shelved those prophecies and truths and let them take a back seat to what they were feeling about their circumstances. Rather than apply what they knew to be true, they let their feelings dictate their thoughts about their future. Had they been focused on the Word of God they wouldn’t have had their hopes dashed by an event or what they perceived to be a change of plans. Had they been Word focused, they would have been hoping for something much bigger than freedom from Roman oppression. They would have been believing for freedom from sin, Satan and death for the entire world. That’s the trouble with earthly hope. It’s just too small.
Sometimes, when we have become narrow in our thinking about what should happen, and we have squeezed our hopes into a small human, physical event or chain of events we forget that God has spoken to us about our Emmaus Roads, our life’s journeys, in His Word. There are principles that are “one-size” fits all circumstances and there are promises we are to stand on no matter what Emmaus Road we are walking on. We know that. We know God’s Word is the place to look for guidance and understanding and truth. We know that part of carrying on a conversation with God involves opening the Bible, but we let our emotions take the driver’s seat when things don’t turn out the way we had “hoped.”
Jesus didn’t say you will feel something and your feelings will set you free. He said, “You will know something, and that knowing, that truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) God has given us emotions. Whether heartbreak and sorrow or joy and elation or even confusion and doubt . . . all of these emotions are to lead us back to Jesus, back to a conversation with Him about what really matters, what we are to think from His perspective about our lives and how we can find the strength to continue walking our individual journeys. You will only walk freely with cancer or freely when not making the team or freely when struggling with a relationship if you are conversing with Jesus and walking in His truth. Following the lead of your emotions will take you to a place of instability that will only increase your struggle. Putting all of your effort into knowing God’s truth for your situation will result in ongoing hope and peace.
As we walk with Jesus, He opens our eyes.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29 But 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. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
That’s what happens when we converse with Jesus on the Emmaus Roads of life. The two disciples begged or urged Jesus to stay with them in verse 29. So, if you truly embrace a conversation with Jesus and you truly embrace the truth of His Word, you will find yourself wanting to be around Jesus a lot. You will be in the middle of conversations with Him that you don’t want to end. As that happens, you will have these spiritual light bulb experiences where you see beyond the natural and into the supernatural.
I love that on the other side of the Resurrection two people had their eyes opened and they saw Jesus. The Resurrection changed everything and overthrew that which sin had leveled against us. You will remember two people had their eyes opened in Genesis 3 and they didn’t see God, but their sin. Following Adam and Eve’s sin, they saw their nakedness and shame. On the other side of the Resurrection, because of a conversation with Jesus about their feelings and His truth, their eyes were opened and they saw Him, Jesus, the Hope for the entire journey of our lives. Their awareness of His presence changed everything in an instant.
You know, sometimes you have to go through things in order to truly see Jesus. Many who followed Jesus never moved beyond admiration into adoration of Him. They knew He was wise, compassionate and a miracle-worker, but they didn’t look to Him as God. They didn’t know Him to be the Hope they needed for their entire life’s journey. Just recently I spoke with a senior adult who shared with me in a roundabout way that although he had been around the church all of his life, he hadn’t really “seen Jesus” on his journey the way he has come to because of some physical challenges that have become part of his path. Now this his eyes have been opened, he wants more. He wants to go deeper.
Our goal on our individual Emmaus Roads should always be to see Jesus. You cannot fully live without having your eyes fully opened by Jesus. You will stumble through circumstance after circumstance until you learn to see Jesus on your journey. Life isn’t meant to be a series of ups and downs for believers. Yes, circumstances may be up and down, but life itself is always to be abundant for believers because the common denominator in every circumstance is supposed to be Jesus.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look fully in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Not one thing changed about the disciples’ political situation, but everything changed because they saw Jesus.
You may still have to face Rome when you get back home, but you’ll be facing it with Jesus and that makes all the difference! Hope will walk with you! You can talk with Him and draw upon His strength. You can follow His lead in order to navigate through the land mines and the hills and valleys as you trust His word.
One more thing before we leave this idea of seeing Jesus. He not only tells us Who He is, but He shows us in order that we may clearly see Him. Verse 30 precedes the verse where they saw Jesus. He didn’t disclose who He was to them in words, but He showed them with His actions. When He took the bread and broke it and gave thanks for it and gave it to them to eat then they recognized Him. It dawned on them in that moment of demonstration that it was Jesus who had been at work to listen to and to counsel them. His identity became known through a demonstration.
Jesus doesn’t just tell us to Who He is, but He shows us over and over as He walks with us down life’s roads. He could have just said, “Look, the nail scars should make it obvious, but guys it’s Me, Jesus!” But He didn’t. He showed them and the way He showed them, through the provision of bread reminded them that He would sustain them whether Rome left town or Rome controlled the town.
As we walk with Jesus, He engages and ignites our hearts.
Verse 32: They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Listen, a real daily walk with Jesus will ignite a passion for more and more and more and more of Him. There can be no such thing as a passionless Christian. That’s an oxymoron. If you have been converted there will be a desire, a passion, a progressive interest in and for the things of God. You see, Jesus doesn’t join your journey to make you look better but to make you over, and when He makes you over there is only one template He is working with; Himself. God’s design for your transformation once you become a Christian is that you will become like Jesus and that starts on the inside of a person.
What set Jesus apart from other prophets aside from the obvious miracle of rising from the dead? His passion for the will of God and for people to know God and be touched by His life-giving power. His life was ablaze for the glory of God. Other prophets were looking for a following of fans. Jesus never sought a following of fans, but worked tirelessly to find followers He could introduce to His Heavenly Father. It was the passion of His life.
These two disciples experienced something when Jesus walked with them. Yes, your journey involves faith in the Word of God, but faith in the Word of God without an experience with Jesus will never take you all the way down the road.
Jesus wants to mess with you. He wants to fire you up. He wants to enliven you and give you an ongoing passion, a fire on the inside that will never go out. Passionate Christians say things like, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God to bring salvation for all who will believe.” Passionate Christians are willing to break open an alabaster jar of perfume and use it in extravagant worship to Jesus whenever the Spirit leads because they see Jesus, the Lover of their Souls as worth it. Passionate Christians are willing to have their day interrupted and their plans changed because they don’t live their lives for their own agendas and desires. Passionate Christians won’t compromise any part of the written Word of God. They live their lives by it and would give their lives for it. Passionate Christians stay on fire whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want because they have learned the secret that they can do everything through Christ who gives them strength.
Passionate Christians want the extreme makeover on the inside of their hearts so that their minds are pure and actions are empowered. Passionate Christians seek not just to know about God, but to know God and experience Him in His fullness. In order to be able to travel the Emmaus Road with undaunted hope and great joy, you have to allow your heart to be changed, to be warmed by the fire of God.
People whose minds are made up correctly about Jesus but whose hearts are never undone won’t have the sustaining fire of God in their bellies to keep them walking with God long-term and the fire that is kindled on the inside is visible on the outside.
“Well, my faith is a private thing. It’s between God and me alone.” If nobody knows you have faith in Christ you aren’t displaying any passion and if you don’t have any passion, you may need to question if you have experienced Jesus in your heart because if you haven’t been converted in your heart you aren’t saved! Jesus didn’t die so you could have a private faith. He died in the most public of places so that the world would know of God’s love.
As we walk with Jesus, He becomes the topic of our conversation.
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
How many of you in this room would say Jesus is the most important person in your life? Let me see your hands. Would your family, friends and co-workers know that by hearing you talk during the course of one week? If He is the most important person in your life, wouldn’t you be talking about Him frequently?
One of the ongoing threads in many of the messages I preach is the challenge to talk about Jesus. Last week I posed the question, “How many Christians are underusing the name of Jesus?” How many times last week did you mention Jesus’s name specifically in conversation? Maybe you could set a goal to make Jesus the topic of at least three conversations this week.
You see, the Road to Emmaus is a lot like a spiritual progression or the development of our Christian walk. It starts where we are. Jesus enters the scene of our lives right where we are. He doesn’t expect us to have it all figured out. That’s what the relationship with Him is for. He engages us with questions and we talk to Him and as that conversation takes place, He teaches us and corrects our thinking through His Word and by helping us see Him. As we see Him our hearts are moved to know more and the passion that builds spills out of inner beings out of our mouths and overflows to anyone who listens.
Some of you here today need to invite Jesus to enter into the conversation of your life. You need to get started on your journey. Some of you need to choose to let emotion take the back seat in your life and reorient your mind to God’s truth. You need to have your eyes opened to something that is bigger than what you have been hoping for. Some of you here have grown lukewarm. The fire that once was burning bright on the inside of your heart has grown cold. You need to come today and ask Jesus to rekindle that flame. Maybe some of you have embraced Jesus with your head but not your heart. Until He makes His way on the inside of you, you have no part with Him. You may have knowledge but you don’t know Him.
Where do we go from here? Let’s take a walk with Jesus.