Walking to Emmaus Part 3

 

road-to-emmaus

Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him.  We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.” – Luke 24:18-21

The great works of God were in the past tense for these two disciples. They were now in retreat. They had misunderstood who Jesus was, had sold him short. They described to this stranger a different kind of conflict because they had expected a different kind of rescue. Their savior was someone who could be “handled” by the authorities, someone who could not control events as they happened to him, a victim. What a crushing feeling of disappointment must have been written across their faces.

If only they had really heard what Jesus had been trying to communicate all along.

It makes me wonder about things that I might be missing. I wonder what the Holy Spirit has been trying to tell me and then I wonder what I’ve actually been hearing.  Sometimes it’s hard to hear life changing messages when you’re very busy propping up an agenda about yourself:

  • You see I want to make a point
  • I need to appear strong, not weak
  • I want to be moving forward in my spiritual journey, not backward
  • When people ask, I should have answers
  • Why would anyone come to me for help if I look unsteady?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? – Matthew 16:24-26

It is increasingly difficult for the visible man to hear and understand eternal truth.

Did you pick up any “attitude” in Cleopas reply? “What kind of dumb hick are you? Let me explain what’s been going on.”  They are walking in the wrong direction yet are able to maintain a clear air of superiority. I wonder what that feels like, I’m glad I never act like that (ha!).

This part of the story is that constant and classic reminder to us all that we often misunderstand God’s will and then go about constructing and living in a different reality (Gordon-Conwell Seminary estimates that there are 43,000 Christian denominations world-wide, all reading the same Bible). That’s why Jesus taught his disciples to pray for God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. That’s why he came and joined these two on the crooked road to Emmaus, to straighten things out.

And He gives grace generously. – James 4:6

He is Alive and Still Praying

Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.  – Romans 8:34

jesus-gethsemane

 

 

 

 

 

 

I may have stirred everyone up today. I told people in my Sunday School department that Jesus wasn’t living in their hearts. That’s not a nice thing to say on Easter Sunday.

Lot’s of fidgeting around in their plastic chairs. I was racing to get it all in before members of the choir had to leave early and everyone else needed to exit in time to get a seat for the packed Easter worship service that follows. I wish I had slowed down and let people process what they were hearing. That always works best. It may be a lot to think about if you’ve grown up singing “Since Jesus came into my heart…”

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” – Luke 22:31-32

I had never noticed this before. As we were studying the life of Christ these past few years, I saw for the first time Jesus talking with Peter about His prayers and what He hoped the results would be. As I thought about this I wanted to remind my class that Jesus wasn’t living in their hearts (like our hymns might wrongly teach us) but he was still fully human, fully God and still fulfilling His mission in Heaven.

God has sent the Holy Spirit to reside in our hearts.

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.”  John 14:15-18

Remembering that Jesus isn’t in my heart but instead is in heaven helps me to realize what He is doing for me there. He has ascended as victor over death and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He is preparing a place for me. He is going to return one day as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Now he is interceding for me as He did for Peter, pleading in prayer, that my faith would not fail.

Notice that he told Peter not that he was going to pray that all of his problems would go away nor that he would be able to avoid his trials with a happy attitude. He prayed for Peter’s faith, that it would not fail. Not that Peter would necessarily feel better about himself, but that he would have the maturity and wisdom to lift up his fellow apostles. Jesus was praying for Peter and his faith so that he could use that faith for the sake of others and in so doing launch the church. Instead of sinking into self-destructive despair because of his denial, Peter becomes one of the key leaders in the birth of Christianity.

Jesus was already praying for Peter as he prepared Himself for the cross.

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. – Hebrews 7:25

He is alive, He has risen from the dead.

Jesus is now in Heaven and He is praying for me – He is praying for you.