Tuesday, August 1, 2017

2 guys...walking home

Today we are going to walk through an amazing piece of Scripture. We will be working through Luke 14:13-35, learning about 2 guys who had their lives flipped upside down, then back over, then upside down again. Sound anything like your life sometimes?!

2 guys, walking home...for 5 hours.

Luke 24:13-14. 2 guys are walking home, talking as they go. A lot has happened in the past few days and this duo has seen it all. These 2 men were probably a little skeptical and may have had some doubts about what it all meant. Imagine you’ve seen a terrible car accident take place in front of you. Even if you didn’t know anyone involved, the sheer sight of tragedy can affect you in weird ways. In this situation, these two men had spent some serious time with Jesus and had witnessed His death. Even though they had heard rumblings of an empty tomb, the sheer sight of what they had seen just a few days earlier would have shaken them both.

Here’s a recap: In the last 3 days alone, they saw Jesus get crucified and die. All their friends scattered, including them, as they sought refuge from Jews who wanted them dead. These 2 were headed to Emmaus and it is believed they were on their way home. Were they escaping to safety? Were they fleeing because there were threats on their lives? Think about it, there had to have been countless questions and concerns in their minds. Can you imagine the conversation? The hushed voices that spoke with urgency and possibly fear? The furrowed brows, the looks of desperation?

2 guys, walking home, lots to talk about, lots to worry about.

Everything they had witnessed had been so dramatic, how could they not talk about it?! Further, there might have even been some conversation regarding what they were going to do if Jesus was indeed gone. What’s next?

Think about this for a moment. Try and relate to the shock and grief and confusion and crazy emotions that these 2 were going through. Before they had left on this journey they had heard that Peter, among others, had discovered the empty tomb. In fact, in verse 10 of Luke 24, it says that Mary Magdalene and other women had seen the empty tomb and had reported what they had seen to the apostles. These 2 men were apostles, so they were aware of the empty tomb. They had to have been so confused!

2 guys, walking home...hoping for hope.

And yet even with the confusion and drama of the moment, these two men headed home along this road that would take them to Emmaus. The trip took roughly 5 hours and had probably been made dozens of times by these two. They knew what they were in for. Realistically, they started their trip just after the sun came up that day. However, can you imagine a 5 hour trip made on foot? I think that’s the modern day equivalent of following your kids around Disneyland for a day.

In verse 15 it says that while these 2 were walking along, Jesus walks up and joins them on their journey. Jesus, being Jesus, gets right to the heart of the matter and boldly asks them what they are talking about. At the end of verse 17 it says that they stood still, looking sad.

2 guys, walking home...hope walks up.

Okay, so they’re walking along, Jesus walks up alongside and inserts Himself in the conversation and wants to know what’s up and these 2 guys stop walking and look at Jesus with what must have been an amazing and yet dumbfounded look (demonstrated through action). I can picture these 2 standing there with their hands in their pockets, scraping the ground with their feet, a single tear streaming down their faces, like 2 lost puppies, as they attempt to tell Jesus what happened to Jesus.

Our 2 heroes were so caught up in their own pity party, they didn’t even realize it was Jesus. Have you ever been there? Have you ever been so focused on what you were doing that you didn’t even realize the obvious? OK, show of hands, who here has hunted for their glasses only to discover they were on top of your head the whole time? Making matters worse is the person who points them out for you, as they laugh hysterically at you.
2 guys, walking home...hope is with them, even though they didn’t know it.

Fortunately, there is no written Scripture of Jesus laughing at these 2 men. Instead, they tell Jesus about Jesus and about all that had taken place over at least the past 2 years. About the crucifixion, the resurrection and about how there were those who had witnessed the empty tomb. In verses 22-24, we see the proof of the eyewitness testimony of the empty tomb and how these 2 men knew, but clearly they had massive doubt swirling inside because then Jesus hits them verse 25 and 26.

2 guys, walking home...hope builds.

Jesus may not have laughed at them but He certainly called them foolish and called their faith out on the carpet. These 2 guys were about to get the greatest history lesson of their lives, all while walking for 5 hours. Eventually, they get to where they were headed and even after being called dumb, our 2 gentlemen invited Jesus in for a meal. In verse 30, as Jesus is blessing the meal and breaking the bread to serve them, it says that their eyes are opened and they realize it was Jesus. This might be the world’s greatest AHA moment! Probably a little more special than when you reach up and grab those glasses from atop your head. You may have had an AHA moment but I’m sure you weren’t nearly as excited as these two were.

2 guys, walking home...hope arrives.

How many of us can honestly say that we recognize when God is right there with us? At moments of doubt and fear, don’t we usually turn inwards and focus on getting out of the hole we’re in? Think about it, you lose your job and what happens next? Within 5 minutes, the social media world knows everything and the “woe is me” party is on! We “travel” through life for the next several days adjusting to the new normal. Things are no longer the way they were and we immediately focus on ourselves. Why? Because it’s self-preservation! We freak out, we mope around, we complain about it, we rant a little and then we dust ourselves off and walk home!

Philippians 4:6-7 - “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

2 guys, walking home...it doesn’t have to be this way.

These 2 guys had lost a lot and now they were walking home, not sure what to do next. Jesus walks up and immediately shakes these guys up. In fact, it’s like Lucy walking up to Charlie Brown and calling him a blockhead for doing something dumb. Jesus had spent some amazing quality time with these 2 men and now here they were, completely turned inward, focused on a life without Him. They were in fear, they were moping, they would have posted it on Facebook but, you know. The “woe is me” party was in full swing for a 5 hour walk!!

2 Timothy 1:7 - “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

2 guys, walking home...there is a better way!

Remember that feeling of realizing your glasses were on top of your head the whole time? Did you feel a little dumb? A little sheepish? A little embarrassed? Our eyes may have been kept from recognizing that our glasses were right there the whole time and yet it doesn’t change the fact they were there anyway, we had never lost them.

Matthew 28:20b - “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Here’s a bit of good news: We don’t know how long these 2 guys walked along before Jesus walked up but we know this, He did. And while Jesus was not immediately apparent for these 2 men to see, Jesus knew what these 2 guys needed, which was to be encouraged, educated a little, walked with, talked with and brought into a relationship. Jesus did all of this in just a few hours of walking.

Look, you and I are the 2 guys walking along the road. There are going to be times when bad things happen and we lose sight of our commission. We will get focused on the immediate and we will be fearful. In fact, we might even lose hope. Our 2 friends in Luke sure did. But here’s the beauty of it all...Jesus comes along and restores our hope. He restores our faith. He takes away our fears.

Isaiah 41:10 - “So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

We are all walking home, each of us on a journey to one day dance with Jesus in heaven, singing the praises of our savior and our God forevermore!

I want all of us to consider this story for another moment. It took these two guys about 5 hours to walk to Emmaus. They were probably not in an exceptional hurry and walked as you and I might walk if were out for a hike. Now imagine you get to where you’re headed while being encouraged and educated along the way, by Jesus. Your eyes are opened to who He is. You go from being terribly depressed and edgy to enthralled and captivated and then finally you are full blown excited, ready to burst out of your own skin...what do you do?

You run back to tell the rest of your friends about what you have just seen and heard. I’m going to hazard a guess here but I think it took these 2 guys about an hour and a half to two hours to get back to Jerusalem!! They may have been motivated! But their hope had been renewed. They realized that Jesus was with them. They weren’t alone.

Joshua 1:9 - “Be strong. Be brave. Be fearless. You are never alone.”

2 guys, walking home...they were never alone.

We are not alone, even when we might think we are. Our God has promised us that He will always be with us. As we move towards a time of response, you may find yourself feeling as if you are walking this road alone. With every head bowed and every eye closed, as the worship team comes forward, if you are feeling like God is no where near you and everything good in your life has suddenly vanished; If you feel fearful, scared about what’s going to happen next and you don’t know what to do; If you felt that God was close to you but now you don’t know where He is in your life; come and find an altar. There, be renewed by the presence of a living God. Our prayer team will come and pray with you. Let us respond.