On the Road to Understanding – April 28, 2019
Luke 24:13-35, (Mark 16:12-13)
April 28, 2019
We’ve been looking at Mark’s account of the life and ministry of Jesus. So I wanted to include his reference to this story for today. (That’s the part in parentheses.)
Mark’s account is much more “concise.” As I said before, in some of the earliest manuscripts – the earliest scrolls, of Mark’s Gospel, it ends with the part we read last week. “And the women went out and fled from the tomb. For trembling and astonishment had come upon them. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” That’s it! And we talked about how that leaves us, the readers, to finish the story. It leaves us to “Go and tell.”
However! Later manuscripts – later scrolls of Mark’s Gospel gave us a few stories beyond that. Here’s Mark’s version of the much longer account we read today in Luke. “After this he (Jesus) appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.” (Mark 16:12) That’s it! One verse! That would have saved a bit of time this morning, wouldn’t it?! But then Mark adds, “And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them!”
Even there, he gives more of the disbelief of that first Easter day!” Mark even gives us a brief account of the appearance to Mary Magdalene, which we find in John’s Gospel. “Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene.” Again that’s pretty much it – except for a little more disbelief!
Thankfully, Luke gave us a bit more! He gave us this story we know as “The Road to Emmaus.” It’s a great story, in which he shows what I’ve often said about God, that God has a great “flair for the dramatic!”
Jesus appears to these two men, and immediately we see in them the sadness and disappointment and devastation that so many were feeling – even after news began to spread about the Resurrection. They say that here. “Moreover, some of our women came back from the tomb saying they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive.” That was part of the whole swirl of things that were happening.
But they were still sad. So Jesus let’s them talk. And then he says these words that I’m sure he wanted to say all along to his disciples! “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe!” Weren’t his disciples both of those things?!” And now he says that. And then he started with Moses, and told them, from their scriptures, “all the things concerning himself.”
But, that’s not the end of the story! It was more than that! Because this story is not just about instruction. It’s about inspiration! And that’s so important! Later, after Jesus miraculously disappears from their presence, what did they say about this encounter? “Didn’t he explain things so well?!” No! They said “Did not our hearts burn within us as he spoke to us on the road, as he opened to us the scriptures?!” Jesus inspired them! He moved them! He “jazzed” them!
Did you ever have a teacher who inspired you – who “jazzed” you about the subject he or she was teaching? Mr. Raider was one I’ll never forget! He was my High School Physics teacher. How many of you like Physics? (How many do not like Physics?) Why? (Or why not?) It’s hard? It’s dry?
Well, Mr. Raider made it fun and exciting. His questions to us were not just, “An object with a certain mass falls at such and such a velocity…” No. His was more like “If the ball comes off of the bat of Rhys Hoskins at 102 mph, and the launch angle is 32 degrees, how many rows back in the left field stands will it land?” He used the 1970’s players, of course. But he asked those kinds of things. And what was the result? We wanted to figure stuff like that out! Mr. Raider made Physics fun! He “jazzed” us about it!
I hope you see what I’m getting at this morning! Jesus didn’t just give these guys on the road an overview of Messianic prophecies in their scriptures. “Ok boys, get out your quills and take notes.” “I’m going to teach you some stuff about the Messiah.” Well, he did do that! But he didn’t just teach them. He jazzed them! Again, when it was over, they said, “Did not our hearts burn within us?!”
That’s part of understanding our faith, isn’t it? That’s the part we sometimes miss. Again, we learn the right things. We know the right things. And that’s all well and good. But what makes the difference for us, is when it touches our hearts! What makes the difference for us is when we are “jazzed” by it!
Then, when it comes to telling others, the trick is turning what jazzes us into what jazzes them! We can’t just tell. That was our message last week. “Go and Tell.” Maybe it should have been, “Go and Inspire!”
So, the question is, are we inspired? Are we “jazzed about Jesus?” Or instead, when it comes to our salvation, do we feel a kind of, “Phew!” “I dodged that bullet. I escaped eternal punishment!” Is that al it is? Or, instead of “Phew,” is it “Yesss!” Grace is Amazing! God is great! By the way, anybody ever use that prayer at dinner? “God is great. God is good…” Did you ever think about it? Do you think of God as “Great?” And is he “great” as in “superior,” like “Alexander the Great?” Or, is God “Great” as in “Amazing and wonderful and unbelievable?!”
What about the story of Jesus, which we’ve been recounting for many weeks now? Does it inform you? Does it make sense to you in your mind? Or, when you think of this story, does it inspire your heart? Does it “jazz” you? That’s what I want you to think about. If you don’t know it already, I want you to see the story of Jesus as something to be jazzed about! That’s what makes all the difference!
And if it jazzes us, we almost won’t have to “tell.” People will be able to tell! That’s what we talked about last week, “Always be ready to give answer for the hope that lies within you.” If your heart burns within you, as it was with these disciples, people will see that in you, too!
The last thing I’m going to say about this story, had to do with the “unexpected” nature of this appearance of Jesus. God touches us in ways and at times we least expect it. And those times are sometimes very obvious, and they are sometimes very easy to miss! But the more “oriented” we are toward him, the more we think about his kingdom and his presence, the more likely we will be to see such things when they happen.
Think about it. When we are thinking about God’s kingdom, we are more likely to think of the “could it be’s.” What I mean is, something happens that is inspiring, or touches our heart, or makes us smile, and we think “could it be?” “Could it be that God is touching us right now?” I like those moments. And even if it’s not God touching us directly, maybe it’s something as simple as an awareness of his hand in creation, that reminds us of his kingdom. And that’s good, too!
Spring is a good time for that! Everything is coming alive – just like we have come alive in God. So let this Season remind you of that. Strive to see God in every bud you see opening, in every bird you hear singing, in ever leaf, and flower, and rain shower. When you do that, you will be surprised at the inspiration that’s all around us!
These disciples said, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road.” May our hearts burn within us over the story of Easter. May we be truly “jazzed” by the story of Jesus. May it show in our lives!
Eternal God, we are amazed by your Grace. We are inspired by the story of Jesus. Help us to be more aware of your hand in our world and in our lives. Help us to be in tune with your kingdom and with your Spirit. May people see in us the hope and peace you have given us. And may those things grow in our lives. For we pray in the name of our risen Lord Jesus, Amen!