April 26, 2020
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
13 Now 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. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does 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 they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah 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.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on 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. 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?”
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.Luke 24:13-35
The people living in Georgia and the people living in New York saw very different things over the last three days. Last week many discussions took place about plans to reopen certain businesses. There were many different opinions about what the plan should be for reopening businesses like barbers and gyms. The state of New York plans to keep those businesses closed, while Georgia allowed businesses like barbers and gyms to reopen on Friday. Governments and businesses have had many discussions weighing the pros and cons of the statistics that show many do not suffer severe symptoms from the virus and have recovered that need haircuts, to lose their quarantine weight and a chance to earn an income verses trying to prevent those more likely to die from the virus like those who have lost their hair to cancer or those who struggle with their weight and other health issues from diseases like diabetes from being exposed to the virus. These are the discussions happening at the highest level of our nation’s government and around our kitchen tables. Discussions continue but can anyone come up with a plan that is good for everyone?
You know what it’s like to wonder if your reaction to a situation was a good one. If you got a stimulus check, you are wondering if it’s a good idea to put it into savings in case you lose your job, to put it in the stock market buying low and trusting that later on in life it will sell high having grown to help you in retirement or whether using it all to support your local car stereo installer was a good idea. If you are graduating college this year, you may find that the industry related to your major has been negatively affected and you wonder whether that was a good decision four years ago. You wonder if it was a good decision to put your family member in a nursing home far away or whether it would have been better to keep them at home with in-home care. You know what it is like to discuss all the various outcomes of a situation, weighing the pros and cons, and trying to determine all the various outcomes to make sure you have found the real problem so that you can come up with a good solution. Knowing the real problem is key for any good discussion hoping to find the true solution.
In our reading from Luke 24, two disciples were discussing the events from the last three days. It was Easter day, and two of Jesus’ followers were on their way from Jerusalem to the city of Emmaus. They had heard the reports of the empty tomb, even the reports from the women who said that angels told them Jesus was alive, but they did not believe. Then, as they were walking, Jesus came and walked along with them. Jesus asked them what they were discussing, and they responded in disbelief that he had not heard about everything that had happened to Jesus of Nazareth. The disciples could not help discussing everything that had happened to Jesus because they had hoped he would restore the nation of Israel, rule as their King, protect them from their enemies and give them abundance, a goat in every pot and a chariot in every driveway.
They were convinced he was going to do this because he did miracles and taught the people with authority like the prophets from the past, but then he died. And, when he died, they could not see how he could still give them all of that. Even though Jesus had told the disciples multiple times he would suffer, die and rise from the dead, seeing Jesus die was too much for his followers and made them doubt. At the same time, if you had heard Jesus say that he was going to rise, or at least had heard it from someone else, and if the women said that angels told them Jesus was alive, you would think they would have stuck around the whole third day to see if Jesus would appear, rather than leaving Jerusalem for another city. The disciples were caught up in the moment, not thinking clearly. And this was their problem as John wrote in his gospel, John 20:9 “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” The disciples’ discussion on the road was a mixed-up mess because they were mixing what they had seen Jesus do and heard him teach with the many opinions about him and their own personal expectations of him.
When Jesus came up alongside the two disciples, he told them what was keeping them from a good discussion based on the truth. Jesus said, Luke 24:25 … “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” Jesus quickly identified the problem with the disciples’ discussion about the last few days events in Jerusalem. They wanted to know who they were going to follow now that Jesus was dead, when the true discussion they needed to have was all the good that came from Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Jesus’ words continue to quickly identify what is lacking in your discussions as well. You and I fail to trust all Jesus has done for us like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus when we do not talk about what Jesus’ death and resurrection has done for us. The Bible says that Jesus redeemed us meaning we owed a debt and Jesus paid the debt. You were conceived by two sinful parents beginning your life without knowledge, hope or trust in God. That sin works constantly to dominate every word you speak, every discussion you have to hurt, harm and ruin other people and disappoint God filling him with wrath and anger against you. Your sins are a terrible problem, even if sin only came out in how you speak, you would be guilty before God as we hear in James 3, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” Sin, and the evil it causes, are the great debt you have against God and cannot ever hope to repay. This debt you owe was paid for by Jesus, you were redeemed and bought back from sin and death by Jesus as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1, 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” Jesus saved the receipt of the payment he made for you in the Bible. In God’s Word, we see what we owed and what Jesus paid for us to make us his own dearly loved people, he gave his own life. And, Jesus rose from the dead as proof that you will also rise from the dead to be his people. You will be brought back to life to live with God in heaven forever, singing and speaking only of the good God has done for you, and never hearing about the pain and suffering from this broken world.
Jesus speaks to you the same message he spoke to the disciples on the road that changed their lives. Just like in you, the Holy Spirit worked faith in the two disciples by hearing the Word of God. Jesus trusted in God’s Word to be the means by which the disciples would believe as we heard in Luke 24, 27 “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” The disciples themselves testified that it was not the miracles or a feeling or anything else but God’s Word that opened their eyes to believe when they said, 32 … “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” These Scriptures are your source for life. They are also then your source for discussions about all that is going on in your life and the lives of others as Peter said in Acts 2, 39 “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
God called you to faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. This message gives you a response for discussions about the fear of sickness because Jesus heals and protects, living without all the things you want because Jesus satisfies your heart and opens your eyes to see what is truly valuable, financial trouble because Jesus has given you fellow believers who he works through to give you what you need, death because of the resurrection, sin because of his perfect life, hell because heaven is open to you, evil because he is good, hatred because he loves you, inequality because all have been given the same inheritance of eternal life, etc. You have many discussions waiting for you this week, prepare yourself for them by hearing what God has done for you throughout his Word from Moses to the Prophets, Genesis to Revelation, and the praises and promises recorded in the Psalms.
The last three days have been very different for people in Georgia and New York. And, the discussions will continue about how, when, where, what and why to reopen. Regardless of decisions that are made, keep in mind that no one has ever been able to make the perfect policy to solve a problem, and those in authority over us and business owners need your prayers for God’s guidance, wisdom and love for others. Remember too that Jesus did make a policy, a plan and a promise that was good for everyone. The three days after Jesus’ death and on the day of his resurrection two disciples had their eyes opened through a good discussion of the truth of Scripture. These same words have been spoken to you. By God’s Word and his working, leave behind foolish discussions for the whole truth in Jesus, and you will have good things to say each day looking forward to the day you will sing Easter praises with joy in heaven. Amen.