On the road with Jesus
This is an extra post based on a message I preached at the Ichtus/Host Easter Event on 23 April.
Life is a journey. It is full of mountain top experiences, hills and valleys, new discoveries, blisters on your feet and a good chance that you get lost at some point.
We are going to look at the story of two men that are walking to a town called Emmaus, about 10K out of Jerusalem on the day of the resurrection of Jesus. They are followers of Jesus and, just like the Eleven disciples (12 minus Judas), completely devastated and confused about what had happened.
Luke 24:13-34 (NLT)
That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. 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.
“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”
I love this picture of Jesus joining them on their journey, without them even realizing that it is the resurrected Jesus. Of course, they couldn’t stop talking about all that happened. You can hear in their explanation that it was still unclear to them who Jesus really was. They believed He was the Messiah, but thought of him in terms of a prophet and teachers and someone who would lead the people to a victory over the Romans and restore the Kingdom of Israel.
Just imagine how their world was completely turned upside down when they witnessed Jesus being crucified. They must have been so confused! Had they been wrong all the time? Were they deceived? Or did they get their hopes up for no reason? Maybe they had read more into what happened. And then there is the report of the tomb being empty, now what do we make of that! That just sounds way too good to be true.
Maybe this also sums up where your faith life is at this point. You have heard about Jesus, you like Him, you like His teaching, perhaps you grew up in a Christian family, but now that you live your life more independent from your family, you do not know yet what to make of it.
Do you believe that He died for your sins? What do you believe about the claim that He resurrected from the dead or about Him saying that He is the only way to God and to salvation. Maybe you are happy to see Him as an inspiration, but you are not yet ready to let Him change your life all that much.
Back to the guys on the road to Emmaus. Jesus suddenly joins their journey.
I see this as a picture of how Jesus would like to come along to your journey as well. I don’t know if He already is part of your journey, I hope He is. But I know that He would like to be part of it and that as you walk and talk, you will get to know Him better.
1. As you walk with Jesus, He will answer your questions
Let’s continue reading.
Luke 24:25-27 (NLT)
Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
After listening to their story and what they thought about all that happened, Jesus starts to speak. And He answers all the questions that they have. He takes His time. Walking 10K takes about two hours. As they walk and talk, the two get to understand who the Messiah really is and what He came to do.
This is what will happen when Jesus joins your journey as well. I believe He is the answer to all of our questions. All the things that confuse us, maybe in your personal life or things that go on in this world. Jesus is the answer!
His answers may not always be the answer you like. His answers usually don’t conform to the time and culture that you live in. His answers may be challenging sometimes and may take you some time to digest. His answers may be correcting: “you foolish people” is not a great start to the conversation. One thing I know for sure though; His answers are the truth and they bring life!
When we walk and talk with Jesus, He will give us the answers that we need to hear.
And when we allow Jesus on our journey and we walk with Him and talk with Him, He will give us the answers that we need to hear, and when we listen and learn and follow, our trust in what He says will grow continually.
2. After you walked with Jesus, invite Him in
Let’s get back to the Emmaus Road.
Luke 24:28-31 (NLT)
By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!
This is a picture of what happens when we walk with Jesus and converse with Him. In that journey, you will get to a point where you can either invite Him in or leave Him outside. If Jesus truly is the Son of God and if He truly died and rose again from the dead, I’d say we would be foolish to leave Him standing outside. But be aware, when you invite Him in. He will take the place of the host.
When you invite Jesus in, He will take the place of the host. He doesn't just want a place in your life, He wants the first place!
How weird would it be if you would invite someone over, who would then walk to your fridge and ask you what you’d like to drink? Or when I invite you over for dinner with my family, you would start praying before dinner, instead of me. There are certain rules around hosting. Jesus though, without asking, takes the role of the hosts, says grace and breaks the bread. It is at this moment that they recognize who this man that they’ve walked with really is.
Jesus wants to be more than just a conversation partner for you. He wants to be invited in, and even take the lead. He doesn’t just want a place in your life, but the first place.
It is at this point, that some of us may fold.
Inviting Jesus into your life will mean that you give up control, priority and direction. He is in control now! He is the #1 priority. And He decides where we go next. For some, that is just too hard a step to take. Yet, this is an essential step, because this is where you get to experience who Jesus really is.
Only when you invite Jesus in, your eyes will be opened to who He really is.
He will be a conversation partner for you, and He is patient, but your understanding and your experience of who Jesus really is will be limited when you do not invite Him in to your place of intimacy. That is where the real change happens.
3. After inviting Him in, He will send you out
Let’s read the final part of this story. The two men see that the guy they walked and talked with and invited in is the resurrected Jesus!
Luke 24:32-36 (NLT)
They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.” Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them.
After you have been able to listen to Him, experience Him and invite Him into your life, He will send you out. Your journey with Him will continue. The conversation never stops! But part of the life that He is leading you on, is that you become a bringer of Good News about Him.
This is how Paul phrases it in his second letters to the Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (NLT) Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
What you receive from God, is never just to keep for yourself, but to share with others.
Recently, I was listening to the message of a pastor where he shared a bit about how he raised his children. Every day he would pack their school lunches and put in a snack for them, and a snack to give to someone in their class.
This is not only a picture of teaching children to be generous and learn to care for others. I believe this is also a picture of what we receive from our heavenly Father. What we receive from Him is always enough to share with others.
Now that you have been reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, He is sending you out on a mission to bring others to Him as well. You have good news to share! Don’t keep it for yourselves. Don’t eat the extra snack as well, but give it to someone else!
Your next step
Where are you on the journey with Jesus?
Is He just joining your journey? Then start talking and listening.
Have you been talking to Him for a while? Then I think it is time to invite Him in.
Is He already the Lord of your life? Then I believe He may be sending you out to share the Good News about Him.
Are you ready to take your next step?