The episode on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-36) is beautiful to me because it is so instructive. Just a week before, these two men believed they had found in Jesus the answer to all their political and spiritual questions. But their hopes that He would "redeem Israel" had been dashed. They were confused and disappointed followers of Jesus. (Don't know about you, but I've been there and done that.) But Jesus specifically and intentionally went to them in their struggle. (And He finds me in mine.) After walking with them for awhile He started to leave them with only a partial understanding. They asked for more teaching and He obliged. (He gives me more when I ask.) In verse 27 Jesus used the scriptures to teach about himself. What Scriptures? The Old Testament, because that is all they had. I would love to have been there and heard Jesus tell about himself and his relationship to those Old Testament writers. He could have said "I know exactly what Isaiah and David meant because I was right there with them when they wrote those words." That is really teaching with authority..." (Mark 1:22) And then they went and told others.
To fully benefit from having God as my Father, I must admit that I need him as provider, protector, counselor, guide, comforter and savior. I must admit "I can't," acknowledge "He can," and believe "He will." Only then can I know the full value of having been adopted into his family and having the privilege of calling him "Abba Daddy." John 5:1-18 tells the story of a crippled man. When Jesus asked him "Do you want to get well" he replied that he had no one to help him get into the healing pool. He knew of only one way to get healed. Sometimes I limit God the same way. I say "Lord, I can't be happy unless ____." Then I get discouraged and disgruntled if my specific request is not granted. I need to be willing to say "Lord, do whatever you think is best in my life and I'll be happy no matter what you provide." Should I view Jehovah as a god of joy (and praise him) or a god of responsibility (and serve him?) Of course the answer is "both," since worship is defined as "recognizing and properly responding to God." Service is part of that proper response. Too much emphasis on the joy part can cause a turn inward, always looking for the next bit of spiritual excitement. Too much emphasis on the responsibility portion can result in guilt and lifeless attempts to minister. Our challenge is to find and retain the joy that comes from fulfilling responsibilities.
Life Giver Guilt Remover Problem Solver Way Maker Stress Calmer Ransom Payer Sin Forgiver Grace Supplier Load Lifter Joy Enlarger Battle Fighter Path Smoother Song Writer Mercy Provider Blessing Dispenser God is my ALL in ALL!
(Friday Night) We thought He was the Messiah, The true and only one. We thought He would restore us. We thought He was God's son. But now He's dead and in the tomb. We don't know what to do. He said "I will not leave you." But we're scared, through and through. (Saturday) Years ago we left families And followed, just like He said. But then they nailed Him to the cross. Our hopes and dreams are dead. Should we run or should we hide? What is left for us here? A week ago it was different. I can still hear the crowd's cheers. (Early Sunday Morning) Hey! He's not in the tomb! Mary just brought us the word. She says He's back from the dead. It's the best news I've ever heard. Can't wait to see Him for myself. It's almost too good to be true. Maybe he'll heal the sick and teach Just like He used to do. (Later Sunday) Jesus just came into the room There's no doubt about it. Everyone needs to know. Let's all go out and shout it. He is alive! He is alive! You better believe it, friend. He is all that He promised. I'll never doubt again.
Having a close, personal relationship with Jesus allows me to hear and respond to music that only He and I can hear. When I hear it I smile and others don’t know why. I move in rhythms and steps they do not understand. I find satisfaction from dancing enthusiastically when others have not been aware there was any music for us to dance to.
Others may find my behavior a little strange, but Jesus and I don’t care. No one benefits when they criticize me for engaging in our fellowship dance. For some reason they seem to feel that “different” is wrong and praise dancing is somehow irreverent. I never want to disturb the worship of others, but I also never want to avoid Spirit-led activity.
Sometimes our relationship results in praise words rather than worship dancing. At such times I tend to sing too loud and ignore the worship leader on the platform. I may be the only one in the crowd that starts singing another verse when he is finished. I may get carried away and sing the song the way we used to sing it sixty years ago. Sometimes I forget I am not the only person in the room.
But Jesus and I don’t care. I think unison in worship is overrated, anyway.
My friend lived in a large city I had never visited. Recently I was driving past there to a meeting. I called my friend and we met for dinner at a restaurant near the interstate.
As we were parting in the parking lot I received a phone call and I was told the meeting was postponed one day. I suddenly had an extra twenty-four hours.
My friend invited me to spend the night in his home. I accepted and asked how to get there. He responded “Just follow me.” And with that he drove off.
I hated every moment of that forty-five minute drive. I kept my eyes glued to his tail lights, afraid a stop light or another car would come between us and force me to lose sight of him. If that had happened I would have been in serious trouble. (I did not have GPS.)
As we were in the middle of this game of “follow-the-leader-or-else” I realized it was similar to our challenge of staying in contact with Jesus. Sometimes He leads through strange, dangerous territory. It is my responsibility to maintain contact with Him or I will get lost.
Since I had never been in that city before, there were billboards new to me and buildings that enticed me to take a “second look.” I was tempted to become a tourist rather than stay on my friend’s bumper. In the same way, following Jesus requires us to develop some degree of tunnel vision, focusing only on Him.
Jesus says “Follow me.” Our reaction must not be “Where?” or “Why?” or “What will we see?” or “When will we get back?” It is up to us to reply “okay” and get prepared to enjoy the trip.
In hell the celebration had begun about 3:00 p.m. the previous Friday. The banquet hall had been the scene of continuous revelry for more than twenty-four hours. The greatest victory celebration of all time was in progress. The music continued to be loud and raucous. The dancing was becoming increasingly lewd as the jokes grew more and more vulgar. Congratulations were being heaped on the host by every guest as they tried to ingratiate themselves to him. Toast after toast was offered to honor the treachery that allowed him to win such a great victory.
This was the all-out, no-holds-barred victory party of all time. After all, the gathering was commemorating the most significant event to occur since the creation of the universe.
Jesus was dead!
Satan had won the battle. Evil was more powerful than good. The heavenly foe was forever defeated. Lucifer now had free reign in the lives of all people for all time. He could hardly contain his glee. He tingled with anticipation as he considered all the pain, agony, death and destruction he would create in the coming years.
Jesus was dead!
Never again would Satan’s efforts to destroy mankind be thwarted by Christ’s goodness, power and love.
Jesus was dead!
Then sometime early Sunday morning it happened. As suddenly as a lightening bolt but as gentle as a butterfly, Jesus appeared and stood in front of Satan.
The music stopped. Glasses of wine halted in mid-trip between table and mouth. Jokes remained without a punch line. There was no movement or sound anywhere in the hall. All eyes were riveted on Jesus, the man who could not be there.
For what seemed like hours, Jesus looked at Satan. Then He gradually became larger and larger while Satan became smaller and smaller. Everyone in the hall could see it happening. Soon Jesus loomed huge as Satan shrunk and seemed to back away, although he never moved at all.
The Jesus spoke. His quiet, controlled voice carried the power present only in the One who created the entire universe, including Satan himself. Though spoken softly the Messiah’s words carried to every corner of the universe and echoed into every eon of time.
“Oh death, where now is your victory? Oh grave, where now is your sting?” The He was gone. He simply vanished.
The demons looked at each other and then at Satan. Where moments before he had seemed a vibrant, victorious general, now he had the appearance of a deflated balloon.
Jesus was alive! The crucifixion had not been successful. The tomb was empty!
Jesus was alive! Satan’s death grip on mankind was forever destroyed.
Jesus was alive! God’s power to transform His children’s lives remained intact.
Jesus was alive! Satan was eternally defeated. There was nothing left to celebrate.
Slowly, one by one, the guests filed silently from the hall. Satan’s pathetic appearance discouraged them from even trying to give him some parting words of encouragement. Jesus was alive and He would remain alive for all eternity.
And Satan knew it!
We thought He was the Messiah
The true and only one.
We thought he would restore us.
We thought he was God's son.
But now he's dead and in the tomb.
We don't know what to do.
He said "I will not leave you."
But we're scared, through and through.
Years ago we left families
And followed, just like he said.
But then they nailed him to the cross.
Our hopes and dreams are dead.
Should we run or should we hide?
What is left for us here?
A week ago it was different.
I can still hear the crowd's cheers.
(Early Sunday Morning)
Hey! He's not in the tomb!
Mary just brought us the word.
She says he's back from the dead.
It's the best news I've ever heard.
Can't wait to see him for myself.
It's almost too good to be true.
Maybe he'll heal the sick and teach
Just like he used to do.
Jesus came into the room.
There's no doubt about it.
Everyone needs to know.
Let's all go out and shout it.
He is alive. He is alive.
You better believe it, friend.
He is all that he promised.
I'll never doubt again.
When did Jesus know He was going to die on a Roman cross as a common criminal? At birth? At age twelve? Certainly by age 30.
At some point his divinity gave a fore knowledge of his death. How did his humanity handle this look into a future that promised such pain and suffering? How did He maintain a sense of joy and peace in the shadow of the cross? What allowed Him to laugh, sing, joke and smile during his ministry?
And He did each of those things. Grown men didn’t leave home, family and careers to follow a sour puss. Children didn’t flock to be picked up and held by a grouch. Crowds didn’t contribute their donkeys and cloaks to form a parade for a “gloomy Gus”.
How did He avoid a constant feeling of dread and sadness as He healed and taught the people of Judea and Jerusalem? As he conquered disease and death in others, surely the specter of his own future hovered in the background of his mind.
The answer to the question has to be in his total trust in his father’s wisdom, power and love. Long before Gethsemane his daily mantra was “Not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42.) He was fully convinced that only by following Jehovah’s will could He provide a way for the human race to be ransomed from the power of sin. He had heard “With him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17) as He stepped out of the waters of John’s baptism and He had to die to hear it again.
What am I willing to do each day to hear it from Jehovah God?
My having a close, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus is like hearing and responding to music that no one else can hear.
I smile and others don’t know why. I move in rhythms and steps that others do not understand. Together Jesus and I dance for joy when others haven’t even been aware there was a reason for celebration.
Others may find my behavior a little strange, but Jesus and I don’t really care.
Jesus left the ultimate comfort zone (heaven) to make the ultimate sacrifice (the cross) for the ultimate “they don’t deserve it” people (me.) If this was all He ever did for me I would still owe Him my ultimate gratitude and praise.
Among non-Christians we have the reputation of emphasizing God’s punishment more than His love. They think we teach that God wants to punish them rather than bless them. They believe we get pleasure from seeing God punish bad people. Where do they get such ideas? How can we help change the way they think?