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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012

Hearts On Fire - March 25, 2005


Sermon of the Week #200512 -  March 25, 2005

The story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is one of the favorite accounts of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  Perhaps the reason is because we can all relate to it.  If it had said that Moses and Elijah came down and walked with Jesus, or even if He had walked with two of the Apostles, inspiring and instructive though that would have been, the fact that they were people who were not well known is something that relates to us.  The resurrection is the greatest event that ever took place on this planet and it would seem fitting for Jesus to appear to Kings or Generals or other great ones of the earth, but in the appearances that were made to underscore this momentous event, is the appearance of two ordinary people and that is why we can relate to it.  The unnamed disciple is every person who knows that Jesus is the only hope we have of going to Heaven.

So on that day when Cleopas and his companion left Jerusalem to walk about seven miles to the village of Emmaus they were talking between themselves about the resurrection.  As they were discussing this event, Jesus fell in with them.  Their eyes were holden that they should not know Him.

Many today have eyes that are holden.  They cannot see Jesus, His sacrifice on the cross and resurrection because their eyes are holden by ignorance.  Many a person is listening to me at this moment who has never heard the gospel plan of salvation.  That is why in such a vast audience as this it is necessary to spell it out every time we come to you with this message. While you may have heard it many times there are thousands this day who have never heard the answer given to penitent believers the day the Church began, “Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Others cannot see Jesus because their eyes are holden by prejudice.  They have already made up their minds about the Lord before they come to the Bible and go blindly on through life without getting a clear view of the Master. Others eyes are holden by unbelief. Paul reminds us the Devil has blinded the eyes of them that believe not. Their eyes were holden that day.

Notice it says as they communed and questioned together that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.  If you are thinking and talking about the Lord Jesus Christ, it is a sure thing that He is going to show up somehow and some way and walk with you. They were asking questions about Him and He did say, "Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you." Jesus may have walked with you many times even though your eyes were holden and you did not know Him.  

He asked them about these communications they had one with another as they walked? The way He put the question aptly summed up their conversation.  They were throwing questions back and forth at each other like two people working with a medicine ball in a gymnasium.

Cleopas said, “How was that stone rolled away?" The guards were there and would have stopped them?” The other one said, “Do you think those two men in dazzling apparel had anything to do with it?” Cleopas said, “What is all this talk about no body found in the tomb?  What happened to it?” The other one replied, “The Apostles heard the same story and they don’t believe it.  They said it was idle talk.”  Cleopas said, “And what is all that stuff about those two in dazzling apparel saying He is risen from the dead?” The other one said, “Why they even said Jesus said He would be raised up from the dead and asked them if they remembered Him saying that and they said they did not and then left the tomb and went home.”

It was at this point that the Lord said, “What are these communications that ye have one with another as ye walk?”  They asked Him how He did not know these things?  He said, “What things?” And they told Him about the crucifixion and how their hopes were in Him and now that He is dead all is lost.  They had thought He was the Messiah but obviously they were mistaken. Think about that. They believed that Jesus had come to redeem Israel. They believed He was a prophet mighty in word and deed. All they believed was true, but something was missing. Like millions today who believe a lot of things about Jesus. He is a great prophet. He is a great teacher. But something is missing and that something is the resurrection.

No wonder Jesus said, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken.” Then He began to preach to them the greatest message ever heard on earth.  He opened unto them the scripture and showed how the Bible had spoken of this event. 

Some of the Old Testament scripture He must have used would have reminded them of God telling the Serpent in the Garden of Eden the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent and that the serpent would bruise His heel. He reminded them of the story when the people were bitten by serpents and Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness and of how that was a prophecy that He also would be lifted up. Then after He told them how the head of the serpent was smashed at Calvary and how the Devil’s cunning was set at naught. He reminded them of the words of Isaiah the prophet, Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel. Then He told them of how Isaiah said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”  How could He have overlooked Isaiah when he said, “He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.”  And how about these graphic words: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”

We know He used these scriptures among many others to the two on the road to Emmaus, because He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.

They listened to all this speechless and spellbound and then noticed that it was getting dark and they had arrived at their destination.  They asked Him to abide with them because it was toward evening and the day is now far spent.  They noticed that He acted as though He wanted to go further.  They said that it was getting dark and asked Him to abide with them and He came in at their invitation.  Jesus never enters a home where He is not invited. He may knock at the door but there will be no forced entry.

 Since He made them think He would go further, just how much further He would have gone had they decided to keep on walking with Him?  I know for a fact that you can always go further with Jesus.  How far do you want to go?  We can always go further in giving, but you will never go as far as Jesus went.  You can always go further into the study of the word, but never as far as Jesus went.  You can always go further with Jesus in prayer, but never as far as He went. He always goes further.

He accepted their invitation and came in and then seemed to take charge of the household.  He presided at the table.  He took the bread and blessed and then broke it and then at that moment their eyes were opened and they knew Him and at that very moment He vanished out of their sight.

Although it was dark, it was a moonlight night.  They had just celebrated the Passover and that feast always comes in the season of the full moon.  So in the moonlight they went as fast as they could back over those seven miles to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered together and told them the Lord had risen indeed and hath appeared to Simon and then they shared their experience of what he had said and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

The marvelous thing about their believing in the Lord and His resurrection was that in their particular case they believed on Him for another reason than the fact that they actually saw Him before He vanished.  Their faith in the resurrection would be the same as all those who lived after the days of the Apostles.  Their hearts burned within them.  Their hearts were on fire when He opened unto them the scripture.  Their hearts were on fire because He spake to them in the way while He opened unto them the scripture.

    Ladies and gentlemen, when Jesus vanished out of sight of Cleopas and his companion they admitted to each other that their hearts burned within them as He opened unto them the scripture while He spake to them in the way. It was the teaching of the Bible that set their hearts on fire and convinced them that Jesus had arisen from the dead.

Their basis of faith was and is the same as ours. We never saw Him risen from the dead, but we can believe that He was raised from the dead because the Bible says so.

 The gospel song sums up the truth for us when it says: “We saw Thee not when Thou didst come to this poor world of sin and death; nor yet beheld Thy cottage home in that despised Nazareth; but we believe Thy feet did trod, its streets and plains thou Son of God. We gazed not in the open tomb where once Thy mangled body lay; nor saw Thee in the upper room; nor met Thee in the open way. But we believe the angels said why seek the living with the dead?

 The scripture that Jesus opened to them was in the Old Testament. The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed and the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed. The New Testament is in the Old Testament contained and the Old Testament is in the New Testament explained. The story of the two on the road to Emmaus is the story of the opened Bible, the opened eyes and the open tomb.

Luke tells us He was known to them in the breaking of the bread. In the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican we saw a large tapestry on the wall of two men sitting on either side of a table. One was Cleopas and the other his unnamed companion. On the other side of the table was Jesus holding the bread in His hands and seemed to be looking straight ahead between the two men at any one looking at the picture. As we approached from the left the table had shifted, slanted in that direction and Jesus appeared to be looking across the table between the two men directly at me.  As we walked even with the tapestry and looked directly full faced at the picture the table had shifted and Jesus was still looking between the two men straight at me. We passed by and I turned to look back at it and the table had shifted again and Jesus was still looking between the two men across the table at me.    

          Luke tells us when Jesus took the bread and blessed and breaking it gave to them their eyes were opened and He vanished out of their sight. They rose up that very hour and went back over the seven miles to Jerusalem and told the eleven and they that were with them how they had seen the risen Lord and how He was made known unto them in the breaking of the bread.

            The artist who painted the picture has given us an illusion of what happened, but the story of the two on the road to Emmaus is not an illusion to the Christian.  Whether you are seated on the left side of the auditorium, in the center, or on the right, it is no illusion that Jesus is looking directly at you in the communion service as our view of Him as the crucified risen Son of God is renewed in the breaking of the bread.

When He broke the bread there is no way they could have missed the sight of the nail prints in His hands. Later on that night He would appear before them again as they told their story to the eleven and at that time He told them to see His hands and His feet that was indeed Himself. So the nail prints were there for all to see.

While this statement about the breaking of bread was not the Lord’s Supper. The Church had not yet been established and those two knew nothing of the Lord’s Supper that had been instituted the previous week in the presence of the eleven only. At the same time it does present overtones to us of the view we receive of Jesus during the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day, just as they saw Him on that Lord’s Day at the Village of Emmaus.

Remember Luke tells us as soon as He was recognized He vanished out of their sight. The appearances of Jesus to the Apostles and others were important, but His disappearances were equally important. A great lesson is provided. It appears during the forty-day period between His resurrection and ascension He appeared suddenly and then vanished. Then He appeared again and vanished. It may have seemed to them that they could never tell when His next appearance would be. That should be a reminder to us. At His ascension He vanished. His next appearance will come just as suddenly for us at the Second Coming as it was for the Apostles after the resurrection. In an hour when ye think not the Son of man cometh.     

Their hearts were set on fire when they knew that Jesus was risen from the dead. Their hearts were blazing with such fire that Luke tell us, And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them were with them. Their hearts were so fired up that they retrace seven miles they had just come, only on the return trip it was in the dark. If the moonlight was not enough that night, the fire in their hearts lightened the way. Lightened the way to carry a message they could not afford to be put off until morning.

The need to proclaim the story of the resurrection had set their hearts on fire. God said to Jeremiah, "Behold I will make My words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood and it shall devour them." God asks a question to Jeremiah when He said, "Is not My word like a fire saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?"

Perhaps you have heard the old saying, "If that doesn’t light your fire your wood is wet." Jeremiah knew the feeling. He became so discouraged that he said, "I will not make mention of Him, nor any more speak in His name." In other words Jeremiah said; "I am burned out, I quit.  What’s the use?” And then he said, “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones and I was weary with forbearing and could not stay.”    

That was the story of the Cleopas and the other disciple. Their hearts were on fire and the fire was shut up in their bones. They could not wait until morning; the story must be told and told now. Jesus is alive, Jesus is alive, Jesus is alive! 

The telling of the resurrection story cannot be put off because the time is short. They did not know it, but in a little less than forty years Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Romans. Hundreds of Jews would be crucified outside the city until they actually ran out of wood to make crosses. There was no time to lose. Jerusalem must hear the message and hear it now. Then too, they had no guarantee they would be alive the next day the story must be told now. In particular, we cannot afford to delay in getting the message to those folk who are reaching the Biblical age allotment of three score years and ten. Then think also of the condition of the world. Can this world go on too much longer without bursting at the seams? At any moment the melt down may begin, the trumpet may sound, the passing away of the earth with a great noise, and the appearance of the Son of Man on the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory. Those who have hearts on fire cannot wait. The story must be told. It must be told now. We don’t have to exhort to greater giving, attendance, or faithfulness in any area of service those whose hearts are on fire. Those who sit in the ashes of indifference to the truth can never be motivated to take the good news anywhere. It is not the story of the frosty bones gospel but the gospel preached and supported by those who have fire in the bones. Listen to Cleopas and that other disciple again: “Did not our hearts burn within us while He spake to us in the way while He opened unto us the scripture?”