How they We Recognized Him
† I.H.S. †
This grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ that we so often talk about, may you come to know it with your heart, your soul and your mind as you come recognize His presence in YOUR life.
The walk –
I’ve got a question for you to think about for a moment.
Why did God hide who Jesus was from the two disciples? Why did God stop them from recognizing Jesus? (significant pause)
Why not just simply show up and reveal himself directly? He does the same thing to Mary Magdalene in John’s gospel. She also doesn’t recognize him at first, thought it doesn’t say God stopped her from recognizing Jesus. She even talked to him, asking Jesus where they put his body. It would my asking Chuck where Chuck was…
Why hide in plain site?
In the way that Jesus will minister to them, we see a possible answer, an answer that gives us some direction not only for how Jesus ministers to us, but also how He ministers through us.
It’s what we call the ministry or word and Sacrament.
And it is all about revealing God so that they could recognize Jesus, so that we can recognize Jesus, and so we can help others recognize Jesus.
So this sermon title – how do they/we recognize Jesus, is answered. He is revealed through His word and through the Sacraments.
The first thing Jesus does is listens. Though He knows their hearts, they need express what they know specifically what they know about Him. They tell Him that He is or should that be was, a prophet, He does miracles, He was a mighty teacher, and we had hoped, we expected based on all this, that He was the Messiah!
Then they tell Him what He knows all to well, that he was handed over to be killed and that they crucified Him. There is part of me that wonders how Jesus didn’t laugh at the irony. Think about it! They are telling Him what happened to Him!
But as He listens, as they speak the truth they see it, they put into words their pain, their inability to believe the drastic change of what is going on. Our Lord knows us well, and for us to process that He is the Messiah, that He is our Lord, and what that means in daily life, what that would have meant – they need to do that.
We do too…
The Revelation of the Word
Then Jesus begins to do what we call the ministry of the word – and note that is a small “w”. He explains what we need to know about Him! The prophetic predictions – th very things that the Messiah would have to suffer, the missing part of their knowledge they have revealed to them.
And while He does, the hearts start to realize something different is going on, even though they won’t get it until Jesus is fully revealed.
But we need to know about Jesus, we need to understand what He did when He died on the cross when He suffered prior to coming into His glory,
The glory of the Resurrection
For Praise God, He is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia
And therefore, we are risen indeed!
And that is not just glorious – it is His glory and the fulfillment of God’s desire.
But these men on the road need to understand that, we need to understand it.
We need to understand what God’s desire is, what His goal in creation is, and how all of the scripture, from the law to the promises, from the histories to the psalms, from the gospels to Revelation, are all about that desire being fulfilled in Jesus.
And that is what Jesus explained, from all the scriptures they knew about, He revealed who the Messiah was….
And their hearts burned within them, even as they knew all about Him, and didn’t recognize Him. And they know this stranger, who showed them that Jesus the Messiah had to suffer in order to enter His glory, they don’t want him to leave.
They begged Him to stay, and yet there is one more thing.
The Revelation of the Sacrament
He has to do something that will drive the lesson from their head to their heart. For the head comforted the heart, the ministry of the word brought comfort, but they need more.
And so Jesus broke bread and gave it to them, and His ministry fo the sacrament opened their eyes. This sacred moment, reminiscent of four days before, prophesied about throughout the Old Testament, this revelation, this ministry opened their eyes.
Not only was Jesus the Messiah.
He was their risen Lord.
He had entered His glory.
And they were there to share it with Him.
What our minds can accept but can’t conceive of, that God wants a relationship with us, that He died to set us free to enter His glory, that is something the heart can accept, and know, and convince our mind is so gloriously true.
He lives and because He Lives, we live as well. We share in His glory, as one of my friend’s is know to say, we get to dance with God.
That’s what the sacraments are, our time to experience God’s love….
Whether it is in our baptism, our as we hear again we are freed from all sin, or as we take and eat, and take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus, whether it is our time in prayer, or our time of giving, these sacramental times, these moments of holiness, are where we encounter our Risen Lord.
Where we learn to rejoice.
Where we share in His glory.
The Ministry of Word and Sacrament
This is why we are a church that does ministry of word and Sacrament. Because we need to realize what the Messiah does, and we need to know Him< to see His promises revealed, to have revealed as well His presence, right here, right now.
For the Lord is here, the Lord is with you! And He has promised to never leave or forsake you.
Alleluia! He is Risen! And Therefore
We Recognize the Lord!
May you become more aware of the grace of God that is yours, the love and mercy revealed in Christ Jesus!
Why didn’t He Reveal Himself Sooner?
Two men, walking down the road together, trying to get home for dinner.
Distraught, emotions all over the place as they try to make sense of Jesus’s death. Emotionally drained, they desperately need rest.
Even as Jesus begins to walk with them, He will comment about the deep discussion they are having, which leads me to one question.
Why does He wait so long to reveal Himself to them? Why?
Or is there a lesson for us, in how Jesus ministers to these men, who are crushed and broken
including perhaps, realizing how God ministers to us?
Our Struggle to Hear God!
It seems sometimes, like everyone has gone, or is going through a walk like these men.
You don’t even have to hear their voices, to hear the stress, the anxiety, the despair as they speak.
The Man they thought was the answer not to just their dreams, but the dreams of a nation. The Messiah, the long awaited anointed one of God, who was to deliver them to change their lives, to fix everything, from their economy to their families.
They had the kind of dreams that we see in one of those California Lottery commercials, as the winner dreams of the new yacht, the chaffered limousine, the mansion up on the hill with the heliport.
Except, the odds of Jesus being the Messiah were about a trillion to one better than the lottery. You see, as they informed “undercover Jesus”, they had based their hopes on the fact that Jesus had done miracles, and had talked with great authority. That He was a leader, confirmed not only by people, but by God himself. Blind could see, people who never walked, completely healed, those who had been dead, raised to life. Even the Samaritans and Gentiles knew hope because of Jesus. It had to be him.
They knew that Jesus spoke for God.
Then, they killed him.
If that isn’t a reason to put your trust in Him, to look for Him to fulfil the promises that were so well known, the promises they heard about in their synagogues ever Sabbath all their lives…
Those hopes, those expectations, everything they know about the Messiah, were crushed. Everything they had hoped for, taken away in a few hours on Friday…
So why didn’t Jesus relieve their suffering, calm their storm by simply revealing His presence?
Yet God hid himself, even though they saw Jesus, they didn’t know Him….
Who Are These Two That Hear the Whole Story?
Beyond that question, I have another question about these two men, walking so defeated, so overwhelmed on the road to Emmaus. Why them? Why do they get to hear Jesus explain they entire Old Testament?
Shouldn’t it be Matthew or John? They will be writing the Gospels…
Shouldn’t it be Peter and James? Why aren’t the leaders of the apostles
Why Cleopas and some guy we don’t even know the name of?
Why did Jesus choose to minister to these two? Having chosen them, why didn’t He reveal Himself sooner? Why did Jesus deliver to them a lecture about the Old Testament, instead of simply revealing Himself so that their pain would cease?
The Story Reveals
When we hear, that over several hours as they walk, Jesus explained that everything from the first five books of the Bible that Moses wrote, through all of the prophets, we have to hear the conclusion that is drawn. Look there in verse 27, the things concerning Him. Jesus explains that the Bible is all about Him. That is what it reveals, or rather, who it reveals.
In this way the Lord shows us the proper method of interpreting Moses and all the prophets. He teaches us that Moses points and refers to Christ in all his stories and illustrations. His purpose is to show that Christ is the point at the center of a circle, with all eyes inside the circle focused on Him. Whoever turns his eyes on Him finds his proper place in the circle of which Christ is the center. All the stories of Holy Writ, if viewed aright, point to Christ.
What these men needed to know, was that Christ’s death was from the beginning, the plan. Jesus had to suffer, Jesus explains, it needed to be done. Over and over that was the plan revealed in the Old Testament. The word of God, the Old Testament Covenant promises, the Old Testament pictures of Christ like Isaac on the altar, the sacrificial system, the picture of the tabernacle and the temple and the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea….
They needed Jesus to be revealed to them, and He was. Not the way we would expect at first. Rather, they learned that God had planned, from before the foundation of the world, to have Christ suffer and die. It was necessary, it wasn’t a detour, but the very way in which we are saved. They needed to understand this, so that they understand the depth of the love of God for His people.
Jesus taught them, He revealed Himself to them, without revealing Himself to them.
They couldn’t let Jesus leave. Not that they realized there was one revelation left that had to happen to them.
He Reveals Himself
That is where the most miraculous moment for these two men, and for all of us like them occurs.
Thanks is given, bread is broken, and even as they lose sight of Jesus, yet they finally know Him.
They realize He is with them, and all of the hopes and all of the blessings come flooding back. These men, moments before, weary, tired and broken, know Him in the breaking of the bread. The presence of Jesus overwhelms them, even as it gives them the strength to climb back up the mountain to return to the apostles. We aren’t talking about a hike from here to the Towne Center – we are talking about walking from here to Disneyland – if Disneyland was uphill.
Why didn’t Jesus reveal himself earlier?
I don’t know. What I do know is that when He did reveal himself, it was the perfect time, they had heard, they knew of His love. They got it, and their life was forever changed. Even as they confirm what the others had seen, had known, what matters in that moment, was Jesus appearing, and how they recognized him in the breaking of the bread.
Why don’t we see God all the time? Why do we have to walk these roads, knowing the despair? Knowing the pain, and wondering, “where is God in all of this?”
I don’t know. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt He is here, with His people. But I don’t know why sometimes we walk that same road, not hearing the testimony of those we would normally trust.
I do know that we have all the same promises that God will redeem His people. We can know Christ through the pictures of Him that are drawn all over the Old Testament, We can hear all the prophecies and know that God has never, and will never abandon His people. We know He walks with us, even if we aren’t always aware of His presence.
We can recognize His presence, here and now, even in the breaking of the bread.
Knowing those promises, that God will use even what was planned for evil for good, that nothing can separate us from Him, that all will work for good, and that He will complete the work He began in us, we taste and see He is good. Our eyes are opened to His presence. We are 21 days out from Easter, yet the season continues. We know He is Risen – just as we have learned this has been His plan…. But because He is risen, we can recognize Him, we can know Him, and rest assured of His love and work that we shall know His peace, even now throughout all eternity.
A peace that goes beyond our understanding – but guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN?