Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we ask that You take away the pain of our loneliness, uncertainty, and fear over the future. Remind us that our lives are in Your capable hands. Remind us that the salvation You won for our souls was part of Your holy Father’s eternal plan for us. Remind us that Your death was really our death to sin and that Your resurrection was really our resurrection to a new life filled with Godly power. Yes, when you fill our hearts with such profound truths, nothing can keep us down. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR RISEN LORD AND SAVIOR!
TEXT: Luke 24: 13-35
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Ten years ago I had no idea what GERD, or gastro-esophageal reflux disease, really was. But, I soon found out. It is heart-burn. Chest-crushing pain caused by stomach acid injecting itself up into the esophagus. I’ve read that well over 7 million Americans suffer from this disease, and millions of others have occasional bouts with heart-burn as well. Health care companies have made a fortune, literally billions of dollars combating it. Any of you who have suffered from heart-burn, or its virulent form known as: GERD, know just how grateful you are when you get it under some sort of control. And for those of you under 40, or who have never experienced such pain, just wait and you’ll find out someday! And when you do, you’ll run for the Zantac or the antacid bottle for relief.
As I looked over this familiar text, I was struck by one phrase: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Obviously this is a different form of heartburn, isn’t it? This is a type to be welcomed and not shunned. So, my question for you is this:
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO HEAVENLY HEARTBURN?
It is Easter day. Two of Jesus’ followers, Cleopas and probably Luke, the writer of this gospel, are walking back to Emmaus, a village about 7 miles outside of Jerusalem. They were heartsick. They had seen Christ killed and laid in the grave. They had heard reports of His resurrection from the women and others, but those reports seemed too good to be true. So, they felt alone, forlorn, hopeless and helpless. Their heavenly future looked rather dim to them. After all, they thought they had found the Messiah Who would win them a place in glory, but now He was dead and gone. Life seemed a dead-end. (No doubt, their stomachs were in turmoil and heart-burn, the kind we know, was churning their insides, too.)
Suddenly a man catches up with them. They don’t recognize Him. It is Jesus, but He prevented them from realizing exactly who it really was. In order to get them to talk about their inner pain, He asks them a leading question: “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” Listen to how Luke describes their feelings and their plight. “They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?’ ‘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.—But the church leaders killed him.”
Obviously from the full length answer of Cleopas and Luke they understood that Jesus was meant to be the Messiah. He was the One foretold in over 300 Old Testament prophecies. He was the One meant to redeem Israel, as they said. That is, the One Who God sent to save souls and lead them to a heavenly home. They even make reference to the reports of His resurrection, don’t they? But, sadly, these two men are just like us in that they think life is all about walking by sight and not by faith. And since they haven’t seen or directly experienced the risen Lord, their faith and their lives are filled with inner pain, with heartburn of the soul.
At this, Jesus chides them. “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
Every Christian who has ever read this passage has thought: “How I would have loved to have been a fly buzzing around them that day!” Just imagine hearing directly from Jesus all the Old Testament references about Him! Imagine having Him talk about Genesis 3:15 where God promised to send one seed, one child, born of the woman who would crush Satan’s power. Imagine have Him describe the words of Psalm 22 where Christ is on the cross. Imagine hearing the imagery of the one Branch from whom the entire tree of eternal life would spring forth as prophesied by Zechariah.
A few times in my life I have heard learned men, usually my professors, explain in depth the truth of God concerning Christ and been transfixed. A few times I have heard them soar with eloquence born of the Holy Spirit about how God reached down from eternity and touched our dirty souls, making us eternally clean and infusing in us the power of the Spirit. And when I experienced those events I, too, had heartburn, but not the physically painful kind. No, I had heartburn which took away physical pain, which enabled me to rise far above it—toward glory! O to have been a fly on the wall!
But, the point here is that we don’t have to dream about what we’ve missed out on. No, the point is that the living Christ, the Word made flesh, still speaks to us today through and in His living Word. As we search the Scriptures, we slowly uncover great mysteries and great truth and even greater comfort. For Christ meets us in His Word and gives us everlasting forgiveness for all our sins. He gives us the faith to swallow His medicine of deliverance. He makes us whole and clean and thankful because He has won peace with God for us and now hands us that peace in His Word and in His sacraments. There is no pain that Christ has not felt. There is no pain that Christ did not triumph over. There is no pain that He cannot relieve. There is no soul that He cannot heal.—That’s the point of today’s lesson! Surrender your life to the care of the Great Physician and be healed of the heartburn of uncertainty and doubt! And when you do, you’ll learn that it is liberating to walk by faith and not merely by sight.
Well, you know the rest of the story. They arrive at Emmaus. They ask Jesus to stay and eat with them. He does. And as He assumes His usual position at the head of the table and invokes prayer before handing out the bread, their eyes are opened and they recognize their Lord! Immediately Christ vanishes because His work with them is done. They now know the truth and it has set them free! So, these overjoyed men hurriedly walk back the 7 miles to Jerusalem, pound on the door of the Upper Room where Jesus has just appeared to the 11 with Thomas absent, and as they announce their news, they also hear the others say to them: “It is true! The Lord has arisen and has appeared to Simon.”
Do you think Luke or Cleopas ever forgot this event? Do you think their longing after heavenly heartburn ever subsided? Well, if you examine their lives from that moment on, the answer is: No! The truth had set them free from inner turmoil and uncertainty. By clinging to Christ they knew exactly what the future held for them—heaven. And now you know that, too, for today Christ has walked and talked with you. Amen