Did Not Our Heart Burn Within Us?
by Seattle ALC
Hours of profound sadness-bordering on despair–succeeded the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. His followers saw the end of His life and what appeared to them to be the end of His kingdom. They were hopeless in the face of these events- even though the Lord had foretold His death and at the same time given the promise that He would rise again on the third day.
The two disciples who walked to the village of Emmaus on the day of resurrection talked about all of the things that had happened, including the astonishing report of the empty tomb and the vision of angels which said that He was· alive. When Jesus joined them and inquired about their conversation and the reason for their sadness, they told Him the whole story. They also explained what had been their hope by saying: “We trusted that it had been He which should have re deemed Israel.” Then Jesus, who was not recognized by these disciples, said to them: “0 fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?” Beginning at Moses and the prophets, He explained the Scriptures to them.
Upon reaching Emmaus, the Lord acted as though He would continue His journey, but was invited to lodge with the men whom He had joined on the way. As they ate together, Jesus blessed the bread and broke it and gave it to them. Then they knew Him and He vanished out of their sight.
When they talked about this experience, they said: “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us by the way and when He opened to us the Scriptures?” They were.. drawn to Him by the word which He spoke. They did not recognize or know Him by sight. It was the word which He spoke that drew them to Him so that they invited Him, an apparent stranger, to be their guest. When they saw Him in His familiar practice of breaking and blessing bread, they were able to connect Him with the experiences which His word worked in them on the way.
In feelings of disappointment and bewilderment, these disciples had left the company of their brethren in Jerusalem, even after receiving the word of the empty tomb and the visit of the angels which said that He was alive. When they came to understand the Scriptures and to believe in and experience the power of the resurrection, spiritual renewal was effected in their hearts. They possessed a new and living hope and the joy they had received did not permit them to spend the night in Emmaus. They rose up at the same hour and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven together and them that were with them. This was their message to them: “THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED and has appeared unto Simon.” And they told what things were done in the way and how He was known of them in the breaking of bread.
When those who actually walked with Jesus and were eyewitnesses of His life, death and resurrection were “slow of heart” to believe all that the prophets had written concerning Him, it is unreasonable to expect that we, as present-day disciples, will be better than they. Luther writes that we must not dream of a church on earth in which there is neither frailty nor error in faith. Let us remember the importance of being open to the Word of God. May we keep in mind that Jesus is the Word–the living Word. If we are going to know Him, whom to know aright is life eternal we must know Him as He is revealed in the Word. He is also the truth, and He said: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8: 31-32)
On this occasion, these sad and despairing disciples did not receive the word which Jesus spoke and experience its power because they recognized, respected and honored the one who was speaking it. Their eyes were “holden” that they should not know Him. Their hearts burned within them because of the word itself, and they were drawn to the one who had spoken it.
Has the word of the resurrection victory brought life to you? Is it through faith in this message that your heart began to burn within you and you hastened to share with others what had been given you? This message is our very life, and we cannot be as those who fancy that once they have heard the gospel, they fully grasp it and have no further need of it. (Luther) The Lord is in His word and He has promised that “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18: 20)
Lord, make our ears so keen, our eyes so singular, and our hearts so receptive that we will seek you in your Word and in your Word alone.
From the Archives of the late Pastor Alvin Holmgren April 1990
Submitted by Pastor Stan