Two on the
When you were a child, did
you ever daydream about being a superhero? I imagine it’s a pretty common
daydream. I remember playing superheroes on the playground when I was little.
Every day for recess we would run out under a big oak tree which was our Hall
of Justice, and begin to save the world. We had Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman,
Spiderman, and the whole gang.
When you were little it may
not have been Superman or Wonder Woman that you pretended to be. It may have
been The Lone Ranger or G.I. Joe, or any number of heroes that you see on
television. The fact is that all of us
at children went through a time where we spent hours pretending or daydreaming.
The reason that it is so
common is because when we were young we were not in charge. We didn’t get to
make the rules; we didn’t get to do what we wanted to do. We had to go to bed
when we were told and take a bath when we were told and go to school. There was
always someone who was older, or bigger, or meaner that decided what we were
going to do.
So we all found a natural
outlet, we daydreamed. And in our daydreams we were no longer helpless. We were
heroes! We punished the wrong, rewarded the good, and made our own
decisions. We pursued what we thought
was right and accomplished what we wanted to do.
I’ll let you in on a little
secret this morning, there are times when I look around at all of the problems
that we have in society, when I look at all of the violence, when I see the way
that people treat other people that I wish I could go back to being a superhero
and make everything ok by the end of recess. And other times I just want to
throw my hands up and lock myself in the house and rely on Poppa John’s to feed
I have noticed that we tend
to react in a variety of ways when we look at the things that are going on
around us. Some folks would rather run from the problems instead of trying to
face them. There are a lot of ways to do that. Many turn to alcohol and other
drugs to drown their problems, dull their senses, and blot out the world around
Others just can’t cope and they
choose to withdraw from the world. And others join cults or dabble in eastern
religions in an effort to escape from the realities of life.
Still others just get to the
point that they throw up their hands and give up. As we conclude our look at
the resurrection this morning, I want you to turn your attention to two folks
who were faced with the resurrection and decided that their best choice was to
just give up and go home. Their story is found in the 24th chapter of Luke, it
involves two people who are walking along from Jerusalem to their home in
Emmaus, seven miles away. (Read Text)
We don’t know much about the
thravlers; as a matter of fact all we do know is that they lived seven miles
from Jerusalem and that one of them was named Cleopas. Whoever they are,
they’re completely disheartened. That week they had been in Jerusalem. They had
seen Jesus, heard Him speak and teach. It had been a glorious week, until Jesus
was betrayed, arrested, tried, and crucified. Now all their hopes and dreams
were shattered and gone. Now it was all over, and slowly, they were making
their way home. It was not a happy trip at all.
They had stayed in
Jerusalem, until the Passover feast was over. They had heard some rumors about
an empty tomb. Some of the women said that they had been to the tomb, and that
Jesus had even appeared to them as they were coming back, Peter and John went
to the tomb and confirmed that it was empty, but how or when nobody seemed to
Confused and disheartened,
they leave Jerusalem and are traveling the road back home to Emmaus. As they
are walking along, talking over all the things that have happened this past
week they met a stranger. One of the great parts about this story is that we as
the readers know what the two travelers do not. The encounter between Jesus and
the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is one of the most vivid of the
resurrection appearances. And I believe Luke included it in his gospel to teach
us a few things about discouragement and frustration. Let’s look at three
things that discouragement and frustration does in our lives.
First, Discouragement And Frustration Can Cause Us To
Walk Away From The Fellowship Of Believers. (verses 14-16)
As they journeyed they were
moving away from the fellowship of the other believer’s in Jerusalem. When
Christians allow themselves to become preoccupied with their dashed hopes and
frustrated plans they often withdraw from the strength found in other believer’s.
In the last part of verse 16
we read, "But they were kept from
recognizing Him." Here were two people that were His followers, who
didn’t recognize Him. It’s a pretty disturbing thought, that His own followers
could not recognize who Jesus was. Now some commentators say that it was
because Jesus did not want to be recognized right away. And that could be true,
but I believe that there may be another reason.
Perhaps, because they were
so discouraged, so frustrated, their vision was murky. If you have ever lost a
loved one, you know how the next few weeks and months seems to be a fog. It’s
hard to think clearly, much less see clearly.
As we saw last week with
Thomas, depression and disillusionment often cause us to do the worst thing. It
causes us to withdraw from the place where we are supposed to find support and
love. Paul admonishes the church in Galatians 6:2 that we are supposed to Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill
the law of Christ. In order for that to happen we have to come into the
fellowship of believers. But very often we do the opposite.
So here this morning, we see
two travelers who have allowed their disappointment and problems separate them
from where they needed to be. When life is no longer fantastic, when our expectations
crumble and dreams fade, it's easy to slide into a funk. Circumstances become
People, especially those who
took part in causing our pain, stand taller than God and our fellowship of
believers. Our vision becomes stagnate and horizontal. Our prayers seem to
bounce off the ceiling, and God seems far removed from our pain. The truth is
that it’s a natural response we're all guilty of choosing when our carefully
constructed futures collapse under their own weight.
Secondly, Discouragement and Frustration Can Cause Us
To Live In the Past (verses 17-24)
Luke describes the
disciples' conversation as bantering ideas back and forth with great emotion in
a shared search for answers. When Jesus asked, "What are these matters you are discussing?" Luke uses a word
that literally means "to throw back and forth."
The disillusioned followers
desperately wanted to know why their expectations of the Messiah had come to
such a tragic end, and so they were exploring a number of theories. They were
tossing ideas back and forth about what they had learned, heard and understood,
and what it all meant now that Jesus had died.
While they were talking and
debating these things, Jesus approached them and asked, "What are these matters you are discussing so
intently as you walk along?" To
them, He was just an ordinary man, a stranger out of the shadows joining them
on their journey. Cleopas’ answer shows the depth of their frustration. He says,
“You have got to be the only one who travels in this whole area that does not
know what has happened?”
These two disciples were
living with a past tense faith. They can only talk about what Jesus was. He was
a Nazarene, He was a prophet, He was mighty in deeds, He was mighty in words, He
was loved by the common people, He was hated by the religious leadership, and He
You can hear their despair in
verse 21, "But we had hoped that it
was He who was going to redeem Israel.” Did you hear it? “we had hoped,” Their
hope was that Jesus would redeem Israel. They had hoped that He would redeem
them from Rome! They had hoped that He would redeem them from human misery,
from poverty, from hunger, from disease. The saddest death of all has to be the
death of hope. They had hoped but now the flame of hope was all but
Finally we see that Discouragement and Frustration
Can Cause Us To Question God’s Care (verses 25-33)
We might have expected Jesus
to respond by saying, “I understand.” But in verse 25 He says, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe
in all that the prophets have spoken!”
Now this one gets a little
closer to home that we would like. When Jesus says they are slow to believe
“all” that the prophets have spoken, it indicates that disciples were
selective. They believed part of the word of God, but not all. These disciples
had been guilty of only believing the things that fit in with the neat little
box that they had created for God. Their understanding of the Scripture was
worked by their assumptions and preconceptions and even by their sin. And so is
And that’s the root of our
frustration and discouragement. We think God should do something based on our
faulty knowledge of His word. He doesn’t do it. We get discouraged and think
God let us down, that He has disappointed us. But the problem is not with God
but with us.
Think for a moment about
what kind of expectations you are holding on to? What future have you
determined for yourself? What perspective will you choose if your plans come
unraveled or someone shatters your dreams?
We typically view
circumstances, especially those involving loss, as difficult because reality
does not fulfill our expectations. That usually leads to the belief that God
has abandoned us to our suffering which serves to intensify the pain of loss
and the frustration of difficulties. The two followers on the road to Emmaus
undoubtedly felt God-forsaken as they mourned the death of their dreams.
As the two travelers
approached the end of their journey, the stranger appeared to be going on.
Traveling at night was both difficult and dangerous, so they insisted that he
stay with them. I like this verse. It tells me a couple of things. It tells me,
first of all, that Jesus never
invades our area of privacy.
When I get home in the
evening and we sit down to eat the telephone will usually ring with people
trying to sell me everything from light bulbs to aluminum siding. I try to be
courteous, but I resent it. You probably do too. But Jesus never invades our
area of privacy.
The second thing that tells
us is this; it doesn’t take much to
get Jesus to stay. All we have to do is invite Him. He’ll be more than
happy to come and stay.
It is interesting to note
that it was at the moment that Jesus broke the bread that the two travelers eyes
were opened and they recognized him. This was more than a passive, casual
recognition of His features. They came to recognize Jesus in all His significance
as the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, the Son of God, and their risen Lord!
N.T. Wright makes an
interesting observation. The very first time we see people eating in the Bible
happens in Genesis 3, where we see Eve eating from the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil and giving to Adam who also ate. It was that meal that brought
separation between us and God. Now in a little house in Emmaus we see another
meal, and this one closes the separation between the creator and the creation.
That’s the beauty of communion, it serves to remind us of what God has done to
close the gap that we have created between Him and us.
After He left, it says that
they asked each other, "Were not our
hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the
Scriptures to us?" I believe that one of the greatest plagues of the
church today is our contentment with mediocrity. We are content to look and
never see, to listen and never hear, to be motivated and never respond. So we
sit like bumps on the log, walking on the road, complaining because we hurt now
and then, and never responding to His touch.
How different for these two.
Did you read the rest of the story? It says that "They got up and returned
at once to Jerusalem." It must have been 8 or 9 o’clock. It was a seven
mile journey back to Jerusalem. They could have waited until morning, but that
same night they started back. They couldn’t wait to get back to Jerusalem.
We’re all traveling on that
road to Emmaus this morning. Sometimes our dreams are shattered. Sometimes we
laugh. Sometimes we cry. Jesus said, "I didn’t come to take the road away.
I just came to walk with you. I’m going to walk with you until we’re home. In
the meantime, open the Word so that your eyes can be opened and your heart warmed."
How long has it been since
you felt that warming in your heart and in your soul? It’s so easy for us to
slip into neutral, spiritually, and just allow things to come and go. To go to
church because it is Sunday morning, but never experience the stirring of God’s
spirit in our lives, the warmth of His love, looking but never seeing,
listening but never hearing.
For You To Consider
What was the spiritual mind set
of the two travelers on the road to Emmaus?
Why would the empty tomb not
be enough proof of Christ’s Resurrection?
Jeremy said this morning
that the two travelers probably left Jerusalem because they were discouraged
and frustrated. How does frustration and
discouragement could your view of things?
What things bring about a
spiritual crisis in your life?
Do you find yourself
fighting the same battle again and again?
What is it that keeps you
from throwing in the towel and giving up?
Can you remember a time
recently that Jesus surprised you?
What does the resurrection
of Christ bring to your life?