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4501 Waller Rd E
Tacoma, Washington
INI
The Second Sunday of Easter
April 3, 2016
Ascension Lutheran Church, Tacoma WA
Paul Naumann, Pastor

THE RISEN CHRIST:
A PERFECT PARTNER FOR THE PATH AHEAD
Luke 24:25-32

Grace, mercy, and peace be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, Amen. On this second Sunday of Easter, we will meditate on a portion of our Gospel Reading for this morning, Luke chapter 24, beginning with the 25th verse, as follows:

Then [Jesus] said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. 28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." And He went in to stay with them. 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" So far the Holy Word.

In the Name of our Risen Lord Jesus, Who said, You shall see Me again and your hearts shall rejoice, Dear Fellow Redeemed,

If you had a long journey to make and you were choosing a partner - someone to accompany you - who would that be? Perhaps a best friend or a relative comes to mind, someone you've traveled with before and enjoyed the trip immensely. Maybe it's your spouse; some spouses travel very well together, others not so much. Whoever it was, you'd expect that person to at least keep you company and stave off the boredom. But the best traveling companions are those who enhance the journey, who by their very presence make the trip more enjoyable and satisfying.

In our text for today, we meet two travelers who get an unexpected companion for their journey. They didn't ask for him, and they didn't recognize him, but his presence would end up turning a mundane afternoon's walk into a life-changing experience. That unexpected companion was their resurrected Lord Jesus Christ! He wants to accompany you on your walk through life as well, and he can transform your life in the same way he transformed the lives of the two Emmaus disciples. That's why our theme for today is:

THE RISEN CHRIST:
A PERFECT PARTNER FOR THE PATH AHEAD

I. He turns ignorance into understanding.
II. He turns broken hearts into burning hearts.

It was Easter Sunday. Two men were on their way from Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus. It was a long journey by foot, the Bible says 60 stadia, or a little over seven miles. Like if you were walking from here to the Puyallup Fairgrounds. So it was a good long way, and when you walk that far with somebody else, obviously, the two of you have plenty of time to talk over the things that are in your heart and on your mind. Unfortunately, what they had at the moment was mostly ignorance and confusion about the recent events they had witnessed in Jerusalem. Jesus, their Master, had been put to death and as far as they knew lay "in death's strong bands" in a grave outside Jerusalem. They had lots of questions, but neither had any answers. The Bible describes them as "sad," a Greek word that means of a gloomy countenance, sullen and downcast.

That was the situation, when something unexpected happened. A stranger caught up with them from behind, and accompanied them as they walked. It was quite natural. It's probably happened to you - if you're walking somewhere and someone's going the same way at about the same pace, you might walk with them for a bit and have some conversation. What they didn't know, what was temporarily hidden from their eyes, was that this supposed stranger was in fact their beloved Master Himself! Vv. 15-16 says, So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.

They didn't know it was Jesus. But they were about to find out one thing, that He was the PERFECT PARTNER FOR THE PATH AHEAD. Why? Because in the course of this single conversation He turned their ignorance into understanding.

Jesus said, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?" So they told him, and in so doing, really, revealed their ignorance. They had been followers of Jesus, the Nazarene, and thought that he might be the promised Messiah, that he would be the Redeemer of Israel. But now the Nazarene was dead, executed on a Roman cross, and they didn't know what to think. Jesus rebuked them. "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!" I almost entitled this sermon "The Easter Gospel for Slow Learners," because that's exactly what that phrase means in Greek. The disciples ignorance lay in the fact that they simply failed to read and believe what the plain words of Scripture said! Jesus said, "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?" The grammar indicates that Jesus is definitely expecting a positive answer. Yes of course! The suffering was necessary to bear the sins of the world. The death was necessary to atone for the iniquities of all mankind, the iniquities of those to Emmaus disciples, and of you and me as well! "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."

Our text says He expounded to them the Scriptures. That word literally means to unfold, like a map. Bible scholars over the centuries have wished they could know which Old Testament Bible passages Jesus used as he taught His disciples. What a wonderful Bible class that must have been! We don't know. He probably started with Gen. 3:15, where God promised that the Descendant of the woman would crush the power of Satan forever. He may have spoken of the promise to Abraham that in his one Descendant, Jesus, all the families of the earth would be blessed. The promise made through Moses, "The Lord will raise up a prophet, like me, from among your brethren. To Him you shall hearken." The prophesy in Micah about where the Savior would be born, "But you, Bethlehem Ephratah..." The prophesy in Isaiah 53 about how He would die, Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6. ?But in the end it really doesn't matter, because ALL of the Old Testament - every book and every passage - points toward Christ. These are they, Jesus said, which testify of me. He unfolded God's glorious plan of salvation for those two disciples, unfolded it like a map. He turned their ignorance into understanding. And He's the perfect partner for our path, too, because He does the same thing for us in the very same way. The entirety of Your word is truth , the psalmist says, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Psalm 119:160.

The Word of the Lord changes ignorance into understanding. And what a difference that makes in the path of our lives! Have you seen the NFL Films production of Super Bowl XLVIII? It's terrific. I've seen it three or four times myself, and I know other Seahawks fans who watched it a dozen times! Why is that, do you think? If you already know the outcome of the contest, why would you watch it more than once? I think it's precisely because we DO know the outcome! Since we know how the struggle ends, we can settle back and enjoy the game. We can focus on - and even rejoice in! - the details (even the setbacks), because we already know that the result will be total victory! Do you know the same thing is true of your life? You have THE PERFECT PARTNER FOR THE PATH THAT LIES AHEAD of you, because he has turned your ignorance into understanding. In His Word He has shown you your future. He's already unfolded the map and revealed to you where your path leads. It leads to glory! As Paul said, Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8.

Jesus turns ignorance into understanding. But there's another really good reason why THE RISEN CHRIST IS A PERFECT PARTNER FOR THE PATH AHEAD, and that's because He turns broken hearts into burning hearts.

The two disciples, as they walked, had been sullen and depressed. Their hearts were broken by disappointment. They had loved their master so much, and expected such great things of him they told their new companion, "Jesus of Nazareth was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, but the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we were hoping that it was he who was going to redeem Israelů"

Have you ever noticed that some of the saddest words in our language begin with the letter D? Disappointment, doubt, disillusionment, defeat, despair -- even death. And you can hear all of those in the voices of these two travelers. Their hearts had been broken. But they had the perfect traveling companion to handle that problem, and so do we. Because we too face disappointments in life, disappointments that are all too real. When we stand at the grave of a loved one, when addictions we thought were beaten come back, when medical tests we hoped would bring good news bring bad news instead. And especially when our sins torment us, and we begin to wonder whether we're really saved Christians or not. At times like that, we turn to see that we have a companion for the path. The risen Christ is with us every step of the way, bearing our sorrows with us, hearing our confession of sin and granting his pardon, and yes, healing our broken hearts. Jesus' two disciples extended him an invitation (as we'll sing in the familiar hymn): "Abide with us, the day is waning." Jesus accepted their invitation and sat down to share a meal with them. "Now it came to pass as he sat at the table with them, that he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew him; and he vanished from their site. And they said to one another, 'Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us on the road, and while he opened the Scriptures to us?'"

Back in the days of the first Gulf War, a woman named Ruth Zillow of Chanute Kansas had a shattering experience. The war Department notified her that her son, Pfc. Clayton Carpenter, had stepped on a landmine and been killed. Any parent can imagine her misery. Then, three days later, she received a phone call. "Mom, it's me. It's Clayton. I'm alive!" Turns out that the notification had been a mistake. The news was so wonderful that she could hardly believe it. She even asked her son questions to make sure that it truly was him, and that he truly was alive. Then she said, "I laughed, I cried, I felt like turning cartwheels! Because my son who I thought was dead was actually alive!" Her broken heart was transformed into a heart brimming with relief and joy and love!

That's what the Lord did for those two Emmaus disciples. And that's what God does for us with the glorious Resurrection gospel. He turns our broken hearts into hearts burning with love and joy! On Good Friday came the heart rending notification: Jesus is dead, and it's our sins that killed him! But three days later comes the joyous, the astounding good news: Jesus is alive, and lives forever more! Paul says, Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Romans 6:9-11. His resurrection is proof positive that He was who He said He was, not just a good man, not just a fine moral teacher, but the Son of God and Savior of the world. His resurrection is proof positive that the atonement He offered for your sins on the cross was accepted by God, and that you now stand justified and righteous in God's sight! His resurrection is proof positive that you too will one day rise to everlasting glory, just as your Savior did!

Paul goes on, 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Christ's resurrection also frees us from a life of serving ourselves to a life of serving God. We can now do just what those Emmaus disciples did -- their hearts were burning with the wonderful good news, and they simply couldn't keep that news to themselves! Yes, it was late in the day, but that didn't stop them. They felt like they had to get the word out: So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. Luke 24:33-35. What great joy was theirs! What great joy is ours!

I read a haiku poem written by a pastor. It described the scene there at that supper table in Emmaus, as Jesus blessed and broke the bread. I thought it was kind of silly at first, but after a while it grew on me. He wrote:

Bread broken slowly.
What is shattered knits wholeness.
Recognize him now?

What about you? Do you recognize your risen Lord Jesus now? Have your eyes been opened? Do you see in Him the solution for every difficulty and challenge that confronts you on the path of life? Most of all, do you recognize in the risen Christ the One who has answered the deepest need of your soul - the need for forgiveness and everlasting life? I pray that you do. And if you do, you will not find your confidence misplaced. For THE RISEN CHRIST IS A PERFECT PARTNER FOR THE PATH AHEAD. He turns ignorance into understanding. He turns broken hearts into burning hearts. But most of all, He turns lost enemies of God into saved children of God! Eternal praise be to His glorious name! AMEN.