The Road to the King
Scripture: Luke 24:13-35
Rev. Steven B. Miller, Apr 30, 2017
In the life of a pastor, the last sermon and worship service with a congregation that they have been served is a moment to be savored while at the same moment resisted. We have shared lots of life together - the wonderful, the sorrowful, for many reasons. Through it all you have allowed me to join you in your journey of faith. Those faith conversations have been good gifts to me as we have walked together for a time. I will miss not being among you as our journeys continue in different ways. Many of you have been my teachers as I too have grown in faith and life. You have also been graceful to me in my shortcomings and mistakes. I have received many notes and emails, and I hope to respond to all of them but it may take some time. Thank you for your encouragements and blessings. Many thanks to the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee who brought me to WPC 6 1/2 years ago. Your on going support and relationship is a blessing. And to the church staff for all their good care and support over this season: especially to Paula, Janet, Pieter, and Dick as Mende and I, along with Josh and Hannah, look forward to new ministry in a different part of God's Kingdom. So please know that we are excited and humbled by the Lord's call to bring us to Trinity United Santa Ana. And if you feel the need pop in for worship we will be glad to see you when you do. And with those thoughts we come to the Word of God to guide our lives with truth, love and purpose.
Will you pray with me?
Lord Jesus, we come again to your Word for an understanding of who you are and how we are to be in this world. Draw us closer to you as we listen again to the Word of Life as we learn of the power of your resurrection for this world. Let the good Word come with power and grace along with the full assurance of faith. Give this preacher your words as he shares what you have laid upon his heart. Quiet the distractions of our lives and those negative voices that would seek take us away from what your Holy Spirit has for us in this moment. For we pray these things in Jesus' powerful name. Amen
In the best selling book "The Purpose Driven Life," the author and pastor Rick Warren conveys the five Christian life Purposes for all believers from scripture:
We were planned for God's pleasure.
So your first purpose is to offer real worship.
We were formed for God's family.
So your second purpose is to enjoy real fellowship.
We were created to become like Christ,
So your third purpose is to learn real discipleship.
We were shaped for serving God.
So your fourth purpose is to practice real ministry.
We were made for a mission
So your fifth purpose is to live out real evangelism.
This book was very helpful to me as I have read it two times. In addition, our High school students of SYF are working through this book in the coming weeks as well. But the most powerful reminder in the whole book is in the first paragraph.
Pastor Warren writes "you are going to discover the answer to life's most fundamental question: What on earth am I here for? And here's a clue to the answer: It's not about you... you were created by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense."
There is a very big narrative that the Lord is writing in and through all of us who belong to Jesus Christ. We are in the story of God's redemption for the world -but the story is not about us. It is about Jesus Christ and the salvation that is offered to us through the saving work Christ did for us on the cross. In the midst of that big story there is one critical event that holds the whole plan of salvation together and that is the resurrection of Christ. The proof of that event in history is the appearances of Christ to the followers of Christ recorded in the Gospels. The Bible records at least 11 separate post resurrection appearances by Jesus to include well over 500 people who physically saw Jesus after he died and rose again.
The road to Emmaus Story comes to us from the gospel of Luke where it is the only place recorded in the New Testament. The event happened on the afternoon of the day that Jesus first appeared to the disciples on that first Easter Sunday. I think from all accounts, the two disciples Cleopas, and maybe Luke, were in a bit of a quandary about what might be next. These disciples had heard some eyewitness accounts of seeing Jesus earlier in the day but I think they were unsure if those accounts were true. At this point the disciples felt that they needed to travel to the small town of Emmaus about 7 miles from Jerusalem, but we are not sure why? Return back to their homes? Maybe they needed to just clear their heads or just walk and process what had happened. So where did they go on their walk.
Some scholars think there are four possible locations for the town of Emmaus, but this map location fits the bill from a location point of view and is seen as the best of all the possible locations.
Now that we are oriented as the Journey of Jesus and the disciples - Let's take a few moments to process the flow of the conversation between Jesus and the disciples while they are walking on the road. The conversation begins with a simple question from Jesus after he joins the walking disciples, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk? Or what are you talking about?"
Now from my point of view I am pretty sure Jesus knew what they were talking about, but he still asks. What is most interesting to me is that the disciples were not able to recognize Jesus as the events are shared about the Prophet Jesus of Nazareth. I am a bit curious about the disciples not being able to see Jesus. I think there are two possible reasons for that blindness: 1. The disciples are so overcome with the emotion of the recent events or 2. The Lord purposely kept them from seeing things as they are because they were not ready to understand the full reality of the resurrection. With that said the point remains that Jesus' identity in the conversation had not been realized. Jesus simply meets us where the disciples were as he meets us where we are as well!
At this point Jesus asks another question the conversation: What things happened? In other words - Are you paying attention to the things that matter to God? At this point the lack of understanding as to of the identity of Jesus is revealed as Jesus is labeled in calling Jesus simply a Prophet - rather than the Messiah.
The disciples recount the ugly reality of the Passion Week with great clarity with the information they had collected - but they still did not see the Savior that was right next to them!
So Jesus challenges them to confront the reality of the story they assembled by saying - you are foolish and slow of heart to not believe all the Old Testament prophetic scripture that foretold the Messiah king! The Lord is calling them to add up the evidence so they will see the truth! I believe Jesus is asking us the same question about our belief as well - only as we discern the truth of the whole of Scripture do we see the amazing correlation of how all scripture points to Jesus as the Son of God!
Then Jesus asks a third Question - Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into glory? If indeed Jesus was the Messiah, the suffering that he experienced was the confirmation of his true identity as the Messiah King! But the interesting part to me is it was not until they experienced the bread being broken that their eyes were opened to see the reality. So what does this mean?
I have 3 Points of application for us from this text:
Point #1 - Jesus presses the issue of our knowledge and the fulfillment of all we can know from a plain reading of Scripture. I need to say that growing up I did not read much out of the Old Testament because I thought it was Old and irrelevant to my spiritual life. The value of the Old Testament comes in powerful ways especially in the forecasting of the truth of what the Messiah will be like. Once I valued the Old Testament, I valued the New Testament even more. That brings me to the second point of application.
Point #2 - Jesus allows us to connect the dots of scripture. As Jesus broke the bread so we will finally see who Jesus is for us. Finally at the aha moment of discovery we have to connect the evidence as well as our hearts with Jesus as our King to make our faith real rather that something less.
Point #3 - The disciples finally understood that they had to stand and deliver what they knew to be true. This is our call as well to stand with conviction and deliver what we know to be true - it is not just truth for us - it is for the whole world.
Some of you may recall a film produced in 1988 titled "Stand and Deliver." The film is based upon a true story of a teacher named Jamie Escalente teaching math at Garfield High school in South Central Los Angeles. As we all know South Central LA is generally not the place where there are high standard for scholastic achievement especially in the area of advanced math. Once Jamie Escalente arrived, the school's accreditation was being challenged because the testing scores of the students were so low. Mr. Escalente believed that the way to elevate the math department was not through helping the lower students with remedial resources but rather to elevate the higher level students to their highest possible level of achievement - to prepare the best students for the AP calculus test. Mr. Escalente knew that the students could pass the test if they had the "Ganes" in Spanish it means the "Desire."
In the following eighteen months, including the summer break, the students were in math class for 3 hours a day 6 days a week with homework on top of that. A year and a half later the day for the test came, and the results showed that all 18 students had passed the AP math exam. Something that have never happened before in the history of the High School! The only problem was that the testing agency suspected that all of the students had cheated because of common mistakes in the multiple choice section of the test.
To make a long story a bit shorter, the students would have to retake a new exam on 24 hours notice to prove their ability. With a one-day review session, Mr. Escalente prepared the students one more time to prove what he knew to be true! The next day all 18 students stood and delivered what they knew to be true. Some weeks later their scores were confirmed, and all 18 students had passed the exam a second time. Jamie Escalente believed that his math students could rise to the challenge in the face of disappointment.
On the Road to Emmaus the followers of Jesus were met where they were in their faith journey. They were tested as to what they knew to be true about the prophetic witness from Scripture as well as the events of the Passion Week - that in turn would prove the identity of the one person who would be their Messiah King. And when the whole body of knowledge was brought to the forefront of their minds and then the bread was broken - then and only then - did they recognize the face of Christ. In that moment the disciples were ready to see the resurrection of the King - it was the last bit of truth - to bring clarity - to a pair of disciples who needed direction for their lives.
Are we clear about the reality and power of the person of Jesus Christ? And if we are clear are we ready to stand and deliver what we know to be true to the world? Do we have the desire to live beyond the shallow messages of the popular culture to lives of real purpose and meaning?
Do we want a king like Jesus so that we might serve him and the Kingdom of God? We will all serve something in this world. It may be our jobs, it may be our wealth, and it maybe our own insecurities or even our own romantic vision of the being "spiritual" rather than the transformational Gospel offered to us in Jesus Christ. The resurrection that is offered to us as Tim Keller says: "is our Hope for the future, it is personal to each of us,curtain because of God's promise and unimaginably wonderful." This is the positive message of Hope given to the world.
Oswald Chambers has written an amazing daily devotional titled "My Utmost for His Highest." I read from it almost every day, and I have done so for many years. The devotional is a collection of morning messages given by Chambers to a group of people training for mission work.
In the February 6th devotional, Oswald Chambers encourages the students to be a poured out drink offering as they are in the service of the Lord. We are being called to be obedient to his will for our lives of service. So he encourages us to live in to a bold attitude for our lives:
"Tell God you are ready to be offered,and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed he would be."
And so, to the glory of God we serve our Savior and King Jesus Christ.
Let us pray, Lord you call us to a new vision of service to your Kingdom that is based upon powerful evidence, but in the same moment we know your purposes for us are evident as we journey on in faith. God help us to look carefully into your Word for the truth that helps us to live with clarity and purpose. Let us have the courage to be obedient to live in ways that we could never have imagined because of your call to share the great news. Lord, let our hearts be yours in service to the bigger story that you are writing through us as we live for your glory most of all. For we pray all these things in Jesus' name. Amen
Westminster Presbyterian Church