Encounters with Christ – Resurrection Fire

Grace For The Journey

Billy Graham, in his book, World Aflame, writes about one pastor’s (Charles Reynolds Brown) telling of a conversation between Auguste Comte, the French philosopher, and Thomas Carlyle, philosopher and writer.  Comte stated his intention of starting a new religion that would replace Christianity. Carlyle replied, “Very good, Mr. Comte; very good.  All you will need to do will be to speak as never a man spake, and live as never a man lived, and be crucified, and rise again the third day, and get the world to believe that you are still alive.  Then your new religion may have a chance to catch on.”

Christ is risen!  And yet when Jesus Christ rose from the dead 2,000 years ago most of His followers failed to understand what had happened.  They were not expecting resurrection.  And two of these disciples, in particular, are walking a 7-mile journey home from Jerusalem.  They were in Jerusalem and they had witnessed the things that had taken place regarding Christ’s arrest, beating, and crucifixion.  They heard about His rising from the dead, but it didn’t make sense to them.  And as they are walking along, Jesus appears to them.  It is recorded in in Luke 24, verses 13-16, “Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.”

This is really quite fascinating to me. The Bible says that Jesus appeared to these two men who are walking along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus and when He appears, they do not recognize Him because, verse 16 says, “their eyes were restrained.”  In others words, God deliberately kept them from recognizing Himself in Christ.

There is truth that jumps up out of the pages of our Bibles as we consider that these guys’ eyes were kept from recognizing Him . . .

One thing we may know for certain

Is that just because we do not see God,

Doesn’t mean He isn’t there.  

God is everywhere.  

We see Him by grace through faith.

We see Him with spiritual eyes, the eyes of faith. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”  But He is there.  He is always there.  This truth is connected to another . . .

Our ability to see Christ at all

Is a gift from God.

Our ability to see Jesus

By faith is entirely owing

To God’s grace.

God must disclose Himself

To us for us to see Him.

Without His disclosing Himself we are spiritually dead and spiritually blind.  As John Newton wrote in “Amazing Grace,” I once was blind, but now I see” . . . “It was grace that taught my heart to fear.”  Our ability to see Christ is a gift from God, the One who opens our eyes to see Him.

God has a purpose here in keeping these two fellas from recognizing Him.  Jesus has a plan here.  And we read on to discover what that plan is.  Jesus begins talks to them.  He says in verse 17, “And He said to them, ‘What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?’”  Why the long faces, guys?!  And some of the translations have here that the two of them suddenly stand still, as if in shock at what seemed to be a very ignorant question.

Verse 18 states, “Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, ‘Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?’”  These two cannot believe what they are hearing from this stranger.  How can you not know all the things that have been going on in the last several days?!  Everyone has been talking about it, you know.

Verses 19-21 say, “And He said to them, ‘What things?’  So they said to Him, ‘The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet (past tense; He was a prophet) mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how 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 Israel
(past tense again). Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.”

So the two men are telling Jesus that they were in Jerusalem for the grandest event of all time, the Messiah’s entrance into Jerusalem, and how they were looking forward to His reign as Redeemer and King and hoping he would deliver them over from Roman oppression, and so on.  But now it was all over – He’s gone.  Past tense.  The big event has happened and did not end as they had hoped.  Like a party suddenly over . . . The band has stopped playing . . . The streamers have come down, the promotional billboards removed . . . And these two are walking home, dejectedly.

One of the disciples continues in verses 22-24, “Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us.  When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.  And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

Now it is Jesus’ turn to speak.  Verse 25-27 state, “Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

Jesus takes these two disciples

To the Scriptures to help them

Understand how the

Entire Bible points to Him.

Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus led the two in a 7-mile long Sunday school lesson!  I would love to have been there, wouldn’t you?!

Jesus helps these two guys by leading them

To see the bigger picture of the Bible.

They were looking through the wrong end of the telescope.  They could not see the forest for looking too closely at the trees.  They missed the bigger picture.

You can know a lot of Bible stories,

But miss the story of the Bible.

The Bible is a “Him-book;

It is “His story,”

It is a book about Him,

It is a book about Jesus.

So, Jesus teaches them, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets,” and, “He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”  If I had time today morning, I would talk about how we can see Jesus in every book of the Bible. He is there because . . .

He is not just “one of the stories” in the Bible,

But He is “The story of the Bible.”

God created the world and the universe; sin entered the world; God came to fix the sin problem and He came in the flesh; He came and clothed Himself in human flesh, the incarnation; Jesus Christ, deity clothed in humanity.  

And God fixed our sin problem in Christ

By living perfectly and dying a for our sin.  

His rising from the dead on the third day

Completed our need to be

Justified by faith in Him,

To be no longer “guilty” of our sin.

God the Father’s raising His Son Jesus

From the grave was His way of saying,

I am satisfied with the death

Of Christ on your behalf.”  

The resurrection is God’s “stamp of approval”

On all that Jesus did for you and me.

Luke writes what happens when the lesson is over, verses 28 to 31 say, “Then they drew near to the village where they were going (Emmaus), and He (Jesus) indicated that He would have gone farther (a polite Middle Eastern custom, not presuming upon the kindness of one’s guests).  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.  Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them (they’re having a meal together now), that He (Jesus) 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 sight.”

That is really amazing, isn’t it?!  Jesus just vanishes.  He opens their eyes so they now recognize Him and then He’s gone.  Now verse 32 is essential to our understanding of what’s going on here, “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?’” 

As they listened to God’s Word

And Jesus opened up their

Understanding to His Word,

Their hearts became on fire.

These two are now, “fired up,” and verses 33-35 state, “So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem (and remember, they had just walked 7 miles, now they are headed back at the same hour, so 14 miles of walking), and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, ‘The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!  And they (the two men from Emmaus) told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread (that is, when Jesus opened their eyes).”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t just reveal Himself to them earlier?  Like back up in verse 19 where Jesus asks, “What things are you talking about that make you so sad?”  And then the two men tell Him about this prophet named Jesus and how they hoped He would redeem Israel, but now He’s dead and they don’t know what’s going on and everything.  Why didn’t Jesus right there just go, “Hey, guys!  Here I am!  It is I! I’m alive!!”  He could have done that, right?  But He doesn’t.  Instead . . .

To help them see with the eyes of faith,

He takes them to the Bible.

Jesus guides them to the Scriptures

And in so doing, He helps us understand

That the way we have an experience

With Jesus today and come to know Him

As our Lord and Savior today

Is by means of the Scriptures.

The way we know God today through Jesus Christ is by going to the Bible and reading how all the Bible points to Him.

Powerful life transformation hinges not upon

Some kind of special appearance from heaven,

But upon the Bible, rightly interpreted.

Our salvation and growth in Christ

Is informed by a proper

Understanding of the Bible,

And a confident assurance in

The sufficiency of Scripture

To teach us all we need

To know for life and godliness.

I am struck by the fact that these two disciples who were previously dejected and downcast, are now full of hope and joy.  And their joy is restored by a correct understanding of the Word of God, the Scriptures.  Their joy is restored by understanding that all of the Bible points to Jesus.

This is especially evidenced in verse 32 where they say, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

There is power in the Word of God.  And the reason there is power in the Word of God is because the Word of God points to the God of the Word.  The Word of God points to the God of the Word.  The Bible points to our all-powerful, all-loving, all-forgiving, all-satisfying Lord Jesus Christ.  There is power in the Word of God!  The Bible changes lives every single day.

I read a news story the other day about a missional organization that goes to the border of North and South Korea and airlifts Bibles from South Korea into North Korea.  In North Korea it’s illegal to be a Christian, it’s illegal to own a Bible.  Yet some 100,000 Christians worshiping Christ secretly want copies of the Word of God.  There’s this missional outfit that does this a couple times a year.  They launch the Bibles with a 40-foot balloon made of some kind of farm plastic.  Then they are attach a sack of Bibles. The balloon is filled with hydrogen and it carries Bibles and testimonials written by persecuted Christians.  They are attached at the bottom inside a sack or box.  And the group prays before each launch.  The balloon makes its way from South Korea into North Korea.  Timers are used to release the materials in stages.  They also use GPS technology to help direct where the Bibles land.  They drop tens of thousands of these each year into North Korea.

Pretty neat, huh?  There’s power in the Word of God. The Word of God points to the God of the Word.  People are hungry for the Word and when it is unleashed God works mightily through it.

I heard a missionary tell the story about a man from Thailand whose name is Budsta.
Budsta lives in a village where there were no Christians.  Michael and Lori Floyd, who are part of our Thailand partnership moved into this village to reach people like Budsta, who is part of the Isaan people group.  Budsta is 73 years old and he said when he was very small, a foreigner had visited his school and taught a bit from the Bible.  And he had not heard about it since.

So that seed that was planted over 60 years ago is now beginning to sprout by our missional partnership there in Thailand.  Lori gave Budsta an MP3 player with the Bible on it.  Budsta listened to the whole thing and said that he had shared the MP3 player with some 30 other people in the village and that they were listening with him.  He says he is excited to start a disciple-making group and plans to invite everyone he knows.  He added that listening to God’s Word “makes his heart satisfied and he knows it’s the truth.”  And he wants to share it with everyone.  Amen!  There’s power in the Word of God, because the Word of God points to the God of the Word!

There is power in the Word of God.

It points to the God of the Word.

In this passage, the disciples’ joy is restored by the Word of God, by the Scriptures, by a correct understanding of the Bible.

Verse 3 says, “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?’” 

Resurrection fire burns within our hearts

When we walk with Jesus and read His Word.

Jesus continues to invite us today to walk with Him.  We refer to the Christian life as a “walk.”  It is a daily activity.  We walk with Christ by turning to Him and listening to Him in His Word, the Bible.

I thought about what “Walking with Christ Means” means in my daily life.  God brought two truths to my heart … Two blessings that are the result of a daily walk with Christ. The first blessing is:

1) We Enjoy God’s Power.

God’s power comes by way of the Gospel, the Good News we must accept and believe in order to have life.  If we admit we are sinners, that we make mistakes, that we are not perfect, and that we have nothing to offer a holy God but our sin, then we are in a position to be forgiven.  God’s power of forgiveness.

God wants to save us from the penalty of our sin, which is separation from God and death.  If we believe in Christ, believing what all the Scriptures teach about Christ, believing all that the Word of God teaches us about the God of the Word, then we can be forgiven of our sin.

Paul writes in Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 the truth that . . .

The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead

Is the same power that works in you.

God’s power of forgiveness.  This is the hope of the Christian faith!  Jesus died and rose again.  We are come to know Jesus based upon the glorious atonement of Jesus Christ. If we accept what He did upon the cross and through the empty tomb, then we also have died and have risen from the dead.  This is pictured in our water baptism – buried with Christ, death to the old us, and rising in Christ to walk in newness of life.  The same power that raised Jesus from the dead works in us.  The resurrected life means that when we have breathed our last breath of air here on earth, we awake immediately in the paradise of heaven.  The Bible tells us to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  This is what the Bible teaches.  This is what we discover when we walk with Jesus and read His Word.

If we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior then God forever accepts us in His Son Jesus Christ.  Union with Christ means that we are forever connected, joined, united with Christ.  God the Father sees us completely covered in Christ’s righteousness.

If we are in Christ, we are always perfectly loved and accepted by Him.  Always!  We will sin and make mistakes as Christians.  We may do things we regret.  But God continues to love us and accept us in Christ Jesus.  

God always accepts us not on the basis

Of our pathetic performance, but on the basis

Of Christ’s perfect righteousness applied to us.

We enjoy God’s power.  The same power that raised Jesus from the dead works in us. By that same power that brings forgiveness of our sin, we are enabled to forgive those who sin against us.  That’s what the Bible teaches in Ephesians 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

We enjoy God’s power.  Power of forgiveness and power over sin in this life.  In Christ we can conquer the power of addiction – drugs, drinking, sexual immorality, pornography – all of these sins conquered by the power of God as we walk with Him daily and listen to Him in His Word.  There is power in the Word!

Someone said . . .

“The task ahead of us is never

As great as the Power behind us.”

There is power in the Word of God.

Remember that the joy of the disciples was restored when the Scriptures were opened up to them.  The Word of God points us to the God of the Word, the very One in whom you will find satisfaction for your soul.  Someone has said, “Purity flows from a heart that recognizes the joy of God’s salvation as a gift more satisfying than any competing pleasure the world can provide.”

So walking with Christ means we enjoy God’s power and, secondly, walking with Christ means . . .

2) We Enjoy God’s Presence.

We enjoy the presence of the Lord, the One who said He is with us always and would never leave us nor forsake us.  The disciples’ joy was restored when they came to understand that the Word of God pointed them to the God of the Word, the One with whom they were walking.

Our Lord is always there, and He always sees what we are doing.  God intends us to have a joyful sense of His awareness.  If we are walking with the Lord and listening to Him in His Word, then we have the joy of God’s presence.

But it takes time.  We must read the Word of God daily.  You cannot have this incredible spiritual experience all at once that lasts for years.  You do it daily . . . You read His Word daily . . . You listen to Him daily . . . You walk with Him and listen to Him.

I was talking to a friend one afternoon last week about this. We were reflecting on the daily feasting upon the Word of God being like the manna that God rained down from heaven in the Book of Exodus.  He caused manna to fall in the wilderness and told the people to gather enough for each day. They gathered and ate the manna daily.  And that is the way we feed ourselves upon the heavenly manna of God’s Word. It is daily nutrition.

This is also why our Christian life is a daily discipline.  In order to grow, and in order to have the regular joy of walking with Christ, we must be in the Word.  Hearing the Word through Christian preaching, teaching, and music. Talking with Christian friends, growing together through regular attendance in worship, Bible study, and fellowship.

The disciples’ joy was restored when the Word of God was opened and they began to understand rightly the God of the Word.  Walking with Christ means we can enjoy God’s power and enjoy God’s presence.  This is the reason for resurrection fire!  And all this is possible because the tomb is empty.  He is risen!  There is life in Christ!

This is God’s Word …

his is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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