Friday, 23 March 2018

Hearts burn within

Following the crucifixion of Jesus, we are given an account, in Luke’s gospel chapter 24, of a strange visitation on the road to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem. Two of Jesus’ followers, Cleopas and one other, encounter a stranger, and explain to him the reason for their sadness and deep discussion. They were followers of Jesus and had placed all their faith in Him. They hoped that Jesus would be the one to break the yoke of Roman oppression. They had heard the prophecies that Jesus would become alive again on the third day after His death- and now it seemed that the tomb where Jesus had been lain was empty. They were confused. They did not recognise that the stranger was Jesus Himself.
The Bible then tells us that Jesus “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures.” (verse 27).
The trio enter Emmaus, where they share a meal. Jesus takes the bread, blesses it and gives thanks. At that point the disciples recognise Him. I think perhaps this is not only historically real, but also symbolic of the fact that people are spiritually blind until they acknowledge the broken body of Christ on the cross, the only means of redemption from sin and relationship with God.
The disciples realise that they have been with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. “They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while he was speaking with us on the road, while he was explaining the scriptures to us?” (verse 32).
What a beautiful expression of the power of the word of God is found in this verse. We speak of some word or experience being “heart- warming”- encouraging or comforting- but this is hearts burning. Hearts are aflame with enthusiasm and joy. This is a refining fire, an unquenchable fire, one that will spread throughout the world. It is not surprising that on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples, tongues of fire appeared amongst them. On that day, Peter, who had denied Christ three times, was enabled to deliver the message of the gospel so powerfully that three thousand became believers.
Why were the hearts of the two men on the road to Emmaus burning? Because they heard Jesus explaining the scriptures. Not because they had been whipped into an artificial frenzy by repetitive music. Not because they had experienced supernatural phenomena. They had heard and understood the truth of God.
Jesus is referred to in John’s gospel as Logos “the word”:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 1:2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 1:3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind 1:5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.” (John 1: 1-5)
“Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us.” (John 1:14)
Such is the power of words, that Jesus is referred to as the word. To the unbeliever, the scriptures are merely antiquated and rather unfathomable writings. To believers, the Bible is what is tells us it is- a living word, the words that God has given to mankind, powerful words that can change hearts and lives:
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
“Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
How amazing it must have been to hear Jesus explaining the Scriptures. All our efforts are but a poor imitation.
How wonderful to have the Word of God, the Bible, with its never-ending ability to inform and deepen our relationship with God our Father. I personally feel so privileged and excited to delve into its contents. There’s always something new to discover.
Words have been my life. I pray that they will be good ones, productive ones, ones that will glorify my Father God and minister to others.

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