An event happened shortly after Jesus’ resurrection that has profound implications on how we are to personally engage Scripture and on the type of atmosphere we are to create around our teaching and discipleship efforts.
It is a lesser known Resurrection Sunday event, but you may be familiar with a famous painting of the scene: the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus, recorded for us in Luke 24.
Two of Jesus’ disciples (not two of the Twelve) were walking from Jerusalem to a small village called Emmaus. Curiously this is the only time in the Bible this little village gets a mention. The two disciples had been on an emotional roller coaster the past few days. They had high hopes that Jesus of Nazareth was the long-anticipated redeemer of Israel. These hopes sank, however, as Jesus’ battered body was lowered from a Roman cross. BUT, hopes were rising again with rumors that Jesus’ tomb was empty and that He was in fact alive!
They were talking a mile a minute about these events when Jesus sidled up beside them and asked what they were talking about. The disciples, not knowing it was Jesus, couldn’t believe there was anyone around Jerusalem who didn’t know about the events of these past days. They asked Jesus, in essence, “What rock did you just crawl out from under?” Of course, Jesus would have had a great response, had He been a Messiah of a more sarcastic nature.
His response was not sarcastic, but it was cut-to-the-chase. After the two disciples recounted the events, Jesus called them “foolish” and admonished them for being “slow to believe” what the prophets had said. Then, beginning with Moses and moving through those prophets, Jesus explained to these disciples all that was said in Scripture about Himself.
The two disciples, still not knowing this was Jesus, invited Him to stay with them since the day was almost done. They sat at the table for their meal. It was when Jesus took the bread and gave thanks for it that their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus.
And then, just as quickly as Jesus had sidled up to them, poof! He was gone.
Growing up with that story, I was always amazed at the “poof” and how Jesus got around in His post-resurrected body (moving through doors, showing up in rooms) and I missed one of the biggest points of this scene. After Jesus poofed away, the two disciples looked at each other and said, pretty much in unison, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
The word that we translate as “burn” is the Greek word kaio which was a literal expression of burning or kindling. Their hearts felt warm to them. The beauty of this scene is that we can experience this too, putting ourselves in the presence of Jesus in a way that He can explain Scripture to us. When we do this, our hearts will burn.
So how can we bring Luke 24 into our own lives? I’d like to posit three ways:
- We should create an expectant atmosphere that gives Jesus an opportunity to explain the Scriptures to us and to our ministry charges.
When I get with God’s Word, the atmosphere of my time immediately changes if I take a moment to remember that Jesus can explain Scripture to me. Because if Jesus can explain Scripture to me, I don’t want to miss a thing. I want my mind clear. I want to dismiss my task-oriented drive. I want to be mindful and present of what I’m about to do. In the same way, if I am teaching or discipling, I want to provide the same opportunity for those I’m discipling, creating an atmosphere for everyone to enjoy Jesus explaining the Scriptures to them.
- Bible study should ALWAYS point to Jesus.
Luke tells us that Jesus explained in all the Scripture what was said concerning Himself. In John 5 Jesus even chastised the diligent “Bible” studiers of His day, the religious leaders, that they were missing the point of their Bible study. Instead of searching for an answer to a question, they needed to be searching for Jesus! We do the same thing. It’s easy for me to enjoy the digging and forget to apply or never get to the question, What’s this telling me about Jesus? In group settings it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of differing opinions, or to be distracted by our own voice, or even be proud of our exegesis or Bible digging. These things distract from the goal of Bible engagement: to see and know Jesus.
- Use the entire counsel of Scripture.
Jesus started the story of His resurrection, the event of that day, with the story of Moses. Let’s quit being afraid of the Old Testament. Bible publishers did a huge disservice to spiritual formation years ago when they started publishing just the New Testament. While motives may have been noble, the effort communicated the completely wrong message. It takes a working knowledge of the Old Testament and God’s redemptive mission to grasp the transformative power of the New Testament. Plus, the apostle Paul wrote in a couple places that the events of the Old Testament were written down to teach us, to warn us, to encourage us, and to give us hope. That’s a lot to miss if the Old Testament is not in our study or teaching rotation.
This scene in Luke 24 is a gift. There are many other wonderful observations and applications that can be pulled from this event. But for now, especially in light of celebrating Jesus’ resurrection, maybe we can simply think about how we can have our own heart-burn moments with Jesus, letting Him explain to us how all Scripture points to Him.
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