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Evan Earwicker: Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35

April 17, 2023

Audio Recording

When Cleopas and his friend leave Jerusalem, they leave behind their hope that Jesus was the chosen one. Their mysterious walking companion patiently meets them on their turf: walking them through the law and the prophets and, in the process, reignites their hope. Their story gives us hope that skeptics can still encounter Christ and be re-enchanted by the mystery, even on the way out of faith.

Encounters Along The Way
Encounters Along The Way
Evan Earwicker: Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35

Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us. Well, hello everybody. Good morning. Thank you for choosing Westside, this Sunday morning to worship together. My name is Evan, I'm one of the senior pastors, and for those online as well, we wanna say a welcome to you, wherever you're tuning in from. we are gonna take communion together at the end of this service. So for those watching from home, if you wanna grab some elements and be ready, to join with us in communion, that would be great. If you have a Bible, we're gonna be in Luke chapter 24 today. It'll also be on the screen, so no worries if you don't. what we wanted to do today and, and for the next couple weeks is take our story that we've been walking with Jesus through the Book of Luke.

00:46 if you've been here for the past six weeks or so, we've been walking with Jesus alongside the disciples as he made his way to Jerusalem, and some of the encounters that he experienced along the way. And then, of course, his betrayal, the last Supper is betrayal, his crucifixion and resurrection that we celebrated, last week, wasn't last week. Great. If you were here, what a great time just celebrating Jesus' life and the community showing up. And, if you're here because you came last week for the first time, we wanna say we're glad you came back. That's awesome. And if there's any way that myself or any of our pastors can help you get connected, we'd love to do that. But, we want to continue the story. sometimes I think we can think very segmented about the gospel that, you know, the time Jesus spent doing miracles is one thing, and then we have Easter season, and then we move on to the other things.

01:35 But for those that were living alongside Jesus, his disciples and the followers, this was one story that continued on and on. it was unbroken as they were watching how God was expressing his intention to redeem all humanity through this person, Jesus. And so we want to continue the story post resurrection in Luke chapter 24. And then over the next couple weeks, we're gonna be edging into Luke's second book, which is the Book of Acts, and looking at how Jesus revealed himself even after his ascension. But I'm gonna go to Luke Chapter 24, and we are gonna pick up this story about two of, of Jesus followers, and an encounter they have with the risen Jesus. Luke chapter 24, verse 13 says, the same day two of Jesus followers were walking to the village of a Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along, they were talking about everything that had happened.

02:31 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him. And he asked them, what are you discussing so intently as you walk along, they stop short sadness written across their faces. And then one of them cleopas replied, you must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn't heard about all the things that has happened there the last few days. What things Jesus asked, don't you love how Jesus is playing dumb? I mean, I love this what things he says. And there's scars in his hands from those very things, the things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth. They said he was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people, but our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him.

03:24 We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago. And then they get into a retelling of these rumors, these reports of a miracle. Verse 22, then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early in the morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them, Jesus is alive. Some of our men ran out to see. And sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said. And then Jesus said to them, you foolish people. You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the scriptures. Wasn't it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory. Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets explaining from all the scriptures, the things concerning himself.

04:13 It sounds like he took the entire seven miles to discuss all the things from the scriptures. By the time they were nearing Emmaus. At the end of their journey, Jesus acted as if he was going on, but they begged him stay the night with us since it is getting late. So he went home with them, and as they sat down to eat, he took the red and he blessed it. Then he broke it, and he gave it to them. And suddenly their eyes were opened and they recognized him. And at that moment, he disappeared. And they said to each other, didn't our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the scriptures to us? And within the hour, they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the 11 disciples and the others who had gathered with them who said, the Lord has really risen.

04:56 He appeared to Peter and the two for ESAs told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they'd recognized him as he was breaking bread. I love that they walk seven miles, they have supper with the Lord. And then after he goes, they're like, we gotta go back 14 miles. They walk. They're so excited at what they've seen, the risen Jesus, would you pray with me? Lord Jesus, we thank you, that the story doesn't end in Chapter 23, but the story picks up and the life and the love of Jesus continues on and on. And we are in this place, in our era, in our generation, experiencing the living work of Jesus today. Would you open our eyes? Would as we even break bread in a few moments, would you reveal yourself to us?

05:48 We receive you and we welcome your presence, the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Amen. as I was reading the story, you probably had a, a mental image of what was happening in the narrative. You didn't, I don't, maybe you're on your phone or something, but, if you're picturing this encounter with Jesus and you're like me, you've always imagined it as, as many of the depictions throughout, you know, history and art have depicted it as, as two men walking with Jesus. But as I was setting this, it, it becomes very clear when you read the text. It never says it's two men. And in fact, because of the context of this story, we could, most likely point to the fact that these were actually, a man and a, a woman, a married couple that were walking from Jerusalem to their home in e Emmaus.

06:39 When they get to e Emmaus, they welcome Jesus in to their shared home. Likely this is a husband and a wife. And the reason I bring that up as we begin to dive in today is because I want to point out that Jesus encounters two people who were not the mold of these young disciples, that Jesus had spent so much time with Jesus. 12, these were young guys, you know, they didn't have families. They, they left everything to follow him. o other revolutionary Messiah types. And that those days would gather all these, these young men rearing for a fight. You know, here we have a husband and a wife likely who had simply become followers. Those filled with hope in this man, Jesus. And I, I wanted to point that out because I think sometimes the stories of the disciples can feel a little bit inaccessible to us.

07:37 we ha most of us, we, we haven't left everything to follow Jesus. We haven't, we haven't, you know, given up normal things in life. We, we haven't followed the path of, of Peter or Paul or James. And so the stories of the disciples can feel at arm's length. But here we have potentially a husband and a wife who are living their lives. They are, they are normal people who have simply decided to follow and put their hope in Jesus. These are not people that are in the inner, inner circle of Jesus' followers. And we've seen their story. You know, we, we've, we've experienced how Peter felt throughout the days leading up to Jesus arrest and crucifixion. We've, we've heard how, how John felt about the last Supper. But here we have disciples who are a little bit outside that inner circle, what I would call disciples on the fringe.

08:31 And I think it's very pointed that Jesus would appear not only to his inner circle, but also to those on the fringe. Do you remember there was an old TV show, not that old, but a few years back called Undercover Boss. Do you remember that? Yeah. So, , so many good reality shows out there. undercover Boss, they would take these, these, CEOs of, of these big huge corporations, and they'd put them in disguises, sometimes better disguises than others, but they would disguise these CEOs, and then they would drop them in as entry level workers at the lowest levels of their own companies. And so the, the, the whole premise of the show was these low level workers would be working with their ceo, E o and they'd have no idea that he or she was the ceo. And the point of the show was, by the end of the episode, the CEO would, would come to know so much more about the workings of the company and the plight of these lowly workers, and they would have this amazing, you know, connection.

09:29 And I didn't know it was so rough for you. Here's a hundred thousand dollars for your kids' college, whatever. And then everyone would cry. Music would roll credits. Okay? , if you haven't seen it, you don't need to. Now, I said it perfectly exactly how it went every time, right? Undercover boss. I, I remember that. And I'm, I'm looking at this story of Jesus. And he is, he's doing the exact same thing, but for a different reason, right? He is purposefully, and it says, it says that in, in, in the text right here, that he intentionally is hiding his identity from these disciples, not so that he can learn the plight of these disciples, but something I think more pointed and more beautiful, so that these disciples in the end, in retrospect, will look back on the moments they shared with him and realize that God was still on the move and that hope was not lost.

10:21 And there's these moments, I think, in our lives where we feel like we're outside of the core of who Jesus probably cares about. That He, he comes to others, he visits others. He, he is interacting with other people, more holy people, people that are more devoted, people that, you know, have a better track record or, or whatever the criteria we think Jesus has for those he might take notice of. And we think we fall outside of that group. And this story reminds us today that Jesus looks at those on the fringe, and he says, those are the ones that I'm gonna visit. And if there's a point to my message today, in the mu minutes, we have to share together, it's this, that Jesus meets us exactly where we are. Jesus meets us exactly where we are. I think it is the natural response when we are faced with the idea of a holy God, to think that we are too far away, maybe that someday when we arrive, have at our destination, God will be close to us. But we are reminded today that actually every step along our journey is where Jesus shows up to be with us. And when Jesus shows up in this moment, is to perform a miracle. But it's not a miracle like we would expect from Jesus. He doesn't provide a miracle catch of fish. He doesn't, you know, multiply loaves this time. He doesn't open blind eyes. He doesn't raise anybody from the dead. He simply shows up and begins the miracle of restoring hope.

12:00 I certainly hope, that Jesus is the one that we always thought he would be. Do you resonate with that, with these disciples as we read their story? They're sad because they feel like maybe Jesus isn't who they thought he was. They he isn't who they heard he was. And I mean, I empathize. I sure hope that Jesus is who he said he was. I sure hope that the time we've spent in pursuing him is not for nothing. And so when we read their story, I think there's a lot of empathy that we feel for these disciples. Jesus meets us on the fringe. He also meets us in our hopelessness. As he began to talk with, this, this couple in their sadness, he begins to stir up again, feelings of hope. I think sometimes in, in our faith, we, we feel like the only appropriate response to God because we, we sing about it all the time. He's so good. He's so good. We feel like the only appropriate response in his presence is one of unwavering happiness, right? So get your smile on. We're going to church guys. Yeah. Okay. I'm gonna check for no smile. Are there frowns in the room? Okay, sir, please leave. You know, not here. , of course not.

13:24 There is a place for the full range of human emotions before God. And this should be a house of joy. Absolutely. We should come in here and realize how good God has been to us and how close he is. That should stir joy in our hearts. There's also moments when we face disappointment. There's also moments where we feel hopeless. This place needs to be a place where we can feel those things too, and bring those before Jesus who understands. Jesus meets them in their hopelessness as they had hoped that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel. They had hoped that he was who he said he was. Jesus simply walks with them for seven miles, hour after hour, he walks with them. And I, I want to give us maybe a, a, a refresher on how Jesus treats our doubts and our hopelessness and our fears. If you've ever been shut down when you've had doubts by a religious person, how dare you think that way. I just want to tell you that Jesus walks with you through doubts. Amen. I'm glad for that.

14:34 I'm glad that Jesus meets us in our doubts and lack of understanding. I was talking to Pastor Ben. We were talking about when we both, you know, early on were, we're starting to, to minister and preach probably 20 years ago, you know, in, in high school. And, and as young adults and the level of certainty we would preach with, you know, when we were 19 or 20 years old, man, we didn't need to read books. We knew everything . I mean, you know, listening back, if I were to listen back to, to us preaching back then, I'd be like, man, this guy is convinced he is so certain for 19. How did he learn? Everything there is to know. But you see what happens with faith early on. I think there is a, there's a high, level of, of certainty and confidence in our faith that is necessary and good. But there is a process of discipleship that matures our faith to a point that I like to call wrestling, where we actually face doubts, where we wrestle with what we believe, where we realize that some things we thought weren't actually true. And we, we seek after the real, tangible presence of Jesus, not something hyped or manufactured. It's the wrestling of our faith. And it would be a mistake to assume that wrestling is sin.

16:00 Amen.

16:01 Because here's the thing, certainty is good early on, but there is a time where you need to, to progress into wrestling out your faith. The Apostle Paul will call it this, working out your salvation with fear and trembling. It is the wrestling of our faith that is a sign, not of a flimsy faith, but one that is maturing. And so we have these disciples, and, and no one would look at this couple who has been with Jesus, who has, who has been with his, his, you know, 12 disciples. And these women who has, they, they've, they've watched him as he's gone to the cross. They're, they're having these conversations about who he was and what it all means in the scriptures. No one would look at this story and be like, man, they had such weak faith. No, they had been with Jesus. And so it created big, huge questions because there were, huge stakes involved for them. And I wanna encourage you, if you are in a season of wrestling with your faith and facing down doubts, I don't see that as a weak faith. I see it as a faith that is being taken seriously. Mm-hmm.

17:01 .

17:02 And what I want for this place is that this would be a place where we can together wrestle through doubts. And in the end, I hope, I hope, and I pray that Jesus is among us and reveals himself to us through our wrestling, our doubts and our lack of understanding. These disciples had heard the reports of Jesus resurrection, Peter, the women who had come to the tomb. They'd all, witnessed something miraculous. And they had shared that with this couple. but you notice, it's, it's just too hard to believe for these, these two, they had heard the reports, but really bad news and really, really good news are both kind of hard to take in, right?

17:52 .

17:53 And so we have these desirables and they're like, we've heard the reports, but I don't know, I don't know if it's true. And I was thinking about this for, for any of us who have friends or family who struggle with faith and belief, and we, we would love to force them into belief, right? That there is a job for us to do, and it is to bear witness to what we've seen and heard. But it's Jesus' job to show up and do the convincing and the changing of hearts.

18:21 So oftentimes we take that on ourselves, and we're like, if we could just get them in a room and shake 'em by the shoulders and, and explain everything to 'em, then they, you know what, sometimes it's just our job to say, I've experienced something. I've seen something, something's happened in me. We bear witness to arisen Jesus, and then we let Jesus come in and do the rest. And I think it's a much more gentle Christianity that simply bears witness to the risen savior and allows the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to those who are seeking.

18:56 So Jesus walks with these, these disciples, he spends all day with them on the way to their home in Emmaus. And what, what I see in this text is that Jesus is, is undoing layers of their hearts being broken and their hope being dashed, and their, their fears being realized, and he's peeling back these layers like an onion to get at the heart of what these disciples originally had, which was a faith in Jesus that pushed against the impossible. And this text says Jesus is walking with him. I, I, I can hear him saying this. You believed once. Can you believe, again, I know your hopes have been dashed. I know it seems impossible, but can you believe again? And I'll tell you what, I hear that for myself too. I believed once, can I believe again, I put my hope in this person Jesus. Once, can I do it again? I read this, this portion of the brilliant book, the Princess Bride, yes, any Princess Bride fans in the House. All right. Rhonda's a big fan of the Princess Bride. the author of the Princess Bride wrote, cynics are simply thwarted Romantics.

20:10 I love this idea that these disciples, they, they, they had been so all in on Jesus. And when you go all in on something, you have a lot of potential to have a great fall from that hope and that that faith, right? So Jesus is seeing these two, and they're falling into cynicism. And he is saying, come on, let's get you back to a place of faith and belief again. And then finally, Jesus gets to their house. And I think maybe one of the most subversive things that Jesus did through his ministry, and now even in this story, is that he broke God out of religious places. God who was to be met in the temple, God, who was to be read about and learned about in the synagogue, God who was reserved for those places, all of a sudden now was on the loose in homes, over tables in the breaking of the bread. And so Jesus, , he pretends again, like he's gonna go on. And by the way, it would've been traditional in their culture, that if Jesus had been neutral, they would've been obligated to invite him into their home for food as a fellow traveler. And so he intentionally says, I gotta go on. I'm I, I I got things to do. I got places to be. By the way, resurrected Jesus, his schedule is wide open. , you know, there's no appointments on Jesus' calendar at this point, right? He's got nowhere to be.

21:52 I gotta go. I, I have other things to do. And I said, please, no, you don't say Jesus, please, stranger , sir, come and stay in our house. And so he responds to an invitation. This is really key for us today. Without the invitation, they likely would've missed recognizing who they were walking with. And I believe this, for many of you, that Jesus is, is walking with you through what you're facing. Now he is. And many times we will not see until looking back just how close Jesus was, every step of the way. And it's up to us. And it's, it's our job in these moments when we have an opportunity to invite him in, it's in the invitation to Jesus, into our lives and into our days, and into our dining rooms, and over our meals and our tables. It's in those invitations that Jesus comes close and we see that He's been with us all along the way. I've had my doubts. I've wrestled with my faith and my prayer. My hope is that all those doubts will end up with these moments where I invite Jesus, his real presence into my real life. And I look back through all those moments of wrestling and doubts and my faith and up and down and seasons of, of closeness and seasons of distance. And I look back and I see that he was with me all along Speaker 3

23:33 The way.

23:36 We realized in retrospect that he was walking the whole journey with us. Last week on Easter, pastor Steve talked about this, this idea of thin places. And when Christianity arrived in the British Isles centuries ago, there was these Celtic traditions of, of, of thin places, places where humanity and the divine would interact. And, and then Christianity showed up in the British Isles, and they, they begin to read scriptures and have scriptures read to them. And stories like Moses at the burning bush, stories like Jacob, seeing the latter from heaven to earth. And the parallel was so clear, like there are these places where God encounters us. They called 'em these thin places where the veil between heaven and earth was thin. Jesus shows up on the scene with this one message. And Pastor Steve talked about this last week, this one message that heaven was coming to earth, the realm of God in the realm of us boss was gonna collide. And then on the cross, he, he's killed. And at the very moment, the veil in the temple has a sign of what was happening, is torn down the middle, opening up the place where God dwells to all of us to encounter God.

25:09 Not in holy places, not in temples, not on certain mountains, but everywhere. We call upon his name.

25:16 And Jesus taught about this. He, he met a woman, a Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter four. And he began to discuss much as he did with these two disciples on the road to Amea. He being a discussed theology with her. And she said, you know, us Samaritans, we, we believe that we, we have to go to this specific mountain here to worship God. And, and, and, and our, our Jewish cousins over here. They, they believe that they have to go to the temple to worship God. And Jesus says, no, no, no, no. There is a time coming and E even is here now when you won't have to go to Jerusalem or to this mountain to worship, because God is stirring up those who would worship him in spirit and in truth, he was saying, listen, it's no longer tied to a location because I am here. God is accessible wherever you are, wherever you worship, in spirit and in truth. And so we see this idea of heaven, meaning earth, not in in some temple or synagogue or church, but in you, wherever the spirit of God dwells. One Corinthians three 16, Paul wrote, don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and the spirit of God lives in you.

26:32 If I could follow up from Steve's message last week, I would say this, you are the thin place. You are the place where heaven and earth meet because the spirit of God, the spirit of Jesus dwells in you. Jesus broke the bread with these disciples, this couple in their home, and their eyes were open. We're gonna take communion today. And, I wanna invite actually those who are serving communion up to the stations. Jesus revealed himself in the breaking of the bread. And I wonder if today that he would do the same thing, that as we take communion together in just a moment, as you serve the bread and serve the cop, the broken body of Christ for you, his blood poured out for you, that our eyes would be opened and that we would realize the spirit of God dwells within us. That Jesus has been present, not just today, not just in these moments, but all along the journey. we're gonna go back into a song. I'm gonna dismiss you to come up to these tables. by the way, this is open to everyone who wants it. you don't have to be a member of this church

27:55 To share in this table. Lord Jesus, we pray that you would meet us in the breaking of the bread, in the sharing of the cup. We would realize, Jesus, that you have come to meet us exactly where we are.