Easter was a bit surreal for me.
After having led four local churches and preached thirty-three consecutive Resurrection Celebration sermons in some wonderful times of worship, I was simply a worshipper this past Sunday instead of a worship leader.
Don’t feel sorry for me. It was great to be in the throng of excited believers who formed a united choir of praise.
One of the great benefits of my new ministry role with Denison Forum is that I get to drive to and from worship each week with my wife. I get to sit with my arm around her at times during the sermon. Perhaps the best thing: I get to hear her sing the songs of faith. (It’s best for the congregation when I stop singing to hear more of her singing! I have what my first Minister of Music called “a choir voice.” Thank you, Alan Cox!)
Walking on the road to Emmaus
Feeling a bit awkward and a bit free early on Easter morning, I took time to listen again to the accounts of that first resurrection morning. I suspect the various details and excitement are very familiar to you.
I spent some extra time in Luke 24 because the account is longer than the others. The Spirit seemed to shed some fresh light on the two guys stumbling their way to Emmaus that first Easter afternoon.
What possessed them to leave town? Were their families and normal lives calling them? Were they afraid about what could happen to them? Were they putting some distance between themselves and the confusion in a similar way that Thomas apparently did? Had they witnessed too much drama and too much bloodshed at the death of Jesus when they were hoping for the opposite?
Taking a walk can sometimes bring perspective.
As they walked, they talked as most of us would have. They were trying to make sense of everything they had seen, heard, and felt.
You may be doing the same now, two days post-Easter 2022.
When we don’t recognize Jesus
Jesus joined them without them realizing who he was. That’s alarming.
Jesus can be staring us in the face and talking with us normally without us grasping his identity.
He is always among us as the Lord of the living and not the dead. He stayed with them much of the afternoon talking through the events of his weekend! Then he became their teacher, bringing clarity to their confusion. We need that daily.
Verse 28 then says, “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther” (Luke 24:28 NIV).
This brings up more questions: Where was he going? Would the two disciples ever figure out who he was in a full way? Why didn’t Jesus open their eyes and ears and tell them straight up who he was and what it all meant?
Fortunately, the two “urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us'” (Luke 24:29). They asked passionately and Jesus agreed.
Is there an “urging” in our prayers?
I think Jesus must have been smiling as he followed them into their house. Just a few minutes later, they had the awesome privilege of Jesus opening their eyes, their minds, and their souls. He flipped the script and became the host of the meal instead of the unexpected guest.
What a simple act of faith, a simple act of consideration, and basic hospitality.
Ask Jesus to stay with you
Today, take a moment forty-eight hours after Easter to ask Jesus to stay.
To stay with you personally.
To remember that you are first and foremost his follower and worshipper before you are anything else.
Hopefully, you sensed your “heart burning” through one or more things this Easter weekend. If not, ask him to stay to reignite what’s grown cold. If you did, spend some time warming your soul from the Spirit’s fresh fire.
You know the rest.
Jesus broke the bread, revealed his identity, and supernaturally disappeared from their table. For their part, they couldn’t sit still. With resurrection power and glory all over them, they must have sprinted back to the others in Jerusalem. The walk that took most of the day became an eternally recorded, perhaps record-breaking, race back to the gathering of disciples. Once there, they added their clarifying witness to the others and stood in overflowing awe again!
Could this be a picture of what every Sunday at our churches could be?
And then? Verse 36 and following tell us that Jesus suddenly appeared with them again with these great words, “Peace be with you.” Is this a lesson too?
First, realize that the resurrected Jesus is always among us, closer than we think.
Daily ask, even beg, him to stay, and then listen for his teaching.
Last, share your experience of him with others eagerly and often and look for how his presence and peace become even clearer and more real for all the group.
How is Jesus wanting to take you and your church farther with him in the afterglow of Easter?