Luke 24:13-36 – Third Sunday of Easter
It’s a bit odd that Road to Emmaus comes up in Year A. We’ve been totally in Matthew and John and now we get this stray text from Luke. And yet, I don’t think many of us mind all that much. Afterall, probably 75% used this as our Ordination text and resonate with it for one reason or another. So, I’m going to ramble and wax poetically here for a little bit and then I’ll conclude with where I think I’m going.
It’s an incredible text. It has some of the most beautiful individual lines.
But we had hoped…
“But we had hoped… (v.21)” they say to the unknown person on the road. How beautifully tragic. I think each of us could preach for a millennium on just these four words. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. We had hoped that he was going to make all things new. We had hoped that all that he promised was actually going to come to be.
We talk so much about hope in the church but sometimes our hopes are not realized. Or they’re not realized in the way we expect. They had hoped that Jesus’ promises would be fulfilled in the way that THEY imagined. But that’s not what happens. Jesus instead fulfills the promises in ways that they can’t comprehend…yet. Our hopes don’t necessarily coincide with God’s promises. Afterall we pray, “Thy will be done.”
Preaching Possibility: How do we lean into hope in God? How do we lean into the promises of our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer and not fall into the hopes of humanity that sometimes lead us astray from God’s desire and will for us?
Were not our hearts burning within us….
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
I’m not sure there’s a better line in all of scripture to illustrate what I hope my people feel in the pews on Sundays. In the proclamation of the Word. In the Breaking of the Bread. It is there where Christ is realized.
I love Martin Luther’s writing in the Large Catechism on “Thy Kingdom Come.”
“The coming of God’s kingdom to us” take place in two ways: first, it comes here, in time, through Word and faith, and second, in eternity, it comes through final revelation. Now, we ask for both of these things: that it may come to those who are not yet in it and that, by daily growth here and in eternal life hereafter, it may come to us who have attained it. All this is nothing more than to say, “Dear Father, we ask you first to give us your Word, so that the gospel may be properly preached throughout the world and then that it may also be received in faith and may work and dwell in us, so that your kingdom may pervade among us through the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit and the devil’s kingdom may be destroyed so that he may have no right or power over us until finally his kingdom is utterly eradicated and sin, death, and hell wiped out, that we may live forever in perfect righteousness and blessedness.”
Preaching Possibility: Now, you may be saying, what on earth does this have to do with this text? Well, what I love about this Martin Luther text is that it suggests that every time the Word is revealed to us, every time we capture a glimpse of Christ, every time the bread is broken and the Body of Christ is share in the world, then the Kingdom of God comes. It comes to us here and now. And is that not a huge part of the Ressurection promise, that one day God’s kingdom will come and dwell among us? But Martin Luther is not just saying that the Kingdom comes BUT ALSO the kingdom of this world and the powers that defy God, break. Every time Christ is revealed in this world, the hope of God’s kingdom, God’s reign, God’s promise, breaks through and defies all the death-dealing forces of this world. “Were not our hearts burning within us?” Do you feel God pulling us into something different? Do you feel God’s urging us to make a change and to live into the new life of Resurrection Hope?
Telling the Story (where I might be going)
This is now possibly your 3rd or 4th resurrection day sermon (depending on if you preached the Vigil). And so, how can we preach the resurrection and the purpose of these appearances in another way so that our congregants are still taking away something from the sermon?
Well the brilliance of this story from Luke is giving a direction for those who don’t know where to begin in discipleship once Jesus ascends. How do we move from following to leading? How do we much from being passive witnesses to being proclaimers and evangelists?
Jesus begins by asking them, “What are you discussing?” He gets them talking and sharing the story of Jesus. If we read too far into it, then it starts to sound like Jesus is a narcissist. But I don’t that’s what Luke is going for. Luke is trying to teach newcomers to the Faith how to start living into the Faith. You have to start talking about it.
That is evident in the Book of Acts (same author as Luke) when Stephen, Philip, Peter, and Paul all share the story of Jesus wherever they go. And Luke actually writes out the story a number of times, giving these newcomers to Faith literal words to begin sharing.
Our people sometimes get caught up in the old method of feeling like they need to have the scriptures memorized in order to talk about them. But that’s not how it was taught in the beginning. Jesus just wanted them to start sharing the story. To start making the connections and feeling the connection of their lives to the story of salvation.
I care far less about people memorizing scripture verses. I care a lot more about people knowing the story of Jesus and just starting to share it.
 The Book of Concord, Kolb and Wengert, 447
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