Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Walking Through Tragedy (Luke 24:13-25)

Last Sunday, in church, our Pastor preached on Luke 24:13-35, commonly known as "On the Road to Emmaus".

This is the passage, pretty common for a post-Easter sermon, where the two disciples are walking along the Road to Emmaus and Jesus begins to walk with them.  They do not recognize Jesus and he asks them why they are so upset.  They explain to Jesus what has been happening in Jerusalem over the past few days (Jesus riding into the city, their belief in Jesus as the One who would redeem Israel, then His trial, His crucifixion, His burial, then the disappearance of His body, and that women had seen angels at the tomb who told them that He was alive).  The men were confused and conflicted by the events and Jesus listened to them.  Then, Jesus went on to explain the ancient scriptures to these men -- how the "Christ had to suffer these things to enter his glory".  Once the three travelers had reached their destination, they sat down for a meal, and Jesus broke bread with the men -- that's when their eyes recognized Jesus and Jesus vanished.  The men immediately ran back to Jerusalem, from whence they came, and shared  what had happened with the other disciples  (my synopsis of Luke 24:13-25).

Our Pastor had some great things to say about this interaction between Jesus and the two disciples and he focused on what a tough day this must have been for the disciples.  On this walk, these men were SO confused.  Before Jesus began explaining things, they were walking in the midst of tragedy, heartache, and confusion.

As the Pastor was teaching, I began to really focus on how these men were walking through tragedy on this walk, and how, unbeknownst to them, Jesus was walking and talking with them.

The Lord worked on my heart during the sermon, and through the scriptures and I think this passage reveals a really good framework to remember when I, a child of God many centuries later, is walking through tragedy.

When I am walking in heartbreak, trial, and tragedy, I should remember to:
  1. Talk to Jesus -- Luke 24:19-24.  Jesus knew the situation these men were in, but in this passage they talked to Jesus.  When I am in a tragedy, I need to talk to Jesus.  Jesus knows the circumstances, He has the broad perspective and He knows my myopic, frustrated perspective; nevertheless, comfort and peace are available by talking to Jesus.  I can freely come to Him and share my perspective, my heartache, my lack-of-understanding, my frustrations and He will listen and walk with me, just like He did with these disciples.
  2. Listen to Jesus -- Luke 24:25-27.  After these disciples had explained themselves, they stopped talking and they listened to Jesus.  Granted, in this case, they didn't know they were listening to Jesus, they they stopped griping about the situation and they listened to One with wisdom who provided insight and knowledge into their frustrating situation.  How often do I remember to talk to Jesus during a tragedy, but I forget to listen?  Way too many times!  Comfort comes from talking to Jesus, but even more comfort and understanding comes from listening to Jesus.
  3. Gain understanding about the Situation -- Luke 24:30-32.  Only AFTER the disciples had talked to Jesus and listened to Jesus were their eyes opened and were they able to understand the situation.  My Bible says, "Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him..." (Luke 24:31).  Our pastor last Sunday gave a literal translation, which said something like (this is just from my memory) "Their eyes were opened and they recognized who he was and all that he represented"... basically, they not only recognized Jesus as their friend, who was recently killed and buried... no, they recognized Jesus as their friend, their Messiah, Savior of the World, Redeemer of Israel, Son of God.  The disciples talked to Jesus, listened to Jesus, and then understood this confusing tragedy and God's work in it.
  4. Testify God's Work Amidst Tragedy -- Luke 24:33-35.  After the previous three events, (talking to Jesus, listening to Jesus and gaining understanding) these men immediately found their friends and testified what Jesus had revealed to them (or more accurately, that Jesus, Himself and alive, had been revealed to them).  These men immediately shared what they had learned and their testimony of God's faithfulness amidst this confusing and devastating tragedy.  The disciples would not have been in an effective position to testify had the previous three events not taken place.  But, because they had talked to God, listened to God and understood God's work, they were in a great position to share this news with friends.
What a wonderful framework for any challenge or tragedy I walk through:
  1. Talk to Jesus
  2. Listen to Jesus
  3. Gain Understanding About the Situation
  4. Testify God's Work Amidst Trials and Tragedy
Another noteworthy point that the Lord brought to my attention while I was studying these scriptures was that Jesus was walking with these disciples for miles before they recognized Him.

Jesus was walking beside His disciples during the tragedy.

How often do people ask "Where is God?" when tragedy strikes?
He is right next to us, even when we cannot see Him.

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