Burning Hearts


Luke 24:30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.


Jesus' followers were devastated by the news of his death.  Many had waited around in Jerusalem for a few days but the time had now come to go home.  We discover two men walking home to Emmaus.  They are sad and distraught.  On their way home they are joined by a man who walks with them and asks them why they are feeling so dejected.  They are astounded since it seems that everyone knew what had happened in Jerusalem.  They engage in a lively discussion regarding the Messiah and he shares with them a great deal from the Scriptures.  They still do not understand who he is, but they invite him home for dinner.

While they are sitting at the dinner table Jesus breaks bread with them and all of a sudden there is a recognition of who he is.  It was Jesus!  Then they realized that they should have known that it was him because during the time they traveled, as he was sharing with them from Scripture, their hearts burned within them. 


These two men who were traveling home were now filled with great doubt about Jesus.  Although they had seen and experienced much of what he had done, they were profoundly disappointed.  Even when Jesus was now there with him, they could not comprehend that he was alive and that the Scriptures had been fulfilled. 

Before we quickly become judgmental of them, let's consider our own lives.  How often have we had little faith in Jesus and the reality of his work?  We, too, are looking for human signs of Jesus' existence.  But that's not always the way it will happen.

The other day I was on a flight that experienced a great deal of turbulence.  The natural instinct is to look out the window to see what is disturbing the flight.  Of course, there is nothing to see and sometimes the worst turbulence is experienced on clear days.  As we were traveling through this rough air I thought about the faith that we have in the wind and air currents.  They are not seen, but they certainly are experienced.  No one on that flight would have denied that air currents exist!

Let's examine our own faith.  The two men on the road to Emmaus did finally recognize Jesus but then they realized that they had already experienced him all day long as their hearts burned within them.  They really did not need to see him to see him, and neither do we.  Just as we experience turbulence in a plane because of unseen wind, we experience Jesus' involvement in the world today on a daily basis.  We just need to allow our senses to take in the fact that we are seeing the movement of the hand of God. 

John Wesley many years ago had an encounter with Jesus Christ during the reading of Luther's Commentary on Romans, and his heart was "strangely warmed."  The men on the road to Emmaus heard the Scriptures and their hearts burned within them.  We are invited to encounter Jesus today.  He is here with us in the Scriptures, in other readings, in other people, and in life experiences.  If we are sensitive to his moving we will also experience a burning in our hearts -- a strange warming -- coming from his holy presence.  This is the personal invitation of Jesus -- let us come, let us open our hearts, let us see and hear, may we understand that he is here, reaching out to us and touching our hearts with the warmth of his presence.  May our hearts burn from our times with him.


Lord, thank you for the work of your hand in the world and in my heart.  Amen.


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