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Apr 22 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 20, 2014 – Luke 24:13-32

Jesus’ Easter Bible Study

And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. Luke 24:13-16 (please read the entire passage)

Intro: Four weeks ago, we set out to meet people who met Jesus

I took last week’s subjects out of sequence, because it was Palm Sunday
– since today is Easter, our two disciples are again out of sequence
(we’ll return to the proper order next week)

Luke identifies only one of these disciples by name
– the Bible tends to observe a literary strategy when it either names characters or leaves them anonymous
• had both disciples been named and were were familiar with the other one we might think:
“Oh of course, that’s just like Peter” — and not identify with that other person
– but not named, he represents an entire category; namely, all disciples
• Luke means for us to take this walk with Jesus
• in the person of the anonymous disciple, we can be there with them

The one biblical image that best represents what we are doing here in Reflexion is this scene
• Jesus is “traveling” with us, explaining the Scriptures
• we are making this spiritual journey together

What did Jesus do for them during this walk?

I want to label this session “therapeutic enlightenment”
– he opened the Scriptures to them and opened their minds to the Scriptures (vv. 31-32, 45)
• there was more to scripture than they had known
• also, there was more to Jesus than they had known
○ he put it all together for them
– in his instruction and explanation, there was healing

Let’s back up
– the disciples had suffered a total collapse of their expectations
• it was as if they had been tricked (they had tricked themselves)
• they followed Jesus believing he was going to “redeem Israel”–i.e., from the oppression of Rome

Curt Thompson observed, “When I am tricked, it’s because I believed that reality was about to unfold in one way (which memory enabled me to anticipate), only to find it unfolding quite differently and in an emotionally distressing way.”

– their grief was tinged with guilt and shame
• like all Jesus’ disciples, they had deserted him
– when the women reported their experienced at Jesus tomb, why did it appear as “nonsense” to the disciples? (v. 11)
• because they had a history of mental and emotional conditioning and religious indoctrination
○ the dead do not return to the world of the living — they had no room for that hope
• this is likely the same reason these two disciples didn’t recognize Jesus
○ they weren’t able to see clearly through their dogma and distress
– besides all this – still very much afraid (Jn. 20:19)
• so when Jesus asked, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?”
○ “they stood still looking sad” — they were sad and upset, because they had been tricked

The human nervous system has a mechanism for deal with these feelings

It switches on the sympathetic mode, which communicates directly to the body’s organs, glands, arteries, etc.
– we are not conscious of the activation of this (autonomic) systerm
• the only conscious control we exercise over it is through medications
• for example, to regulate heart beat, blood pressure, and digestion
– the sympathetic (fight or flight) mode is triggered by external and internal stimuli, which includes our emotions
• negative emotions can produce ongoing stress to the system
○ typical types of negative emotions include anxiety, shame, resentment, self-pity, and despair
• ongoing distress drains the body, diminishing our ability to cope
– the body itself suffers
• headaches, back pains, autoimmune system is compromised, and so on

Instead of making progress in living fully, we’re nervous, agitated, upset, weary, and sad
– instead of meeting our challenges calmly and wisely, we lash out, blow up, fall apart, or run and hide
• a nervous system we do not control triggers negative feelings, dark thoughts, and bad habits we cannot control

The disciples who had been closest to Jesus were in this sad, anxious, confused fight or flight mode
– try to pray when the sympathetic system is turned on
• you are bombarded by thousands of relentless distractions
• try to read the Bible — you may see the words, but you won’t hear them to make sense of them

What was the first post-resurrection message?

Years ago, James Orr, the renown scholar came and spoke in our church
– I remember him asking, “What is the first word of the gospel?”
• then he answered his own question, “Repent” (cf. Mt. 3:2, 17)
– so now I’m asking, What was the first word of the resurrection?
• v. 36, “Peace be to you”
○ in John, “Peace be with you” (20:19, 21, 26)
• in Matthew, “Do not be afraid” (28:5. 10)

The resurrection message is one that calms our fears and brings peace
– it settles our nerves by turning on the parasympathetic mode
• a peace that settles over us, bringing stillness and quiet to our bodies and brains

After its initial shock, the resurrection brought healing
– their bodies recovered
– their negative emotions subsided
– their minds became more clear

The gift of Jesus resurrected is peace

Jesus produced another psychological effect in them

The burning heart (v. 32)
– this is the opposite of negative stress
• and it is more than peace
• it is passion

The burning heart is a joyful energy that plunges us into life
• we don’t need a “big” project to live with passion
• we only need for Jesus to open our minds and give us a vision and a mission (vv. 45-49)

Conc: I love the way Luke describes the report of the two disciples to the others

v. 35, they reported how Jesus was “recognized by them in the breaking of bread”

Today, we celebrate the “breaking of bread”
– it was perhaps the unique mannerism of Jesus when he took the bread and blessed it that they first recognized
• it had not been that long since he had fed the multitude
• and even more recently that he said, “This is My body which is given for you”

And so it is in the breaking of bread where our eyes are opened
Where Jesus gives himself to us
And where we receive the grace to settle our troubled souls in him,
find peace,
and have our hearts ignited by his own passion

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