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Jan 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 2, 2022



When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Luke 24:28-35

Intro: Years ago, I saw a news clip featuring Salvador Dali

The flamboyant surrealist artist, with his trademark handlebar mustache,
– he was famous for his painted landscapes with melting watches
• he had alerted the press that he was working on another masterpiece
◦ and he was going to complete it in front of a live audience
• the day came, and a crowd gathered and the cameras were rolling
– Dali arrived with his usual air of self-importance
• he dabbed his brush in a smudge of white paint,
◦ climbed a step-ladder, and with theatrical flourish,
◦ added to the portrait of a woman, a dot on the pupil of eye
• that was it – the painting was finished

Artists, whatever their craft, know the importance of detail
– Luke was that kind of storyteller
• he includes details not found in any other gospel
• for instance, when Jesus was on trial and Peter was in the courtyard denying that he knew him
◦ the third time Peter said, “I don’t have anything to do with him”
◦ Luke says, And the Lord turned and looked at Peter (Lk. 22:61)
– we can feel the intense emotion of that visual connection,
• even if we don’t know how to read it
◦ was it about Peter? Did it intensify the impact of what he felt?
◦ or was it about Jesus, perhaps communicating something to Peter with his eyes
“See, I told you so; I told you that you would deny me”
or more likely,
“Don’t give up, Peter. I understand. I still love you. I haven’t given up on you”
• whatever that glance meant, Peter and Jesus were connected

There are little details that enhance our story

The one I want us to think about is this:
Then they told what had happened on the road and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread

These two anonymous disciples reflect our spiritual community

Our lives are bound together by the same pursuit
– we are not driven to live as comfortably as possible
• we know that we’ve been called to a spiritual journey
• seeing that we’re all going the same direction,
◦ we meet up so we can walk together
– Jesus also walks with us
• although we don’t always recognize his presence
• what we do recognize is that mystery plays major role in journey
◦ Jesus taught the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven in parables (Mt. 13:11)
◦ Paul mentions mystery repeatedly in his letters
the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints . . . which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:26-27) and, For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3)

We are surrounded by mysteries – they live behind everything
– they are like those hidden-object puzzles,
• we cannot see them with our normal vision, even if we try
◦ but they do reveal themselves to faith
• every day we pass through mysteries and don’t know it
– mystery is an inner voice, an intuitive voice
• and it speaks very quietly – intuition makes only a whisper
• we need to be quiet to hear it
Olivier Clements, “We not only listen to the words of Jesus but we welcome his silence into our hearts, the mysterious presence of the Father and of the Spirit.”
Ignatius of Antioch, (lived in the second century and was a church leader in the city where believers were first called Christians) “It is better to keep silent and to be, rather than to speak but not be.”
– we are not accustomed to silence
• if not from all the noise of machines and broadcast media,
• then from the noise inside out own heads
◦ anger is very noisy – so is fear – and so is grief
◦ these two disciples were grieving

I will admit, I don’t always enjoy how biblical stories unfold

Precisely at the moment the two disciples recognized Jesus,
he vanished from their sight
– to me, this doesn’t feel right – this is not the place to interrupt story
• of course, a story well-told is always suspenseful
• only, in real life we don’t like suspense
– at any rate, the two disciples are up and on the road again
And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem
• I think they left Jerusalem, because they believed the Jesus movement was over
◦ they thought he was Messiah, but that hope died on cross
• now that their hope has been resurrected, they head back to the epicenter

This is so much like our spiritual journey
– it does not move in a straight line to heaven
• sometimes we backtrack
◦ we’re taken back to something we had already learned
• sometimes it seems we are going in circles, until God says,
You have circled this mountain long enough. Turn northward (Deut. 2:3-4)
– their journey is our journey
• Jesus has vanished from our sight
• yet we have to travel on
– how did they do it?
• how did they continue on their journey without seeing him?
• what did they have now that he wasn’t there for them to follow?
◦ what did they have to support them? to sustain them?

Here is what I find in this story

They had an encounter with Jesus that left a permanent impression
– Paul never tired of telling the story of his first encounter
• it is good for us to remember our first experience of Jesus
◦ our first discoveries and our first love
• it reminds us of what set us on this journey

They had a new connection with, and understanding of the Scriptures
. . . beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (v. 27)
Did not our hearts burn within us while he opened to us the Scriptures? (v. 32)
– later, after they had joined the others, Jesus told them,
. . . everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (vv. 44-45)
• the Scriptures can burn like a fire in our hearts too
Olivier Clements said, regarding “contemplative reading”:
“It happens that while listening to the Word the heart is touched by a particular saying and set on fire. Then one must stop and let the fire spread quietly.”
• we just have to be there long enough or enough times for this to begin to happen
◦ we keep going back to scripture
◦ we strike the flint until sparks fly and create a flame

They had each other and the other disciples
– it is extremely helpful to have one very close Christian friend
– an entire spiritual community is a necessity
• we are here for each other
• we are here for you

They had the breaking of the bread – the Communion meal
– the Last Supper became the first Lord’s Supper
• this is a visible facet of the mystery
• this is where their eyes were opened, where they became aware of Jesus’ presence
– if you look at Christian writing through history,
• every saint, every mystic, every spiritual theologian
• found in Communion a consistent experience of encounter with God in Christ
◦ the visible facet (bread and wine) of the mystery becomes a bridge to the invisible reality

Conclusion: When I read Bible, I sometimes forget how it works

My mind tells me I must hunt down a significant insight latent in the text
– then I have to work at developing it into a profound thought,
• a devotional encouragement, a warm feeling
• but all I do is waste my time
I do not have to come up with anything–profound or otherwise
I do not have to produce grace – I receive it
I cup my hands and stretch them our to my Father
I receive forgiveness, I receive help, I receive love
From God’s hand we receive Jesus
we receive him with the bread and the cup
And through Jesus, we receive everything

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