Walking with God
Girdwood Chapel Sermon, April 30, 2017
“Walking with God”
Acts 2: 14a, 36-41
Psalm 116: 1-4, 12-19
1 Peter 1: 17-23
Luke 24: 13-35
Our lives are full of very important “walks”. Most of us don’t remember them, but I am sure our parents would love to remind us of those first steps we took; the first time we walked. It seemed that every walk after that is marked with some important occasion. The first time we walked into school and left the comfort of our mother and father. The first time we walked to the door to meet our first date. The time we walked across the stage to receive a diploma. The time we walked to the car, loaded with boxes, to begin an independent life. The time we walked into our first job, or that time we walked in formation with eyes forward and head up high. The time our knees were weak because we walked from the hospital room in despair. The time our feet barely touched the ground as we walked to meet our spouse and pronounce our vows. There is that time we walked to be with our friend who was in need and the time that we walked to our friend because we were in need. Every day, each one of us goes for a new walk, some shared with others and some seemingly alone. But, each walk, every journey, each step is measured, for at all times we are walking with God.
The Walk to Emmaus
Our scripture this morning concerning the walk to Emmaus is representative of the daily walks that you and I take with Christ. These two disciples, not apostles - meaning not one of the 11 remaining apostles, are on their way to Emmaus following the events of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. As many of us do on our walks, they are discussing the events, trying to make sense of what has happened. I don’t know about you all, but Alicia and I solve most of the world’s problems while we are talking on walks...we just forget what we solved when we quit walking. But, that is what these two disciples are doing. They are working through things. They are trying to make sense of the events and cope with the loss of Jesus and determine what it means for their way ahead. As they are engaged in this discussion they are engaged by a stranger. This stranger, unbelievably to the disciples, seems to know nothing of the events that just occurred in Jerusalem.
Amazingly the stranger rebukes them. “How foolish are you!? How slow of heart of you!?” How awkward that must have been. The one who the disciples thought knew nothing of the events, turns the tables on them. Essentially the stranger is saying, “You are wrong to say I know nothing of the events, for it is you who are unable to see the importance of the events that have gone on here.” The stranger then relies on scripture beginning with the prophets from Moses to show the importance of the Christ, the Messiah, and what that means for humanity.
I picture the three walking along as the stranger educates the disciples on the prophecies of Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah. Each time the stranger speaks the two disciples look at each other and raise their eyebrows. Partly, they are amazed by his knowledge of the prophets but further they are recognizing an excitement build in them and an energy enveloping them as He speaks.
You see, the disciples were likely in grief at this time. Even in their description of the events of what had happened in Jerusalem, the disciples acknowledge, “we had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel.” They are not just grieving the loss of the man, Jesus, they are grieving the hope that resided with Him. They felt discouraged and lost because he had brought with him this promise of elevation above persecution and restoration of glory. They were despondent and let down that this glory was not to be found.
Yet, if you look at the wording, they are also slow to take accountability for their own actions in the loss of this hope. They tell the stranger that the Chief Priests and the Rulers were the ones that took Jesus to trial and sought to have Him crucified. They are negligent to mention the crowds who shouted, “crucify him!” They are negligent to mention their own inaction to save Him. To testify to the court who He was and to stand with Him. They were in denial of their own actions. They were in denial of the part they played in allowing this to happen.
But rather than addressing their emotions, the stranger begins to teach them from Scripture. Rather than appealing to their senses of emotional attachment, He responds to them with the revelation of the Word. Maybe, He recognizes that their emotions are running so high that the truth that is right before them cannot be revealed. Maybe, as the old saying goes, they have blinded themselves from seeing the forest because of the trees.
So, the stranger works to bring the forest into focus.
Our own Walks
The walks we take in our own lives, they are happy, they are sad, they are full of triumph, and they are full of defeat. Sometimes we have a large role to play in the walk we are taking, sometimes we are making the walk through no choice of our own. But, nonetheless, they are the walks of our life; they are the small steps that we take on the larger journey of making us who we are.
During these walks we may come to realize our greater strengths or, maybe, we understand our weaknesses. There is the chance that we find allies for our journey among our forward steps and realize those who tend to hold us back in our stumbles. It should not be lost on us, however, that with the end to every path, a new trailhead is marked, and we begin the new trail with a deeper knowledge of ourselves, the world, and the Spirit that makes us whole.
Unrevealed, almost silent among us on each path, is the Spirit. Just like the disciples talking with Jesus, himself, we seldom recognize it. Even more infrequently, we acknowledge it. Yet, it is there, allowing us to see things in greater detail and encouraging us to dig deeper into our experiences and in our relationships. Sometimes, it is in the relationships where the Spirit is revealed and a future understanding of Christ’s love is found. Maybe because it is received, but also because it is given.
Amazingly, the disciples walking with Jesus that day, had no idea who they were walking with. Likely, they had heard Him teach before. Chances are they had seen Him before and even spent time with Him before. But now, within arm’s reach of Him, they could not recognize Him. As we have mentioned before, this allows us to see that we will be transformed in our resurrected bodies. Unrecognizable to those who do not understand, or those who do not believe.
When the teachings that Jesus reiterated to the disciples came to the forefront of their minds as He broke the bread, then they understood, and He was revealed. He did not transform, but it was their hearts that had transformed. They understood they had been redeemed and that the prophecies were true. They knew they were in the presence of the true King, the one Redeemer, the Holy Messiah, Christ our Lord. As soon, as they were aware of this, He vanished from their sight. Yet, His presence remained in the burning of their hearts.
The road to Emmaus is a story of two men on a walk, who happen to have the talk of their lives with a complete stranger. As much as the story is an education about who Jesus is as the Redeemer, it is also a story of hospitality and of listening. The two men welcome Jesus to walk with them and open their ears to what He has to say. In doing so, they expand their own understandings and are able to open themselves up for deeper communion with man they have met.
Just in case you missed it...the passage states that Jesus motioned as if He was going to move on, but the men insisted He stay and dine with them.
In all of the walks you have taken, both in joy and in sorrow, how many times have you paused and asked Jesus to stay with you? How many times have you invited him to sit and be in the experience with you? It is an important thing to consider. No matter what you may think, Jesus is walking with you and he is waiting on your invitation. Open your burning heart to Him and He will reveal His glory to you.