I need to ask you all this morning.....what does Jesus want to do for us at this gathering? When we celebrate communion, what is Jesus’ purpose. As we walk along on the Road to Emmaus with the two disciples we must not forget that these two disciples of Jesus had heard the two reports of the resurrection – Mary’s and Peter’s. However, because they hadn’t personally seen the evidence, rather, they didn’t want to check out the evidence for themselves, probably because they were afraid of being caught and possibly receiving a death sentence, they decided to pack it in and head home and go back to their old way of living. Incredible isn’t it? They gave up on Jesus … but thank God, He didn’t give up on them. Notice that the text says, “Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.” I like the way it reads in the King James, “Jesus drew near…” The thought here isn’t that these two disciples were simply geographically distant, but that their faith was distant as well. Jesus knew their need and so He DREW NEAR. He didn’t say, “Fine! You want to leave, you want to doubt, you want to turn your back on me? Go right ahead. Don’t expect me come to you. When you clean up your act and smarten up and return to where I am, I’ll consider taking you back.” Thank God, Jesus isn’t like that. He knows our weaknesses and our struggles. We think we’re so much better than those first disciples. We think we would never act the way they did. Fact is we would … and we do … and most likely we will. Life fogs up our vision, our understanding, our faith, our hope… We allow circumstances to over shadow truth. It’s easy to fall into the cycle of depression.
It’s easy to lose focus.
It’s easy to doubt.
It’s easy to forget.
It’s easy to fall away.
It’s easy to reject.
It’s easy to take for granted.
It’s easy to misunderstand.
It’s easy to give up and give in.
Thank God that in spite of:
1. Our clouded situations and circumstance…
2. Getting lost frequently along the way…
3. The times we decide to take the first plane out of town and run away from our difficulties…there is a God who not only comes looking for us, but also DRAWS NEAR AND TRAVELS WITH US UNTIL WE SEE AGAIN! That is good news! That is grace! That is Jesus! He spoke with them for hours. He spent the day with them explaining the truth of the Scriptures; this wasn’t a 20-minute sermon! He was physically with them until the sun was beginning to set.
They saw him…
They smelled him…
They walked next to him…
And yet, with all this physical closeness they still didn’t recognize who he was! Pretty dull these two. They were so caught up in their own pity party. Wait! Before we begin to cast more stones in judgment, we too must confess that there have been times, even seasons, when we’ve been blind and distant. Times when we’ve given up and lost all hope. It’s happened with…our children - “This is your last chance!” …with our spouse – “It’s hopeless, it’s beyond repair, I’m getting out, leaving town, getting on with my life.”… with our parents – “There no use, you guys just don’t understand, I’m leaving home!”… at our work – “It’s no use, people around here don’t care, I’m not going to take it any more. I quit!”… at school – “It’s too hard. I’m in over my head. I’m going to drop out!”… And even with God, “I’ve been praying for 8 years and you still haven’t helped me!… I’ve asked for patience and all I get is more problems…I’ve prayed for freedom and all I get is more temptation…I pray for healing and all I get is sicker by the day. Hello, is anyone listening up there?!!!! We live in such a fast paced society. We have become so impatient, so intolerant, so “me” focused. And as a result we give up way too easily, way too early, and way too frequently. Thank God we are not left alone. I’m not saying that you’ll never feel alone. Truth is you will, but that’s not because God has abandoned you, it’s because you’ve abandoned Him!
“So where was your loving God on Sept. 11th?”
“Where was He when my husband walked out on us?”
“Where was He when my loved one died?”
“Where was He when the doctor said it was terminal?” The answer is, “Right where you left Him.” God won’t go where he is not welcomed. But thank God that where He is welcomed, where there are those who are genuinely struggling with faith, who are sincerely wanting to believe, but because of a lack of hope just can’t see God in their circumstances, you can be sure that you’ll find Him a lot closer than you think. You may even be blind to His presence right now in this place but, He’s right there sitting next to you or walking beside you on the road you chose to make your escape. Even though we go through season’s of blindness, the good news is that sooner or later He will do for you what He did for those two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Soon or later you WILL see Him. You see it wasn’t until He broke the bread that finally “Their eyes were opened and they recognized him…” Remember Jesus’ words “…Do this in remembrance of me…” Communion is a very intimate act. It helps us to focus on Jesus instead of ourselves. It points us to the One who has been near all along. In this act of remembrance, HE REMINDS US of His constant love and as we break bread we see that He HAS come near to enlightenment:
From “…stood still, faces down cast…” (v 17)
and “…we had hoped…” (v 21) to “…got up
and returned at once to Jerusalem…” (v 33)
and “It is true! The Lord has risen…” (v34).
Why the change? “Jesus drew near…broke bread”! Today Jesus continues to draw near. As we gather to celebrate at this table Jesus wants to do something. As we remember this historic fact and eat and drink these common everyday elements we are reminded of an eternal reality – Jesus IS here among us! God wants our eyes to be opened - the eyes of our mind and the eyes of our heart too. And that’s why we gather on the first Sunday of each month and share at this table… not our table but His table. Notice the change in the disciples’ attitude:
From despair to hope
From depression to joy
From doubt to belief
From defeat to victory
From dismay to courage