Monday, May 09, 2011

Sermon on Luke 24:13-35, for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, "Unexpected Companion"

1. “They stood still, looking sad.” Jesus joined the disciples for their sorrowful journey

a. Joy was stolen—hope that He would redeem Israel

b. Beloved teacher had been crucified, puzzling reports of His appearance, but hadn’t seen Jesus

c. Disorienting grief (eyes downturned, hopes dashed, trying to make sense of great loss—grief can show how deeply a person was loved)

d. We see an example of how the Christian’s life is not always joyous. Pr. Harrison talks about how this is a relief to many Christians, because some of the most miserable people are those who are tormented by the belief that they always have to show joy to others to prove they have the gift of the Spirit. It can be quite despairing to be told your life should be full of joy, but you feel none of it. Times of grief or joylessness don’t mean that the Holy Spirit is absent from us.

e. Permission for grief and sadness—esp. at a funeral. Loss of a loved one. Jesus’ own grief–Lazarus. But our sorrow will be turned into joy (Luke 6:21).

f. Jesus arrives to be their unexpected companion on the journey, at first listening sympathetically, hearing their grief, but eventually chiding their unbelief and reorienting them to the Scriptures. Their particular grief was born out of a misunderstanding of Scripture—didn’t realize the Christ had to suffer and die

g. Trying to put together pieces of a puzzle—frustration, disorientation. Glorious catechism lesson of Jesus—reorient, show the picture on the top of the box, and it’s Him! Through the walk, the meal, grand picture of Scripture—till hearts burned with excitement, discovery, and joy! Break bread—eyes opened. Pierced hands—finally they had seen Him! Jesus’ presence had been hidden from them, but suddenly revealed in the breaking of the bread! They had seen Him!

2. Joy for our journey—Jesus our unexpected companion.

a. “Who are You? Our hearts are opened, in the breaking of the bread--Christ the victim, now the victor, living, risen from the dead! Great companion on our journey, still surprise us with Your grace! Make each day a new Emmaus; On our hearts Your image trace!”

b. “Who are we who travel with you? on our way through life to death? Women, men, the young, the aging, wakened by the Spirit’s breath! At the font You claim and name us, Born of water and the Word; At the table still you feed us Host us as our Risen Lord!” (LSB 476:3, 4).

c. We ask for the Lord to surprise us with His grace, be our companion. He travels with us through life till death, claimed and named through baptism, fed at His table. Surprised by grace, joy comes unexpectedly in His companionship

d. We are never alone—even if we are deprived of our family or friends, we have a friend in Jesus, who is more than just a sympathetic ear, He rescues us out of all our troubles, and counts our life as precious to Him, even in death. If it were not for Christ’s resurrection, the yawning, open grave at the cemetery would be the most despairing place in the world.

e. Reorienting ourselves to see Christ as the whole picture of Scripture—finding comfort in knowing that the believers who have gone before us experienced the same fears, doubts, griefs. Joining them in their joy and relief. Feeling the burning of excitement and joy in our hearts to grow closer in our companionship with Jesus, to know more deeply the One who paid the price for our sins and rose, so that He might never leave us or forsake us.

f. Jesus lifts our eyes and our spirits, turns them to the Scripture and sets our hearts on fire with the knowledge that all of the Bible’s pages are brimming with Jesus! They are full of the life and grace of Christ, and point unerringly to Him as the source of our salvation and joy. Suddenly the grand narrative emerges and we see how Christ’s death and resurrection play into the climax and resolution of the plot.

Sermon Talking Points
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1. How were the disciples on the road to Emmaus an example of people whose joy had been stolen? Under what circumstances? What had their hopes been (Luke 24:21)? What was so disorienting about the grief they were experiencing?

2. What griefs have you endured? Think of a time when your joy was stolen or overshadowed by a loss. What was disorienting about your experience with grief?

3. How did the unexpected companionship of Jesus on their way begin to reorient them back to hope and joy? What was it about His presence and conversation that made their hearts “burn within them?” Luke 24:27, 30-35.

4. How is coming to the understanding of Jesus being the heart and center of all the Bible (Old and New Testament), like seeing the picture on the top of a puzzle box? John 5:39; Luke 24:27, 45-47.

5. How is the unexpected companionship of Jesus a comfort and joy to us amidst sorrow and suffering? How does it reorient us toward hope and joy? 1 Thess. 4:13; Romans 5:4-5; 1 Peter 1:3-5

6. In what ways is Jesus such a present companion in life, even now? Matthew 28:20; 18:20; John 14:1-6; 1 Cor. 10:16; Romans 6:5-11

7. How can you be an “unexpected companion” to someone experiencing grief, or joylessness? What message can you bring to them to encourage and lift their spirits?

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