January 8, 2023. Sermon Title: Having Burning Hearts

First Mennonite Church

January 8, 2023

Having Burning Hearts

Text: Luke 24:13-35

In 2Corinthians five, there is this very short verse that reads: For we live by faith, not by sight (v.7). But if we are honest with ourselves, we know it is not easy to live not by sight. Maybe, that is because we live in a world where information is at the tip of our fingers, whether that be through the portable electronic devices we have or the TV remote control. And what we see happening around us and around the world can often affect our state of mind and spirit.

Last Sunday during Sunday school, various people around the table openly shared about things in their lives that make them, to a certain degree, anxious, uncertain, but above all, desirous to know the Lord’s will for them about those things. No one is immune to moments in which we would like to know exactly what to do in certain situations. No one is immune of that feeling of uncertainty that on occasion strikes us regarding the future in our lives and of our loved ones.

Now that my children are all young adults, my concern for them is that they make the right decisions in life, that their choices will never come back to haunt them.   

For the disciples, the event leading to this particular day in Luke’s account was thoroughly devastating.. Their world was turned upside down, their idea of who Jesus was and their vision of where he would lead them, all came to a crashing halt. Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion and burial threw the disciples into panic and complete disarray. They shut themselves behind closed doors, Thomas was out somewhere, and on the third day after Jesus’ death, two of his disciples decided to abandon the group and headed to Emmaus. Cleopas and his friend embarked into a journey of no return. But as they went, they could not get off their minds the frustration, doubts, fear and sadness that haunted them. They were mulling over their lost hope that came with Jesus’ death. For more than three years, he had given them friendship, a strong sense of God’s nearness, and in their misunderstanding of Jesus’ real identity, even political hopes, that he would overthrow the Roman domination. But now, after three days of the crucifixion, everything was over. 

As they heartily, and possibly heatedly, discussed their feelings of confusion and sadness, as they walked Jesus joined them. Not only were their hearts in darkness, but also their eyes even to the point of not recognizing Jesus. And once he joined them, he asked them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”  The Greek words translated as “what are you discussing”, literally means, “what is it you are throwing back and forth to each other.”  They were passionately debating the events, trying to make sense of it. 

That is exactly how I felt the conversation was around the table last Sunday. Those who shared, shared from their hearts. They shared with honesty at how they perceived their situations. In their hearts they pleaded with God for answers and guidance.

The disciples readily emptied their overwhelmed hearts. And Jesus took it from, beginning with Moses and through all the prophets, he showed them how everything written pointed out exactly what just happened to him.  And he said, “How foolish you are to understand Scriptures?”  And here the word foolish, ano/htoj, anoetos: means the unwillingness to use one’s mental faculties in order to understand or simply being without understanding. [1]

In their case, according to Jesus, they simply had refused to understand what he had told them just a few days prior to his arrest.    

Something was happening to these two disciples as Jesus opened scriptures to them. He showed that his death was no accident nor the result of sheer human wickedness. He not only revealed to them the trustworthiness of scriptures, but something was happening to them. Their broken hearts were pieced together. Their cold heart began to burn with holy fire. The dark cloud that shrouded them with fear, confusion, and despair was lifted up and new light, the divine light shone upon them.

See the change that happened to these men. There could not be more broken hearted people than them when the left Jerusalem. But once Jesus opened to them the scripture, they looked at one another and said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (v.32). What a transformation! They were once again filled with fervor and enthusiasm and hope and glory. What’s happened to them? Their sadness was gone. They came out of their confusion. Their hearts were burning once again.

As the two disciples were arriving at the village the set out for, they urged Jesus to stay with them because it was almost night. There Jesus sat with them at the table and broke the bread. It is then that they came to the full realization of who was accompanying them along the road. It was then that they confessed what was happening inside them as Jesus opened the scriptures to them. Whether they ate or not, we do not know. Upon breaking the bread, Jesus disappeared from their sight. However, their redemption had been completed. Their hearts had been renewed. Their passion for the Lord was once again burning, that tiredness nor hunger nor darkness, nor distance held them back from wanting to share the good news to those they left behind in Jerusalem. They thought it was not right for them to bask in the glory of discovering the Risen Christ so they hurried back to Jerusalem to give the news.

That is exactly what the leper did when they discover the bounty left by the Arameans. These hungry despised lepers found food to gorge themselves for many days. However, they realized that by hiding everything for themselves while their countrymen perished with hunger. They said to each other, “We are not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves . . . Let’s go at once and report this.” So they went to the city gates and shouted to the watchmen the news.

God knows every one of our thoughts. He already knows the cares we have. But the God we have does not sit idly watching us at a distance, seeing us trying to make sense of our lives. In Christ, God is with us. He walks along us in our journeys. He desires to show us that his presence and word can change our heart and lit it with holy fire.

This morning, open your heart to the Lord. Tell him everything that weighs heavy in your heart. Let us ask him to reveal to us, not only the truth about Scriptures, but its life-giving power and the light and joy there are for us.

But once your heart is set on fire and your eyes have beheld the glory of the Risen Christ, go tell others. Do not keep the blessings to yourself. There are many more who need to hear the good news of Christ through you.

May the Lord’s Spirit open our eyes and set our hearts ablaze with holy fire. Amen.

Pastor A. Romero

[1] Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domain