Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Week 3 - Being Unfolded

That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.  As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.  But God kept them from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”  
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”
“What things?” Jesus asked.
“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.
“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”
Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus unfolded to them the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!
 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”
Luke 24:13-34

The friends who walked the road to Emmaus knew a lot about God. They had studied Scripture probably all of their lives, growing up in a highly religious culture. They believed that God would send a Messiah and that the Messiah would fix everything. When they encountered Jesus, they recognized Him as the promised Messiah and followed Him.
But then Jesus was crucified, and this new experience didn’t match their expectations for what a messiah would do and be. Their messiah was a two-dimensional rescuer from political oppression, not a three-dimensional Savior. Their messiah brought in a new nationalism, but Jesus ushered in a way of inclusive love for all people. Their messiah would correct and restore right religious fervor; but all Jesus spoke about was relationship with His Father in heaven.

As they walked along the road in this moment of deep change in their lives, Jesus “unfolded” the truth to them. He guided his friends into a transformed faith. Instead of a list of expectations for God to fulfill, Jesus brought to them a new expectancy that God can and will show up anywhere at any time. He demonstrated that it is His presence that changes everything, beginning with changing us.

Their faith and their lives were forever changed by this significant encounter. Suddenly, God was not just on the hook to rescue them; He was on the loose in the world. Not only did Jesus unfold their understanding that day; He unfolded their hearts to a new experience of God as well. And He desires to do the same in us.

The Real Question: What expectations tend to govern my faith? Where does God desire to unfold my heart to a new expectancy of His presence with me?

Family Talk: What is one thing you have learned lately about God or following Jesus?

ONE in Prayer: God, I confess that so often, I make you so much smaller than You are with my definitions of who You are and what You do. I open myself to simply expecting Your presence in my life, beyond definition. Amen.

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