Words of Faith 2-25-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.  They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.  As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;  but they were kept from recognizing him.
The journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus is a powerful spiritual pilgrimage in the geography of the soul. Jerusalem is place where sobering sacrifice leads first to confusing pain. Emmaus is a place where everything comes clear. Emmaus is a place of perspective and hope.
The journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus begins in confusion and ends in elation. It starts in disappointment and ends in revelation. It starts without knowledge of anything and ends with a face to face encounter with the living Christ.
The first step of the journey to Emmaus is to get started. The most difficult step in a journey of many miles is the first one. Just getting started on the journey of faith, especially when we feel defeated, can be terribly difficult. These two felt defeated but they started the journey home.
The second step is to trust another. Cleopas and the other disciple were talking with each other about everything that had happened. They didn't have to do this. They could have just walked in defeated silence. They could have kept the perplexing questions to themselves. But instead they trusted each other with the deepest and most confusing issues they had ever encountered.
This is critical. When we are defeated, when we are hurting, when we are confused, when we are struggling to understand the twists and turns of life-- we really need to talk about it. We were never meant to make the journey alone. We were meant to walk with another.
We must recognize that our nature is to be alone in such times when in fact this can be the very worst thing. Isolation opens us to attack. We might ask: Didn't Jesus go alone into the wilderness? Yes. But that was not a time of defeat; it was a time of victory. What about in Gethsemane when Jesus was suffering? Even that night Jesus had dinner with his disciples that night, and then He prayed a stone's throw from the others and asked them to be in prayer with Him.
We may find reaching out and trusting another to be difficult. But it is critical. Some men may say, well, men don't talk about their faith or about their struggles or their questions. Yes they do. More and more they do. Clamming up is often pride and pride is a big part of the problem. It may not be easy but talking with a trusted friend will get you moving on the journey to Emmaus.
The third step was that they welcomed a stranger. As they talked and discussed these things with each other a stranger came alongside them. It was not unusual, especially in the season of pilgrimage to Jerusalem, for someone to come alongside and walk together along the road. What they did not know was that this was Jesus himself. Jesus came and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
What happens when we begin to journey talking with another is that Jesus comes along side. Wherever two or more are gathered in His name, He is there. This is a profound miracle. As we trust another in Christ, the journey changes because He is there. Of course they did not recognize Him. When we first meet the Risen Savior, He is something of a stranger to us. Even if we have known all about His life and death, He is a stranger to us. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is wholly other from us.
Why is this? Often we do not recognize the risen Christ because we have pictures in our minds that do not match Him. The problem is not with the risen Christ, it is with our pictures. We may not recognize the risen Christ because of our theological boxes. We may have decided that Jesus can only appear or operate in a certain way. For this reason we might not welcome the Spirit of the Lord.
We may get afraid or stuck in our understanding or our doctrine and we may fail to welcome the Lord when He comes along. But something in our heart burns with the knowledge that this is God. That burning is the witness of the Spirit. Eventually we will welcome the stranger who is the Risen Christ.
Have you found a person or a place to trust on this journey? The television set won't do it. Computer communication is not enough. We need a place and a person with whom to walk the journey toward hope and wholeness. Have you welcomed the presence of Jesus into your conversations? He is the One who comes alongside to help us in our journey and reveal the truth to us.
Father God, keep me from being a loner. Keep me from getting lost in the pain and confusion. Help me to trust another on the journey. Help me to trust the community that You are forming. Come alongside me by the presence of the Spirit. Teach me. In Jesus' name.