Today’s blog post was the second half of a sermon preached last month in Yirgachefe, Ethiopia. This photo was taken during the three-day “25th Jubilee Anniversary Evangelism Movement Thanksgiving Conference” hosted by 242 indigenous Kale Hawet Churches. This young boy caught my attention because of his passionate singing during a time of worship. When you’re finished reading this post, scroll to the P.S. at the bottom of the page for a look at how the conference ended late on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
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Here’s a quick recap of what we discovered in a previous post on “Pursuing Jesus.”
Jesus has risen from the dead! … but some of His followers are confused, fearful, even doubting. Later that day on Resurrection Sunday, we find Him pursuing two disciples who are heading home to Emmaus, instead of to Galilee where an angel at the empty tomb had instructed. Jesus pursues in order to invite them to “Come & Follow” Him.
The gospel-writer Luke describes in fine detail the dialogue that follows (24:13–35). In a previous post we looked at two details that occur when Jesus invites us to “Come & Follow” … Please read that post for a more thorough treatment.
- Jesus Pursues with Urgency (v. 13–15)
On the very day of His resurrection, Jesus pursues two disciples heading in the wrong direction. As a professed follower of Jesus, can you remember a time when He pursued you with urgency? … maybe even when you were heading in the wrong direction? A primary reason for His urgent pursuit is found in the second detail.
- Jesus Pursues Intimate, Personal Relationships (vv. 15–16)
According to verse 15, “While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them.” Luke uses a Greek word that literally means “journey together.” In other words, Jesus joined their journey! This begs the question for modern-day disciples: How has Jesus “joined” your journey?
But verse 16 reveals a problem … “But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.” Usually interpreted as something supernatural, the unusual words that Luke uses suggests another explanation. These two disciples were apparently arguing with each other … disputing and debating about the events that had just occurred. They are frustrated, possibly even angry … to the degree that they don’t recognize Who is standing before them!
The main point is that Jesus joined their journey anyways … even though they failed to recognize Him. What “prevents” us from recognizing Jesus?
Jesus pursues all of us … He pursues us with urgency … He pursues us in order to be in intimate, personal relationship with Him.
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Three more details emerge from this passage, indicating what occurs when Jesus invites us to “Come & Follow” …
- Jesus Questions our Opinions & Misconceptions (vv. 17–26)
In verses 17 and 19, Jesus asks two questions, trying to get to the bottom of what is troubling these two disciples:
- “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?”
- “What things?”
Cleopas responds in verses 21 and 22 with revealing clarity:
- “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.”
- “But also some women among us amazed us.”
His expectations for a Messiah had not been met by the reality of Jesus’ crucifixion. Plus, the report of the women returning from an empty tomb “amazed” … [ἐξίστημι] literally, “to throw out of position” or “to be out of ones mind” … At the very least, these two disciples were confused, if not nearly insane!
God reminds us through the prophet Isaiah:
- “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8–9
What opinions & misconceptions do we have about Jesus that need correcting?
We tend to mold and shape Jesus according to our needs & desires. Daniel Darling has written a book titled, The Original Jesus: Trading the Myths We Create for the Savior Who Is. With chapter titles like “Play-Dough Jesus,” “Red-Letter Jesus,” “Dr. Phil Jesus” and “BFF Jesus,” he humorously presents a compelling case from Scripture for correcting our misconceptions.
In fact, in our Luke text (v. 25), Jesus rebukes these two wayward disciples, using two extremely harsh words!
- “foolish” [ἀνόητος] meaning “ignorant, unwise, without understanding”
- “slow” [βραδύς] or “dull, inactive, slow to believe”
As followers of Jesus, how do we go about changing our false opinions and misconceptions? The answer is found in what Jesus did next.
- Jesus Invites us to “Whole-Bible” Discipleship (vv. 27–32)
- “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (v. 27, cf., v. 32)
Jesus began to “unfold the meaning” … [διερμηνεύω] of the entire O.T. Scriptures … “to translate into one’s active language” the truths that these two disciples had heard for years.
As a result, in verse 31, “their eyes were opened” … [διανοίγω] literally, “by dividing or drawing asunder; to open thoroughly what had been closed.” Interestingly, “Dr. Luke” uses this term to describe a first-born male opening the womb of his mother (Luke 2:23). Luke repeats the term for emphasis in verses 31, 32 and 45. He uses it again in the book of Acts to describe Lydia’s conversion (16:14), and Paul’s teaching (17:3).
Have you ever wondered what might have been the “bullet points” of Jesus’ teaching to these two disciples as they walked along the Emmaus road? Click on this link for “What Jesus May Have Taught on the Emmaus Road.”
Here is a primary take-away for anyone claiming to follow Jesus. Instead of practicing a weak and shallow Christianity, based on our personal opinions and misconceptions of Who He is … Jesus invites us to “Whole-Bible” Discipleship!
“Christ–like character is not formed from a random collection
of favorite texts and personal experiences;
But by digesting whole books of the Bible;
Allowing the Holy Spirit, Who inspired these books,
to determine our spiritual diet.”
Notice the result in verse 32, “… Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Their hearts were literally “set on fire” [καίω] by the whole-Bible teaching of Jesus! Luke then reveals the final detail of Jesus’ invitation to “Come & Follow” …
- Jesus Expects us to Share what we’ve Learned (vv. 33–35)
- “And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, ‘The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.’ They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.”
The Greek term “relate” … [ἐξηγέομαι] is where we get our word “exegesis” … it literally means to “lead out” … it’s used in the interpretation of things … to “unfold or unpack” a teaching.
Here’s the implication: When we choose to follow Jesus, we choose to lead others to Him!
To summarize, we are fortunate to follow a “Pursuing Jesus” because …
- He pursues us with urgency
- He pursues an intimate, personal relationship
- He questions our opinions & misconceptions
- He invites us to “Whole-Bible” discipleship
- He expects us to share what we’ve learned
Peace & Joy!
P.S. Toward the end of the three-day outdoor Ethiopian conference attended by 20,000+ the heavens opened with a “proper African rain-storm”! Most of the crowd stayed until the end late on Sunday afternoon. Click on the following link for a sample of their “Singing Benediction” … a very emotional end to a life-changing event!