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Burning Hearts

The two travelers were so sad that their feet dragged as they walked. The few miles ahead seemed interminable. Then the stranger joined them. “Why so sad?” He asked.

They looked at Him, amazed. “Are you a stranger that you haven’t heard about the things that happened in Jerusalem?”

“What things?” He asked.

They told him about Jesus and what had happened. How they believed He was a prophet but was delivered to death by the chief priests and rulers. And how there were certain women who claimed He was alive.

So the stranger began telling them that the Christ must suffer like that. He began with Moses and then the prophets.

“Moses wrote that Adam and Eve were created and placed in the garden and everything was very good. Then the serpent tempted them.  They yielded. That resulted in very evil consequences to man and all of creation.  It may have looked like certain victory for the serpent, but then the first prophecy about Messiah was given. God spoke to the serpent and said, ’And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel’ (Gen. 3:15).  Here was a promise that the serpent would be defeated. There would be suffering by the seed of the woman for His heel would be bruised.

“Who is this one, this seed of the woman, who would come victoriously to the conflict? He would be a descendent of Abraham, for in Him all the families of the earth would be blessed.  He would be of the tribe of Jacob and the house of David.  He would be born in Bethlehem, for the prophet said, ‘But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting’ (Micah 5:2). This eternal One would come down to take His place among men.  He would be born of a virgin, for the prophet wrote, ‘Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel which being interpreted is, God with us’ (Matt. 1:23).

“What would Christ do among men?  He would bless them.  Isaiah prophesied that He would be filled with the Spirit. ‘The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD’ (Isa. 61:1,2). When Jesus came to Nazareth after being tempted in the wilderness, He went to the synagogue, read this passage, and said, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.’ Later, after John the Baptist was arrested and sent disciples to Jesus asking if He was the promised one, Jesus sent back word, ‘Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached’ (Luke 7:22).

“How would they receive Him who was God come in the flesh?  ‘He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief’ (Isa. 53:3a). He chose disciples, yet even one of them would betray Him, as it was written, ‘Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me’ (Ps. 41:9). So He was to be betrayed by his friend.  Then they would sentence Him to die by crucifixion for it was prophesied that ‘They pierced my hands and my feet’ (Ps. 22:16b).

“Why would they crucify the Messiah? It was for the sins of man, as the prophet wrote, ‘But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Isa. 53:5,6).

“The prophets said that Messiah must suffer and die for the sins of mankind. And He would be buried. ‘And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death’ (Isa. 53:9). Yet His body would not decay. ‘For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption’ (Ps. 16:10).

“All these things were written about Christ.  Are you too foolish or to slow in heart to believe?  If His body would not decay and He would not be left in the grave, is it too much to believe that Christ has risen?  Would it be too much for you to believe, as did Job, that his redeemer would be alive?  ‘I know that my redeemer liveth and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth’ (Job 19:25). Ought not Christ, after He suffered, to enter into His glory?”

By this time the three travelers had reached the little village of Emmaus.  The stranger acted as though He would continue on, but they prevailed on Him to stay with them, since it was nearly evening.  So they waited until the meal was prepared. When they sat down, the stranger took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. They recognized Him.  It was Jesus!  And then He vanished.

There they were, the two of them, considering the amazing experience.  What do you think of at a time like that?  What do you remember the most clearly?  They did not comment first on the disappearance of Jesus, nor of their inability to recognize Him and then their eyes being opened. No, what struck them was remembering what had happened in their hearts on that walk.

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Lk. 24:32). On that walk their hearts had received the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. It was because the Lord opened the scriptures about Himself to them.

Here is the answer to a heavy heart.  Here is the stream in the desert, the water to the thirsty soul, the healing balm for the wounded.  It is the opening of the gospel that Christ came to earth, He lived a sinless life, He was betrayed and crucified, He was buried, and on the third day He rose from the grave. Healing, help, hope, revival, joy, all come from the declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

No wonder with renewed energy the two disciples returned the same hour to Jerusalem where they found the eleven and declared, “The Lord is risen indeed!”

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