• 29 January 2024

Chapter 17 – Burning Hearts, Opened Eyes

How do many of us feel today? Afraid of death? Depressed and despairing? Maybe we have doubts? What is God going to do when everything seems to be going wrong? Why doesn’t he say or do something?

There was a group of people 2000 years ago who felt exactly the same way. When Jesus was arrested, His followers were terrified and ran away. They chose to self-isolate in terror of a cruel execution. Death stalked the streets of Jerusalem as they cowered behind closed doors.

Then after His death on the cross there is silence from God for three days. God says nothing. The disciples burrow down deeper and deeper into terrified self-isolation. There is no voice from God to comfort or help them. Perhaps they wondered why God was silent.

Then on Sunday morning two of Jesus’s disciples, in their doubt and fear of death, decide to go one step further. Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified is the epicentre of danger for them, so, like many today, they escape from the city and go to the country, to a little village called Emmaus about seven miles walk from Jerusalem. They are running away from fellowship with fellow believers – never a good idea.

As they run away from danger they are depressed and full of doubts. The truth is staring them in the face, but they don’t get it. Then something amazing happens. Jesus comes alongside them as they walk along and He speaks to them. The don’t recognise Him; their eyes are kept closed as to who He is.

Opening up the Hebrew Bible this mysterious stranger explains to them that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die, that there was no other way for humans to get back to God. This is their big blind spot; for them to die on the cross would be pointless. Suffering seems meaningless.

When they get near to their destination Jesus acts as if He is going further. Alarmed, they urge Him to stay with them. Finally He sits down for a meal and breaks bread with them. At this point their eyes are opened and they recognise who He is. He then abruptly disappears from their sight.

When they realise who it was who was talking to them they say to one another, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’ (Lk. 24:32). They do a U-turn and run back to Jerusalem and find the other disciples and tell them what happened. As they are doing that Jesus appears again and speaks. He says to them all, ‘Peach be with you’ (Lk. 24:36).

The same thing that happened to the disciples can happen to us. God is here and He is not silent. He speaks to us today. He is, I believe, speaking to you as you read this book.

He speaks to us today in all our troubles and doubts, through His Word, just like He did to the people on the road. And like the disciples on the Emmaus road, as the Word is opened then we, who may also be despondent and suffering, meet the risen Jesus. He steps off the pages of the Bible and into our lives.

What happens when we meet the risen Lord? We realise that both His suffering and ours is part of God’s plan. Our faith is strengthened and our doubts disappear. Most of all, our frozen hearts are thawed by the Holy Spirit and start to burn within us as we experience the risen Lord Jesus.

What does Jesus offer us today? The same thing He offered the disciples 2000 years ago. Peace through His death on the cross. Peace with God, with each other and in ourselves. We find peace once we meet the risen Lord.

Excerpt from Hope in the face of suffering – 20 devotions for tough times by Jeremy Marshall

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