Friday, March 2, 2012

Slow Hearts, Burning Hearts, Doubting Hearts

Luke’s conclusions as he describes the hearts of the people who encountered Jesus in the hours after the resurrection in Luke 24 ring true for me today.  

Slow Hearts
Two followers of Jesus are walking on the
Emmaus Road
on their way to Jerusalem a few hours after the discovery that Jesus’ tomb is empty. They’re rehashing in detail all that happened. They can’t believe it; it wasn’t supposed to be that way. They are very sad. Suddenly Jesus is beside them, walking with them, entering their conversation, asking questions. They are clueless that this stranger is Jesus. As they related their sad story, one used the words; “we had hoped …” Therein lays the key to their sadness. Their reality did not match their expectations. Jesus calls them slow of heart and then goes on to remind them of all that is in the Scriptures concerning himself.

We had hoped. I had hoped. I find myself in that place often. Life isn’t supposed to be this way.
I had hoped …

When I take time to ponder my hopes and my reality, I often return to Scripture and realize my ponderings default to my interpretation of God’s word, the way I want to understand it. My theology is incomplete and askew.  I am slow of heart.

Burning Hearts
Jesus accepted the invitation of his walking companions to stay for dinner. The followers still have not recognized him. As the meal commenced Jesus took the bread, blessed and broke it. An “ah-ha” moment. Jesus gave them a picture they understood. They knew about the feeding of the 5000, perhaps they were there. And the last supper that Jesus shared with his disciples was only a few days ago. Their memory was fresh. It was Jesus who walked with them and came to share dinner with them. Then Jesus vanished.

Their commentary, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road,”
Jesus walked with them, talked to them, revealed himself to them. Their hearts burned within.

I love these mountain-top moments when I’ve listened to the voice of Jesus. My hearts burns too. I live off them—for a while. I share them with friends. Everything is clear and encouraging. Then they begin to fade. Life gets in the way. I forget.

Doubting Hearts
Luke next recorded Jesus’ third appearance since the resurrection. The disciples (Jesus’ closest friends) continued to talk among themselves about Jesus being with the men on the
Emmaus Road
and breaking the bread before their eyes. As they discussed, suddenly Jesus is among them again. They are startled, frightened, and thought they were seeing a ghost. Jesus knew their fears and met them where they were. He showed them the nail scars on his hands and feet; he offered for them to touch him; he asked for something to eat. A ghost does not have flesh and bones; a ghost does not get hungry. Jesus asked, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” Once again Jesus reminded them of the Scriptures and opened their minds to understand it.

Do I consider myself a friend of Jesus? Yes.
Does my friendship with him exempt me from doubts? No.

Jesus gently addressed their doubting hearts:
*He invited them to touch him—something that makes sense to them.
*He again reviewed the Scriptures with them and opened their minds to understand.   
*He affirmed them—you are a witness to these things.
*He left them with a promise-the Holy Spirit.
*He led them out to Bethany and blessed them.

Dear Jesus, when my heart begins to doubt, please help me to see your invitation to me in my doubts; your affirmation of me; and your promises and blessings to me. Amen.

“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road,
while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
Luke 24:32, ESV

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