Sunday, April 28, 2019
Sermon Title – Road Trip
Texts: Luke 24:13-35
Have you ever taken a road trip before? Whered you go? Who was with you? Was it by car, grey hound or train? Was it a fun vacation or a road trip w/ a particular purpose like a move to another state? Perhaps it was to attend a wedding or even a funeral? Did you make it to your destination in one piece? Did you sing songs in the car or argue over the radio stations or about which route to take? Was there laughter and all-around joy or was it tedious w/ a feeling of complete desperation just to make it to your final destination?
Well, this road trip we just read about didnt take place in a car, bus or train, of course not. No, it was a long walk actually, which was approximately 7 miles long. Perhaps it was a dusty dirt road with the sun beating down on them or maybe there was a grey – cloud hovering above, to accompany their over-all grey mood. For, as we can see, these two travelers are pretty much down and out. In fact, they are deep in thought and theres a tone of somberness in the air. There is an over-all disappointment and confusion that hovers over them as well. We know this, because Luke tells us that they even looked sad and said how they had hoped for a different outcome to the recent events.
And what were those recent events? Well, it was none other than the arrest, crucifixion and then remarkably reports of Jesus resurrection. ALL of these recent events had their undivided attention.
So, no, this is not a happy trip; instead, it is one of sadness, despair and many unanswered questions. Here were these two men who, although werent among the original 12 disciples, were clearly a part of the group that would have been close to Jesus. We see them deep in conversation, trying to make sense of what has just occurred. Theyre probably checking in w/ each other to compare notes on what they had heard of that original Easter event. As with any good friends, they ponder things together, clarifying, asking themselves out loud how they could possibly make sense of what theyve heard. Could it be true, they ask each other, that their leader and friend who had just died three days ago was then raised from the dead- just as those women had said?
Thats the setting of this particular road trip, one which doesnt seem to be too pleasant until the road takes a very unexpected turn when suddenly, a stranger joins them on their walk. Now, the road trip becomes quite different. Now, they have an opportunity to share their grief with the very One who COULD understood their pain and confusion, the most.
Ironically, they dont recognize Him to be the very person they were speaking of but it doesnt matter because Jesus takes this opportunity to engage w/ them in a very real conversation. And thats when this road trip of despair becomes a very different kind of road trip one, they will never forget.
I need to pause right here because dont you just love what Jesus did once he joined them on this trip? Notice that He didnt give them a long lecture on what had just happened and why it all happened. Instead, he listened to their questions, doubts and feelings. In other words, he invited them to share w/ Him their stories. He met them exactly where they were at on their spiritual journey. He didnt say, oh get over yourselves. No, he listens and patiently waits until He can do something incredible for them. And do you know what that was? According to Luke, Jesus begins to reveal His very self through the interpretation of scripture!
You see, after meeting them where they are at (with their grief and confusion), AND after listening to their doubts and fears, He doesnt just leave them w/ all of these emotions and questions. No, instead, He shows them the real reason why all of that had to occur. And he does this by going through Biblical scripture and Biblical history. In other words, Jesus listens and takes them seriously. In doing so, he helped them to put their feelings into context, showing them that what had just happened wasnt about them, but about Gods great plan for His people.
And this is where I want us to begin to ask ourselves what this story can possibly say to us today- two thousand or so years after that Easter and after that important road trip. You see, it is very important to remember that Jesus meets us where we are at on our journeys of life. And, its equally important to be able to put our own detours of life into context. Just as He had done for them. Isnt remarkable that whether were currently on a fun journey or a difficult one Whether we feel we know exactly where were going presently or not Whether youre loving the beautiful scenery around you or its raining SO hard that you cant see out the window Whether youre SO lost that you dont know which turn to take No matter what of your life journey looks like to you right now, Jesus IS with you.
Hes right there along side of you and hes ready to help you put it all into context so that you dont get stuck or lost on your trip for ever but so that you can find you way home.
And thats not all, He wants to engage us in our questions and doubts, not interrupting us or make fun of our feelings of confusion or loss. No, of course not. Instead, He wants to remind us that theres a purpose to all of it, even if we cant see it right now. He reminds us that He was with us, is with us and will always be with us. In doing so, He tells us that the grief will not be forever, the momentary detour will not veer us way off track; as we might suspect it will. He does all of this by use of scripture, of His word which still holds power today.
Then, right when we think thats enough, it isnt. Theres still more! After the exchange of questions and conversation what did Jesus do? He walked on before them. And Jesus still walks before us, as he walked before those 2 pilgrims. Why, because He is our true leader, our true tour guide, sort to speak.
Now notice something else abt. the story. When it was time to share the meal Jesus didnt impose himself on them but instead, waited for them to invite Him to dinner and more conversation. Then, thats when it gets even better. Because it was around their sacred, intimate meal where their eyes were really opened. It was at that moment when their hearts were burning (with His truth and His presence) that they realize just who has been walking that long road with them, just who loves them so much that he would spend time w/ them, listening, sharing, teaching Moreover, it was when he broke the bread that they realize clearly who he was. He was their Lord and master. He was their Messiah! At that precise moment Jesus goes from being a guest to being the host of that meal. Just as Jesus is the host of every communion we partake of, in His name.
Now I wonder, what would have happened had they not invited him into their homes? Would they have had the benefit of being able to see clearly? And then I wonder something about us and that is if we really want to see clearly what is happening on our own journeys? Because if so, then all we need to do is invite Him into our homes. Invite Him into our homes where we are who we really are- not the people that we must be out in public; where we often hide behind a mask. But again, we must want to see clearly our own situation and then want to see clearly who He. Think about it. Had those two travelers not invited him in to their home, they wouldnt have received the ultimate revelation. Had they not offered him hospitality they would have missed the opportunity to see him up close and personal. They would not have been able to return to where the 11 disciples were congregated. They wouldnt have been able to share w/ them the exciting news that it WAS true, that He HAD risen from the dead. He was not dead and the powers of principalities had not had the last word. Jesus had the last word. He Had been able to accomplish what He said He would. He had come through with his promise!
You see friends, we too need to invite Him in; really invite Him in, not because were perfect and worthy to have him be our guest (because none of us are, of course.) But because He wants to be w/ us. He wants to walk with us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death as Psalm 23 speaks of. He wants to walk w/ us during our moments of disappointments, disillusionment, or disagreements. He wants to be w/ us when were worried about how were going to pay the bills this week and even when were morally outraged at how many mothers and fathers are being deported, or that our environmental protection laws are being dismantled, or that the most vulnerable of our society are being targeted like never before.
So yes, He wants to know about our desires for ourselves, our families, our church, and the world. He cares like no one else does and meets us where we are at. Why? Because He loves us!
SO, what abt. the rest of our road trip called life? What will that look like? Will it be a smooth, even road with no distractions, detours, or traffic jams? Well, none of us really knows what the future holds and where our journeys will take us. Of course not. However, we can be sure that Jesus walks w/ us on that journey called life and that He will never leave us alone. EVEN if it feels like we are alone. We can be sure that God is w/ us.
The good news is that it is never too late to search Him through His holy Word and it is never too late to invite Him into our homes and hearts. Do it and then get ready for the road trip of a life time!