Walking with Him to Victory (2012 Easter Sunday)

Title: Walking with Him to Victory
Series: Walking the Roads of Easter (Easter Sunday)
Scripture: Luke 24:13-34
Theme(s): Victory, Success, Easter

Unifying Message: We should return and walk in victory because He has risen like He said He would.
Unifying Need: We as a people should return to our Easter experience each day.

Issue from the text
Issue in our world
God’s action in the text
God’s action in our world

The path to victory is not always a straight path. Sometimes there are setbacks and u-turns. By daily renewing our Easter experience and experiencing the power of the living, risen Lord can we truly “stay the course” and walk with Him in victory.

In Luke 24:13-34, we find two men identified as followers of Jesus. They were traveling to Emmaus–roughly 7 miles away from Jerusalem. We do not know if they were returning home after Passover or they were fleeing from the loss of their leader and the possible persecution of His followers that may have ensued. They were discussing what had happened over the last week. They were passionately discussing what had occurred and what it might mean. They knew that Jesus had come back again. What is curious about these two men was that instead of being there with Jesus they were walking to another place, away from Jerusalem! Why would these men not be where their leader was? If they knew that He had returned, why were they not sitting at His feet?

As Christians, we are people who all have experienced the incredible work of salvation in our lives. We all know the moment of happiness we feel the love of God flowing through us. After time, things can change. After a while, life continues and situations arise. We lose that Easter experience. We lose that feeling of joy. We, like the two men on the road to Emmaus, are walking away from the Good News and have taken a different path in life. We skirt around the issue. We play at the edges of God’s love. We gather together and try to recreate these experiences, but we still do not know that feeling. Are we still “Standing on the Promises?” Are we still resting in His “Blessed Assurance?” Do we remember “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” of Jesus?

Jesus travels along with the two men on the road. He travels with them and questions them. He even challenges them on what they were talking about. In verse 25, He calls them foolish. He reminds them that the Messiah would have had to endure a period of suffering before He could enter His glory. He then leads them through the teachings of Moses and the prophets. He reminds them about their history and legacy. He reminds them about where they had come from and how it applied to Him. Jesus could have been alluding to the prophecies of His coming and how He fulfilled hundreds of prophecies. When they stopped, Jesus was intending to continue one, but the men urged Him to stay. We get the impression here that the men wanted Him to continue teaching them, to continue sharing with them. Later, in verse 32, they remembered how their “hearts burned within” them as they walked together with Jesus.

He opened their eyes as they broke bread together. He later disappears and they are left with questions. Scripture says that within the hour they packed up and returned home. They made a u-turn. Having “seen” Jesus again for who He was, they had renewed faith and strength, renewed joy and excitement. They had received an Easter blessing! The power of Christ is undeniable and life-changing! When faced with the amazing grace, they returned with a new purpose. They head to the disciples and begin to tell them about what has happened. And, there is Jesus again! He knows the power of continual reinforcement—for continual contact.

We like the two men on the road to Emmaus are blinded sometimes from the reality and the power of Jesus. We must also be given sight and see Jesus in our everyday lives. By renewing that Easter experience each and every day, we can walk with Him in victory. As Jesus spent time with His followers, so too has God provided for us continual reinforcement and support. He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit’s power, we can be reminded of our Easter experience on a daily basis.

A Surprise Along the Way (2012 Easter SONrise Service)

Title: A Surprise Along the Way
Series: Walking the Road of Easter (SONrise Service)
Scripture: Luke 24:1-12
Theme(s): Surprise, God’s provision, Purpose, Importance

Let’s catch up in our story! Jesus, our Lord and leader of our group, has just been killed and buried. According to tradition some of the women have prepared the requisite spices and ointments to anoint His body. They cannot anoint His body right away because of the Sabbath. There can be no work on the Sabbath! So far, everything was continuing on as usual.

At first light, the women gather up all of their materials and make their way to the tomb. There is something very striking here about the women’s behavior. Normally the body would have been anointed right away to complete the burial process, but this time it was interrupted by the Sabbath. These women knew the responsibility and its purpose. But, they did not know how they were going to move the covering from the tomb. They did not know how they were going to complete their task, but they knew their duty. They knew how much Jesus had meant to them and this was one way for them to show Him and others that they loved Him. They could have sat at home and wished that they could have completed it. They could have waited a few days and called a committee of the elders together to work on the problem. They could have petitioned to the Romans to have the stone moved away. They could have hired the Jerusalem Rock and Digging Company, Inc. But, they didn’t. They started out. They only knew that it had to be done.

Sometimes, life feels this way. We have a difficult problem or choice before us. We can choose to move or stay. Like the women, we can choose to move in commitment and devotion, knowing that what we are doing is important. Or, we can sit at home and blame people. We can sit around and wait for someone else to take care of it. What is amazing about this story is that if the women had not walked out in faith, then they would have never witness the “surprise along the way.”

Our lives belong to God. He has made us and given us purpose. He has also given us the ability to choose whether we will move out in that purpose or not. How can we know the full measure of God’s care for us if we stay at home? I think this shows us that God delights in surprising His people. He said it was going to happen. He gave them examples along the way that it would happen. He told them over and over. Why wasn’t everyone waiting out in front of the tomb for Jesus to appear? They had seen Him raise Lazarus from the dead. They had seen Him walk on water. He had healed the blind and cured the sick. Why didn’t they believe that Jesus might have one more “trick” up His sleeve?

We feel like that in life. We know all of the great things that Jesus has done for us. He continually tells us of His love and plans for us in His word. Yet, we are not waiting at His feet. Jesus uses these “surprises along the way” to remind us that He is still walking beside us. Whether it was a promotion at work or an unexpected gift from a friend, a kind note from a far away relative or the answer to the secret prayer of our hearts, God still cares for His people. He is not dead. He is not locked up in a tomb. He is waiting right around the next corner with a “surprise along the way.”

Caring for Others Along the Road (Easter Saturday)

Title: Caring for Others Along the Road
Series: Walking the Road of Easter (Misc. Devotional)
Scripture: Luke 23:50-56
Theme(s): Repentance, Compassion, Caring, Stepping Out

After the darkest moment in human history, we find a short telling of a man who was faced with an opportunity to act. Joseph of Arimathea is described by scripture as a secret follower of Jesus (John 19:38) and a member of the Jewish high council (most likely the Sanhedrin). These two descriptors of Joseph would definitely have caused him some tension, especially as they related to the treatment and death of Christ. We are also told in Luke 23:50 that Joseph was a good and righteous man, but John 19:38 tells us that he feared the Jewish leaders. We see a division in the person of Joseph. He knew what to do and how to do it, but something was holding him back. His fear of the Jewish leaders was holding back his full commitment to the cause of Jesus. And maybe we can let him slide for fearing the Jewish leaders. Even though the Jewish leaders did not have the authority to put Jesus to death (John 18:31), they still managed to manipulate Pilate and Herod into doing it. If they could do that to Jesus, imagine what they could do to Joseph. At the very least, he would become a social outcast and lose his status in the community. These sorts of fears were holding him back from becoming the person that God intended him to be.

We have all seen it. There is a homeless man or woman on the street making their request for money or food. How many times have we walked around or driven past them? Have many times have we not stopped and talked with them? Let’s make it even more personal. How many times have we known that someone is going through something but we just don’t want to get involved? We rationalize it. “It’s none of my business.” “I have my own problems.” “They got themselves in this mess, they can get themselves out of it.” “What would people say if they saw me sitting with that person at lunch?” From physical to social issues, we are surrounded by people who just need a touch, a comforting reminder—some care along the road.

The power of God and the witness of Jesus Christ changed the heart and mind of Joseph of Arimathea. It is one thing to say that you are a follower of Christ. It is yet another to actually be a follower of Christ. Joseph risked everything he had and everything that he would ever be when he stepped up to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. You can almost imagine the stares of the other leaders, Roman and Jewish, as one of their own steps forward. He steps out of secrecy and into reality. He is stepping out of the shallow end of the pool into where it is deep. He is stepping out of being an acquaintance and into a relationship with Jesus.

Caring for others along the way will mean that you have to take risks. Like Joseph, you may have to risk your social standing, your popularity, some friendships, a new position, or possibly even your job. It will cost you something. Joseph of Arimathea put Jesus in his own tomb—a tomb meant for himself or one of his family members. This was a personal expense to him with no chance of reimbursement. Jesus taught us in Luke 9:24 that “if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” We must be like Joseph of Arimathea. We need to throw caution to the wind and show compassion to other travelers along the way, especially the ones that no one else will help. When faced with a crisis of faith, we must continue “doing the most good” for everyone around us.