Got Heart Burn? Part 1

In 2011 I had one of the best summers ever. I got to know some really amazing people that summer, who also happened to be apart of my small group. One of the things our small group did was go to Cedar Point in Ohio. Now that was fun! Do you like roller coasters? I love roller coasters. Cedar Point had 17 roller coasters. Of course I didn’t get to go on all of them, but we had a great time. Another thing that I love to do is travel. Do you love to travel? That summer Deedre and I took the Amtrak to New York City and spent time with family and friends. We decided that we would be tourists on this trip so we went to many of the sights in the city like the Empire State Building, Ground zero, Wall Street, and the Statue of Liberty. However, one of the most memorable and impacting travel experiences we had that summer was going on the New England Adventist Heritage Tour. On this tour from the seminary, we got to travel to states like Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. During this tour we got an opportunity to see were the pioneers of our church grew up and started their ministry. One of the most amazing experiences was to stand at ascension rock at the William Miller farm. For those of you who may not know, “ascension rock” was were William Miller and many other passionate followers of Jesus waited on October 22nd 1844 for Jesus to return. They were obviously bitterly disappointed when Oct. 23rd came around and Jesus did not come. I stood there in awed silence as I watched the white clouds gently roll over the mountains in the not so distant horizon. I could imagine that that was where they may have expected to see Jesus coming in the clouds. These were not people motivated by fear, but by a deep love and passion for Jesus and the Bible. I personally desire that kind of passion for Jesus. As I stood there I could only get a glimpse of how deep their despair and disappointment must have been.  They wanted to go home. Their hopes and dreams were wrapped up in Jesus and the setting up of His kingdom.  But then my mind starts to think about another group of passionate followers of Jesus. They too had a deep love for Jesus and were also expecting Him to set up His kingdom. Come with me to Jerusalem in 31AD. Jesus has been crucified and His disciples are crushed and bitterly disappointed.  On Friday at 3 o’clock their hopes and dreams died on a Roman cross. Their Lord was dead. The pain they felt cannot be expressed in words. It is now the third day since His death, on a Sunday afternoon, and two of His disciples are on their way from Jerusalem to a little village 7 miles away called Emmaus, which means, “warm spring.” As they walked they talked about the scenes of the crucifixion and the recent news of the empty tomb. Watch this video about their amazing story...

 Occasionally on their journey, they pause briefly to weep. They are so wrapped up in their despair and confusion that they didn’t even realize that they were being followed.  This Stranger gets closer and closer until He is walking side by side with them. They were so caught up in gloom and despair that they didn’t even recognize who this Stranger was. We pick up the story in Luke 25:15…

So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.
— Luke 24:15 NKJV

In midst of their pain, Jesus comes close. In the midst of despair, Jesus draws near. Have you ever been hurt? Disappointed by someone or something that didn’t happen the way you thought it should? The Bible is telling you that…

Jesus Draws Near, Even When Your Present Seems Unclear

I remember how devastated I felt when I lost my job in 2007. I had just gotten married just a few months before. Everyone was so happy for us. It was happily ever after. I had two business degrees and a career track that seemed to be leading to the corporate office. In spite of what I knew to be my true passion, I was sure that was going to be a Human Resource Manager for my company and make lots of money. But when the job was gone my future didn’t seem so clear anymore. Then when the financial difficulties hit, I remember coming home some days, at times when I knew Deedre wasn’t home, and would just fall down on my knees and cry. I just couldn’t make sense out of my present situation.  It was there that Jesus drew near to me and through a three year process showed me what His dreams for me really were. 

It is in some of our darkest moments in life that God comes closest to us. Yet verse 16 says, “that their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.” I would often wonder when I would read this text, if they were in such a state of grief and pain that they couldn’t recognize Jesus. Or if maybe Jesus conducted Himself in such a way that His true identity was hidden. In either case, here is Jesus, the risen Lord, the very answer and solution to their problem walking right beside them, yet they could not perceive Him nor sense His presence. Could it be that we allow are pains, troubles and disappointments to so overwhelm us that we can’t see that Jesus is right there with us, trying to bring us out of despair? So what does Jesus do when we can’t see Him through our pain? Ellen says, “As they talked of the events that had taken place, Jesus longed to comfort them. He had seen their grief; He understood the conflicting, perplexing ideas that brought to their minds the thought, Can this Man, who suffered Himself to be so humiliated, be the Christ? Their grief could not be restrained, and they wept. Jesus knew that their hearts were bound up with Him in love, and He longed to wipe away their tears, and fill them with joy and gladness. But He must first give them lessons they would never forget.” Desire of Ages P.795 He first starts by engaging them in conversation. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” Jesus has the greatest news to share with them, but He first lets them share what’s on their heart, while He just listens. I am still working on that. 

Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?”
— Luke 24:18-19 NKJV

You can’t help but notice the humor in this text. Jesus knows exactly what happen, but He has a point that He is trying to make. It’s just like in the garden of Eden, after man sinned, when God says to Adam, “Where are you?” God, being all knowing didn’t need anyone to tell Him where Adam was, but was giving Adam a chance to confess. Cleopas, the only one of the two whose name we have begins to speak to this Stranger.

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
— Luke 24:19-24 NKJV

Friends, the same Jesus that took the time to draw near to these man, walk with them and really listen to them, is the same Jesus that wants to be involved in your life today. He longs to come alongside you and listen to what you have to say. Do you have questions? Tell Jesus. He can handle your questions. Is your heart broken today and does your future seem unclear? Share your concerns with Him in prayer. Just be prepared for His answer. God still speaks to His people. And Jesus is about to show us and these disciples His primary method of communication.