The Risen Life
Sunday, April 11, 2021
Pastor Mark Aune
Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen
Seven miles is a long walk. I like that Luke includes this little detail in the on-going story of that first Easter Sunday. Walking is something we can all relate to, a universal experience and when you combine walking with talking it is easy to picture what was happening on the road to Emmaus.
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”
Keep in mind this is Easter Sunday, the same day as what we read and heard about last week. The death of Jesus is still fresh on the minds and hearts of his followers. They are sad. The resurrection is not real for them, yet. But that was about to change for these two walkers.
What is it like for you this first Sunday after Easter?
Is the resurrection real for you or do you still find yourself at the foot of the cross? Feeling sad, distraught, anxious, and lost?
You may be thinking to yourself that nothing has changed in a week. The news cycle is the same. Your family issues are the same. Our world is the same.
Notice what happens on the Emmaus road.
The two walkers are incredulous that this stranger does not know what happened in Jerusalem and so they tell him.
They had hoped Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel. To set them free from Roman oppression. They tell this stranger what happened to Jesus. He was condemned to death by hanging on a cross and then they hear reports that the tomb was empty, and the women had seen a vision of angels, but they were not sure if these reports were true or not.
Then this stranger says the strangest thing – “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah[j] should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
Why does it take so long for our hearts to catch up to God’s truth? To believe what the scriptures testify to concerning Jesus.
What happens on the road to Emmaus is exactly what needs to happen to us if we are going to realize and live a risen life.
The defining moment in this story is the scriptures being opened for these two walkers. They do not realize what is happening at the time, but they feel their hearts burning as the story is told to them by Jesus himself.
What is happening to these two walkers is that the resurrected Jesus is being reveled to them in that conversation, in that moment. They are moving from death to life as he opens the scriptures to them. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Do you know that feeling? Have you experienced the burning heart?
It was in the summer of 1979 that I first experienced the burning heart that came as a result of the scriptures being opened up in my life. I began to understand and see the presence of the risen Christ in my own life.
It is both a comforting and unsettling thing to realize and understand because you start to see the world as well as your own life in a new way.
You begin living a life knowing the risen Christ is literally dwelling inside you.
A life where Jesus has taken up residence in you.
It came about from simply reading the scriptures. There was a new intentionality for me to read and consume God’s Word.
I was beginning to listen to the story of Jesus in a new way and while I did not know what to call it at the time, that summer marked the beginning for me of understanding for myself that a risen life is a life lived because of the indwelling of the resurrected Jesus in my life.
We are walking the Emmaus road right now.
Jesus has completed his work. He has gone to the cross. God raised him from the dead.
Now, right now, His resurrected life is in you and me. Once the joy of Easter is revealed and realized in our lives, then comes the work of Easter.
Living the risen life. Living in a manner that revels the resurrected life of Jesus is inside of you. That His life is embodied in your life.
The risen life is lived without fear, without anxiety, without worry.
Christ lives in you. His new life is your new life.
When you understand the scriptures, the story of Jesus and what He tells us to do, then you are living the risen life.
When you are obedient to His Word, the risen life is at work in you and the door to that risen life is the cross. This was true for Jesus and it is true for us as well.
This is what the Apostle Paul means in Galatians when he says – I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The Emmaus walkers do one other important thing.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Christ is in you and you will see Him in the breaking of the bread.
Christ is in you and you will see Him as the scriptures are opened up for you.
And Cleopas and his friend remind us of one more very important thing. They invited Jesus to stay with them. That invitation was important. Because of that invitation they saw Him, with new eyes, with the eyes of faith. And they knew as their hearts burned that they were now living the risen life.
A life free from fear.
A life grounded in joy.
A life knowing, in our hearts that God has us covered.
This is the risen life.
This is Christ in you.
For His presence and the new life He gives we say thanks be to God. Amen