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MORRISON ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
Hope From Heartburn
How many of you here are going to go out to eat for Mother’s Day today? Raise yourhand. Don’t be shy; just raise your hand. If you’re going out to eat for Mother’s Day,raise your hand. Raise your hand so I can see it. You have one little guy going but notthe rest of the family, huh?
It’s nice that we take mothers out to eat on Mother’s Day. It’s a lot better than havingthe husbands cook, right? But think about this for a minute.a lot of times what we dois we take mom to a place we normally wouldn’t go and encourage her to eat food shenormally wouldn’t eat, right? We want it to be special; eat something different. So whatdo we end up giving mom for a Mother’s Day gift? Heartburn. They have this food theydon’t usually have and that’s one of the results sometimes.
Heartburn seems to be our national pastime. I bet you could list more treatments forheartburn right now than you can list apostles of Jesus Christ. You start going throughTums and Rolaids and Prilosec and all these other commercials you see on TV. I sawone last night that I didn’t recognize for a new name I never heard before. I didn’t wantto learn it because I have too many pictures in my mind already of animated stomachsand acid producers being blocked by these medications you could take. If someonecame from outside of our country, they would think our national pastime is heartburntreatment if they sat and watched our televisions for awhile. I understand it. Heartburnis not a fun thing. I certainly hope that you mothers that go out to eat today don’t wakeup in the middle of the night with acid reflux coming up your throats. It’s not a fun thing. I’ve experienced it and I don’t like it. So I understand why it’s such big business.
Heartburn is something you want to be rid of, except today, when you consider the kindof heartburn that the Holy Spirit talks about through Luke this morning. I find this to beone of the most fascinating and surprising sections of Jesus’ resurrection accounts.
These two disciples who are miserable, who are hopeless, who are beaten down andbroken.I think that’s what you can see when you read this.they see Jesus face toface and what’s recorded for us is not, “Can you believe it? Jesus is alive.” Or, “Canyou believe it? We just saw Jesus.” Their first words that the Holy Spirit records for usis nothing to do with “We just saw Jesus and he’s alive.” Their first words recorded forus are, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road andopened the Scriptures to us?” Isn’t that amazing? Doesn’t that just shake where youare and who you are and what you think and how you approach things? Humanly
speaking, we’d expect these guys to be saying, “We just talked to a guy that was deadand now he’s alive.” But they aren’t. They are talking about the power of the samethings that you and I can hold in our hands every day of our lives.
Think of how often you and I are envious of these guys that got to sit at Jesus’ feet andsee him face to face. Listen to them. They are telling you to find your hope fromheartburn, this kind of heartburn that comes from being immersed in the Word of God. It brings hope.
When these guys didn’t have hope, they were heartbroken. Their hearts were aching. Their hearts were breaking. They were miserable. But when their hearts startedburning with the Holy Spirit working through the Scriptures, they found a hope thatsustained them, a hope that motivated them and a hope that moved them.
You can kind of sympathize with Cleopas and the unnamed guy, can’t you? Theirheads just had to be swimming. Everything that they had gone through; just think ofwhat they had gone through in the past week. Palm Sunday.everything looks likemaybe this is it. He’s going to establish his kingdom, the kingdom they were expecting,this earthly kingdom of the Messiah. They had seen him teach in the temples duringthe week in power and the people just stood in awe with their jaws dropping at thepower of his teaching. They had seen the miracles. They had seen what he had done. Maybe they had even been there when Lazarus was raised from the dead not all thatlong ago.
Now an arrest, a crucifixion and these stories that they can’t quite wrap their headsaround. The women went to the tomb and he’s not there, and something about angelsand all these things. The stone is rolled away but the body is not there. They don’tknow what’s going on. It says as they were walking these seven miles to Emmaus, theywere discussing these things. Literally it talks about them bouncing things back andforth off of each other. It was like they would say, “What about this?” And then they’dtalk about it a little bit and then they’d come to a dead end, so they’d go in anotherdirection. They were trying to digest everything, and they couldn’t digest it. Theycouldn’t understand it. They couldn’t comprehend it.
One of the saddest verses in Scripture is what they said when this guy comes along,this clueless guy that doesn’t seem to know anything about anything. He starts askingthem questions. “What are you talking about?” They’re answer is, “You fool. Anyoneknows what we are talking about with everything that has been going on.” Then theysaid “What we are talking about is Jesus of Nazareth.” Here’s the sad statement. “Wehad hoped that he was the one that was going to redeem Israel.” It sounds like as theydiscussed everything they couldn’t come up with an answer. It sounds like the hopewas gone. The time and energy they had put into following Jesus and learning aboutJesus, as they are looking at it now in face value, appears to have been wasted time. “We had hoped he was the one that would redeem Israel.” It sounds like that hope isgone.
You would expect Jesus to say, “Look guys, it’s me.” But he doesn’t. He kept themfrom recognizing him. Then he says something that probably surprises us a great deal. Doesn’t it sound kind of harsh? Doesn’t Jesus sound way too harsh here when hesays, “How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets havespoken!” Foolish? Slow of heart? These guys are beaten down. It said their faceswere downcast. You’ve seen that, right? You walk to someone and they can’t look youin the eye. Their heads are down. They can’t even lift their eyes up because they areso beaten down and broken. When they are like this and they’re hopeless and beatendown and broken, faces downcast, Jesus calls them fools and slow of heart.
What does God mean whenever God calls someone a fool? He’s saying you’re a foolbecause you had better knowledge and you didn’t act on it. You knew better but youdidn’t know better. It’s kind of like when a little kid dares another little kid to lick theflagpole and it’s -30°F in the middle of winter. They go ahead and do it. That’s a fool,right? You should have known better. Mom and dad have to tell them that was kind offoolish. You should have known better. You know what is going to happen if you dothat. Your tongue is going to stick and it’s going to be a problem. Jesus is here saying“You should have known better. You had every opportunity to know better.” But theydidn’t know what Moses and the prophets had said. Sure they knew Moses and theprophets, but they knew them through the eyes of what they were used to thinkingabout and what they were used to seeing and not digging into it with eyes that searchedand said, “God, open my heart so that I can learn great things from your Word.” Theywere seeing with the eyes of the expectations of their day, that the Messiah wouldcome and establish an earthly kingdom and get rid of the Romans and we’d go back toSolomon’s day. They didn’t see the pictures and the Psalms in Isaiah about thesuffering Messiah who would have to suffer and die and then rise again. They didn’tsee those passages because they chose to focus on what they liked better, theconquering Messiah. It’s understandable, but it’s foolish.
It’s just as foolish as when you and I want to operate by what we know, what we see,what we like, what we are used to, what we are comfortable with as opposed to whatthe Word of God says. The Word of God is where the power is. The Word of God iswhere the hope is. And if we just rely on “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” we’reone step removed from the Word of God, aren’t we? Then we can’t plug into thatpower source. We can’t find that hope. We can’t find that comfort, because we’restaying away from it. I think the Lord our God would tell us today just as certainly as hedid that day, that is foolish. Get into where the hope and the power is because that’sexactly what happened to these guys.
It says “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets,” Jesus explained to them why allthis had to happen. Their response to all this, like I already mentioned, when Jesusdisappears after he starts to distribute the evening meal isn’t “Can you believe we justsaw Jesus?” It’s, “Weren’t our hearts burning within us as he opened Scripture to us?” You see the power that is the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit works through the means of
grace, through the Word and the Sacraments. He opens our eyes to see what wecould never see. He gives us the gifts we could never get for ourselves. The more weare in the Word, the more we are going to find those blessings.
If we think about this, part of us probably wishes we knew what passages Jesus talkedabout. What did he talk about from Moses? What did he talk about from the Prophets? Why didn’t God record that for us? That would be helpful. Why do you think the Lorddidn’t record that for us? Why do you think the Holy Spirit didn’t have Luke write that? Ithink the answer is kind of obvious. It’s because the Lord wants us to get ourselves intoMoses and the Prophets and the Psalms and get into the Old Testament and see allthese pictures, and then look at the New Testament and see the fulfillment. See whatGod thinks about sin as you look in the Old Testament and you see these bloodsacrifices again and again and again and you see how God describes his feelingstowards sin. You know it’s not something we can make up and fix ourselves. So thenyou dig into the Old Testament more and you see his promises that he would do it all. He would be the Lord our righteousness, as he says in Jeremiah. Then that’s what werejoice in.that Jesus came. Thin about all those times when we have despised God’sWord and not made use of it and not used it fully and faithfully and we’re comfortablewith being lazy and just staying back with “that’s the way we’ve always done it. I don’tneed to think about God’s Word.”
Christ is perfect in all those places. He dug into the Word. He handled the Word theway God wants it to be handled by each one of us. He did it in our place to be ourrighteousness. Then he died as the punishment for our sins and took all of our sinsaway. That love that God has for us, that love that is so amazing is what moves us tofocus on God and on Jesus, not on ourselves. That’s hard for us to do at times, isn’t it?
I have to believe it’s going to be hard for us to commune this morning because we aredoing something new and different. We aren’t coming to the altar. We aren’t doing itthe way we’ve always done it. Now we are going to be doing it standing down here. It’sgoing to be hard. We might think, “What if I stand in the wrong place or go in the wrongdirection?” If you do, so what? Just get up here somehow and we’ll figure it out as wego. We’ll get better at it with practice, right?
As a kid, that was one of my biggest worries. I didn’t want to be the first person at thetable that had to come back down from our altar because I was afraid I’d turn the wrongway or go in the wrong direction and make a mistake and look like a fool in the front ofchurch. Now I do it for a living.
The point is, don’t worry about yourself as much as you worry about Jesus, right? Whyare we coming to the Lord’s Supper? It’s because we need his forgiveness. Our Lordknows that we need to have it more than just from hearing it from someone, so he givesit to us in this tangible way, the very body and blood in, with and under the bread andthe wine that we taste, we touch, we smell. Everyone of our senses then can see ourGod loves us. Our God forgives us. Our God takes away our sins. Our hearts then
burn within us because God’s love for us overpowers all of our weaknesses, all of ourfailings, all of our frailties. That’s what gives us hope. It’s not from inside of us. It’sfrom our God.
So focus on Christ. Focus on his Word. Don’t make it just a Sunday thing. Make it adaily thing. Find time for the Word. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but find time for theWord so that the Spirit can open your eyes so that you’re heart can burn, in a goodway.
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