Luke 24:13-19, “That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who He was. He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?” They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?” He said, “What has happened?…” (MSG)
There are many places in the world in which I would love to travel, even during the Thanksgiving holiday, just to see how other cultures celebrate it. But I will be very honest with you, Thanksgiving in Baghdad would not be a favorite choice of mine! I mean that’s not exactly my dream way to spend my Turkey Day. But for some American soldiers several years ago, Thanksgiving 2003 is one of the more memorable holidays of their lives! Why? Because that was the day the President of the United States joined them for Thanksgiving Dinner and even went so far as to actually help serve the Thanksgiving Dinner as well!
You see, in the aftermath of the Iraq War, Baghdad was still not a very secure place, so the President’s visit came as a total surprise and a total secret from the press. Many American soldiers were feeling the weight of an extended tour of duty and, for many, the sudden appearance of their President… well, you can guess it was a real morale booster. As GIs have learned in previous wartime visits from other Presidents, there’s just something really re-energizing about a personal visit from your Commander-in-Chief.
Now, you may not be on any military front lines, but truth be told, the battles you’ve been fighting lately are taking their toll on you! Making you feel as if you’ve been shot at, run down, blown up, I mean there simply hasn’t been much of a break in the action, and you’ve got some serious combat fatigue. You’ve been battling in marriage, on the job, in finances, in the ministry, in the family, in your health, in school. Every direction you’ve turned in has been an uphill battle! In fact, maybe it feels like you’re losing the battle right now. And if so, you know what you need? You need some personal time with your Commander-in-Chief. Not the President of the United States, because no human leader can hold a candle to your Real Commander-in-Chief! He is, after all, according to the Bible, the King of all kings! He is King Jesus!
Now, in Luke 24, beginning with verse 13, two of Jesus’ followers are battle-scarred and going down for the count (ever feel like that?) Well, in this instance, their Savior had been crucified, His body is now missing from the tomb. They’re on the road to Emmaus and here’s how our text reads: “And behold, that very day two of [the disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, [which is] about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things that had occurred. And while they were conversing and discussing together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them. But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognize Him. And He said to them, What is this discussion that you are exchanging (throwing back and forth) between yourselves as you walk along? And they stood still, looking sad and downcast. Then one of them, name Cleopas, answered Him, Do you alone dwell as a stranger in Jerusalem and not know the things that have occurred there in these days? And He said to them, What [kind of] things?…” (AMPC)
First, can I be real with you? When I read, “And behold, that very day two of [the disciples]…”, I immediately thought, as a disciple of Christ, why should the road be so rough for us? I’m being honest now. These two disciples were walking away from a gruesome scene of cruelty, their hopes dashed, and they’re walking, talking and trying to figure out what now and what next? And sometimes I think that’s what hurts us as believers, because we’re often taught that there’s this ‘bed-of-roses-faith’ that occurs once you receive Christ. As if all the bad things in the world that happen, will not happen to you. You are suddenly exempt from it all. It’s the ‘bad guys‘ that get the bad stuff, not us. We’re believers, children of the Most High God, rescued, ransomed and redeemed. It is all well with our souls! But truth is, even as disciples we have to deal with some rough roads, and some harsh circumstances. Contrary to popular belief, we’re not exempt. We blame the devil for more than he needs to receive credit for, because we were warned by our Commander-in-Chief well in advance: John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have TRIBULATION and TRIALS and DISTRESS and FRUSTRATION; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you].” (AMPC)
Yes, disciples of Christ, we too will have to deal with discouragement, distress, tribulation, trials and frustration. Again, we are not exempt. But we are to be encouraged because there is absolutely nothing that can overwhelm us that hasn’t already been overcome by Him! So even when we feel something is “not fair”, bear in mind all of His soldiers have to fight in battle, and many of those wars will leave us with painful, bloody, battle-scars. However, it will not take our lives! So what must we do? Keep fighting! 2 Timothy 2:3-5, “Take [with me] your share of the HARDSHIPS and SUFFERING [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him. And if anyone enters competitive games, he is not crowned unless he competes lawfully (fairly, according to the rules laid down).” (AMPC)
We have to take our fair share of the fight! Yes, life gets hard and life is hard, but all that means is that we fight harder!
These two disciples were discouraged and downcast because of what they just experienced. And so they’re walking and talking on the road to Emmaus with heavy hearts. Jesus appears and asks them, “What has happened?” and they begin to explain: “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.” (vss. 19-24 MSG)
Can you hear the frustration in their voices? They’re DOWNCAST, CONFUSED, FRUSTRATED, their faith is being tested as their hopes began to seep away. Ever walked in those shoes? I know I have, and still do on many days. For example, my mom had some extreme health challenges over the last 5 years prior to her passing in 2017, and as her caregiver, it was extremely confusing, discouraging, frustrating, scary, worrisome, and yes, even my faith and hope has had to be resuscitated a time or two (or 200, if we’re really being honest!) You see, she would go for one test, we would get the diagnosis, then as soon as they would put her on medications and start treatment, something else would go haywire! Every time they treated one thing, it would trigger off something else. Every time it seemed as if one thing was finally under control, it caused something else to go out of control! It has been the worse see-saw experience of my life! As soon as our hope would go up, within moments we would watch it come crashing back down with one phone call from the doctor or doctors visit. And truth is, that’s hard for anyone. As they say, “the struggle is real!”
Another example is my husband Elder Tim. He was born with Sickle Cell Anemia and because of it, he’s had 3 hip replacement/revision surgeries in the last 20 years! He goes in to surgery and you think he’ll be fine only to have the doctors come out and say he went into cardiac arrest but he’s back now and stable. WHAT?! Then the second time surgery is done, only to have him a little while afterwards experience a slip and fall that fractured a hip! Then this last surgery his blood sugar would go up, they would go to treat it, then the blood pressure would go up. The swelling in his hip would go down, but gout would flare up. His weight would go down, but a fever would go up. They would add meds, take away meds, switch up meds, and he would be fed up with all meds! It has been a journey, and a hard road to watch a loved one suffer so much pain, repetitively that you can do nothing about, a pain that will never fully go away because we’ll have to revisit this road in another 15-20 years! It can get to a point where you just get so frustrated, angry, downcast, hurt, even bitter. You start to ask God (more like question God), ‘I thought you said, by Your strips he’s healed. God, I’m honestly struggling here and need Your help because I heard what You said, but I can’t help but be concerned about what I see. What I see in the blood-work; what I see on the x-rays; what I see in more prescriptions being added; what I see in the doctor reports.” Unbelief kicks in and you have to find someway to push yourself to say, “okay God, I’ll still believe your report, just Lord, Help Me!” Sometimes, life can throw you curve balls that you don’t even know how to swing at. So I can really identify with these two disciples. Like, dude, what now…what next?!
Well, what’s next is, Jesus allows them to vent (just as He allows us to) and then He speaks: “Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him…” (vss. 25-27 MSG)
One of the things I love most about this text is Jesus’ response! First, I just told you I was frustrated and confused, then I explained why. My hopes are dwindling and my faith is fading fast. I don’t know where my Jesus is, who took Him or why. I don’t know what these women are talking about. I have no idea what to do next. Can’t trust any of the leaders since they’re the ones who killed Him in the first place. And yet, Jesus bypasses all of this and calls them “thick-headed and slow-hearted…” Um, Jesus, that’s not very encouraging! LOL! But I love the way He simply addresses them, because He most certainly pulled no punches! Let’s be real, if we went to one of our leaders in the church and shared all of our struggles and all they said to us was “you thick-headed, slow-hearted numbskull”, we would have left that church that Sunday! But Jesus gets to the heart of the matter, in a nutshell, ‘why are you allowing the battle to beat up your belief’?
However, Jesus doesn’t leave off His words there, nope, He goes on to the very beginning of the Books of Moses and all of the Prophets carefully pointing out to them everything that the Scriptures say in reference to Him. Why is that so important? Because can you imagine the time and patience it took for Jesus to do this? He started at the beginning and worked His way all the way through all of the prophets just to encourage, empower and inspire their faith. And believe it or not but He loves you enough to do the very same thing. Question is: Have you taken out time to walk and talk with Jesus? What might He share with you to rekindle the flame and fire of your faith, if only you took time to take your frustration to Him (instead of everybody else)? How might He enlighten you; encourage and empower you; inspire and impact you?
Let this be a challenge for you today, don’t take your next battle to people take it to Jesus! Tell Him all about it, and don’t mince your words. Speak from the heart like the Psalmist often did. Pour it all out to Him in honesty, not eloquence, and have a listening, attentive ear to what he may say that will strengthen your walk of faith as you journey through this life with Jesus.
Well, the story doesn’t stop there. Let’s see what’s next: “They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared. Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?” (vss. 28-32 MSG)
How personable is Jesus? Truth is, you can rarely find leaders today who are that personable. Not only had He walked and talked with them, but He sat down to bless and break bread with them. You know, I often hear people say when they’re going through that they feel distant from God. But in reading this text it makes me wonder how can that be? Jesus loves spending quality time with us, encouraging our faith, and even sitting at the dinner table. Though they didn’t recognize Him yet, they invited Him to dinner. We who do recognize Him, don’t. How can that make sense? Maybe the next battle you have to endure would be better if you invited Jesus into the midst. Note: He didn’t invite Himself, He was asked. When is the last time you asked Him to come and sit with you? After all, we’ll sit on the phone for hours, we’ll sit among our friends and family, we’ll sit at the altar, but when is the last time you sat with Him? Inviting Him into your personal, and even painful, space.
Revelation 3:20-21, “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!” (MSG)
James 4:7-10, “So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” (MSG)
Clearly, Jesus Has No Problems Visiting With Us, Sitting With Us, Breaking Bread With Us, Drawing Near to Us. So what’s the problem? The only problem is us extending to Him an invitation!
He blessed and break bread and gave it to them. In essence, He was feeding them. Makes me wonder if when we feel hungry and empty if it’s because we haven’t invited Jesus to come and sit with us and feed us. Remember:
John 1:1, “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.” (AMPC)
John 1:14, “And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacle (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) AMONG US; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.” (AMPC)
This is what we need to dine on when we feel hungry and empty…Jesus…the Bread of Life! John 6:35, “Jesus replied, I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never be hungry, and he who believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me will never thirst any more (at any time).” (AMPC)
With this as your option, how can you choose anything else?
Invite Jesus in, He wants to feed the hunger in your soul where frustration eats away at your faith!
And what happens next? “…At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared. Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us? They didn’t waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: “It’s really happened! The Master has been raised up – Simon saw him!” Then the two went over everything that had happened on the road and how they recognized Him when He broke the bread.” (vss. 28-35 MSG)
The Bible goes on to say they returned to Jerusalem totally pumped! They started exhausted; they ended excited! They started on empty; they ended on full! What made the difference? The personal presence of their Commander-in-Chief. He’s the one who makes all the battles worth it. Experiencing the reality of His presence is what always makes the difference. That’s exactly what you need right now, and maybe what you’ve been missing. You’ve been running all over the place, but it’s too long since you just had a walk with Jesus; a time when you pour out your heart to Him and He pours some of His heart into you. Maybe you forgot Who it’s all for – the One who loved you enough to die for you. He’s the reason for fighting the battles. He’s the joy. He’s the reward, you’re in essence, suffering from a Jesus-deficit. You might be serving Him with everything you’ve got, but you’re missing Him still. Other things are looking bigger than they really are because you haven’t been with the One who’s bigger than all those battles combined! The bottom line is really pretty simple. It’s all about Jesus, and you’re missing Him in the midst of all your battles. But your King, the Commander-in-Chief, has come your way today, and He’s asking you to just take a walk with Him; to have a heart-to-heart talk with Him. Not just today, but every new day. There’s something very re-energizing about a personal visit with the person that you’re fighting for. Believe me, there is nothing to turn the tide in the battle that you’re fighting right now like the personal presence of your King of kings.
These two disciples were headed to Emmaus, and after a walk, talk and sit with Jesus they return to Jerusalem re-energized for whatever may come next. They also go back and tell the rest of the disciples what happened. And that’s exactly what you need to do with this devotional today. Allow it to encourage you to walk, talk and sit with Jesus in the midst of your battles. And once you’ve been refueled, take the message to the other empty disciples you know and encourage them by what happened to you!
Truth is, this journey with Jesus gets hard! And when it does, allow His word to soften your heart. Hear Him and Heed Him. Your Commander-in-Chief wants to spend some time with His best soldiers. So, are you going to let your battles keep you from Him, or lead you to Him?
“The best view comes after the hardest climb.” (Author Unknown)
“When life gets too hard to stand, kneel.” (Author Unknown)
“Keep your head up. God gives His hardest battles to His strongest soldiers.” (Author Unknown)
“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” (Author Unknown)
“If your path is more difficult, it is because your calling is higher.” (Author Unknown)
“Don’t ask God why He’s allowing something to happen. Ask Him what He wants you to learn and do in the midst of it.” (Author Unknown)
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” (C.S. Lewis)
“Sometimes the paths we take are long and hard, but remember: those are the ones that lead to the most beautiful views.” (Collin McCarthy)
“Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations.” (Oliver Goldsmith)
“When you face difficult times, know that challenges are not sent to destroy you. They’re sent to promote you, increase and strengthen you.” (Joel Osteen)
“The way to Heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh.” (Jonathan Edwards)
“Faith isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice to trust God even when the road ahead seems uncertain.” (Dave Willies)
“Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us more effectively. Look for the learning.” (Louisa May Alcott)
“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.”
Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord
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