19th April 2020 - Joy!

Updated: Apr 25, 2020




O JOYFUL sound! O glorious hour

When Christ by His almighty power

Arose and left the grave!

Now let our songs His triumph tell

Who broke the chains of death and Hell,

And ever lives to save.


He lives, He lives,

I know that my redeemer lives.

He lives, He lives,

I know that my redeemer lives.






Wherever we are, however we’re feeling, whether we’re alone or with others, may we be aware of the presence of the risen Christ as we worship today. However tough you may be finding the lockdown, remember to count your blessings! Remember those who, because of their faith in Christ and their witness for him, are in prison, and daily have to face much harder circumstances.



Let's pray:


Our Father God, as we come to worship today, we thank you that nothing can take away this privilege we have of coming into your presence, sensing your glory, bringing you our praise and listening for your voice. Thank you, Father, that you made this possible by sending Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, to open for us that new and living way, so we can know the joy of sin forgiven and peace with you. Lord, we confess that we still mess up, there are things that we’ve done or said or even thought that have marred your image in us, and there are things we should have done or said but failed to do, and we need to ask your forgiveness. Thank you, Lord, that when we confess our sins, you are faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness..

Father, we pray for all those who are suffering at this time – for those who have been bereaved, those facing death, those who are living in fear, those who are ill. We know that every one is known to you, loved by you and precious to you, and we pray that each one might know that truth. We pray for the all the front line workers, those toiling under the most horrendous circumstances, yet showing such love and compassion. Give them the strength, wisdom and grace they need, and protect them we pray. We bring all our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.


Amen


13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.



What turned out to be ‘the greatest day in history’ started out, to those who were there at the time, as a day of confusion, upset and questioning. Can you imagine what it was like for the women, who had gone to the tomb at first light with spices to prepare Jesus’s body for burial, in great sorrow, only to discover that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty! Then there was the appearance of the angels, who told them that Jesus was alive, and reminded them what Jesus himself had told them –

“The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”

Can you imagine the bewilderment of the disciples, when the women returned from the tomb, and told them what had happened? ‘But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.’ Peter had to go see for himself – but he came back with more questions than answers.


The two disciples in our reading were not part of the Twelve, but of the wider group that comprised ‘the others’ of verse 11, that the women reported back to. As they walked along the road to Emmaus, they were discussing the recent events when a ‘stranger’ came up and walked alongside. Why didn’t they recognise Jesus? Verse 16 says ‘but they were kept from recognising him’.



When Jesus asked what they were discussing, they were surprised that he didn’t know – the events that had just taken place were the main news event in Jerusalem – so they assumed this man had to be a stranger, especially when he asked them to explain to him what things had happened. Their response reveals some of the turmoil they must have felt. They had hoped that Jesus was going to be the Messiah – but they had a false expectation that the Messiah was going to deliver Egypt from it’s bondage to Rome. Now that hadn’t happened, they referred to Jesus as ‘a prophet’. They went on to tell him of the events of that morning, and the women’s report.


How must they have felt at the rebuke they received from the ‘stranger’? ‘He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”’ This ‘stranger’ had no hesitation in referring to the ‘prophet’ Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah. As they continued to walk along the road together, ‘And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.’ The Scriptures referred to are what we know as the Old Testament, and have many references to Christ.


Yet even after all this the two disciples still didn’t recognise Jesus! When they reached their destination, they didn’t want their companionship to end. Perhaps they felt that this ‘stranger’ was making sense of their confusion. They invited him in, and shared the evening meal, and it was in the action of breaking bread that ‘their eyes were opened and they recognised him’ – and then he was gone! But they were left with no doubt – Jesus really was alive. They were yet to discover the implications – but life could never be the same!


Are there times when we can identify with those two disciples? When we struggle to make sense of what is going on around us, when we feel ourselves to be in turmoil, even in doubt? The reality is that Jesus is there – even though we may not recognise him. We may have false expectations – we don’t

always understand how God works, but how could we? Isaiah 55: 8 & 9 reminds us ‘”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts..”’ We expect things to happen in a certain way, and when they don’t, we’re left in turmoil. Are there times when Jesus would say to us, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe..”? Trust him!


Open the eyes of my heart, Lord

Open the eyes of my heart

I want to see You

I want to see You


To see You high and lifted up

Shinin' in the light of Your glory

Pour out Your power and love

As we sing holy, holy, holy



May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Hebrews 13: 20 & 21

Thank you for reading

Written by Majors June & Ernie Huby

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