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Jesus on the Road to Emmaus

Luke 24:27
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

After Jesus had been crucified, a few men were walking down a road on their way to Emmaus. Jesus came to them and asked what they were talking about, but they didn’t know who he was. They figured he was from out of town and had just arrived, so he couldn’t know what had just happened. But after they gave him an overview of the local news, Jesus reminded them of things they already knew. Before he explained everything to them, he asked, “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

Jesus was patient with them and taught them that what they were witnesses to had been prophesied by men of earlier generations. He didn’t call them fools and walk off in disgust. He persevered and built up the disheartened men and gave them reasons to believe the truth. Because of the passion and tenacity of Jesus, the men didn’t want him to leave when they arrived where they were going. So Jesus surprised them with a creative way to take his leave.

No one could’ve talked them out of believing what they’d experienced. They’d encountered the risen Lord who took the time to help them understand the context of what they’d been through.

Going to church is one way to seek God. Reading the Bible is another way to seek God. But I recommend doing everything you can do to help your mind to understand the bigger context of what you’re going through. The men on their way to Emmaus knew the scriptures and discussed the possibilities of what God was doing, but needed Jesus to tie it all together for them. Without God’s input, our foolish minds won’t get the big picture.

Luke 24:45 shows how we should begin our Bible reading time. “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” We should begin by asking God for understanding. There are a lot of things in the Bible that I need God to explain to me. He will have to open my mind to some things I don’t understand. And while I wait for him to open my mind in those areas, I will keep seeking Him.

Jesus in the Temple

Luke 19:47
Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him.
Did Jesus teach like the religious leaders of his day?

No, he did not. He did things differently and got the attention of his target audience. He also got the attention of his “competitors” and their crowd.

Did Jesus teach his disciples in such a way as to encourage them to do things they’d never dreamed of doing?

Yes. He prepared them to heal people, raise the dead, and make friends out of enemies.

From Mark 12:35, “While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked…”

From John 18:20, “'I have spoken openly to the world,' Jesus replied. 'I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.'”

From Matthew 21:23, “Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him.”

From Matthew 26:55, “At that time Jesus said to the crowd, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me.’”

It seems the religious leaders of that day were not interested in learning from Jesus as he sat in the temple, teaching all who would stop and listen.

A willingness to learn and a lot of effort will take you a long way. For instance, learning a new language may be difficult, but anyone can learn a new language if the willingness to listen to good instruction and obey it is there. When you think about it, the disciples that followed Jesus were learning a new language, the language of faith and love. They already knew the language of their past jobs: fishing, tax collecting, etc. Jesus taught about being a peacemaker, having compassion for strangers, forgiving your enemy, and believing God can use you as an instrument of healing.

If anyone doesn’t grow up around love, learning about God’s love is like learning a new language. It may be daunting at first, but if there is a diligence and determination to understand, Love can be learned.

So that’s what Jesus taught. He taught to all ages, both genders, whether they were religious or not. He wanted to spread the message from his Father, the message of “peace on earth, good will toward men”. The same message the angels brought on the night of his birth.

God has been trying to get through to us that same message all this time. Even today God wants us to know His hand is stretched out to us with peace and good will. We can accept him if we will stop fighting him.

The question is: are we willing?

Jesus in the Boat

Mark 4:9
Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Mark 4:1-20 is where you find Jesus teaching a crowd by telling the parable of the sower. Farmers understand planting seeds, so the story about a man sowing seeds was a way to talk about spiritual things to the average guy.

When I’m being taught a concept or a principle, I like to use analogies in the conversation to make sure I’ve understood what the teacher was trying to say. I’m not a farmer, but most school children are taught about how seeds produce roots, stems, and leaves. I think the average guy could understand what Jesus was trying to say.

Verse one explains the setting. Jesus was in a boat, and the people gathered at the edge of the shore. I’ve been in a setting like that, and it’s really amazing how well I could hear the person in the boat. When Jesus said “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” in verse 9, I understand (from parenting) that not everyone who has ears is listening. Some people have ears to hear, and some just have ears.

Something else that affects our ability to hear is our openness to believe what we hear. There are those who hold on to wrong beliefs and miss out on a life-blessing encounter with Jesus.

Of course, the disciples later asked Jesus to explain the parables he’d been teaching the crowd with. I don’t think they were unbelievably dense, just curious to see if there was something deeper. There was.

I’m not sure they understood the deeper things because they had a hard time believing everything Jesus taught. They were average guys too. But Jesus expected a lot from them because they were going to Jesus School everyday. They should’ve understood a lot more than they did.

It makes me wonder if I would’ve been as teachable as the disciples. How about you?

Jesus on the Mountain

Matthew 5:11
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Matthew 5:1-12 is where you find Jesus teaching a crowd gathered on a mountainside. We call this section of the New Testament, the Beatitudes. His teaching on that mountain continues into chapter 7 and covers several topics.

Many kinds of people were on the mountain with Jesus that day. I imagine most of them were listening to find where they fit in the descriptions of those who were blessed. Jesus listed various categories of people (poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, peacemakers, etc) and gave a specific reward for them to look forward to. I think that crowd listened as we do today. “Am I going to be comforted?” “Am I going to be shown mercy?” “Am I going to see God?”

However, I also think they had a hard time with verse 11 which tells of being blessed because of insults and persecution. I have a hard time with that. I understand it, but it takes some adjusting. The people who are being lied about because of their relationship with Jesus probably don’t feel all that blessed. Insults aren’t fun. But Jesus wasn’t talking about the temporary feelings of this world. He was taking a long-term look at the kind of person who would endure the persecution and not fall away from him. He loves it when people don’t fall away.

That person is blessed.