April 30, 2017 Text: Luke 24:13-35
Dear Friends in Christ,
What kind of a guest are you? If you stay a day or two or more with family or friends are you the kind of guest they want to invite back? Or are you like me who needs my space and after about 24-36 hours I just want to be home? There is an expression that says, “After three days, company is like an old, dirty shirt.” Houseguests can easily wear out their welcome. Nice to have company but also nice when they leave.
The disciples entertained an unusual guest in today’s Gospel, one whose presence may not wear out as quickly as an old, dirty shirt.
“THE ABIDING GUEST”
In the beginning of our text the disciples mistake Jesus for a guest and visitor to Jerusalem. “Their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” (v. 16) They even treat him as an ignorant guest. “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Even in the day of no cable news or instant messaging to not know what happened in Jerusalem would be like not knowing about 9/11 or the explosion of the space shuttle. Some news is universal and a guy rising from the dead after crucifixion would certainly cause a Fox News Alert.
Jesus is getting a little irritating to these men. He pulled their chain with, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” (v. 17) “They stood still, looking sad.” (v. 17) They had placed their whole hope in this “Jesus of Nazareth” as “the one to redeem Israel” (v. 21), but now that hope seemed dashed to pieces.
We all know about displaced aggression. We get mad about something and take it out on a person that had nothing to do with what made us angry. Jesus’ question didn’t warrant the strong reaction it received, but it had hit a sore spot, and it showed in their reaction.
Jesus was truly a guest of the disciples, but not as they perceived him. He was hardly ignorant. Although they do not know it yet, he is the very one who endured these things that have them so glum. He knew the purpose of these things. He was about to take them through a Bible study that would have their empty hearts bursting with hope. Nor is He ignorant of the promise of God standing behind these things: “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (v. 27) And the risen Christ is hardly ignorant of the things that weigh us down, the idols that have failed us, the behaviors we are ashamed of and the irritants that we can be to others.
Jesus was only briefly irritating. He hit a sore spot but it gave him opportunity to dress and heal it, as they would come to realize: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (v. 32) Our sore spots burst open with his Law but it gives the Savior opportunity to heal it with the Gospel.
Christ is the guest from heaven. “He acted as if he were going farther.” (v. 28) With his redemptive work complete, he would be returning to the right hand of the Father.
Jesus is our abiding guest. ”They urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is no far spent.’ So he went in to stay with them.” (v. 29) They yearned for him to stay and it took no arm-twisting for him to abide with them. Christ yearns for fellowship with those whom he in love has redeemed.
He abides with us, filling the Scriptures with himself. “All the promises of God find their Yes in him.” (2 Cor. 1:20) Without him, Scripture is a lifeless book of standards we can never attain. Filled with him, the Scriptures contain eternal life.
He abides with us, making himself known to us “in the breaking of the bread” (v. 35), giving us his body and blood, the forgiveness of sins, fellowship with the Father, and a foretaste of the feast to come. A host of hymns echo this theme of faith’s yearning for fellowship with our abiding guest, including our closing hymn.
Earthly house guests can quickly wear out their welcome, believe me I know, “when is that guy going to leave!” But not this abiding guest. Though heaven was his home, the risen Lord abides with us as our earthly guest through his Living Word and Holy Supper.
He fills our empty hearts with himself, and we are glad to make him our abiding guest.