Lesson 4 -- second quarter 2008
March 23, 2008
© Copyright 2008
Two men. Grown men. Tough men. Trudging along a dusty road. Visibly sad and disheartened. Talking. Trying to sort out the events of the last week. Confused and disconsolate. Defeated and adrift. Talking heart to heart. Reminiscing. Reviewing collapsed dreams and disintegrated hopes. Trying to help each other. Each thankful for the other.
We don't know if these two men were special friends. But we do know that they commuted and communed together that eventful day now so long ago. Did they just naturally gravitate toward each other? Or was it a common destination that put them on the Emmaus-Jerusalem path together? Whatever the case, they had each other during this time of trauma, confusion and need. So they walked together, talking, reasoning.
Who in your Sunday School class will walk with you? With whom will you walk? Will anyone walk with you? Will you walk with anyone? You need someone to walk with you, especially during those difficult, perplexing times. And the person next to you or across from you has the same need. Why go it alone? Walk with someone!
"A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17).
"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).
"Woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up" (Ecclesiastes 4:10).
Even so, remember that these two Emmaus-bound disciples didn't find the solution to their problems until Jesus joined their walk and talk. So, when you are walking, make it a three-some!
These two men couldn't quite believe what they had been told. Jesus had told them He would die. While He was still alive, they couldn't quite believe it. After all, He had thwarted the plans of His enemies so many other times . . . and He was so obviously powerful. Jesus also told them He would rise on the third day. After He died, they didn't believe He would come back to life, for who had ever restored life to himself? Then the women told them Jesus was alive and that He wanted the disciples in Galilee. Oh, come now! So here they are, heading for Emmaus instead.
Can you be open enough with yourself to acknowledge your own areas of incredulity? I challenge you to pinpoint those Scriptures that clearly state truth which you have a problem accepting and living. Perhaps you don't understand something, so you don't want to submit to it. Can you be that open with yourself? How about with your Sunday School class?
Good! Now, how will you deal with it? The first response ought to be one of unconditional surrender and obedience. I have purposed to obey the Lord and His Word . . . even if I don't understand, even if I just can't see it. The second response ought to be akin to "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24). Then we can claim God's promise in Proverbs 20:12 -- "The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them."
Jesus wanted His disciples to believe in His resurrection as well as in Him. So He appeared to Peter. And He broke bread with the two bound for Emmaus. He abruptly appeared among them while they told each other about these two events. He showed them His hands and feet. Then He ate in front of them. And all this because He wanted them to believe.
What are you willing to do to help others believe? Berating and condemning folks for not believing rarely works, at least for us; belittling their unbelief works no better. What most people need more of is encouragement to believe. And I believe the best way to do that is by showing them why they should believe. That's what Jesus did in today's lesson.
He showed them they should believe because He could suddenly be among them and know their thoughts. He showed them they should believe He was Jesus because He had the nail prints in His hands and feet. He showed them they should believe He wasn't some spiritual apparition because He had flesh and bones and could eat food they gave Him. See? He showed them why they should believe. (How gracious and patient and understanding of Him!)
So, again, what are we willing to do to help others believe?
Forgive. When unbelievers see the forgiving hearts of God's people, they see a reason to believe in Jesus. This life of forgiveness is impressive enough when expressed in the presence of wrongs by non-Christians. But when the wrongs are suffered from fellow Christians and we still forgive, that proof of Jesus in us becomes quite compelling. If people would believe in Jesus according to the level of forgiveness in my life, would they find it easy to believe?
I'll skip the other ways we can help folks believe. But what are some of them?
Those first disciples certainly had a hard time remembering, didn't they now? My, my! You would think that anyone could remember something so outstanding and unusual as your Master predicting His own death and resurrection. Makes you wonder whatever ailed those fellows, right?
Those fellows, indeed! I suspect we would have done as poorly as they did in those circumstances. After all, it seems we forget quite easily in our own circumstances. In this area (perhaps in most of life's areas), we make much better defendants than judges. Consider just a few of His words....
"By love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13).
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" (Romans 14:19).
"Think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).
"Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted" (Ephesians 4:32).
"Do all things without murmurings and disputings" (Philippians 2:14).
"In every thing give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
"Abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
Before we rise in self-satisfied judgment of the first disciples, let us honestly consider our own lives this very day. Have we remembered His words just as well as we think they should have remembered?
May we be consumed with the burning dedication to live His words daily so those about us know we have been with Jesus . . . and want to be with Him also!
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