Audio Worship 4/16/2023 "Burning Hearts" Luke 24.13-35

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1583

April 16, 2023

Luke 24:13-35    Click here for Audio Worship

Dr. Ed Pettus


“Burning Hearts”


 13That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 28So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.



  • Resurrection Day!


Luke 24 would be a favorite movie for me because it continues the story after the climactic event of Easter Sunday morning. Matthew gives us a couple of paragraphs dealing with the guards at the tomb and the Great Commission, no small item! Mark gives us twelve verses where Jesus appeared to many people. John is closer to Luke in that he includes many more details following the resurrection. But Luke gives us more of that Sunday, more of the details the aftermath on the day. It is the story of the road to Emmaus, kind of a mysterious disclosure where Jesus is not recognized at first, but something was stirring in the hearts of the two disciples with Jesus on the road.

Easter Sunday in Luke is a journey from the empty tomb to the resurrected Christ. I think the theme of journey is a great one for all of us who walk with Christ and Christ with us. We are all on a journey – the journey of faith where God walks with us in our daily lives. Journeys come in all sizes from the larger scope of history as we are a part of the journey that began at creation. We also have daily journeys as we walk in the ways of God, in His Word and by His Spirit. The journey on the road to Emmaus is one that moves more than just physical location, but touches a spiritual movement from slow of heart to burning hearts! What happened to these two disciples between slow of heart and burning heart?

This story is on Easter Sunday. I talk about this as a good movie plot because we have all probably seen movies where we wish there was more to the ending. If only they had added 5-10 minutes to wrap up a few things. I see that first credit roll up on the screen and I think, “Is that it? Is that how it ends?” Well, when Luke tells his story of the resurrection, he goes way beyond Jesus raised from the tomb. This story is the same day, Easter Sunday, and Luke tells of two disciples walking to another town after they had seen Jesus crucified. And Luke is the one who tells much more – continuing in Acts with the results of the resurrection and the birth of the church. The good news is that the story continues to this day and we are a part of that on-going story!


  • Walking With the Risen Lord


If these guys (or some suggests a man and woman) were walking at a fairly normal pace, it would take about two hours to the walk seven miles between Jerusalem and Emmaus. They arrive at Emmaus about evening time, so they have had two hours with Jesus. Now granted, they had no idea during that two hour period that it was Jesus with whom they walked. But something was indeed stirring up in them, just what, they did not know. They did not realize Jesus was the one walking with them. I wonder if we are often in the same situation, that we have no idea that Jesus is really with us. If we really understood Jesus with us, would it change our behavior?

These two disciples are, at the start of this journey, surprised that anyone could possibly not know what had happened in Jerusalem. It is like the surprise we get when someone does not keep up with the same things we might follow. “Did you see the game last night?” And when they ask what game, we might be a bit taken back that someone does not follow football or baseball or something like that. In this situation in Luke they are asked to repeat all the events of the weekend. I wonder if it was troubling for them to go through it all. Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet, mighty in word and deed. He was our hope for Israel and he was crucified. Their tone probably changed quite a bit when they moved on to describe that the women found an empty tomb. They are upset by the things that had happened and might have even been a little upset that this guy they are walking with did not know these things.



  • Slow of Heart


Jesus patiently listened as they shared their version of the things that had happened. But Jesus doesn’t come to them with niceties, “Oh fellas, it seems like you guys have forgotten a few things. That’s okay. I don’t want to hurt your feelings or offend you, but let me take you through a few Scripture references that might jog your memory. Is that ok with you?”

That’s not what he said. Verse 25, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” Foolish and slow of heart. Tell it like it is, Jesus! Could you be any more dense? Come on, guys, get your heads together. Remember what Jesus said. It is not unlike the scene in John 3.10 when Jesus confronts Nicodemus, Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?” Jesus probably had many encounters like this that are not recorded in the gospels. People were slow to believe. The disciples did not understand much of what Jesus taught. It was not until the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus and later the Spirit descending upon them at Pentecost that they really caught on to everything.

So Jesus walks along with these disciples who should know the Torah, the Old Testament, the prophets, the books of Moses. Jesus probably raised up passages they would have known, something every Jew would have learned from childhood. Later in Luke Jesus adds the Psalms to the list of Scripture He revealed (Luke 24:44). We don’t know what Scriptures He shared; I wish we did. He might have shared from Moses - Numbers 21:4-9, 4From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. 5And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 6Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.”


That was the text Jesus referred to with Nicodemus in John 3.14-15.


Jesus might have spoken of Isaiah 53.5, a suffering servant passage, we read a familiar word that relates to Jesus:

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

How quickly this could be interpreted for these two disciples that Jesus was crucified for our sins on the cross. He is the one spoken of in Isaiah 53.

As Jesus opened the Old Testament passages, the story later says that the disciples hearts were burning. They knew those Scriptures. They heard the familiar words and something started to stir in their hearts. The revelation of the Scriptures burned within.


  • Burning Hearts


The last scene in our reading for today is at the table. One of the reasons the reformed faith makes a strong connection between Word and Sacrament is due to this story. Jesus opened the Word to them and it was when they saw Jesus break bread that the Words became reality; the Words made complete sense in light of communion with Jesus. Their eyes were opened! Their heartburn was understood! Their slow of heart was turned into burning hearts, because the Word was revealed to them and the light dawned, the sun had risen, S-U-N, and the Son had risen, S-O-N.

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). Make this your prayer for the week. “Lord, open my eyes that I may see wondrous things in your Law.” Make this your prayer for others, “Lord, open their eyes that they might see awesome things in your Word.” Jesus is the one who opens eyes. When the Word gets into our heart it brings the heat!

Jeremiah 23:29 says it this way: Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Later in Luke Jesus does the same kind of thing. Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). It was the revelation of God’s Word that moved these two from slow of heart to burning hearts. If our hearts are slow to understand, Jesus begins by opening our minds and eyes and hearts to understand the Scriptures.

The second thing that I believe moved them from slow to burning was simply Jesus’ presence. The more we understand the presence of Jesus that is promised from His birth through to His ascension, the more we know that burning fire within for the things of faith. The more we see Jesus in our everyday lives through the Holy Spirit, the more our hearts will burn, in a good way! The presence is a promise from Jesus. He has not left us alone, but His Spirit, the Holy Spirit is with us. This we must trust and believe without doubt. Know that Jesus is with us. Know that He is seeking to open our eyes and hearts to His Word.

If we are slow of heart, we get them burning by getting into the Word through study and by trusting that Jesus is with us, through prayer, worship, Sacrament, fellowship with one another, all that reveals His presence. We move from slow hearts to burning hearts by studying Scripture. It is not just studying only about Jesus in Scripture, not just reading the red letters, but the whole of Scripture. Jesus opened to them the words of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms. What a great advantage we have to have all that as well as the Words of Jesus Christ and his followers. We move from slow to burning by Jesus being with us and we abiding in Him. He walks with us as he did with them, except that we know that through the Spirit of God. Easter Sunday is about catching fire for Jesus, in Jesus, by Jesus. It is a spiritual heart-burn that sets us ablaze for Jesus, for sharing His Word and Gospel message with others. It is a pleasant burn…warm, inviting, comforting to those who believe but a consuming fire to those who do not believe. Let us examine all the places in our hearts that are slow to listen and believe, and seek after Jesus to set our hearts on fire for the Good News that Jesus lives! He is risen! Amen!