I want to pause here and ask, what might our blinders be today? Back then, the Jews had their cultural blinder of their Jewish heritage so they could only conceive of a Messiah who was going to treat the nation of Israel in a special way.
What blinders do you and I have? Especially for many of us growing up in the West, what might our common, collective, cultural blinder be?
We all have blinders on. And when we view Jesus through these blinders, He is limited in our own eyes. We don’t see him as we ought to see him. And when we limit Jesus in any way, then He’s no longer the Almighty Son of God. That’s the problem with blinders. We turn Jesus into a god of our own making whose sole job is to do whatever we want.
This is what idols are. We live our lives the way we want and then in times of need or an emergency or some important event, we turn to an idol. These idols are there to fit into the normal routine of our lives. Please hear me on this. We don’t fit Jesus into our lives. That’s like me trying to fit into Elijah’s pants. Elijah is my not-quite 2 year old son. He is large for a 2 year old. We might look kind of the same, but I am about 7 times his weight. Don’t try to calculate my weight. That’s not the point of this illustration. The point is — you can’t fit me into Elijah’s pants. If I tried, they’d be ripped to shreds.
These two travelers on the road are trying to fit Jesus into their little box labeled “redemption of Israel.” And Jesus is taking their small box and ripping it to shreds. Jesus always wants to take our puny notions that we have about Him and explode it to pieces. Jesus is far bigger than we realize. He is risen. He conquered sin and death. Jesus is called the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end… “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
We can’t fit this kind of Jesus into any kind of box. No, we need to do the complete reverse. He fits us in. What do I mean by that? It’s not our individual, personal history, it’s not my life at the center of the universe. It’s not enough that Jesus comes to occupy one compartment in our lives called religion. We don’t fit God into our little story called my life. Instead, God is the one who invites US to join and be a small part of HIS story. His redemption plan that is continuing to unfold to this day.
Why were the two friends on the road to Emmaus downcast? Because they had their cultural blinders on. But thankfully, Jesus was already walking alongside them. And because they were journeying together, He had a chance to explain how the Scriptures were fulfilled in and through His life. And then, in an instant, Jesus opened their spiritual eyes and they encountered the risen Christ that Easter morning. We call this salvation.
Luke 24 – 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.
This is so encouraging to me. These two friends had their blinders on. They tried to put Jesus into a box. But all along, Jesus was with them. And HE was the one who opened their eyes during a Lord’s Supper meal.
The principle laid out here is pretty clear. We cannot will our way to be saved. We cannot reason our way to salvation. We can’t earn our way to heaven. We can’t figure out how to find the path to God. We are not saved by an eloquent speaker. We are saved ONLY when Jesus opens our spiritual eyes. Salvation is completely, fully, from beginning to end, a work of God. We must never forget this.
Just like the two friends on the road to Emmaus, I was running away from God when I went to college. I was a freshman in 1992 and I was lonely and I saw a flyer to attend a Bible study. And on the flyer, I saw the magic words — “free kalbi.” So I went to Bible study. From there, I attended church off and on, I stopped going altogether at one point. But I was not saved because of anything I did. God was the one already working in my heart. Jesus was already walking alongside of me even though I didn’t realize it at the time. Then a year later, Jesus knocked at the door of my heart and He opened my spiritual eyes and I received Christ by repenting and placing my faith in Him.
Let’s read the final verses, starting with v32.
Luke 24 – 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.
We read that as soon as their spiritual eyes were opened, two things happened. 1) They recounted how their hearts were burning as Christ was opening the Scriptures to them. 2) They went to the Eleven disciples to encourage them.
Are you downcast this morning? When is the last time your spiritual eyes were opened and your hearts were burning from within? For new believers, I know that a big reason for your conversion was Jesus coming to you and opening up the Scriptures. And as you read or listened to the Word of God, your heart burned. And if this is you, praise God, thank Jesus for coming alongside of you and for saving you. And as a church, we give thanks to our Father in heaven and we rejoice with you.
Having spiritual eyes to see Jesus for who He is and having hearts that burn from within is not just a one-time event when we first encounter Christ and are saved. Even after we are saved, we are still sinners. We still can become blind to ourselves quite easily. As a result, we can be downcast for long stretches even as believers. So if that is you this morning, pray for God to open your eyes. Seek him. Keep seeking. Don’t give up. Be encouraged, remember, Jesus is the True Seeker. When we are lost, we don’t find our own way toward God. He finds us. Even when you think Jesus is distant, He might be right beside you.
At any moment, our spiritual eyes can be opened and we can have a spiritual breakthrough and the chain of some sin like unforgiveness can be broken overnight, instantly, and our hearts can once again burn.
1) If you are downcast, don’t give up. Jesus is seeking after you. That’s application #1.
In addition, we read that as soon as their spiritual eyes were opened, at once, they turned around and went back to Jerusalem. This is a sign of their repentance and faith. Going one direction and they took an about face and went back where they came from. They went back to Jerusalem. Why did they go back to Jerusalem? Because they wanted to encourage the Eleven disciples and testify about the risen Christ.
2) If you have spiritual eyes that have been opened recently and your heart is burning from within, praise God. But don’t let it stop there. Find other believers. Share with them. Encourage them. Pray with them. That’s application #2. This is the message of Easter. Jesus opens our spiritual eyes, He saves us, He causes our hearts to burn. Why? So that we can testify to those around us that Jesus is no longer in the tomb. He is alive.