Inviting Jesus To Our Hearts
A Sermon Delivered by Fr. Daniel Thomas on Easter Day, 2000 at Cleveland, Ohio.
Today's sermon is based on Luke 24:13-30.
This part of the scripture talks about two of the disciples of Jesus walking to the village of Emmaus, a seven mile walk from Jerusalem. I like to point out a few facts mentioned in this lesson.
They were walking towards the sunset (facing west.) As everything else in bible, this has great significance. Setting sun, shows that the night and darkness are imminent. It shows our hopelessness. They were very disappointed with the turn of events. All the disciples were hoping that Jesus would establish His kingdom in this world and they can stake a good position in his kingdom by being His followers. They believed that Jesus would escape from any trap set by Jews. After all, He had healed countless people. He even had raised a few people from death. Obviously, nothing can happen to Him! They were thoroughly confused and disgusted with the turn of events and the death of Jesus in the cross. All their hopes had thoroughly got destroyed. It was a dejected set of disciples we meet on Sunday, walking towards the setting sun.
We, as Christians, should be facing the rising sun always. Rising sun symbolizes rebirth (resurrection), hope and eternal life. We can claim these due to our Lord's triumph over death. We should be facing the rising Son of God. The disciples, on that Easter Sunday, had no clue of the resurrection, in spite of the fact that Jesus had told them of these things many times to them when he was alive as well as quoted appropriate scriptures.
The scripture says that Jesus joined the two disciples. But they did not recognize Him in spite of the fact that they had been with Him for the last few years.
Disciples could not recognize Jesus, because they were worried and sad. Their heart was full with deep sorrow for what happened to Jesus. We need to have a clear heart to meet God. We get distracted by everyday worries and anxiety from recognizing God's presence. We lose our clear vision, the clear vision of God. We failed to recognize Him even though He is beside us. We need purity of thought, clean heart and clear vision to recognize and meet the Lord. (Please refer to the retreat transactions by Bishop Sevarios Detroit, MI in April 15, 2000 on the role played by anxiety and everyday worries from receiving god's blessings.)
Another thing the scripture says is that the disciples confided in Jesus. They told Him without any hesitation or reservation all that are troubling them. The opened their hearts to a stranger. The stranger (Jesus) then explained to them the meaning of what happened to Jesus quoting from the scriptures. They feel good afterwards.
We need a friend to confide our worries, anxieties and problems. It is said, "expression is a better way of preventing depression and repression." It is good for our mental health. We can confide in Jesus. We can tell him, by our prayer, things that are bothering us. After all he invited all hungry and those carrying the heavy yoke to come to Him for relief and relaxation. He said His yoke is very light. We can find comfort in His presence. (Another means is by confession. (See Sevarios article for a description of the role of confession in alleviating anxieties.)
Another important fact we learn from this passage from bible is that as they approached the end of the Journey, Jesus continued to walk straight. He did not impose on them to spend the night with them. Only when they invited Him, He joined them for supper.
Jesus had no place to go that night. In fact,
most of His life He had no place to go! There was no place for Him when He was born. He
ended up in a manger. He had no place to go when He died on the cross. In fact, when he
was alive He commented that, "birds have sky and their nest, snakes have holes in the
earth; but Son of Man has no place to go in this earth!"
Jesus is always there by our side. But we need to invite Him. He will not impose on us. We need to answer His call. He is knocking on the door of our heart. In Revelation 3:20, it is said, "I have been standing at the door and constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and have fellowship with him." Are we inviting Jesus to our heart?
Finally, the scripture says that it was getting dark. Darkness symbolizes danger. It shows the mental agonies, worries and uncertainties about the future. We need the presence of Jesus at the time of darkness. He is there day or night, good or evil, good times and bad times. We usually recognize His presence only at the time when we are in turmoil or afraid. The psalmist said that if we have the company of God, we could go through the darkest alleys without any fear. The good news is that He is always there beside us. All we need is to call Him.
Fr. Daniel concluded the discussion with a story. A British submarine had engine trouble when they were deep down at sea. The engines quit working. Without any power, the submarine cannot float or clean the air with in the submarine. The oxygen supply was getting smaller and smaller. The outcome seem quite certain, a miserable death under the sea. Without any power, they could not even get in touch with the outside world for some help.
The captain of the ship was a very religious person. He was ready to die with Jesus even at the far depths of the sea, if that was the will of the God. He called all the staff together. They started singing the song, "Abide with me." People started fainting due to lack of oxygen. The engineer (about 300 plus pounds heavy) finally fainted. As he fainted, he fell on the engine, and the engine suddenly started working again! The hopelessness turned to thankfulness as everyone continued to sing the song.
Jesus is beside us when we need Him. But we need to invite Him. We need to confide in Him our worries and things that are bothering us. He will not come in unless we invite Him to our Heart. And Easter is an excellent time for us to do that as we remember His resurrection. He has already paid for our sins.
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