Slow Hearts, Burning Hearts

We celebrate our hope in Jesus at Easter, but what keeps hope alive after the lilies die?     
Some time ago I came across this story in a sermon: In the 1920's Joseph Stalin was extending his chokehold over all of what would become the Soviet Union. He sent political speakers out to Russian towns and villages to press upon the people what they must believe: Marxism and the Russian form of Communism were to replace the teaching of the Christian faith. The Church was no longer to be active.    

One large crowd of peasants listened to a commissar harangue them for three hours, trying to convert them to Marxism and convince them of the glories of Communism. When he finished he was exhausted, but he was sure he had turned the crowd to embrace this God-less worldview. He allowed a few minutes for questions and then as he was wrapping up a Russian Orthodox priest stood up at the back of the hall and said: "I just have one thing to say to you. Christ is risen!" Instantly the entire crowd responded, "Christ is risen indeed!" The truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ would still shape their worldview. The Communists overlooked the fact that the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be rubbed out of peoples' souls that easily! We should note that those who made such a confession of faith in Christ risked imprisonment.     

But what keeps such hope alive, especially in a world hostile to Christ and characterized by despair? This week we will look at Luke 24:13-35, an important text on keeping hope alive. Use the questions below to help you meditate on this very relevant text.    

1.    When and where does this encounter with Jesus take place?    

2.    What do you know about Emmaus and Cleopas and his/her traveling companion?   

3.    What were Cleopas and the other disciple talking about and what was the state of their souls (vv. 14-17)?

4.    Why do you suppose Jesus kept these two disciples from recognizing Him right away (v. 16)?

5.    Jesus pressed them to tell Him about "the things that have happened [in Jerusalem] in these days," and they recounted the ministry, betrayal, death and resurrection of Jesus to Him. In the middle of all that is their confession, "But we had hoped" (v. 21). What had they hoped for and what happened to their hope?

6.    How does Jesus respond to their tale of the loss of their hope (vv. 25-27)?

7.    What happened in the home of the disciples (vv. 28-32)?

8.    Why do you suppose Jesus vanished so suddenly (v. 31)?

9.    How did the disciples recount their encounter with Jesus and what happened to them (vv. 32-35)?

10.    How would you describe the change the disciples underwent in the course of this encounter with Jesus?

11.    What are slow hearts (v. 25)? What are burning hearts (v. 32)? What makes the difference between the two?

12.    What is the lesson in this story? What does the Lord want you to know in light of this text and meditation?

Hope to see you on Sunday! May God be with you,

Dan