Quick Note – 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 – A Fragrant Aroma

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 – “14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?”

A few days ago, I walked into an elevator to ride it down to the first floor of my workplace.  Instead of just going straight down, it stopped a few floors under me to allow for other passengers to get in.  It was at that moment that the air in the elevator went from the pristine smell of nothingness to the unwelcome smell of body order.  Someone came in who chose not to wear deodorant on this hot day, and the elevator car reeked.  I was hoping that it would only last a few more seconds since we were almost to the ground level.  But nope, fate was unkind to me that day, because the elevator decided to stop another level down to let more passengers in.  I had to endure the smell for a few more additional seconds, and now it smelled worse.  I was pretty sure the passenger who smelled had just stepped closer to me to make room for the incoming people.  By the time I got out from this five-floor ride, I had kind of wished that I had taken the stairs instead.  Bad odor (or B.O. as some people know it) is not a pleasant smell.

But there are many smells in this world that most people do enjoy, for example, the fragrance of freshly picked flowers, the aroma of cookies baking in the oven, or the scent of fresh mountain air.  These smells are often enjoyed by those who experience it.  Other smells though are more subjective, in that, some people like it and some people don’t, such as, the smell of the open ocean or a whiff of perfume.  Depending on the person, the odor can be good or bad, make one feel reinvigorated or dying.  Whether or not, the smell is enjoyed though, it is definitely distinct.

As Christians, we also give off a fragrance, a distinct smell that can be experienced by God and the world.  The smell cannot be physically experienced, since our physical noses cannot smell spiritual things, but it can be sensed emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  In our passage today, Paul describes how we as Christians are the aroma of Christ to God in the world.  He begins by using a metaphor that his readers would understand living under Roman rule.  He describes a Roman triumphal procession, where a Roman general would enter into a city parading his captives and spoils and receiving praise for his military success.  During these processions, fragrant incense would be burned, which was a smell of death and sadness for some of the captives but a smell of rejoicing for the soldiers.  But ultimately, it was the smell of victory to the general.  Just like in these triumphal processions, we as Christians are willing captives of Christ, our conquering King.  We are led throughout the world, revealing to them how Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death.  We are this fragrant aroma of Christ to God, like incense being burnt to worship His majesty and glory.  Ultimately, we are a fragrant worship to our God.  But as we give off this fragrance to God, it can also be smelt by those around us.  For them, it can either be a fragrance of life to life or death to death.  For fellow believers in Christ, who are willing to give their lives to the Lord, they are reminded of the grace, mercy, and love of Christ – a fragrance of life to life; but for those who refuse His dominion, they are reminded of the upcoming judgment that is coming to them – a fragrance of death to death.

This passage reminds us that our lives are an aroma to God in the world.  May we live lives that are fragrant and pleasing to Him.  And may we pray that those around us who smell that distinct fragrance may find it to be a smell of life to life not death to death.

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Quick Note – 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4 – Correcting in Love

2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4 – “But I call God to witness against me – it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth.  Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.  For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you.  For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?  And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all.  For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” 

Nobody likes to be corrected.  Most of us hate the feeling of being rebuked by another person when we have done something wrong.  Although they may be doing it for our own good, we feel like their only intention is to take joy in criticizing us and our work.  Surprisingly though, most of us enjoy being on the other side of that equation.  We take some pleasure in telling another person that they have messed up and need to fix something in their work or life.  We correct with good intentions but not necessarily with the right attitude or implementation.  Why is that?  Knowing how painful it is to be corrected, shouldn’t we be more compassionate and understanding?

Paul, in our passage today, told the Corinthian church why he didn’t end up visiting them when he had plans to do so previously. He said that the reason he didn’t come to see them yet was because he wanted to spare them a painful visit.  This visit was likely to be painful, because if he came at the time, he would have found them to be in sin that needed reprimanding.  So instead of coming, he wrote them the first letter (1 Corinthians) to rebuke them and encourage them to repent.  When writing that letter though, he did it with a loving and compassionate attitude.  By looking at his example, we can learn how to correct our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with the right attitude, so that we do not hurt them but encourage them to draw closer to the Lord.

First, take notice of the humble attitude that Paul had when correcting (1 Corinthians 1:23).  When correcting them, he did not lord over them acting like a master disappointed in his slave or a boss in his employee, but he worked with them as a fellow servant desiring to increase their joy.  He did not act with a “holier than thou” attitude seeing himself as above them due to his status as an apostle and leader of the church, but he acted with humility wanting to lift them up.  He took his own advice in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”  He understood that he could easily be on the other end and treated them the way he would want to be treated with respect and dignity.  When we correct, we must be careful not to act with pride (because we didn’t fall to the same sin), but with a spirit of humility.

Second, take notice of his heart of compassion and understanding (2 Corinthians 2:1-4).  When Paul wrote rebuking the Corinthians, he wrote to them with a heart full of anguish, affliction, pain, and tears.  He took no joy seeing sin in his fellow brothers and sisters and grieved that he had to reprimand them.   He knew that it was necessary, but it didn’t make it any easier for him to see his children in Christ in pain.  Paul must have felt like a parent who lovingly disciplines his or her child but takes no pleasure in it.  He felt pain when they were in pain.  He felt joy when they felt joy.  He had compassion towards them, for he felt as they felt in that situation.  We have every capacity to understand what it feels like to be corrected, for we have all experienced that feeling before.  It can come with shame, guilt, frustration, and hurt.  Though it may be for our good, it may not feel like it at the time.  Knowing that feeling, should we not act compassionately, when we rebuke one another?

Lastly, take notice of his loving purpose (2 Corinthians 2:4).  When Paul wrote to rebuke them, he didn’t do so to cause them pain but to let them know of his abundant love for them.  1 Corinthians 13:6 says that love does “not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”  Love hates sin and wants to get rid of it.  So when Paul corrected them, he was doing it, because he loved them.  He wanted them to have a strong, uninterrupted relationship with God.  And though discipline would hurt them in the short term, it would produce godly repentance in them, something worth far greater than the temporary pain.  Again like a parent, lovingly corrects his or her child to protect them and help them to grow in the proper manner, Paul was caring for his Corinthian children.  When we correct someone, we must do so in love.  We must think about why we are doing it.  Are we doing it to spite the person or get back at them for correcting us before?  Or are we doing so because we love them and want what is best for them?  If you are not doing so in love, then you are correcting with the wrong purpose.  Correction should be done with and for love.

So next time, we find ourselves rebuking one of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let us do so with both the right intentions and the right attitude and heart.

Quick Note – 2 Corinthians 1:19-22 – Our Security

2 Corinthians 1:19-22 – “19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

Most of us like to receive some sort of guarantee when we purchase something or join a program. That’s why whenever you watch a commercial for weight loss or an infomercial for an “As Seen on TV” product, you are more convinced to purchase their product when you of a money-back guarantee.  With that guarantee given, you feel secure that when you purchase that product you will be satisfied (or you can send it back). Unfortunately, a lot of the time you end up not being satisfied.  Yes, you get your money back, but you don’t get back your time (or the shipping and handling costs). The security you placed in that company was not founded, and you end up getting disappointed.

To assure you that I am not trying to make you feel bad for a previous purchase, I want to give you a personal example that shows that I also have those inclinations.  I like to browse the Kickstarter website every once in a while to see if there are any interesting projects.  More often than not I find one or two projects that catch my eye, but most times I won’t back them.  Why?  Why would I not invest money to help get that interesting product off the ground?  Because I don’t feel secure that the person asking for money will deliver.  Only when the project is run by a reputable company that has been shown to deliver good products am I inclined to purchase.  Whenever it comes from a person I have never heard about, I am wary to back.  The simple difference that makes me back a project is security.

In this world, even if we purchase insurance, we can never have full security.  Things and people may eventually let us down, no matter how faithful, but in our passage today we are told that we can find security in Christ.  We are given the security/guarantee that four things will never let us down.

First, we can be secure that the Gospel is true (vs. 19).  Paul wanted to assure the Corinthians that when He shared the gospel of Christ it was not something that was fleeting for the moment, but something secure, which is why he said that the Jesus Christ that they proclaimed to them was “not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes.”  They could trust that all things spoken of about Jesus Christ was true, whether it be about His deity as the Son of God or His love for His people.  We can trust that the Gospel is true.  Even after two thousand years, not one fact has yet to be found false.  And it will never be found that way.  As more archeological evidence arises, the truth of God only shines brighter.

Second, we can be secure that all God’s promises will be kept (vs. 20).  In Christ, all Gods promises were fulfilled and will be fulfilled.  Whether they were promises to Abraham about making him a great nation that will bless all the earth or promises to David about a future king that will rule all the nations coming from his line or even the promise He gave to us that He would send a Savior.  God’s promises to His people were fulfilled in Christ.  This gives us the assurance that all that He says to us about never leaving or forsaking us (Hebrews 13:5) and working all things for our good when we love Him (Romans 8:28) can be trusted.  As He fulfilled His promises in the past, He will fulfill His promises in the future.

Third, we can be secure that our prayers will be answered according to His will (vs. 20).  When we as Christians pray, almost all of us end our prayers by saying the phrase, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”  Why do we do that?  What does that mean?  The phrase “in Jesus’ name” means that we are praying according to His will.  That all the things we ask, we ask in accordance to the nature of Christ.  That means that we are asking for things that can be approved by Him not things like sin.  The word Amen simply means “So be it.”  So when we say those words, we are actually saying, that what we are praying for will be in agreement with God’s will.  That is why God promises in so many verses that when we pray in His name our prayers will be answered.  1 John 5:14-15 states, “14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  John 15:7 states, “John 15:7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  These are only a few of the verses in the Bible that assure us that God will answer the prayers of His children.  We utter our Amen in His name when we pray, and we can feel secure that He will do as He has promised.
Lastly, we can be secure in our salvation (vs. 21-22).  In Christ, we find our salvation.  He purchased it for us when He died on the cross.  And He assures us that when we call on His name we will be saved (Romans 10:13).  He gave us that assurance by sending His Holy Spirit to live in our hearts as a guarantee, a promise, a security.   He anointed us as He did with kings in the past to let us know that we are considered His children and have a promised eternal inheritance in the end.  Thank you, God, for being a faithful Savior.

Our passage today assures us that we can find security in Christ.  So next time you feel like the world is letting you down, that you can find no assurances or guarantees, remember these verses and rest in Christ, our Security.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 – Why Suffering?

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 – “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”

Difficulty, affliction, trouble – these are all synonymous terms for undesired experiences that cause pain in our lives.  Nobody wants to be struggling from financial issues like a loss of a job or an overdue bill.  Nobody wants to be battling cancer as they fight for their lives.  Nobody wants to lose a family member or close friend suddenly or even over time.  When these events occur in our lives, we can’t help but to question why God would allow such things to occur.  People always ask the question, “Why would a good and loving God allow pain and suffering to occur in the world?”  I am not a philosophical scholar or an adept apologist that can answer this question in the best way possible (for that I would have to refer you to the writings of C. S. Lewis or some other Christian writer).  But I will share with you my insights on that topic based on Paul’s opening statements to the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11.  In these few verses, Paul provides four reasons why both the Corinthians as well as other Christians suffer.

The first reason he gives is one that I, more or less, inferred from the passage in verse 3 – suffering allows us to get to know God in a deeper and more personal way.  In this verse, Paul uses two very strong phrases to describe God – “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”  Although the choice of using these phrases seems very unusual since Paul, in the next few verses, would begin to talk about the affliction and trouble that he and the Corinthian church were both facing, it is also very telling as to how well Paul knew God.  Unlike most of us, who would be unable to see God as anything more than cruel and vindictive to allow us to suffer, Paul saw God as merciful and comforting.  The reason why he could have such an attitude likely stemmed from his first-hand experiences watching God carry him through troubling times.  When he was hungry, God became his Provider.  When he was discouraged, God became his Encouragement.  When he was weak, God became his Strength.  When he was attacked and persecuted, God became his Shield and Deliverer.  When he was a persecutor, God became His merciful Savior.  Based on the situation he was in, Paul was able to see God in a different light.  It isn’t that God changed based on Paul’s circumstances, but that Paul got to see a different side of who God is.  Suffering allows us to see God in a different light than when we are in “good” situations.  We begin to look to Him as something more than a distant God but as a loving Father (who might be disciplining us), a compassionate Friend (who comforts us in our afflictions), and a dependable Savior (who delivers us from our troubles in His time).  When we suffer, we begin to see God in new ways that only those circumstances can reveal to us.

The second reason Paul gives for suffering is found in vss. 4-7, where he describes how our affliction can be used for the benefit of others.  He specifically says that God “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  When we suffer and are comforted by our God, we gain experiences that can help us relate to others who in the future may experience a similar type of suffering.  Whenever somebody shares their troubles with me, my gut reaction is to tell them that “I understand what you are going through.”  But much of the time, I do not.  I can’t understand how a person feels when they lose a job and have to put food on the table for a family of five.  I can’t understand how a person feels when he or she is discriminated against because of his or her race or gender.  I can’t understand what it is like to be have my life in danger for being a Christian.  So when I hear somebody talk about these things, I don’t have a clue how I can give them comfort or help other than by providing them a listening ear.  But when they share with me something I have experienced as well, I can much better relate and share my own personal experience with them.  I can tell them how the trouble, difficulty, and pain are real, but the deliverance of God will be worth it all.  When Paul suffered for his faith, he saw it as an opportunity to understand what life was like for other persecuted Christians so that he can encourage other Christians who might go through it in the future.  Rather than just see it as a time of trouble, he saw it as a teaching tool that would make his ministry more relatable in the future.  Even Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, by humbling Himself and becoming like us, became a more relatable high priest for us (Hebrews 4:15).  Our suffering today can be an important experience that will allows us to comfort others in the future.

The third reason Paul gives for suffering is found in vss. 8-10, where he describes his most recent experience of suffering in Asia.  In Asia, he was suffering so much that he despaired for his life.  He was worried that he and his companions were to receive the death sentence.  But even when faced with possible death, Paul did not give up hope and lose faith, but instead, the situation helped strengthen his faith in God.  He says that the situation was there to help them not rely on themselves but on God who raises the dead.  Suffering helps strengthen our faith.  Although the Devil likes to use pain and suffering to tear us down and draw us away from God, the exact opposite thing can and should happen.  When we suffer, we should be brought closer to the one who is calling us to Himself rather than running away from Him.  Rather than blame Him for allowing it to happen, we should seek Him for guidance, protection, and deliverance.  We need to trust that He will deliver us as He has done in the past and will do in the future.  Paul in vs. 10 describes how God delivered them in the past, will do it in the present, and will continue to do it in the future.  His faith in God was strengthened by past deliverances, the present deliverance, and the hope of future deliverances.  Suffering should drive us to trust in our God more.

Lastly, Paul states that our suffering is used to glorify God through thanksgiving for answered prayers.  Although it may be hard to understand vs. 11, Paul was simply trying to say that many people prayed for them and their comfort during trials, and when they were comforted by God during these trials, these answered prayers would result in thanksgiving to God for that deliverance.  When we suffer, we must remember that we are not alone; the other members of the body of Christ also suffer with us.  And throughout that suffering, they are praying for us and our deliverance from that trouble.  So eventually, when we are delivered by God, they will be giving thanks to God with us for answered prayers.  This brings more glory to God, for now it is many members rejoicing for God’s deliverance rather than just one person.  We must remember that when we were put on this earth, our purpose was to live a life that would bring honor and glory to God, and sometimes, suffering helps us to do that.   Just look at Jesus Christ.  He went through the beatings by the soldiers, the mocking by the priests, and even death by the cross; yet He suffered through it all willingly and humbly, for He knew those sufferings would lead to God being honored and glorified through the salvation of many, including us.  God can be glorified through our sufferings.

Like I said in the introduction, I am no expert on philosophy or the benefits of pain; but from what I read in this passage from 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, suffering can be very beneficial to our walk with God.  It can help us to know Him more.  It can help equip us to provide comfort for others in the future.  It can help strengthen our faith.  And it can help bring honor, glory, and thanksgiving to our God.  Although I do not wish hard times on anyone, I cannot deny how powerful and revolutionary those “hard” times can be to draw a person closer to God.  So the next time you may find yourself in a trial, remember that this trouble can be used for good by God.  All things work together for good for them that love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  Thank God for times of suffering; for they may be critical, life-changing events that draw you closer to Him.

The Condition of the Heart Before, During , and After Being in the Presence of Jesus – Luke 24:13-35

 

Luke 24:13-35

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then 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?” 19 And 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, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But 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. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and 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.24 Some 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.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but 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. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They 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?”33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

This Sunday is Easter Sunday or as we Christians like to call it Resurrection Sunday.  It is the day we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the day when Christ gave us the victory over sin and death, the day that changed history for all mankind.  It was on this day that the sorrow that the disciples were experiencing since Friday was turned into joy, for the fear and despair that accompanied the Crucifixion was replaced with hope.  Over the next forty days, Christ would be seen by over five hundred followers, who would become witnesses of His resurrection.  Each had their unique experience with Christ and had their own personal story to tell.  What we will focus on today is the story of two of these witnesses, followers who at that time were likely going to quit and abandon the faith, followers whom Jesus met at just the right time.  We will be talking about the two disciples who witnessed the resurrected Christ on the road to Emmaus.  By studying their story as recounted in Luke 24:13-35, we can clearly see the effect that the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ can have on someone’s life.

The Condition Before Christ

The story begins with Cleopas and another unnamed disciple walking on the road to Emmaus, a village about seven miles away from Jerusalem.  These two disciples had likely followed Christ for some time throughout His ministry and were part of the inner circle, since they seemed to be present when the women first told the apostles about the empty tomb.  They must have witnessed countless miracles, heard deep lessons and sermons, and seen Jesus’ compassion, grace, and love first-hand.  They believed that Jesus Christ was their Messiah, their Redeemer from the Roman Empire (vs. 21).  But just two days before, they witnessed Him treated like a criminal – abandoned by His followers, condemned by the Sanhedrin, mocked by governors and elders, scourged by Roman soldiers, and ultimately crucified on a cross for all to see.  It was there at Golgotha that they witnessed their hope in this Savior die and in that garden tomb, which belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, that those hopes were buried.  They had no reason to believe that anything good could come out of this “man” now.  So they decided to stop dreaming and move on with their lives – to leave Jerusalem, where all that pain occurred and move forward.  When we take a look at vs. 13-27, we find that these men were in a depressed and hopeless condition before they were met the resurrected Christ.

Verse 17 states that they were sad.  Though they were likely rejoicing just a week before as Jesus triumphantly entered into Jerusalem with praises like “Hosanna to the Son of David,” now they were walking in fear and trembling, discussing among themselves how all that they had put their faith in had just crumbled.  They had lost all faith, for when Christ asked them what had happened, the way they described the situation was with the phrase, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”  They had given up.  Not only were they sad though, but they were also confused.  They had a limited understanding of who the Messiah was.  They believed that the Messiah’s purpose was to come and overthrow the chains of Rome; they didn’t understand that the Messiah was actually coming to set us free from our ultimate captivator – sin.  So when their misunderstanding did not come true, they fell into the hopeless condition they were in.

Though we may look at these disciples and scoff at them for being in such a decrepit condition, we must realize that this was the same condition in which we were in before we came to know Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.  Although our outward lives may have felt “fulfilled” with the things of this world temporarily, in the deepest part of our hearts we were filled with sorrow, hopelessness, and emptiness.  Though we may have thought that we had all the knowledge in this world, we were confused and blind to the truth of Jesus Christ.  We had a vacuum in our hearts that could never be filled with the riches and pleasures that we continuously tried to plug that hole with.  It was only after we met with Christ that things changed.  This is the state of every unbeliever’s heart whether they would like to admit it or not.  And as Christians, we must admit that this is the state that we feel we are also in when we are not walking with the Lord.  When we are living in sin, and God’s presence cannot be with us, we also feel like these two disciples – downtrodden and forlorn.  Whenever Christ is not present, the condition of the heart can only be pain and sorrow.

The Condition with Christ

Now, let’s take a look at the condition in which the disciples were in when they were walking with Christ on the road to Emmaus.  Although they began with sadness, over the time of their walk, they were unknowingly being renewed by the presence of Jesus Christ.  Two major things happened as they walked with the Lord.  First, they gained a deeper understanding of the Scriptures, the Messiah, and Jesus Christ.  It says in vs. 25-27, that Jesus Christ Himself expounded the Scriptures to these two disciples, helping them to understand what the prophets really spoke about the Messiah.  They had a naïve understanding of who the Messiah was, but Jesus made it clear to them that the Messiah was supposed to suffer, die, resurrect, and enter into his glory.  They thought of Jesus Christ only as a prophet, but they likely learned from those teachings that He must be the Son of God.  Who He was and what He was going to do was prophesied about throughout Scripture from the first prophecies in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between they seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” to the lengthy famous prophecy in Isaiah 53.  All the Word of God pointed to Him, and they received a lesson from the most qualified person to teach them.  Though they knew not what all this meant previous to speaking to Christ, now, they surely knew what it meant after walking with Him on this road.  Second, their hearts burned with desire as they walked with Him and listened to Him teach the Scripture.  The more time they spent with Christ, the more they longed passionately for Him.  They wanted to hear more of what He had to teach, they wanted to spend more time with Him.  Though their eyes could not recognize who He was, their hearts knew that they were in the presence of their Lord.  They couldn’t help but urge Him to stay with them longer after they had already arrived at Emmaus.  They just wanted more of Him.

Like these two disciples, when we spend time with Jesus Christ, whether during our own quiet devotional times or with fellow believers in worship, these two things also happen to us.  First, we gain a deeper understanding of who He is and what He has called us to do, for His Spirit will lead and guide us.  John 16:13 states, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.”  Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, verses from the Bible are merely words on a page; but when the Spirit is guiding our understanding of it, the Bible becomes a deep well of wisdom that constantly overflows into our hearts.  The Holy Spirit is our way of understanding who Jesus Christ is.  When we spend time with Christ, we get more in tune with His Spirit, and we get to know Him better.  Second, our hearts begin to long for Him more and more.  People say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but spiritually, absence does the exact opposite – it makes you cold.  It is by spending time with Him that your heart begins to realize what it was missing all along.  It can’t help but to want more of what fills it up.  It is like being in the presence of the love of your life; no time will ever be enough.  That is why when a Christian begins to grow, he becomes more passionate for God.  He wants to disciple others; he wants to witness to others; he wants to spend more time with Him.  By spending time with God, your love for Him will grow whether you are an unbeliever making that first choice to come to know Him or a seasoned Christian returning to His fold.  Your heart will burn for the Lord, when you are in His presence.

The Condition after Christ

After inviting Jesus Christ to stay with them that night, they sat down to have a meal together.  And as Jesus blessed and broke the bread, their eyes were opened to who had been in their presence this whole time – the Lord Jesus Christ.  (It’s interesting that they realized who He was after He broke bread likely the same way that He did when He was having His last supper with the disciples, but that is just an aside.)  Instantly, when they realized who He was, He vanished.  But the lessons about who the Messiah was and the passion that they had while walking and talking with Him did not vanish, it stayed with them, influencing them to change their attitude and heart for the Gospel.  Just take a look at how much their heart changed just by being with Him for those few hours.  First, they had a renewed faith in Christ.  No longer were they down and depressed because of the troubles that they had experienced the past few days, but they were emblazoned and impassioned, for their hearts were burning with love for their Messiah (vs. 32).  No longer were they afraid of the persecution that might come to a follower of Christ in Jerusalem, but now, they longed for the opportunity to share what had happened boldly with other followers of Him.  They couldn’t even wait the night, they got up and took the seven mile journey back at night (when there are no street lights and robbers likely filled the streets) to Jerusalem (vs. 33).  No longer was their faith wavering and full of doubt about the Resurrection, but now they were full of faith in the risen Lord.  They boldly proclaimed what they had experienced with the other disciples when they returned to the assembly in verse 33-35.  The changes that came to their hearts just by being in the presence of Jesus Christ were dramatic.

This will happen to us as well, for once we have experienced being in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will never be the same.  Our hearts are impassioned, loving nothing more than our God.  Our spirits are emboldened, taking courage to share the Gospel with all who are around us no matter the consequence.  Our faith is strengthened not just by the knowledge gained but the experience we have had with our risen Lord.  And finally, our testimony is changed forever, giving us something new and different to share with those around us.  Every disciple who saw the risen Lord was indescribably changed.  Peter went from a denier of our Lord to a prolific preacher during Pentecost in Acts 2.  John went from a passive hidden follower of Christ in the background during His trial to the author of five books in the New Testament and a person who was willing to spend his last days in prison.  Even Paul went from a persecutor of the church to a persecuted Christian, who was beheaded on behalf of the Gospel.  Their lives were changed.  By being in the presence of Christ, we are filled with love, joy, peace, and all the other fruits of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5:22-23.  Our condition is changed for the better after we meet Christ.

Conclusion

So for those of you who have yet to give your lives to Christ, know that you are missing out on the one person who can fill that emptiness in your heart today.  He is the only one who can change your depressed and sorrowful condition to one full of joy, hope, and longing for your spiritual future.  For those of you who have been Christians for a while but have strayed from His presence, return in repentance, for only then can your passion for Him be renewed as you become more and more fruitful.  For only in abiding in the Vine can you produce fruit (John 15).  And for those of you who are following Him, constantly spending your time in His presence, keep up the good work and take every opportunity to draw others to Him so that they can experience that same burning heart that you are experiencing today.