Deacon Paul's Reflections

Deacon Paul Russell

7.4.21

Read: Luke 24:13-35

From whatever perspective you might have had as a resident of Jerusalem, the events have been seismic; as the two disheartened and confused disciples themselves say to the stranger who has joined them, "You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days."

"What matters are you discussing as you walk along?" The risen Jesus, already knowing the answer full well, respects the privacy of their conversation, and simply invites them to share, to reveal to him what is on their minds and in their hearts. He does not presume to know and immediately wade in with his excellent teaching, but being the best of teachers he respectfully prepares them by getting them to open up and engage with him. He, God, has such respect for these vulnerable mortals that he wants to have a conversation with them, not simply tell them.

"What things (have been happening)?", Jesus asks them patiently - 'tell me about it'. They spill out their feelings and their view of events: they are downcast; this Jesus was indisputably a great prophet - yet the religious leaders have had him crucified; their dashed hope had been that he would save their nation from the Roman oppressors - so much for that dream!; and now, to cap it all, some women of their group have talked of being told by angels that he is alive - some friends have confirmed that the tomb is indeed empty, but they know no more than that, and didn't meet any angels or anything.

"You foolish men!" Without being able to hear the tone of voice, this possibly comes across to us as a little more harsh than it probably was at the time, but Jesus is nevertheless saying to them 'listen up'. And still presenting himself as a stranger he goes on to explain the meaning of the scriptures to them, and how what had happened was entirely as had been forecast. And their hearts burned within them (with peace and joy?) as they walked on with him, as he accompanied them and instructed them.

A favourite moment in the story has always been for me that "When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he (Jesus) made to go on". But they had found that they loved the company of this stranger, who lifted their hearts and somehow by his words and very presence introduced hope of a new kind, and they didn't want to part company with him. And so "they pressed him to stay with them" - so he, God, in response to their desire "went in to stay with them" - how beautiful is that?

As much as we might expect him to, and sometimes even be disappointed that he doesn't, God does not impose himself and his expectations on us. He fully respects the personal freedom with which he has endowed us, a sign of our great dignity in his sight - we are not his puppets or his playthings, and he waits for us to press him to stay with us. He invites us, offers us opportunity, he does not impose himself in any way that takes away the freedom which he has given us.

 

At all times we too can talk to the risen Lord Jesus. He has great respect for our freedom and dignity, and wants to have conversations with us. We shall not always hear his voice immediately (he is free too!) but there will be times when our hearts burn within us from his presence as we walk through life, always and at every moment accompanied by him.

Feel free to play the reflective music played and sung by Sarah

We lift our hands
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