April 26, 2020: 2nd Sunday after Easter

Let us pray: Dear Savior, as we bask in our Easter glow, we’re thankful that You have sent and are sending us additional joy in the form of fellow Christians who care enough to share with us the love You bestow.  Lord, right now we need such “pick-me-ups”, so continue to send them our way!  Amen


TEXT:  Luke 24: 13-35

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

          A penny isn’t worth much. Some would say we have it in circulation for book-keeping purposes only.  But it wasn’t always so.  A lifetime ago about 4 cents were worth a dollar!  It’s true!  I can still recall parking meters that took pennies.  In my lifetime the copper “wheat” penny was replaced by plastic ones coated in copper.  Sometimes kids would lay one on a railroad track and wait for it to be flattened by a train.  These were called: “bad pennies” as they wouldn’t fit in a meter or anything else.  This gave birth to the term: bad penny.  In time, folks employed that same term to certain people, whom you didn’t want to talk to and who always showed up at the wrong time.


          St. Luke and Cleopas, another follower of Christ, were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a small town about 7 miles away from the capital.  It was around midday.  They were discussing the amazing news from various women and even Peter about Jesus rising from the dead that morning! They couldn’t take it all in.  They were still shell-shocked from the whirlwind events of the past few days.  Was it true?  What did it all mean?  The witnesses were credible.  After all, they knew some of the women at the tomb and also the other disciples quite well.   Anyway,  they now are Emmaus bound.  Kind of like “getting out of Dodge.”  And that’s when this “bad penny” showed up.

          This fellow seemingly came from nowhere and decided to accompany them.  But, they probably just wanted to be left alone.  Wouldn’t you?  But He was adamant about engaging them.  “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”  Now, we know this fellow was  Christ.  He used His divine power to prevent them from recognizing Him.  But to them, He must have appeared as a bad penny, undesired and of not much use when it came to their wounded souls.

          Jesus seemingly reinforced this viewpoint as they quizzed Him.  Cleopas told Him about the events in Jerusalem.  He told of Christ’s death, His resurrection, and appearance to various people that morning.  Christ feigned ignorance to  it all.  To these two followers, this must have reinforced the image of a “bad penny” even more.  Moreover, they had another 6 miles to walk with him in tow!


          But after they poured out their hearts to him and told him the Easter story with grief and wonderment in their hearts, suddenly He came alive.  “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets (OT) have spoken!  Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter glory.’  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

          Mind you, they still did not recognize Christ.  But they began to realize that this Man wasn’t a bad penny!  He was learned and wise.  He spoke with authority and conviction.  So much so that when they approached Emmaus, they urged Him to stay and have supper with them.  And He did.

          Sometimes,  even for believers, Christ intrudes into our lives with (from our vantage point) bad timing. Usually it happens in moments of high emotions—a birth, a death, severe illness, or national emergencies.  We just want to be left alone.  We just want to brood in self-pity.  We don’t want to put ourselves out for another—especially a seeming stranger.  But Christ knows all.  He wants to focus our attention on God’s healing and hope.  He wants to give us divine truth and comfort to salve our souls.   Hence, He may appear to be a bad penny, but in reality, He’s a gigantic Bar of gold, with the entire treasury of heaven behind Him, namely the eternal forgiveness for all sins.

          So, they all sit down and prepare to eat together.  Then He took bread, uttered a prayer of thanks, broke some off the loaf and passed the pieces to them.  “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.”  It was another miracle from the resurrected Lord!  Amazing!  Yet God always has power over time and space.  He isn’t  limited by it.  For time and space are contained within Him! 

          “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”  And then, apparently without eating, they ran their version of the Emmaus to Jerusalem mini-marathon, arrived at John’s family home and the Upper Room, found the Eleven there with others and were told by them very loudly and pointedly: “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”  To that, Luke and Cleopas added their “two cents”: a Great and Golden Two Cents about how Jesus had also walked, talked, and broken bread with them, as well! 


          While our text ends there, the story does not!  Luke reports that it is right after this that Christ appears to all of them in the Upper Room.  He reinforces His great news of the resurrection and everything else that He taught them on the road.  Yes, Jesus never leaves anything to chance when it comes to working faith in our hearts. 

          Everyone loves a surprise and also a happy ending.  We need such pleasant surprises.  We crave such happy endings—especially during times like we’re currently living through.  Isn’t it nice to know that God has and gives again, today, to us, such a happy ending!  He promised that out of death would come life—and it did in Him—for us! 

          When we go through times of high emotions, they make their mark on us.  We never really forget them, do we?  Sometimes for good and sometimes for bad.  But for the Christian, God desires that the good may win out.  It does here.  The Emmaus text shows us that out of tremendous pain and uncertainty, “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  And don’t forget, in this case, it didn’t take very long to happen, did it?  That, my friends, is what Christ and His grace gives to you, too, on this very day—the ultimate happy ending. For as the Bible says: our Savior is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”   Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox

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