I’ve been a pretty avid follower of politics since before I was old enough to vote. Every election cycle draws my interest and I usually have an intense personal struggle battling the urge to get too emotionally ratcheted. I must admit that the election this past year has caused me more turmoil than any previous one. Fortunately, I’ve discovered that I’m not the only disciple of Christ that has wrestled through political disappointment. In fact, after His resurrection, it was one of the first problems that the Lord Jesus helped a couple of his disciples navigate.
I’m a lot like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and I’m sure many believers are. If you aren’t familiar with the story, it is found in Luke 24:13-35. The time is shortly after the crucifixion of Christ.
We find these two men on the road to Emmaus probably asking themselves the question “what now?” The Jews were eagerly anticipating deliverance from the control of the Romans. I draw some similarities to our culture: the Romans had no morals and they had little regard for life; they taxed heavily and corruptly; their thinking was philosophical, not Biblical; they thought they could produce world peace; they were materialists. These things were nearly all at opposition with the Jewish Religion. The Greek wording in verse 21 makes it clear that these two men were “hoping for liberation from an oppressive situation.” They were thinking that Jesus was a poltical deliverer. Sadly, that is not much different than the way many Christians think of some candidates during an election cycle.
So, what happens when we, likewise, are left or put under the control of those whose morals are ambiguous, who have little regard for life, who are materialistic, hedonistic and have confused good and evil?
The desire of these two disciples was not wrong – just like it is not wrong for us to love our country and want to see it delivered from these same things. Every Jew then and probably now, was very nationalistic – that is one of the reasons that many people are so anti-semitic; no matter where a Jew lives, his primary loyalty is always to Israel. The Jews believe that they will be delivered from oppression and restored to absolute world sovereignty under the King Who is of the seed of David. These two men on the road to Emmaus where simply on the wrong time chart and therefore had the wrong priorities.
Twenty-First Century believers are not much different than those disciples. We want to be delivered from heavy taxation that is used to fund philosophies and principles that we find repulsive; we want our nation free from those things which we find to be morally objectionable – based on our Biblical beliefs. We want to be delivered from the ubiquitous but impossible assertion that every man can do that which is right in his own eyes and yet everyone else must tolerate what everyone else is doing (how will that ever work?). Our frustration and disappointments can rise almost to the level of these two men on the road to Emmaus – perhaps even more intense . . .
Jesus walked these two disciples down a path on which any Christian can go; He was unwilling for them to continue with this misdirected hope. Believe me, this is one of the most liberating lessons that I’ve learned from the Lord!
I’ll have THE historian, Luke, show how Jesus calibrated these men. (I will insert an alliterated outline)
I. He Revealed Their Dismay
24:17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 24:18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 24:19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 24:20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 24:21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 24:22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 24:23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24:24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
My Comments: These two disciples were upset that their Jewish leaders had rejected Jesus, and delivered Him to the Romans to be killed. They were hoping that Jesus would be their political deliverer. Instead – He was killed. Now, they were hearing that He is alive? What should they think and what should they do now? In this conversation, Jesus brought to the surface the emotional disappointment that these two men were harboring.
II. He Rebuked Their Disbelief
24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
My Comments: Jesus announced that there was an answer to their concerns, they just hadn’t put “two and two together.” The answer was in the Scripture! God had revealed His plan, but they were focused on what was happening with their nation politically. Sounds familiar . . .
III. He Redirected Their Discussion
24:26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
My Comments: These verses thrill me! Rhetorically speaking, this was God’s design! Jesus used the Scriptures to prove that He was supposed to die (and much more of course). Why were they so surprised when He suffered? As a side note, should we be surprised when the world is in the condition that it is? Doesn’t the Scripture tell us that things will get worse? (Jude 1:18; 2nd Timothy 3:1-4:5) Why are we so surprised when things are actually just like Paul and Jude told us they would be? Could it be that we are “fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” . . . ?
I wonder how things would be different for us if we spent more time talking about Scripture and its relativity to life than politics and how its ruining our way of life.
IV. He Raised Their Desire
24:28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 24:29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 24:30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 24:31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
My Comments: His words created in them a desire to spend more time with Him. When they thought He was going to go on further, they begged Him to stay! When our hearts are recalibrated, we will be more interested in the Words of Jesus than of Limbaugh, O’Reilly, and Hannity – or Matthews, Maher, and Maddow, for that matter.
V. He Revived Their Devotion
24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? 24:33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 24:34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 24:35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
My Comments: the testimony of these two men as recorded by Luke describes a devoted heart, “did not our heart burn within us . . . while He talked with us . . . while He opened unto us the Scripture!” When I imagine myself walking on the road to Emmaus with these disciples, the work that the Lord did for them is transferred into my own heart and mind. I need it – pretty often actually!
Jesus took these men who were politically disappointed and confused and turned their minds and hearts to the proper focus – Him!
It is unfortunate that many Christians have equated patriotism and political activism with religion. There is obviously an overlap because your curicculum vitae affects your entire being, but politics is a secondary focus. When secondary becomes primary, then what happens to the original primary?
I contend that we are waging a secondary war with political activism. We won’t win the abortion battle at the polls (or any other battle for that matter). Spiritual regeneration must precede societal reformation.