When you are walking downhill(Luke 24:27~33) by Ptr. Abraham September. 19, 2021
Have you heard a saying "Life is full of ups and downs?" It's an old western proverb. Can you guess what it means? It means that in our lives, there are times we go up and times we go down. There are times when we feel happy, cheerful and everything goes up. But also as we live, there are times when we feel down, discouraged and everything goes down. Actually, the keywords of today's message are 'go up' and 'go down.' Please repeat after me. 'Go up.' 'Go down.' Life is full of ups and downs, so even if you feel you are going downhill in your life now, don't worry. If you are only willing to go up again, your life will rise up soon or later. However, if you lost your will or desire to rise up again, that would be a big problem. And it is the same in our faith. There are times when our faith goes up, and times when our faith goes downs. But if your faith keeps going down and you had lost the will to come back to faith, that is a serious problem. Then you need a remedy. I hope and pray that today's message will be a remedy for some of you here. Today's scripture is in the last chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Luke included this story in his last chapter because it has very important message. There were two men who were going from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus. They were Jesus' disciples and it was 3 days after Jesus died. They had followed Jesus for long time, expecting Jesus to save them from Roman Empire. But eventually Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers and their hope went down. So they left Jerusalem and they were going to Emmaus hopelessly. By the way, Jerusalem in the Gospel of Luke has important theological meaning. Luke described Jesus' 3 years public life as a journey up to Jerusalem. "Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem" (Lk 13:22). In Luke 18, Jesus also said "We are going up to Jerusalem and everything will be fulfilled" Therefore, in Luke, the way up to Jerusalem represents the way fulfilling God's mission, the way following God's will and the way going close to God.
However, disciples in today's text left Jerusalem and they were heading to Emmaus. Since Jerusalem was a city built on the high mountain, they were actually walking downhill to Emmaus. The meaning of Emmaus is warm spring. Have you been to warm spring in Korea? Or have you been to Sauna or jjimjilbang? When do people go to Sauna or jjimjilbang? People go there when they want to just relax and take an easy. After Jesus died, these two disciples were so discouraged and grieved that they wanted to forget everything and just take an easy. They just wanted to forget about discipleship, forget about mission and forget about Jesus. So, that’s why they were going down to Emmaus. Therefore, they were going downhill not only geographically but also they were going downhill spiritually.
Since last year, until now, we have been waiting for Covid-19 to end. But it's still continuing. And now, many people are tired of waiting. When vaccine was developed, we hoped that Covid-19 would disappear soon. But it didn't. When government lifted social distancing level to level 4, we expected that number of confirmed case would decrease soon. But until now, the situation has not much changed. And we, Christians have also waited for a long time to gather at church. We have waited and waited for the day we would worship together as before. Pastors and missionaries have waited for the time we can meet members and minister face to face. And because of this long wait and repeated disappointment, many Christians are going down emotionally and also spiritually like the disciples in today's text. Many of them have lost their passion, their faith and their love for the Lord. Some believers already got used to living without worship, without church. Even pastors and missionaries are also losing their passions, forgetting their callings. And this is worldwide situation.
According to the laws of nature, everything in this world goes down if we just leave it. For example, this bill is here because I am holding it. But if I leave it, it will fall down. And I am standing here because my legs are supporting my body. But if my legs don't, I will fall down. When you ride a bike downhill, you don't need much effort. Even if you leave your feet from pedal, the bike will go down alone. The same goes for temperature. If I bring hot coffee here and if I leave it for 30 minutes, then it will eventually cool down. Therefore, if we just leave something alone, it will go down. So, making something go down is easy. However, if we want to make something go up, it always needs effort and energy. If you want hot coffee, you need to boil water up first. If you ride a bike uphill, you should put a lot of effort, using your strength and energy.
Let's go back to today's scripture. When two disciples were going down to Emmaus, it was very easy for them. However, it was very difficult for them to return and go up to Jerusalem again. The day they were going to Emmaus was the day Jesus rose again from the dead. I supposed that after the Resurrection, Jesus had many place to go, many people to meet. But Jesus didn't leave these two disciples alone. Jesus didn’t just let them go down to Emmaus. Jesus came to them, and talked to them. Therefore, I want you to know that Jesus never leaves you alone if you are going down in your life. When you feel down and discouraged, surely Jesus comes to you and talks to you. Jesus may come to you through this worship service, through this preaching, or through the Bible. By the way, when Jesus talked to these two disciples, they didn't recognize risen Jesus. It was because their eyes were spiritually blinded. And there was a funny thing. When Jesus talked to them, they complained about death of Jesus in front of risen Jesus. When people spiritually go down, often they complain to anyone about anything. So, what did Jesus do to these disciples? What was Jesus’ remedy for them? "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he(Jesus) explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (Lk24:27). Jesus explained all the Scripture to them. In this verse, Moses means Moses' book, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. And all the Prophets means books from Joshua to 2nd Kings, and most of books of prophets. So what Jesus did to disciples was simply telling them what was written in the Bible. The Bible was Jesus’ remedy for them.
As Jesus was explaining the Bible to them, they arrived at Emmaus. So the disciples wanted to stay there, but Jesus acted as if he were going farther. Then, they urged Jesus strongly, "Stay with us, the day is almost over.” It means that they almost forced Jesus to stay with them. Why? Because, they eagerly wanted to listen to the Bible more. Their attitude completely changed. Before, they were feeling down, discouraged, and had no hope. But after they listen to the Bible, they were motivated and became passionate. They didn’t even know it was Jesus who was explaining the Bible to them. And Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus. But Jesus quickly disappeared from their sight. Then they were surprised and said to each other. "They asked each other, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?'" (Lk24:32). They said, “When we listened to the Bible, our hearts were burning within us.” That is the power of God’s word, that’s the power of the Bible. When your heart becomes cold, when your soul is frozen, only the Bible can set on fire again in your soul. Only the Bible can make your heart rise up. Only the word of God can make your faith restore. Disciples’ hearts were restored not because they witnessed Jesus’ resurrection. Even before they noticed it was Jesus, their hearts were heated up when they listened to the word of the Bible. Then, let us see what happened next. "And they arose that very hour and returned to Jerusalem"(Lk24:33a). This is important. Listen carefully. If the word of God touches your heart, you should make a decision at that very moment. Make the decision to stop going down and start going up. If they had thought “Ok, let’s go up to Jerusalem again, but maybe after Chuseok,” then 99% they would just continue to stay in Emmaus. Two disciples didn’t delay when God’s word touched their heart. When they decided to go back to Jerusalem, it was already evening. And distance between Emmaus and Jerusalem was about 11km, so it was a 3-hour walking. But they didn’t delay their return to Jerusalem a single day. In that very hour, they got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. And when they arrived in Jerusalem, other disciples were still gathered. It means that they didn’t just walk to Jerusalem, but they ran to Jerusalem.
Let me conclude the message. When we feel down, when our life and faith went down to the bottom, what can make us rise up again? Only the Bible, only the word of God can raise us up. So if you want to rise up again, I urge you to read the Bible every day. Man does not live on bread alone, but live on every word coming from the mouth of God. Do you know how a rocket can go to the sky without falling down? One Rocket itself is more than 200 Ton. For the rocket to go up to sky, rocket engine must burn its fuel constantly without ceasing. Then, the power of constant burning fire makes the rocket rise up. If you want your life to rise up, let your heart constantly burning with the Word of God. Use the Bible in your language. Then, Open the Bible and ask Jesus to help you understand. Then, Jesus will come to you through His Holy Spirit. And I am sure He will give you the power to rise up with His word.