“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labour is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake” (C.S.Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, 75).
Luke 24, in the New Testament, tells of two travelers walking down a dusty road. They were weary. Fed up. Hurting. Indeed, their souls were so beaten down with confusion and frustration that they walked like men in a mist; men stumbling around asleep. Disconnected. Disillusioned. Filled with despair.
It is not that they wanted things to be like this. These travelers had attempted to reach for something bigger than themselves. They had put their faith in something they thought might actually work for them, something that might actually satisfy their longing souls. More specifically, it was someone—a hero to the masses, a man of apparent power and strength, someone willing to buck the system and right the wrongs and make all things new.
Jesus was his name, and for a time it seemed that these travelers had found the very thing they had been looking for, at least until Jesus was condemned and crucified—killed by the very people the travelers expected him to overthrow. Now, shellshocked and angry, these travelers wondered if Jesus was nothing more than one more con-artist seeking the world’s attention, claiming to have solutions, but offering nothing but vacant promises. “We had hoped,” the travelers declared in Luke 24:21, “that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
They wondered, that is, until a certain stranger began walking with them along the dusty road. Hearing of their disillusionment and hurt he gently chastized them, challenging them to think more honestly about Jesus. “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken,” the stranger said to them (see Luke 24:25 and following), “was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And with that the stranger began unpacking the Scriptures of old, informing the weary travelers of all that the ancient writings offered regarding the Christ.
No doubt the stranger directed their attention to rich passages such as Isaiah 53:3-6, wherein one reads of God’s anointed servant who would suffer because of mankind’s sinfulness. Clearly the death of Jesus was about something far greater than nationalistic pride. It was for the transformation of the sinner. “The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all,” the ancient prophet Isaiah declared (see Isaiah 53:6). Jesus’ suffering was a necessity, not a loss, for by suffering in our stead Jesus bore on our behalf the just wrath of a sin-affronted God. Moreover, “by his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The shedding of his blood purchased our passage from guilt and damnation to forgiveness and hope.
But the stranger surely went further, and explained to the weary travelers that Jesus would come awake from the grave. “When his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days” (Isaiah 53:10). Resurrection is not explicitly referenced, but sown within the fabric of these ancient words is the expectation that past the grave God’s Anointed One “shall see and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11).
And so would the weary travelers, for as the stranger unpacked the riches of God’s Word the travelers realized that the very one teaching them was, in fact, the Resurrected Lord, incognito perhaps, but nonetheless real and present and alive. Luke 24:31 puts it succinctly when it says, “And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” Suddenly, all of their fears were foiled by the reality that the one they thought to have failed had indeed overcome the grave. Now, from their pitiful slumber they came awake, understanding that death was not the end, indeed, that because of Christ Jesus real life was just getting started.
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“Write This Down…” provides a restatement of selected points or observations from various teaching venues at which Pastor Matthew speaks. The preceding material is from Pastor Matthew’s message entitled, “Come Awake!”, an Easter message, presented on the weekend of April 8, 2012, at Bethel Church.