Hearts That Burn - meditation on Luke 24
Luke 24 reminds us that the greatest thrill for the Christian is the knowledge of God, that is to say communion with Him, specifically revealed in the Scriptures. When we understand the truth about God and when we taste Him, to use David’s word, and thoughts about God and affections for Him begin to take hold of our hearts and consume us, there is a resulting pleasure of the soul that is unlike any other pleasure we know. The heart of the Christian beats for God and it affects everything else.
The story from Luke 24 is a stirring one that tells us the reaction of two of Jesus' disciples as they understood, for the very first time and in ways they never comprehended before, the Scriptures which described Christ. Their reaction was joy and the thrill of understanding and a feeling of being overwhelmed by the truth. Their description was to say that their hearts 'burned' for the things Jesus taught them.
Luke 24:13 tells us that the event took place "that very day," referring to the day Jesus rose from the dead. It was a spring afternoon. Two people (one named Cleopas) were walking the 7 mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They had probably been in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. They were talking with each other about the events of the weekend. While they were walking, a traveler joined them. Luke 24:15 says it was Jesus Himself. But they did not know it was Him.
The visitor walked with them for some time, then asked them what they were talking about. It is an interesting question because Jesus knew what they were talking about. Jesus is setting up a situation here, like a good courtroom lawyer who never asks a question he doesn't already know the answer to.
"And he said to them, 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!' . . . And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Lk 24:25,27). The three sections of the Old Testament, according to Jewish divisions, were the Law (Moses), the Prophets, and the Writings. What Jesus did here was to show these disciples how the Old Testament, from beginning to end, spoke of Him.
Jesus explained that everything that had happened to Him was predicted and it was all necessary. When they realized who Jesus was, He vanished from their sight (Lk 24:31). When they thought back to His explanation they declared, "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?" (Lk 24:32).
Here, for the first time, these disciples understood about Messiah and the suffering and death of Jesus and the freedom which results from it. Their hearts burned in excitement. Their minds and emotions were engaged at the thought of freedom from sins and acceptance with God.
That's the way it is for the people of God in any age. David exclaimed, "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God" (Psa 42:1). Jeremiah declared, "Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart . . ." (Jer 15:16). Job said, "I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food" (Job 23:12).
Oh the delight for those who love God with all their heart and all their soul! It causes a man like Peter to rejoice after being beaten, that he was deemed worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. It causes a man like Paul to sing in the middle of the night, in jail, in stocks, after he had been beaten with rods. Of all the delights of life, there is no delight as satisfying, as thrilling to the soul, as the delight which results from setting our affection on our God and from communion with Him in prayer and in the study of His Word.
Jesus did something we could never, in our wildest imagination, do. Walk out of the grave, triumphant over death. By the power of the omnipotent God, He burst out of the grave. When we truly encounter the risen Jesus, we are never the same. Our darkness becomes light, our death becomes life, and we are never the same. For those who trust in Him, Christ gives life. May our hearts burn for Him and for His teaching. The resurrection of Jesus demands that Christianity not be a Sunday ritual. The resurrection of Jesus demands that Christianity be a fire in our soul.
Longing after Christ,