Personalizing the Resurrection: The Power of Personal Testimony
May 3, 1998 Luke 24:13-35
Often times I try to get the feel of the direction of a passage to obtain a title for a message which allows me to focus my thoughts. The process I went through on this passage led me to these possible titles: How to Recognize the Risen Christ; The Testimony of Jesus About Himself; On the Road With Jesus; The Essence of Communion; The Characteristics of the Risen Christ. All these are partially true but fall short of a complete picture. Then the thought came to me that Jesus had gone to retrieve these two errant disciples who were skipping town after the very happening which he intends to hold us all together.
In Luke 24:49, after her retrieves them, he gives his instruction that all the disciples are to stay in Jerusalem until they have been clothed with power from on high. Verse 53 reveals their obedience to his command since they stayed continually in the temple, praising God. He came to the two disciples on the Emmaus Road in order to make his resurrection personal to them. This was the day of the resurrection. They had heard about it, but it had not yet become personal to them. Jesus comes to commune with them in order to make it personal. We should notice the change in them once the resurrection does become personal to them, and the process Jesus took them through.
In Mark 16:13, it says that Jesus appeared to them in a different form. This was his resurrection body that he was going to reveal for their belief. Jesus leads us past our confusion into true communion with himself. He retrieves us from going astray in our discouragement. He cares about our concerns. He pleasantly rises above our petty short-sightedness with patient instruction. Whatever he withholds from us only accentuates the glory of what he would later reveal. He reveals himself to those who would invite him in. His fellowship reveals truth. His truth compels action. Let us take a look at the process they went through as he personalized the resurrection for them. It is a process we can lead others through as we personalize his resurrection in us for others to see. It is the power of personal testimony.
A. Hearsay: it wasn’t personal enough to keep them in town.
13 ¶ Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.
14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.
15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;
16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
Place yourself in the shoes of these men - articulate the scene.
They didn’t understand what he had been telling them all along, Mt. 16:21.
Walking news commentary - same confusion, trying to figure out what happened.
Nathaniel - John 1:49
Whatever he withholds only accentuates what he would later reveal.
Jesus builds his case - he comes in the midst of our confusion.
Necessary because of our fallenness and confusion - prejudice against truth.
Personalize this in the probable events of people’s lives.
We don’t have the whole picture because it is his purpose - but he is still there and actively leading us.
How can we be like Jesus to counteract the hearsay - incomplete knowledge that others may have? We must come and walk beside them where they are at - even if they walk away from truth as they discuss what truth is - and patiently pursue a plan of personal revelation about Christ and about ourselves. We must reveal his testimony in us which is his resurrection power over sin which brings us to new life, 2Cor. 5:13-17.
B. Articulation: state the facts and get them in order.
17 He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast.
18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?"
19 "What things?" he asked. "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.
20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;
21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.
22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning
23 but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.
24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."
The first thing Jesus did was to get them to articulate, organize and process the information that they knew.
Those who are on a search for truth will have some facts but may not know how to interpret them.
This is the beginning point of discussion.
This is where Jesus comes in - it is where we come in.
We must ask questions, be open, and listen.
We need to know what there is to work with before we can go further.
This point in the process is therefore beneficial for both sides.
We must start where people are at, but we must know where that is.
This also gives them, and us, credibility.
And it opens the way for the working of the Spirit - which comes next.
C. Insight: understanding the facts in the light of spiritual truth.
25 He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?"
27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Notice that Jesus did not call them “fools.” He confronted their process, not their personhood.
To construct a case, we often have to go back to the basics - the beginning.
As Jesus focused the Scripture upon himself, so must we, for it is him we must reveal even in our personal testimony.
In the Old Testament we have preparation for Christ; in the Gospels, the presentation of Christ; and in the Acts through Revelation, the appropriation of Christ. -- Warren Wiersbe, Be Free, p. 85.
D. Involvement: the thirst for personal meaning of spiritual truth.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther.
29 But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.
Like Jesus, we must allow people to take steps at their own pace.
He did not press himself upon them but yet was willing to get involved.
Is this “psychology”? - possibly. But it works because it is effective with human personality to give credibility to the personhood of the individual.
At this point, just as the ‘day is almost over,’ most of the battle has been won because the invitation has been given - credibility has been established.
There is a thirst for more.
E. Understanding: the indwelling of Christ in personal communion with us.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.
31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
32 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?"
What more is to be revealed is the fullness of Christ for complete understanding.
What is your vision of the resurrected Chist (vs. 31)?
This is where the depth of your personal testimony comes in.
It results in your fellowship with another believer through your fellowship with Christ and his with you and them in return. It is being one in Spirit.
Why did Jesus disappear from their sight?
They have wrestled with truth, embraced it, and received it. Now the best way to apply it must be left again to the personhood of the believer.
Take note of ‘their hearts burning within them.’ Our hearts can burn with a desire for sin or for righteousness. At this point they are being baptized with holy fire.
The point we must bring people to is to ‘recognize’ Jesus - just like
Today we will relive this sacrament that Jesus took them through as we commemorate his revelation of fellowship with us - communion.
This is our communion with the resurrected Christ - his revelation to us.
Do our hearts burn with this holy truth?
F. Ownership: it was now personal enough for them to go back to town and tell others.
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together
34 and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon."
35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
The result of this truth within us is that it has become so real and personal to us that we cannot keep silent, 1Cor. 9:16. We have become forever changed by the resurrected Christ. He has become personal to us. We must make him personal to others. We have a testimony of his appearance to us.
The resurrection of Jesus is a personal experience he longs to share with us in order that we may share his eternal life with him. He desires that we experience it with him. Has the resurrection become personal to you? Have you come to new life by faith? Have you come into communion with him? We have been raised to righteousness from the depths of sin.
There is another, slightly later, counterpart to this event of Jesus appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is in the account of Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8:26-40. Philip, the evangelist, was one of the 12 who was scattered after the stoning of Stephen. In this story we can see the same process of testimony, the personal witness of the resurrection, only this time from one of Jesus’ disciples - like you and me.