Tucked away in the end of the book of Luke is possibly one of the most profound passages of scripture on how to understand the message of the whole Bible. The story is set in post-crucifixion Jerusalem on a empty stretch of road connecting the city of David to a remote village named Emmaus. Along this stretch of highway two disciples of Christ trudged long the seven road discussing the whirlwind of events that unfolded over the previous days. It was here that they unexpectedly met Christ in the person of a fellow traveler. Christ, hiding himself from their recognition, listened to their disappointment, confusion, and unmet expectation concerning this prophet mighty in deed and word. As Jesus listened to their honest confessions he responded by bringing their perspective into alignment with the Word of God. Luke tells us that as they walked the lonely road together Jesus, "beginning with Moses and all the Prophets...interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27). Incredible. The God of the universe who revealed himself through Moses, David, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and all the prophets was now teaching those very scriptures to these weary souls as they tarried together. He showed these disillusioned travelers how ALL of the scriptures pointed to Christ and ALL of the biblical stories whisper his name. I must admit, I would give almost anything to walk alongside those unsuspecting disciples as Jesus gently instructed them on the real significance of Christ's suffering. They were captivated by his teaching and when they came to lodge for the evening they insisted that Jesus join them to eat. As Christ blessed the bread and broke it their eyes suddenly realized who it was that handed them the bread. When their eyes were opened to see Christ, he immediately vanished from their midst. It was this transformation in their vision that enabled them to see Jesus for who he really was. More importantly, there is a phrase in the narrative that is especially significant for those who have eyes to see Jesus as he truly is. They confessed in bewilderment, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scripture?"
O may our hearts burn for the Gospel. May we, like these disciples, have hearts that burn when we open the scriptures. Without this burning for Christ the words of scripture are simply ink on a page. They are ancient words, written in a different time, culture, and people. Dare I say they are boring? Yet when our hearts burn for the gospel these words are life! They are sweet like wild honey, refreshing as cold spring water, and as joyous as a child's laughter. When the fire of the Holy Spirit ignites our heart the Words of Scripture are gasoline that sets our hearts ablaze for the glory of God. This is my prayer for Ocean Park. That our hearts would burn for the gospel. That we cannot get enough of the scripture because it is the very revelation of God. When our hearts burn worship is a blessing not a chore. When our hearts burn, the sermon is not an time to be endured but a time to be anticipated. When our hearts burn, we find pleasure to speak of the gospel with believers and non-believers alike.
But what if our hearts have seemingly grown cold and the fire that once roared is only a smoldering ember? First, call out to the Holy Spirit to ignite your heart with his holy flame that it be rekindled. Wait on the Lord to send the sunshine that burns the fog of apathy away. Call out to Jesus to give you eyes to see his face, ears to hear his voice, and a heart that beats for his glory. Second, as you wait for the Lord to set your heart aflame, draw near to those whose heart burn for Christ. Just as a coal will lose its heat when removed from the fire, our hearts will grow cold when we isolate ourselves from the fellowship of believers. Be deliberate to find brothers and sisters whose hearts are on fire for the gospel and come under their influence, teaching, and care. The Lord often uses the fires in one believers heart to ignite the fire in another.
Ocean Park, our congregation needs to burn for the glory of God and crave the gospel above everything else. When our church community burns for the gospel our fellowship will be warm, evangelism fruitful, and disciple-making empowered. May our hearts burn for the gospel!
Soli Deo Gloria