Antony Spencer 11am 14th April 2013

St John’s Small Group Study Notes

From Antony’s sermon on 14th April 2013

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Passage: Luke 24:13-35

Welcome: Share a time in your life when you have been surprised.

Worship: Read Ephesians 1: 15-23 and use that to prompt prayer of thanksgiving for what God has done in Jesus and how that affects us. Pray together: ‘Jesus we invite you to stay with us, reveal yourself and open our minds so that we can understand the Scriptures’.

Word: Read Luke 24:11-24
These two were at the end of a bad festival weekend – bewildered, and the outcome of the weekend was not what they expected to happen. (17) They were Downcast or sad.

They were discussing things as they walked – going over everything that had happened trying to make sense of things. (14)

The risen Jesus joins with them (15) albeit unknown to them. The NKJV uses the phrase ‘Jesus himself drew near’.

Question: What other occasions are recorded when Jesus walked with his disciples and taught them, corrected them or commissioned them. (See for example: Mark 9:33-; Luke 9:51-; John 21:15-)?

Share any experiences where you have become aware of Jesus walking with you and perhaps helping you in difficult circumstances.

Discussion as they walked:
As they walked they talked – Jesus led through questioning.
What understanding of Jesus did these two companions have v 19-24?
‘We had hoped’ (21) – It has been said that if ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick’ (Proverbs 13:12) hope disappointed kills the heart. God says through the prophet Isaiah (49:23) ‘that those who hope in me will not be disappointed’.

Question: Where is your hope set – on your own understanding or expectation, on health, wealth or other favourable circumstances or on God himself?

Jesus said to them ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!’ Really interesting challenge. The world around us says we are foolish to believe … Jesus says we are foolish if we are slow to believe all that God has said is to happen through the Scriptures.

Question: In what respect is your belief about the story, actions, achievements and purpose of Jesus challenged?

Question: What did Jesus tell them (25-27)? When we hope in God – and not in our understanding, or in how things seem – our hope is safely set and will not be disappointed.

Invitation

It strikes me that the key thing in this account is what happened next. Jesus – still unknown to these disciples – made to carry on but these two invited him to stay with them. This is how it could have rested – having a walk and talk with Jesus and gaining a better understanding of the scriptures could have been the end of it. This could have been an interlude or an experience but their invitation that Jesus stay with them becomes a gateway into something much more.

Their invitation had some strength of feeling to it. See (29). They were hungry for more and here as elsewhere in the Gospels – Jesus responds to those who are hungry for his presence. The same is true today – through the prophet Jeremiah God declares a great promise, ‘You will … find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ (Jeremiah 29:13)

Question: Can you come up with examples of where Jesus responded to the hunger (desperation or pleading) of those who came to Him?

Revelation – head to heart.

I believe that this is the key thing in this account because in response to their invitation Jesus came in and his identity was revealed to them. (30,31)

‘Then their eyes were opened’ – in this lovely phrase the spiritual work of revelation is described. It contrasts with the earlier comment at the beginning of this encounter (16) ‘ … but they were kept from recognizing him’. Revelation is God’s work not something we have control over. It’s clear from the various accounts that Jesus’ resurrection appearance was somehow different to his earlier appearance. Making the risen Jesus recognisable to these disciples and to us today is the work of God’s Spirit interacting with us

This realisation made sense of what had gone on before (32). They knew it was true as knowledge moved from dullness to clarity; from their heads to their hearts.

The revelation of the risen Jesus re-energised them and impelled them to share the good news with the others. (33)

That strikes me as a really good example of the work of God’s Spirit in our lives today … (a) making sense of things and (b) bringing energy, power and action into our lives.

Question: Have you any experiences of the Holy Spirit doing that in your life that you can share? How can we foster the work of Holy Spirit in our lives?

The other thing that strikes me is the way God used a variety of people to declare and introduce the world changing truth of Jesus resurrection from death. The Apostles – those whom Jesus had appointed to be with Him, together with the elders of the church in Jerusalem and others appointed later (like Paul) – went on to become the leaders and point of reference for the early church. Yet in the resurrection accounts this great truth is revealed firstly to the women and as we’ve read today to other followers of Jesus before the apostles. In other words God used those who were outside and not part of the leadership to bear witness to the leadership and community. This points to another great truth … that we need one another and that God uses our witness to one another to reveal and affirm his purposes. I wonder how God is using or might use you in His greater purposes even though you don’t necessarily have any formal position.

Conclusion
Our faith involves both our heads and our hearts. Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th C held that faith precedes reason, but that reason can inform and expand upon faith. He re-quoted Augustine about the relationship between head and heart when he said, ‘I believe in order to understand’ and not the reverse ‘I understand in order to believe’.

For us today the journey from head knowledge to heart belief is a really important journey. It’s a journey that Jesus wants to be part of and will be part of as we invite Him to. As we journey Jesus encourages us to dialogue with him and to foster the work of His presence within us. Are you hungry for Jesus’ presence and for His work in you?

An invitation for Jesus to stay with us is a gateway to much greater in our lives and experience. Even if we have embarked on that journey with Jesus but through events or inertia, life has continued independently; Jesus says today as he said to the church in Laodicea – ‘19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Rev 3)

All that presumes of course that our hope is set on God. Let me conclude by asking this question again. Where is your hope set – on your own understanding or expectation, on health, wealth or other favourable circumstances or on God himself? ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick.’ Hope disappointed kills the heart.’ But ‘… those who hope in God will not be disappointed or ever be put to shame’. Where is the hope of your heart set?

17th Apr 2013 Posted in: Sermon Notes by Fran Varley 0

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