The following is the article I submitted for publication in the Buffalo Center Tribune, published on Tuesday, April 25, 2023.
To God be ALL glory!

Following the resurrection of Jesus, two disciples leave Jerusalem and head towards the town of Emmaus, about 7 miles away. As they were walking along, trying to make sense of this wild news that Jesus may not actually be dead, that he has risen, this “man” comes along to join their journey. And then it says in Luke 24:16, “But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” The “man” is Jesus, but those two disciples were kept from recognizing him. So many questions here about why this happened; why they could not recognize Jesus, but one important truth about God. The space provided for me here does not lend itself to an extensive discussion on those questions so allow me to jump to the truth.

But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” This was not a biological response; their brains refusing or unable to accept the fact that Jesus was alive. Secular professionals could make that argument and have done so, but they are WRONG. The truth is, God did this. God is the one who prevents them from recognizing Jesus, and this points to the truth that our awesome God is sovereign.

Sovereign is a word you probably do not use a whole lot in everyday language. When you do hear/see it, or maybe even use it yourself, it refers to some kind of world leader such as a king/queen or a dictator. Sovereignty refers to supreme power with no one who can get in the way. We use this term in reference to some world leaders, but it is not entirely accurate. True enough, there may be no ONE who can get in their way in a political sense, but they do not have ALL power. Death is the great equalizer and can bring down the mightiest of rulers – well, not the mightiest One.

The word “sovereign” can only be correctly and fully used to describe our creator God, Father almighty. There is no power greater than God, not even death, for God destroyed the power of death through the resurrection of Jesus. And because God is truly sovereign in all things and in all ways, God is also sovereign when it comes to your salvation.

God kept those two disciples from recognizing Jesus because God was not ready for them to see Jesus. He had another agenda in the works as you can see played out in the following verses. God kept their eyes closed so Jesus could lead the world’s best Bible study and thus cause their hearts to burn within them. God worked salvation in their hearts and when He was ready, HE released their eyes and they saw the Truth; Jesus. What a comfort that He takes care of that which we could never obtain or earn on our own, because we are sinners. GOD works salvation through Jesus. GOD does the hard work for you. GOD gives you amazing mercy via his grace. GOD is merciful. YOU are a sinner, but God’s love overcomes. And therefore, praise be to God, always and forever, Amen.

Walking With Them

The Gospel for Sunday, April 23 is Luke 24:13-35, “The Road to Emmaus”. This is a story that I have always been drawn to when it comes to ministry. It takes place “that very day” meaning, the day Jesus rose from the dead. This is the day that chaos had broken out among Jesus’ followers as the women had told them that they had seen Jesus alive; risen from the dead. What were they to make of this? What does all of this mean? What now? And so, two disciples decided to head to Emmaus; chatting along the way. What catches my attention is that when Jesus shows up, they are kept from recognizing him. Jesus just walks with them, enters their conversation through an inquiry and then leads history’s best Bible study with them. When they arrive at Emmuas, they urge Jesus to stay with them. When he breaks bread with them their eyes are opened to who Jesus is and then they make a beeline back to Jerusalem to tell the others.

But here’s my question: Why not make himself known right away and tell them to go back to Jerusalem where all the action is? Jesus certainly could have saved them the long walking trip to and from Emmaus. The answer is contrary to popular evangelism tactics today. And the answer is not necessarily what a lot of people want to hear because it requires effort and participation on their part. You see, it is not about the pastor coming up with strategies to attract people to come to a location. The answer is about people going out and walking with others in their journey. And this take time. Evangelism is not measured through the number of people you conviced to come to worship. Evangelism is about discipleship; leading people to know Jesus and what he has done for them.

In short, you need to walk with people, not drag them to you.