Hearts Burning - Rev John Blazé
Jesus met these two people and they were talking deeply in discussion. They were obviously very saddened and depressed. They had hopes, great hopes of this man, this prophet, powerful in deed and word before God and the people. He would be the one who was going to redeem Israel, bring back the glory of Israel from the past. Yet their hopes seemed to be dashed by the events that took place on the cross. Maybe they still believed that something was going to happen. They waited till the third day. The third day nothing had happened, so they set out with great despondency on their way back from Jerusalem. And they asked each other: “What are all these rumours. The women seemed to have heard something. Was it their imagination?” They knew the body was no longer in the tomb because the other disciples found him gone.
Jesus knew very well what was on their hearts. He knew very well what they were discussing. But he asked them “What are you talking about?” They said: “All these things.” “What things?” says Jesus. And so, they start to tell the whole story. And Jesus listens to the whole story and says “You find it so hard to believe. And yet Jesus opened up the scripture to them and explained they were expecting a prophet. But this wasn’t just a prophet. This was a man powerful in word and deeds. This was the Messiah, the Son of God. This is what they were expecting.
They didn’t seem to know that this was the man before them. And so, he revealed the scriptures to them. And they said their hearts burned when they heard him speak.
I don’t know about other people, but I guess many of you have had that experience of the burning of the heart, in the sense of the warmth and enthusiasm that comes into your heart as the Lord speaks to you. I know that certainly in my life there have been certain occasions when God has spoken to my heart and I had this burning sensation.
In my call to ministry my heart burned. I had a sense of rejoicing and a great desire to serve the Lord in many different ways. I remember when I was 17 years old, and I decided I wanted to be a Christian and follow Jesus, and I asked to be baptised, as an adult by confession of faith. So, I had to go around to a Baptist minister and go to baptismal classes and finally I was baptised in the Baptist church by immersion. All that time I had thought I was a Christian, but something happened. As I came out of that water, my heart was on fire. I couldn’t stop rejoicing. I used to sit in the pews on Sunday and sometimes tried to mouth some of the hymns. But this time as soon as the hymns were announced and I had dried myself off, I found to my surprise that I burst forth in a very loud voice in God. I remember that straight after that we sang “O Jesus I have promised”. I really was on fire for Jesus.
But in this time, Jesus still speaks to us. He still says: “What things?” We as we gather together, discuss many things that are happening around us. The Coronavirus. Everyone seems to be talking about the virus.
But we in the ACC also talk about our hopes. In 1977 when the Uniting Church came into being, we were on fire. We really thought it was going to be like in John 17, that we would all be one. We were so enthusiastic. What great hopes we had for the Uniting Church over the years. But then slowly and surely things seemed to crumble around us, just like it happened in the last few days of Jesus’ life on earth. And we started to wallow in despair with the Assembly over things that are happening around us.
But we must remember that Jesus is with us. He still speaks to us. He opens up the scriptures to us and reveals the promises of God through the scriptures. He is with us now.
He hears us and we have hope. We are called to be people who fight the good fight, run the straight race, stand firm in our faith and knowledge that God will win. We might lose a battle here and there.
Yesterday I heard a man speaking about the battle of Long Tan. The Australian troops were outnumbered 10 to 1. And amazingly they won the battle, but they lost the Vietnamese war. We are likely to lose many battles, but we are assured that we will win the war.
Our Lord is a conquering God. Our Saviour is a conquering Saviour. We are able to say: “With you Lord, all things are possible”. Things can change, miracles can happen.
Remember the story in the Old Testament when the prophet Elijah was surrounded by a troop of people coming to execute him. He asked his servant to go and have a look. And his servant was horrified. All these people were there, great soldiers and troops. Then he said: “Look again!” And finally, when he looked, he saw that there were other chariots and troops far greater in number that the enemy. We need to know that God’s chariots and troops are there with us, far greater than the enemy
And so, it is with great joy that I say that the Lord wants us to know. We are called to carry on. I want to finish with a short passage from 1 Peter which tells us where we are and who we are.
“Love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” 1 Peter 1:22-23 (NIV)