Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 10
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|The context is that Paul has had to confront a very dear brother. This brother has acted foolishly. Now I want you to remember that. He has acted foolishly. That’s going to come up again and again in our message today.|
Abide With Me
Well, I’m so glad to be back with you again and what a great day. Turn with me to Galatians 3. You say, “Wayne, this is Easter Sunday morning, are you going to continue what you have always done?” Yeah, but hey, something I have learned. I’m overwhelmed at how God is so far in front of me. This is why I preach verse by verse. I have always discovered the next verse you come to is the one you need, and nobody can get mad at you because it is the next verse. But it’s awesome. Here we are on Resurrection Sunday, we are entering into Galatians 3:1, and what a truth: a group of believers that have walked away of the truth of the resurrection. You will see this in a moment.
The context is that Paul has had to confront a very dear brother. This brother has acted foolishly. Now I want you to remember that. He has acted foolishly. That’s going to come up again and again in our message today. And do you who that dear brother was? That dear brother was Simon Peter himself. I think the only time Simon Peter ever opened his mouth was to change feet. Peter had failed to trust in the resurrection power of Christ that now resided in him as a believer. He failed to do that. He had, in fear, cowered down to some religious people that had come over from Jerusalem to Antioch. Antioch was a Gentile area and here was Peter just visiting and these Judaizers came in. As a result Peter withdrew; he cowered down to their very presence among them. He acted foolishly.
Now let me explain something to you in case you are visiting today—and we are so glad to have you. Just in case you have not been with us in this flow, I want to explain to you what Paul is teaching in Galatians. Christianity is not a religion. It’s incredible how many people don’t understand this. Normal Christianity is not a religion. I know it is taught that way in school; I know the pagan world considers it to be a religion. It is not. Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and so on, that is a religion. A religion is based on external works that a man does in order to measure up and appease a god who is very vindictive. And he may or may not attain that. Christianity is in of no way, no form or fashion a religion. It is a relationship, a relationship with God the Father through the Lord Jesus His Son.
I don’t know how many times being on a plane, when I traveled all the time doing conference work worldwide, I had somebody ask me, “What do you do?” I love that question. They would break into hives when I tell them I’m a preacher. I mean, it’s incredible to watch the reaction. I have had it said to me so many times in defense, and basically to set some perimeters, they say to me the same phrase, “Well, I want you to know preacher, religion never worked for me.” I have had that said, stated to me from Portland to Salt Lake; I’ve had it in Reno; from Zurich, Switzerland; to Johannesburg, South Africa. Exact same statement. And I’ve had the greatest fun looking back at them and I say, “You are exactly right. It never worked for me either.” Now that puts it into a different perspective. And they look at me and say, “Well, you are a preacher, aren’t you.” And I say, “Yeah, I’m preacher.” “Well, what do you preach?” And I tell them about a precious relationship we can have with God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is the teaching of the book of Galatians. A group of people have walked away from that truth and have gone back to that old form and that function that has no power in it whatsoever. You see, believers don’t have a set of rules that they have to obey in order to measure up. They don’t have to do that. Why? Because God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ into this earth. He was born of a virgin; the God-man.
Why did He come? He came to do what we have already discovered we could not do. We are born in Adam. We are born in sin; and sin cannot in any way please the Father. He came to fulfill the Law we could never fulfill in a million years. And then He took upon Himself our sin debt. You see the wages of sin is death. He took our debt upon Himself, went to the cross, paid a debt He did not owe, when we owed a debt we could not pay. Now He that gave the Law and He that fulfilled that same Law comes to live in the lives of people who put their faith and trust in Him. We do not have to measure up anymore. He has measured up for us.
So Christianity takes us out from under a bondage to have to some way measure up and please a God who normally cannot be pleased. He is not that at all. God is pleased in His Son and His Son has been pleased to die for you and me. Christ not only died on the cross, but on the third day He was raised from the dead, vindicated in the Spirit that now truly He is the Son of God, Lord of lords, King of kings. Now, listen, the Law is no longer our master. He has fulfilled it. It is taken care of. The Lord Jesus now becomes our Master. We do not have to earn His love as believers. We do not have to earn His pleasure as believers. His pleasure and His love are freely given to us in Christ Jesus. But Jesus Christ is our Lord. He lives in us to do through us what we could never do ourselves.
Now, in the context of Galatians 2, Peter has forgotten that truth. He knew that truth. He agreed with Paul about it when he was in Judea. He has forgotten that truth. He has walked away from it. He has forgotten that the Law and those who teach it are no longer our master. Peter made a serious mistake when he cowered down to these religious leaders that had come over from Jerusalem. And therefore he left Paul no other option except to confront him face to face, and that is verses 14-18. And then in verse 19 Paul just turns away from Peter. He says, it’s almost just like I do not have anything more to say about you. Let me talk about me for a second. And he says in verse 19, “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live unto God.” He said I want the relationship. I want to live unto Him. I do not want to go back here and be condemned and controlled by a set of rules. I want the joy of having a relationship with the Lord.
Well in verses 20-21, he states his new position and his new direction in life. This is so exciting. This is what Christianity is. He says, “I have been crucified with Christ.” He shows that when Christ was put on the cross, and this just grabs me, that Paul was there with Him. Figuratively he was there with Him. Why? Because Christ took Paul’s sin upon Himself. So, technically, Paul was there with Him. Do you realize every believer in here can say that? When He was crucified I was crucified; therefore everything has changed. Co-crucified is what Paul said.
This has changed everything. The law that used to condemn him cannot touch him anymore because it has been fulfilled by the God-man. It cannot condemn him anymore. And unless he chooses, it cannot control him. You see, not only that, the man he used to be is dead. He is gone. He is a brand new creature in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:17. Christ has come to live in him. This is what Christianity is, it is becoming a child of God, being a brand new person. Christ took his place and now comes to live in him. He lives a total different way.
He continues in verse 20. He says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” The One who gave the law again, the One who fulfilled it, Christ, the Son of God, now by faith has come to live in Paul. He does not live to do things for Christ, because he knows that that will nullify the grace of God. That word “nullify,” set aside. Verse 21 says, “I do not nullify the grace of God.” I am not going back to a religion that tells me to do this in order to earn favor with God. That is gone. My favor is in Christ. It has already been won by Him. I am not going to live that way anymore. Paul is convinced that any fleshly work—which is what religion is all about—that is done for God absolutely makes Christ’s death on the cross a needless and void thing.
He goes on to say, “For if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died needlessly.” The resurrected Christ has come to live in all of us today in the Person of the Holy Spirit to do through us what we have already learned that we cannot do ourselves. Now, this is good news. This is what the gospel is all about, becoming a brand new creature, Christ coming to live in us. But isn’t it interesting; have you found this to be amazing, that on days like today, Easter, how many people come looking for something that they either don’t have or have, but don’t know how to possess? They live as if they don’t even believe what we have just said. Even on this day when we should be celebrating, there are a lot of Christians that are miserable, depressed and full of despair. Easter comes and we sing “Up from the grave He arose,” or “Christ has Risen” and we love that. “He has risen, He’s arisen indeed.” And we walk outside the door, get in our car and live as if we do not have a clue what we have just said.
Now that is exactly where the text is going today. We are dealing with believers who have chosen to live foolishly. And we are going to see that. The third chapter of Galatians the apostle Paul begins with a rebuke to these people. This is all the churches in southern Galatia. He says in verse 1, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publically portrayed as crucified?” They had seen it. God has opened their eyes and Jesus had been crucified and resurrected from the dead. These Galatians however now have been deceived by the very same people that Peter was afraid of back in chapter 2. And what has happened is they have walked away from that relationship again, chosen foolishly to buy back into a religious mindset.
Now, we are just going to deal with one word today. I think it will bless your heart before it is over with. It is the word “foolish”. We need to understand that word. The word foolish is used again in verse 3, “Are you so foolish, having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” You mean to tell me, it took Christ to save you, but now somehow you can sanctify yourself? Is that what you are saying? Do you think by your fleshly work you can perfect yourselves? The word foolish is the word anoetos. It comes from two Greek words. “A” means without, and then the word noetos, which means understanding. Are you without understanding? Are you ignorant of something?
Now you have to understand something about this word. There is something that we must grasp. The word foolish that is used here is the word that means intentionally foolish. Now, do you know the difference in ignorance and stupidity? I know when I was growing up my momma said, “Don’t ever call anybody stupid. Don’t even say stupid.” But I don’t know how else to say it. If you don’t know and you do it that is ignorance; if you know better and do it, I’m sorry, that is stupid. The word foolish in verse 1 of chapter 3 can be translated stupid.
I did something. My grandson, Jonathan, is three years old. I did something ignorant in his presence the other day; not stupid, ignorant. We have a sound system, a surround sound system in our house. It was there when we bought it. I do not even know what one is, but we have one. When you have the TV sound on the surround system will not work. You have to turn the TV sound off then turn on the surround sound if you want to hear it all the way around.
Well, somebody turned on the TV sound. So while I am turning it down I am turning the surround sound up and you understand where I am going with this. There is no real distinguishable sounds, but you can hear a static or something. It is in that speaker and it is getting louder and louder and louder and louder. And as soon as I got the TV sound off, the other sound kicked in at a volume that did strange things to my hearing aids. I tell you what, I have never heard sound that loud in my life. Jonathan had just walked into the room, and when that sound went off, he just screamed. He just screamed at the top of his lungs.
My wife grabbed Jonathan, ran him out of the room. My daughter and I just sort of froze, you know, we didn’t know what to do. Finally, I tried to get it down and it took forever and I finally got that sound down. Well, he’s just sobbing. After a while he calms down, he walks in the room, and I am so sorry, because I did not mean to do it. I didn’t know what I was doing. I said, “Jonathan, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do that.” He had the funniest look on his face. He looked at me and he went, “Don’t you do that again.” “Okay, I won’t.” Now, that time it was ignorance. The next time it is stupid, okay.
You got the point. When you don’t know, you don’t know. But when you do know and still do it, that is when you are foolish in the Greek understanding.
Well, the Galatians were guilty of intentional stupidity. Their situation was because of their own choices. I want us to depart from Galatians just for a minute because we are going to understand that word today, hopefully. And I want us to turn to Luke 24. We are going to enter into a story on Resurrection Sunday and we are going to see how the Lord Jesus reprimands two of His disciples with the same phrase, “O foolish men.” I want you to understand that on this day when we should be celebrating, there are many believers that can’t celebrate in this room even this morning. They can’t do it because they are living foolishly. They have made choices to live that way and as a result they are not reaping what the fullness of God is that He wants to offer to them.
The story opens in Luke 24:13 with two disciples walking along, talking on the way to the road to Emmaus. It says in verse 13, “And, behold, two of them were going that very day to village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.” Now the word foolish does not appear right away, so don’t get impatient. These two men are foolish men. You will see that before the message is over. So just understand that. We will get to it in time.
There are three things that I want you to see today. Perhaps it will encourage your heart. First of all is God’s response to our foolishness. If you can’t get encouraged by this it would be a great day to get saved. I want you to know this. God loves us even when we are foolish. I want you to know that. He loved us before the foundation of the world, so our foolishness today doesn’t surprise Him. He loves us in spite of us. Usually I would finish with that point, but I want to start with that point. I want to make sure you get it in your mind, God loves you even when you live foolishly.
It says, “And, behold, two of them were going that very day.” Now that phrase, “that very day” refers to Resurrection morning, the first Easter, if you please. Verse 12 precedes verse 13, which in most chapters it is that way. It says, “But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, stooping and looking in he saw the linen wrappings only and he went away to his home marveling at what had happened.” That is the same day. It says “Now on the same day two of them.” Now the “two of them” were not of the original 12. In fact, by this time Judas has hanged himself and there are only 11 left, and these are not the original. These are just two followers of Jesus, two disciples of Jesus. It could have been you and I if we were living in that day.
Emmaus was seven miles from Jerusalem, or about; it says about seven miles from Jerusalem. Now the topic of their discussion is interesting. On Resurrection Sunday they are not talking about the resurrection. They are talking about the crucifixion. It’s interesting here. It says in verse 14, “And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place.” Now you will see in the context in a moment, all they were talking about is the death of Jesus Christ. “He’s dead. He’s dead; He failed. They crucified Him.” And that was the gist of their conversation.
Well, first it seems to be an innocent conversation. But the more we stay in it the more you see where it’s going. Now here is the thing I want you to see and I don’t want you to miss it. It is the Lord Jesus that comes to them. They don’t go to Him. He comes to them. That is the way it always is. He is constantly pursuing you and me. I see these little bumper stickers, “I found Jesus.” No, you didn’t. He found you. You’re not even looking for Him. This stuff about seekers; listen, there is no seekers that are not believers. Nobody is seeking for God, Isaiah said. God is seeking for you and me. And the fact of coming is in the plural in Scripture. He continues to come and continues to come and even though He lives in us He continues to reveal Himself to us.
Verse 15: “But while they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them.” Wouldn’t you like to have been a fly on the wall? They are walking along saying, “Man, they killed Him. He is crucified.” Jesus, He just walks along with them. They have not figured it out yet. He’s walking right along with them. Christ the resurrected Lord comes to them. By the way, if you are here this morning and you are living foolishly—you will find out what that is in a moment—I want you to know and be encouraged that Jesus has already been coming to you over and over and over again. But you are probably like them; you haven’t recognized Him yet. I want you to be encouraged, Christ comes to us.
These two disciples did not have a clue that it was the Lord Jesus. It says in verse 16, “But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.” That word “prevented” is the word krateo. Krateo means to have control over something. It’s in the passive voice. It means that Jesus took control over their ability to perceive who He was. They could still see the road; they could see the sky; they could see Him; but He took away their ability to discern who He was. Now, I don’t know how that happened, but He did that.
I wonder how many of us again today are frustrated? And you will see in a moment, living foolishly frustrates you. You are in despair. You are despondent. You are discouraged. Life is falling apart. And here it is, Easter Sunday morning. Oh, good grief. I guess we will go to church. And do you realize how many times Jesus has been coming to you, but you have not yet been able to see it? It might be a daughter who says, “Daddy, I want you to take me to church.” You didn’t see Jesus in that. That’s who it was. It might be a wife, or a husband, or a friend who says, “Would you stop drinking because you are killing our family. Don’t you see where it’s taking you?” You haven’t seen Jesus in that. All you have seen was a wife that wanted you to do what was right. Maybe it’s a friend that keeps coming to you and says, “You know, I would love to sit down with you and pray with you and get in the word,” but you don’t have time for it. But you didn’t realize that is Jesus in that person—because He lives in people—coming to you.
You know what I pray? I pray that Jesus is coming through me today to encourage your heart, to let you know that, even though you might be living foolishly, God loves you in spite of your foolishness. He has a plan for you and wants to love you right back into His presence. Christ is always coming to us. He loves us even when we have been foolish. Anybody been foolish besides me in your life? Aren’t you glad He loves us in spite of our foolishness?
You see, I want you to make sure you get that heavy in your head, because we are going to go now into what that foolishness is. And before we get there remember God loves us. Eventually, it will be His love that will bring you back to repentance. Romans 2:4 says “Don’t you understand it is God’s love, it’s His goodness and kindness that leads you to repentance.” Somebody here today, I guarantee you, has been living foolishly. You have not been honoring God. You haven’t been in His Word and you are frustrated on Easter Sunday morning. You came because everybody else came in your family and you did not want to be the only one at home. But I want you to know something. God wants to take you by the hand this morning and say, “I love you. I know you’ve been full of despair and everything else in your life, but I want to lead you right back into My presence. I have got a plan for your life. I love you and I want to do things through you.” That is the gospel of grace, folks.
Well, first of all is God’s response to foolishness. But now, what is the reason for us being fools? Where does it come from? Where does it start? What do you mean intentional foolishness? Well, let’s look. Verse 17, “And He said to them, what are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” Now, the first thing that has got to come to your mind is that Jesus already knew their thoughts, much less what they were talking about. I don’t know if you have read that in the New Testament, Matthew 9:4, Matthew 12:25, Luke 9:47, all of Jesus’ knowing their thoughts. Now, if He knows their thoughts, He certainly know what they have been talking about. So why does He have to ask them. What is He doing here?
You have to realize this whole conversation is for their benefit. He already knows what they are talking about. He knows how discouraged they are. But He needs for them to answer Him so that He then might be able to help them in a profound way. And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And, and it says, “Immediately they stood still, looking sad.” Now that could have been that they were already looking sad. I have seen a lot of Christians on Sundays that look sad. Maybe that was part of it. But it could be also, by the tense that is used here—aorist passive—that by His question it froze them in their tracks. Having to answer what they have just been discussing froze them in their tracks. They stood still. “What are you talking about?”
And the word “sad” means gloomy, discouraged, frustrated. You pick any word you want to put into that. Their countenance fell and they stood there frozen in their tracks. “And then, on the day of resurrection, you mean somebody could be a believer and be sad and despondent and gloomy? No!” You see, these are two believers, two followers of Jesus, and they are gloomy and sad on the very day they should be celebrating.
One of them, named Cleopas, has the presence of mind to answer Jesus back. “One of them named Cleopas answered and said to Him,” now listen; this is funny; “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” I don’t know if you see any humor in this at all, but I just get a kick out of it. I mean, He kind of understood, you know. He was the one they crucified. He is the one that went into the grave. He is the one who came out. He is the one who resurrected. He kind of understands. But remember, it just shows you they do not realize who He is yet.
“And He said to them,” now this continues the humor to me. “What things?” And He knows “what things.” And they said to Him.” Now their answer tells a lot: “The things about Jesus the Nazarene who was a prophet [Oh, my friend, He is greater than a prophet] mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people. And how the chief priest and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and they crucified Him,” and you can almost feel the remorse. They crucified Him. He is dead. He failed. “But we were hoping,” verse 21, “that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.” They didn’t understand. The very ones who proclaimed to know what happened were the ignorant ones at this point. “Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.”
The third day! Now, I don’t know exactly they meant that, whether or not they knew that He had said “the third day”. I get the feeling they hadn’t paid a bit of attention to what Jesus had said. You see, do you understand that foolishness begins when you don’t pay attention to what God has said? That’s part of the problem. And then we start living in a way that is intentionally apart from Him. Matthew 12:40. He said, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Mark 8:31, “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed and after three days rise again.” Mark 9:31, “For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men and they will kill Him, and when He has been killed He will rise three days later.’” Verse 34, “They will mock Him and spit on Him and scourge Him and kill Him and three days later He will rise again.” And you can just keep on reading. He has said this over and over and over again. And they said, “But it is the third day.” Oh, duh!
Luke 24:22, they continue, “But also some women among us amazed us.” Now, there has been some frustration here, confusion. “When they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find His body they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive.” But then verse 24, “Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said, but Him they did not see.” I don’t know if you see it or not, but these are very discouraged disciples. Let me tell you why. You see, they had a fleshly agenda.
The Jews believed that when Jesus came as the Messiah, when the Messiah came, He would set up His earthly kingdom, a powerful kingdom. Kind of like ethnic cleansing, He would kick out all the Gentiles. He would take the greatest of the Jews and put them on His right hand and His left hand and He would rule from that throne on earth. They just didn’t understand He was going to come first to die. That’s the way He was going to redeem Israel and the whole world, and then resurrect from the grave three days later. They conveniently shifted that over. Why? Because they had a fleshly agenda of what they wanted to see. The only way to get out from under the Roman domination was for Jesus to come as King and conquer and therefore set up His kingdom on earth. It was such an agenda that they did not pay attention to what He said.
You want to know where “foolishness” comes from? It’s from people that have a fleshly agenda. They have got strings attached. They will not pay attention to what God has said, and therefore they are frustrated. They are in despair. You come to Easter, it is just another day. Let’s have an Easter egg hunt and let’s have a nice meal with the family, and then it’s over. It’s done, it’s gone, and there is no joy. There is no real celebration in their hearts. Why? Because they have got an agenda and that agenda has hindered them from paying attention to what God has said.
I will be honest with you, I think that is the problem of Christianity in America today. Now, who am I? I don’t know, but others give their opinions; I’m going to give mine. I believe that is the problem. People come to church and say “I want to be entertained. What can you do for me? I want better this, I want better that, I want this, I want that.” And the reason is they have taken the Scriptures and said “That is archaic. You can’t build a church on teaching the Word of God. You have got to do something to entertain them, meet their felt needs. Let’s walk away from the Word of God.” And as a result of that, foolish living is probably more predominant today than it was with these disciples back in the day He had to address them on the Emmaus road. We’ve got an agenda; we have got a string attached to God. And we want what we want and we are not paying attention to what God has said.
Well, that is what foolishness is. But are you not glad God loves us even when we are foolish? I will ask you again, how many of you have been foolish this past year? Yes sir, me too. Aren’t you glad God loves us? How many times I have had an agenda and I would rather than pay attention to what His Word has to say, I would rather go make myself feel better or do something my flesh desires to do.
Well, the final thing I want you to see is a refreshing rebuke. You say, “How can a rebuke be refreshing?” Well, when Jesus does it, it’s always refreshing. I mean, the way He rebukes you and I, loving us like He does, makes us think that we have just been blessed, and we have been. Watch what happens here. Jesus says to them, verse 25, “And He said to them” here comes the rebuke, “O foolish men [there’s our word] and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” The word “foolish” is our word that we have found in Galatians, anoetos. It means without understanding, intentionally. He documents what we just said. We could have waited till He said this to say the reason for foolishness, but it’s already been implied. He documents it. He said to them “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken.” Now the word “slow” is the word bradus. It is the word that means to intentionally delay something.
But now, listen, it doesn’t mean that you are slow and just can’t seem to get there and you are trying. No, no, no; this word means something else. This word means you intentionally are slow of heart. The word for “heart” there is the word referring to the place within us that we can’t put our hand on, but yet it’s where all of our decisions are made. You are slow of heart to do what? “To believe all that the prophets have spoken.” He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart, to believe all.” Do you realize that Isaiah was their greatest prophet, or at least in many people’s eyes? And do realize that Isaiah told them in Isaiah 53:6-11 he told them as clear as bell that all of our iniquities would put upon the Lord Jesus. It told them clear as a bell that God was pleased to crush His own Son for our behalf and that through Him many would be justified. It is as clear as a bell, but they refused, intentionally refused. Why? Because they had a fleshly agenda. And in doing so missed what God was trying to say in their life.
You see, that’s what foolishness is. And that rebuke had to come. You say, “How can that be refreshing?” Oh, listen, He did not just rebuke them, He walked with them now to the road to Emmaus. I don’t have the time to get into all of that. It’s such a beautiful story. He just walks along, and you know what He does? He takes those Scriptures that they had sort of pushed aside and begins to explain Himself all the way from Moses down to His day. And they thrilled in that. They get to Emmaus and when they get to Emmaus they beg Him to stay because it was getting late in the evening. And I want you to see the intimacy. What He did, He loved them through His word, by explaining His word back into His presence. I will promise you today, if you are living foolishly, God is already working on you. You haven’t seen Him yet; He has been all around you. He has been coming to you over and over and over again. He is trying to love you back into His presence where the intimacy can come back in your relationship with Him.
It says in verse 30, “when He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it and breaking it He began giving it to them.” Boy, this is that picture of supping with Him and, and participating with Him. And then in verse 31, oh I love this, “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him and He vanished from their sight.” Do you realize what our problem is this morning? We are so busy doing everything but what we should be doing—abiding with Him, getting into His presence, being willing to let His word teach us. And if we are not willing to give His word the time of day, next Easter will be the same song, third verse. I promise you, it will not get better, it will get worse.
But remember, He is after you. He is moving through people to try to woo you back into His presence. This is what Christianity offers that no religion touches. It offers the intimacy of fellowship with the Lord God Himself through His Son. And when you get into His presence suddenly you begin to realize how important the Scriptures are. All of those things you thought you wanted, you don’t want anymore. You just want what God’s Word has to say. You want to hear His Scripture explained to you, and that’s when that happens. And when you get to that place in His presence and listening to His Word, that’s when He opens your eyes to what He wants you to see.
Their eyes were opened. Verse 32 says, “They said to one another. ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?’ And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem,” seven miles, “and found gathered together the Eleven and those who were with them and they were saying, walking in saying, ‘You are right. The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.’” Well, bless their hearts, glad you affirmed it. You walked along with Him for awhile, you certainly know in your heart that He has been raised from the dead.
Well, I’ve got to close this thing down. But I want you to know, my heart goes out to somebody who is living foolishly today. I have lived that way too many times in my life and I know how you feel right now. It’s like I don’t have time for the Word of God. “Listen, Wayne, do something to make me feel better because I am in a mess that I created for myself.” But I am telling you something, until you come back, God is loving you back into His presence. And when you begin to realize the intimacy of fellowship with Him and His Word, be willing to be taught, He will open your eyes as to what it is all about. And next Easter you will shout with the best of them because there will be a true celebration in your heart.
“Abiding with Me,” verse 29, I did not read, but I want to just go back and close with it. Verse 29, when we get there, it is about the end of day. It says, “But they urged Him.” The King James version says something different here; it says “stay with us.” They said, the King James says, “Abide with us,” same word, “stay with us, for it is getting toward evening and the day is nearly over.” Do you realize in a figurative sense, if you wanted to take it out of that and apply it, our life is a day? The time we were born begins the day and then the time that we die ends the day. Maybe the time that we were born from above starts the day, then the time we die ends the day. Do you realize what in a figurative sense “abide with me,” how important it becomes? The older you get the more you begin to realize how short life really is. Stop playing games with God and say, “Oh, God, I want to abide with You, but will You abide with me?”
There is a hymn that I want to share with you as I close. Now I like hymns. You need to know these hymns. They were born out of despair, and they were born out of trouble, and they are the doctrinal hymns. Every revival ever recorded was based upon the Word and doctrinal hymns. Let me show you one. It is called “Abide with Me.” Henry F. Lyte lived from 1793 to 1847. He died in 1847. The author of this text “Abide with Me,” Henry F. Lyte, was an Anglican pastor. Though he battled tuberculosis all of his life, Lyte was known as a man strong in spirit and in faith. It was he who coined the phrase, “It is better to wear out than to rust out.” During his later years Lyte’s health progressively worsened so that he was forced to seek a warmer climate in Italy. For the last sermon and with his parishioners at Lower Brixham, England, was September 4, 1847. It is recorded that he nearly had to crawl to the pulpit.
His final words made a deep impact upon his people when he proclaimed, “It is my desire to induce you to prepare for the solemn hour which must come to all by a timely appreciation and dependence upon the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Henry Lyte’s inspiration for writing “Abide with Me” came shortly before his final sermon. While reading from the account in Luke 24:29 of our Lord’s appearance with the two disciples on their seven mile walk from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus on that first Easter evening. How the hearts of those discouraged disciples suddenly burned within them when they realized that they were in the accompanying of the risen eternal Son of God.” And listen to the words of this great hymn.
- Abide with me, fast falls the even tide,
- the darkness deepens. Lord, with me abide
- when other helpers fail and comforts flee,
- help of the helpless, O abide with me.
- Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day,
- earths joys grow dim. Its glories pass away.
- Change and decay and all around I see
- O Thou who changest not abide with me.
- I need Thy presence every passing hour.
- What but Thy grace can foil the tempters power?
- Who like Thyself my God and stay can be?
- Through cloud and sunshine, O, abide with me.
- Hold Thou Thy word before my closing eyes.
- Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
- Heavens morning breaks and earth’s vane shadows flee.
- In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”
That’s what Christianity offers us, the opportunity to be in His presence every day of our life, every minute, every moment and the opportunity to be taught in His Word and to understand so He can open our eyes. That’s not religion, folks; religion will not cut it. But Christianity is a relationship. You don’t have to prove anything, or measure up. You just enjoy Him till Jesus comes back. Living and walking with Him moment by moment. Are you living foolishly this morning? Have you put the word on a shelf, it has dust on it? You come to church once a year, is that what you are doing today? Are you living foolishly?
Well, God loves you, God loves you and He has been after you for a long time. He is loving you back into His presence to enjoy a relationship that you have not enjoyed for quite a while. It is all yours to have. It is all yours to have.