The message of Emmaus is that Jesus walks with us, even when we walk the wrong way, and challenges us to understand, not just read, the Bible. This is my attempt in an all-age service to think about this; complete with a quiz!
I’ve also written a sermon for Easter on the journey of the Emmaus road, if you’re not looking for an all-age approach.
For this talk, I used Bob Hartman’s excellent re-telling of the Emmaus Road in The Storyteller’s Bible, which including the repeated refrain of ‘walking and talking, talking and walking’. I think that we can often assume we know what’s in the Bible, or confuse that with stuff that sounds like it might be. The quiz was my attempt to get us to think about that – I got people into groups to answer the questions, but I made it clear I wasn’t going to ask for the answers.
Emmaus quiz; Reading: Luke 24:13-35
Jesus and the disciples were walking and talking. The disciples couldn’t work out what had happened. They didn’t understand why Jesus was killed and that God had brought him back to life. They didn’t understand that that was what the Prophets had said would happen. They didn’t understand what the Bible was really saying about God’s Messiah.
And so Jesus had to spend a long time walking and talking with them, talking and walking as they went in the wrong direction, not understanding what was going on. They didn’t understand because they didn’t understand the Bible well enough. They read it, but they’d ended up with an understanding on what people thought it said. They thought it said that the Messiah was coming as a warrior, as a king to sweep away the Romans. And when he didn’t they were upset and walking the wrong way.
So, how well do we know what the Bible says? How well can we separate what God is actually telling us from stuff that we think might sound like what God might say? Because what we understand about God has a big impact on how we live our life.
The disciples didn’t understand what God was up to so they went the wrong way. They were confused and upset because they hadn’t properly understood what the Bible was saying. So, we’re going to have a quiz!
1. Does the Bible say ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him’?
2. Does the Bible say ‘charity begins at home’?
3. Does the Bible say ‘act justly, love mercy and walk humbly’?
4. Does the Bible say ‘Let go, and let God’?
5. Does the Bible say ‘God helps those who help themselves.’?
6. Does the Bible say ‘everything happens for a reason’?
7. Does the Bible say ‘Treat foreigners as you treat those native-born’?
8. Does the Bible says ‘money is the root of all evil’?
9. Does the Bible say ‘Love is as strong as death’?
Answers and the rest of the sermon are below…
2. Does the Bible say ‘charity begins at home’? No
Jesus said “there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time … and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in … the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian.’” (Luke 4:24-27)
One of the reasons that the parable, the story of the Good Samaritan was so shocking was that it was all about charity not beginning at home, about charity being given by an enemy, when God’s chosen people had failed to show his love. Charity doesn’t begin or end at home. God’s love is far wider than we often recognise.
3. Does the Bible say ‘act justly, love mercy and walk humbly’? Yes
The Prophet Micah (6:8) says this: “God has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” That’s a real challenge for us, for our organisations, for our politicians, for our country. But imagine what a difference it would make if we asked God to help us do that. Which brings me to the next couple:
4. Does the Bible say ‘Let go, and let God’? No. So, then,
5. Does the Bible say ‘God helps those who help themselves.’? No.
Paul writes to the Philippians (2:12-13) “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.” We are called to work with God, not instead of God or to sit around until God does something. We work and God works within us.
6. Does the Bible say ‘everything happens for a reason’? No
Ecclesiastes 9:11 “The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favour to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.” So, no, not really. That doesn’t mean that we should despair. Paul writes in Romans (8:28): “in all things God works for the good of those who love him”. In all things God is at work. Not God causes all things, or wants all things to happen. But God is at work anyway.
7. Does the Bible say ‘Treat foreigners as you treat those native-born.’? Yes
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not ill-treat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34.
8. Does the Bible says ‘money is the root of all evil’? No
Paul writes “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” in 1 Timothy 6:10. Listen carefully to that: A root of all kinds of evil.
There are lots of other roots of evil as well. But loving money is definitely one of them. And it’s one that we need to watch out for, because it is one of the sins that we in this country at this time can so easily fall into, whether because we haven’t got enough or whether we’ve got too much.
9. Does the Bible say ‘Love is as strong as death’? Yes
Song of songs 8:6
Like the disciples who Jesus walked and talked with, it’s pretty easy to get what the Bible actually says confused with what we think it should say. If you got them all right, well done! It’s a good start, but only that.
Love is as strong as death. That’s what Jesus reveals to us. That his love is stronger than death. That his love and his call on our lives is stronger than death itself. So let us keep walking and talking, talking and walking with God and each other. And let’s encourage one another to discover more about the love that is stronger than death. Amen.