Our reading for Tuesday, April 30, 2019 is Luke 24:28-35.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. – NIV
When is the right time to share our experience of Jesus with others? We know that Jesus expected that we each give active witness to our faith so others might first, be encouraged should they also possess faith in him alreadty, and second, so that others who may not walk with him might decide to follow him. The question is not whether this should be done or what might be God’s will for us, but when and how.
If we were to consider the experience of the two disciples as they walked the road from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus I would answer that the timing of our witness should coincide with a new understanding of God’s purpose and when we have had a fresh encounter with his living presence. As they were walking on the road Jesus came alongside the two disciples in their discussion about recent and shared events of life. It was then that the Lord opened their understanding to the scriptures. I must confess the highlight of my week as a pastor comes Monday afternoons when I meet for two hours to study the Bible with some 23 people. It never fails that I learn something new about faith through our deepened exploration of God’s written Word as it intersects our lives.
The Word of God studied with others is an essential ingredient to our growth in faith. It is not that we cannot deepen our faith through individual or personal study (which we should do) but to ask the questions and hear the perspective from others only amplifies the sense of relevance and presence of Christ in life. Jesus was revealed to the two disciples as they studied how God’s Word fit into the circumstance they had recently experienced. Their testimony to us was how their hearts burned as Jesus opened their understanding of the scriptures. Jesus still meets us personally today as we study together.
The importance of our active study of the Bible cannot be overemphasized. We can only share with others what we ourselves have been given. It is through our study with others that we give witness to those with whom we study. It is through our interaction with others over the Word that we gain illustrations and ideas of what to share with those who are not part of our study and with whom the Holy Spirit may lead us to witness. Our experience with others in corporate study only broadens what we can draw from to share with others when called upon to do so. This is the answer to what we share – knowledge and experience of Christ.
We must walk with others in order to find the opportunity to witness. The greatest openness and most frequent opportunity I have discovered to witness come through praying for others. If we get close to others we will soon learn of their struggles and needs. I have rarely found someone rejecting an offer to pray for them. Once they give permission for us to pray for their need it is an easy step to praying with a person. We may feel uncomfortable praying; we may question what it is we should pray for but we get too hung up on the words. Their expressed need is the content of our request. It is from the time of prayer that someone will ask for our opinion which opens the opportunity to draw upon the scriptures into our conversation.
The second answer to be drawn from the Emmaus Road experience comes not while walking along the road of life with others but during an intentional time of Holy Communion. The two disciples asked the Lord to be present with them and while he was with them was revealed as he broke the bread with them. I believe our communion with Jesus extends beyond the communion service. As we break bread with others and share life together we are having communion with them. As we intentionally draw Christ into our conversations and consider our companions needs and even share our own questions of faith we invite Jesus into the moment. In the invitation to pray with one another Jesus is disclosed to both our friend and us.
There is certainly more we can glean from this experience but with certainty communion with others is an essential element to the “what” and “when” of our witness. When we have a successful encounter of Christ with someone we have further substance we can share with others to encourage their faith.
Blessings! Dr. Brian Homan,