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Word from Scotland

    by Sandy Shaw

Might This Message Be Only For Two People?
Date Posted: April 13, 2020

This message – this article - may be for only two people this week – Luke Chapter 24 verse 21 – “but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel”.

They had hoped in Christ – and it appears to have come to nothing.

He was dead. This was the most crushing of disappointments.

If even he could not be relied upon – where on earth are we to turn?

If His appearance and preaching and teaching and healing and miraculous gifts was all a mirage and a dream – then what are we to do?

These two men were bankrupt of hope.

Our world today appears to be bankrupt of hope.

There are hundreds of disappointments in life.

We all have had our share of them – we may even have caused disappointment in the lives of others – but it is a dreadful heartbreaking hour when we think Jesus Christ has disappointed.

It is late resurrection afternoon and the shadows are beginning to lengthen – read the passage. We trusted that He would be the one who would put our wrong world right.

This is a problem to many today – this God of yours – He has bungled and botched this job.

Two men are walking along that road out of the northwest corner of Jerusalem.

A week ago they would have joined the throngs of pilgrims welcoming Jesus Christ into the city – riding on a significant donkey.

“We have a king who rides a donkey, and His name is Jesus.”

They are not singing today.

Cleopas and his friend had been so buoyant and eager and excited.

This was going to be the greatest Passover since that night in Egypt – Jesus was coming – anything could happen – water into wine – bread for all – blind eyes opened – lepers cured – the lame walking – haemorrhaging women healed, with the slightest contact.

Perhaps – perhaps – Jesus would assert Himself and use His authority and even overthrow tyrannical Rome – and liberate this politically enslaved nation.

Were Isaiah’s prophetic words resounding in their hearts – “Arise shine for thy light has come – the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

But now – this painful disaster – hopes have been wrecked – there is grim hurting disillusionment – all within a week.

They had seen the procession moving out to Calvary – the crown of thorns – the jeering rabble – the squalor of defeat – that poor dead body taken down by Joseph of Arimathea – sealed away in a tomb.

It was all over. The prospect of peace and prosperity had vanished.

Confusion and injustice and poverty and violence would go on as it had always gone on. Evil would go on ruining the lives of thousands.

This could be 2020!

To be disappointed by Jesus Christ is the most shattering of all disappointments. No wonder some theologians coined that appalling phrase in the 1960’s “God is dead”!

I did not believe them because I knew it was not true!

But remember that warrior prophet Jeremiah – 20 verse 7 – “O Lord, You deceived me and I was deceived”. Surely Almighty God would build a character so strong and brave and splendid and consistent. It did not work out like that for Jeremiah – did it?

Perhaps you are fighting something you have fought for ten or twenty years – and you thought you and God would have got the better of it.

It has got you down – it has you almost beaten.

Perhaps there are more than two on that Emmaus road this week.

These two men are scarred and broken.

The two travellers are joined by a third – who notices something is wrong.

Why are you so sad?

Have you not heard?

Are you the only one in Jerusalem unaware of what has happened?

Has no one told you about the Prophet – the Nazarene – the man whom we thought would lift our nation from the dust? Has no one told you about Calvary?

Verse 16 – they were kept from recognising Him. So often we can be as blind as they. So often the risen Christ can be right there in front of us – and we do not recognise Him.

How often has God been in our lives guiding – guarding – defending – protecting – and we were unaware of it at the time.

We can experience the rescuing energy of the eternal Christ – saving us from the precipice – and we are unaware of it.

Can I take you back 50 years when one of our professors was leading morning prayers in Edinburgh?

Was he becoming restive by listening to student prayers when the words would be said – “O God we come into Your presence”. I recall the shocking surprise when he prayed – “O God we do not come into Your presence” – then a pause – “for we are never anywhere else.”

Was he right to use the act of prayer to administer a mild rebuke – but certainly its essential truth lodged in at least one mind!

This is one marvellous fact about the risen Christ. He is here. We believe in the resurrection on the grounds of Scriptural evidence – but also because of that direct encounter.

It is the eternal Christ who makes sense of the chaos around us.

Something significant and mysterious was beginning to happen in the lives of these two men – “did not our hearts burn within us” – they said afterwards!

We sometimes take this glorious Gospel too coolly – too sedately – and even casually.

Can you show me one part time disciple in the New Testament? Emotionalism is dangerous – but it is a tragedy if we jettison emotion. Never stifle the fire. Do not quench the Holy Spirit.

Fierce violent emotions are tearing our world apart. Paul teaches us that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood.

The real warfare is deep down in an invisible realm. There is a raging battle against Jesus Christ the Son of God and His Holy Word.

This is why Jesus Christ baptises people in the Holy Spirit – to give them authority and power and passion. There is no good setting a tepid Christianity against a scorching secular paganism.

“Did not our hearts burn within us?” These men were to go on and meet the thrust of the demonic with the drive of the divine!

These two men would not let their companion go. He had dealt with something of their gloom and despair. The traveller joined them at table and there was a flash of recognition which pierced their blindness. “Jesus – You have come back to us!”

The threatening demonic forces unleashed at Calvary had overreached themselves.

There was a man in Cambridge who said – “I do not give tuppence for a man who preaches to me telling me where my duty lies – but I would give everything to hear that man who can tell me where my help comes from.”

When we are perplexed and sad and battered and besieged and anxious and aching and fearful – when hopes and dreams lie shattered – when shame or loneliness or despair floods a life – the risen Christ, whose work on Calvary is completely completed draws alongside to speak or reveal and reassure.

“I come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

I said this article may only be for two people – I wonder who the other one is?

“O loving God – O risen Christ - draw near – come close. You can never disappoint or fail. You will never let us down. Reveal yourself to any soul who is low and whose faith is frail and fragile. Hear this prayer O gracious Saviour, and do what you alone can do. Amen”

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Biography Information:

Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!

Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.

Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.

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