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Burning Heart
by Joan Costner
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Luke 24:32
Did you ever feel the Lord so near
There was burning in your heart?

Burning Heart

We walked along discussing all the prophecies we could remember.
The day was warm and dusty and we were glad to find a spring at the side of the road where we could stop for a little refreshing. We washed our faces , hands and
feet. Then sat for a few moments before taking another drink and resuming
our journey to Emmaus. But our discussion took no break. We were going
back over all the predictions we could ever remember hearing. It’s easy to
hear things or think you remember things that aren’t that true. It is true that
each family took great pride in getting everything down very straight for their
children. We were deeply perplexed, and the conversation was intense.
As we rose and began to move down the road again we were joined by a fellow
traveler who just fell in step with us and listening to our concern began to join
in the discussion.
He apparently hadn’t even heard about the murder of Jesus. We recounted how
terrible it had been, how unfair! Lies! People hired to bear false witness! After
all, we knew Jesus better than anyone, and we knew what a perfect man he was.
Actually we believed He would be the Messiah. We were expecting him to set
up an earthly kingdom soon and then all hell broke lose! Those high Priests and the Sanhedrin court officials always were afraid of Him because the people loved Him so. They feared a loss of power, for they held the people, by superstition and innuendos that frightened and intimidated them. They bound them by invisible chains, whereas Jesus set them free.
The Stranger spoke, “Don’t you think, when you read over the words of the old
prophets, that this was bound to happen?”
But, we lamented, not like this. He was not even recognizable!
“Didn’t Isaiah tell us it would be thus?”
“We’ve had other crucifixion and none of them looked this bad.”
“Probably due to the blood brought over His face from the crown of thorns.”
“I’ve never seen a crown like that before...and it was all in jest”
“ That wasn’t all though, I saw a strip of flesh hanging on His back at least 12 inches
long. His back and sides were shredded. His beard (what was left of it) was matted with blood from them pulling it out the night before.”
We walked on, our hearts so heavy that our feet felt like lead.

The Stranger kept right up with our brisk pace. We did want to reach Emmaus
before the sun set. This road was not as dangerous as some, but things around
Jerusalem were really stirred up right now, making everyone on edge.

“He said he was going away, but I didn’t think He meant dying.”
“He called Himself the Good Shepherd, and said He would die for his sheep.”
“Did you think He might be lying?”
“Oh, no, Jesus was incapable of lying, but....well, we just didn’t understand and
I still don’t. What is accomplished by His death? He, Himself said, the dead know
nothing...still, if He has risen...but no one has ever come back from the grave...”
“And that boy with the demons...”
“And the little gentile girl...”
“Yes, the daughter of Jarius.”

“Suppose He was God’s son...would that change things?” offered the Stranger
“That’s Who we believed Him to be, but how could God die? We thought He
would live forever.”
“Would you die, sacrifice your life, for someone, anyone else?”
“What good would that do? I am just a man! Exodist tells us a man is responsible
for his own sin...no one else’s.”
“God doesn’t die.”
“Why do you bring the Passover Lambs? Why are they presented to the Priest
without blemish?” The Stranger was intent.
“You know the scriptures well...it is from Moses day and to be kept every year,
God said, until the messiah comes.”
“Will you go on killing lambs?”

We walked on, going over and over the things we had been taught all our lives.

The sun was lower and that gnawing in our stomachs. We were happy to see Emmaus in the road and since our destination was on this edge of town we started
to turn toward it, cutting across a field. The Stranger walked on.
“Oh, don’t go on...You’re tired, we know. Come. We’ll have a little food.”
He turned back toward us. Something familiar about His form...His eyes.
He came towards us. We implored Him to come along.
When we reached the house there was food already cooked and bread just fresh
from the oven.
We sat down together. We asked Him to bless the food. He took the bread in
His hands and began...
That’s when we saw! We saw it all, the wounds, the familiar breaking, the blessing~
begun the way we had heard so many times before!
We didn’t even get a word out before He was gone! I don’t mean He walked away.
He was just gone!
How we lamented! Why hadn’t we seen, understood? We were walking with the
Lord and too dull to catch it! Then we were right! We should have known for didn’t our hearts burn within us as we walked along that road? Wouldn’t our hearts burn forever and ever?
What a zeal flew through our bodies, so tired a moment before...but now! Hopehad shone her face! We left our loved ones after only a moments embrace and ran the way back to Jerusalem ~ to the other disciples, for we couldn’t tell them soon enough! The world was changed forever! Hope was alive! We had not been fools following some false teacher. Our allegiance to Jesus was honored and rewarded. We were some of the first to know what the whole world would soon come to know, for news like this can’t be hidden in a corner.
All the beautiful words came flowing through our minds, all the covered things were
uncovered - no more seeing through a glass, darkly ~ our ears and eyes and understanding were so alive! “I go to prepare a place for you...” He had said...”In My Father’s house are many mansions...” He said the Comforter was coming! He said, “I, if I be lifted up....shall draw all men unto Me!”
Remember when He asked if we would also leave? Peter ha asked, “Lord, to Whom
would we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life...” Truly, truly, it all made sense now, and we could say as we had heard the centurion say on the hill...
“He was.... the Son ...of God.” Yes,...He IS the Son of God!

Joan Clifton Costner

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