Sermon: Luke 24:13-35, “Abide With Me!”
Prayer: Abide with us, Lord Jesus! Abide with us in our home and in our heart. Open our eyes to see You, our minds to know You, and our hearts to give heed to You and to Your Word. Be our Companion on the path of life, and teach us in the perils of the day and in the darkness of the night to trust in Your loving care. When the evening of our life turns into night, abide with us in that last trial, and keep us safe until we see You face to face in the Father’s house. Amen. (Devotional Bible: Meditations on the Gospels II p. 309)
Dear people loved by Him who still abides with those who are slow of heart to believe: Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Jesus the Lord.
So “Abide With Me” is not, strictly speaking, an evening hymn, or even a funeral hymn. It’s lovely to use it that way. But actually, it’s an Easter hymn! It’s based on this story that took place on the Emmaus road. The words, “Fast falls the eventide, the darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide,” reflect what they say.
“Abide with us,” as they said, or “Abide with me,” is a prayer. It’s a prayer because you’re asking Jesus, and Jesus is God. But these two who first said it didn’t say it as a prayer, since so far they were kept from recognizing Jesus.
This is really a fascinating story. It actually takes place shortly after Jesus rose from the dead. Traditionally this was the reading for Easter Monday, so you would hear this before what we heard last Sunday, when Jesus comes to the disciples on Easter evening and then to Thomas. But we don’t want to miss this, so here we go.
Luke says in the verses just before this that the women came back from the tomb and gave the angels’ message not only “to the eleven,” the apostles, but also “to all the rest.” These two were among “the rest.” So Jesus appears to these two “not-apostles.” They were so-called “lesser disciples.” But they’re important to Jesus! He wants to be with them. He knows that as they walk they “are sad.”
All of Jesus’ resurrection appearances are very important. It’s the proof that He did rise from the dead, which proves that He is the Son of God as He said; that all our sins really are paid for and forgiven; and that we’ll rise from the dead too. But this account is most beloved because we get sad and downcast like them. They didn’t know their words “abide with us” were a prayer, but it was a prayer and Jesus answered it. He stayed with them. It shows: He wants us to pray it. He wants to abide with us too!
First we need to know Who He is, whom we’re asking to abide with us.
These two disciples weren’t sure. “We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel,” they say. They thought He was the Redeemer. They thought He was the Christ. But they were there on Good Friday. They saw Him die. They thought that meant He wasn’t the Redeemer, this couldn’t happen to the Messiah. When they heard the women’s report and that John and Peter found the tomb empty, still they didn’t believe.
So Jesus calls them “[you] foolish ones!” He calls them “slow of heart to believe!” But now He directs them to who He really is: “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter His glory?” Jesus says that the Christ, the Messiah, was supposed to suffer first, then enter His glory.
Here Jesus teaches us who He is. We know that He’s true God and Man in one Person. Here He puts it not in terms of who He is – His identity – but in terms of what He did.
This is a simple statement: He “suffered these things.” But could He suffer and die if He was God? Human logic says “no.” God can’t suffer or die. God is holy. God is almighty. God is eternal. We suffer. All the things He suffered on Good Friday – slapping His face, tearing His flesh, it’s all “true man” kind of stuff, ending with His death. Wasn’t it only His human nature – being true man – only that part that suffered? How could He as God be punished?
Whatever He did because He was true Man – even dying – His nature as God shared in it. So it’s true: God suffered, God died. When Jesus says He “had to suffer these things,” He’s speaking of His state of humiliation: He humbled Himself. He didn’t humble Himself by becoming man. When He became man, He didn’t become less; He was still God. His humiliation means He didn’t use His glory as God.
So then Jesus gives us the second part about who He is. He says that after first suffering and dying, He then “entered His glory.” That’s what happened Easter morning before He met these two men: “He entered His glory.” His humiliation ended when Jesus came to life in the tomb, rose from the dead. This is when His exaltation begins. St. Paul says in Philippians: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him.” Jesus’ words here about Himself are that He once again “entered His glory,” He took up His glory again to use it fully.
This is the glory that we fall short of, but guess what? Because Jesus died and is risen, His glory is now given to you. For it wasn’t only Jesus as God rising from the dead, but also Jesus as man. Not only His soul; also His body. He brings His true human body, His true humanity, with Him. It was His body, the one with all the wounds, that rose from the dead. His resurrection proves He is the Son of God, true God. That’s who these two on the Emmaus road are seeing. They also see His human mouth talking to them, feel His human hands on their shoulder, watch the print of His human feet all along that 7-mile road. Wherever He is as God, He is there also as Man.
That’s whom you pray to: “Abide with us!” Stay with me! Be near me, Lord!
But how do we dare presume that He wants to? How do we do at staying with Him? How loyal are we to Him? Aren’t we all the time trying to replace His will with our own desires, to run from what His Word requires of us? When He says to be patient and forgive, don’t we often ignore that and let our anger win? When He says to deny ourselves, don’t we instead indulge our sinful flesh? Don’t we roll our eyes at His words of comfort?
But see here how He insists on walking with us! He is after all “the Christ.” All the promises were about Him. Promises made to sinners like us. He came for sinners. He came for foolish ones. Not only that, but here we see He comes to them. He comes to those who are slow to believe. Isn’t that a comfort!
But now the second thing to see is not just Who He is but how He comes.
The first thing we see is that He comes in His Word. It says: “Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Later on these two say that what He did was to “open the Scriptures to us!” and that their hearts were burning as He did so.
Jesus showed them how He is on all the pages of the Old Testament. It was all about Him, and now He had come and done all that God promised to do for the salvation of sinners. What is the central message of the Bible? It’s Jesus and what He’s done for you.
Without this everything is dark. Christians have used these two men’s prayer which speaks of the approaching darkness as a way to express more than the time of day: it’s the darkness of sin, the shadow of guilt, the deep pit of despair and grief. The devil is the prince of darkness. He does his best work in the dark. He wants you to think all is dark and gloomy. He may even convince you that the Bible presents a gloomy picture. It is that way, if there is no Christ, no risen Christ. But there is! And He is wherever His Word is.
Jesus is the key to the Scriptures. All of it is about Him. We learn here that when you have His Word, you have Him – His whole self, God and Man in one Person, for you and with you. When you open the Bible, He’s abiding with you! When you’re hearing the Gospel preached He is preaching it to you, abiding with you, not pushing you away but drawing you close! His Word brings you into the light where He is and where nothing is wrong.
The other thing we see here is that Jesus comes in His Sacraments. What is Baptism, except Him coming to abide with you for your whole life. You did not ask Him to come, just like these two didn’t. He came to you in water and the Word and made you His own. He abides with you!
And then what we see here: It was in “the breaking of bread” that “their eyes were opened and they knew Him.” This meal wasn’t the Lord’s Supper, but it’s connected to it – later in Acts this term “Breaking of Bread” is a name for the Lord’s Supper.
In the Lord’s Supper, it isn’t a dead Christ but the risen Lord who comes. It’s not only His human flesh and blood, but He’s there as God. It is “God’s blood” we drink (Ac 20:28), God with whom our body is made one, flesh to flesh.
This is why we bow when we come to the Lord’s table. We aren’t afraid. We are in awe that such heaven on earth should be ours, that we lesser disciples would plead, “Abide with me!” and find that He does, with all His grace and all His goodness. You are that important to Him. Amen!
Sermon: Luke 24:13-35, “Abide With Me!”