Easter 2024: ‘Were Not Our Hearts Burning Within Us?’

(The two disciples) asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:32 (NIV)

Dear Friends in Jesus,

If anyone should ask me what Bible story I would have liked to live, this is the story I would choose – the journey of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus on Easter Day. There are a lot of good options in the Word of God to choose from, but here’s what cinches the deal for me: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”  It would be the opportunity beyond compare to hear Jesus tell the story of God’s plan of salvation. He revealed the heart of God for people and how God chose to heal what people had broken through the gift of His only Son.

No wonder their hearts burned within them… When a human heart encounters the heart of God, powerful things happen.

Have you ever had your heart burn within you? I have. I have a clear memory of being about 8 or 9 years old and sitting in the hard, unpadded church pew with my family. I remember looking up at my Dad and then at my Mom and all the people around us in church. (This was the 1960s when churches were more regularly full.) I remember gaining a sense that I was a part of something big – something much bigger than me, but that for some strange reason I was included. There was room for me. That awareness created a burning in my heart. It’s what led me into full time ministry. It’s a core element of my identity.

I imagine these two disciples also had this sense of being a part of something big – something bigger than they were. It was a long run back to Jerusalem, and the fuel for their steps was God’s call to tell their sisters and brothers the wonderful news. They were a part of something big, and their Savior had drawn near to them to help them to see and to know.

Easter is the highpoint of God’s plan of salvation. It marks the defeat of sin and death. It signals the beginning of real, essential joy and real life. It’s important that we take the time to savor this reality and to let the Holy Spirit kindle the flame He places in our hearts. God has done something incredible. It’s so much bigger than we are, but He has drawn near and made room for us.

This Easter I especially am thinking of the two people who were sitting in the pew with me that day and who taught me the way of God’s love – my Mom and Dad. I’m thankful that their deaths in 2022 and 2021, respectively, were not the end of their stories. I look forward to the time when we will gather with the Emmaus disciples, those gathered in that upper room on the first Easter, and all the saints we have known and have yet to meet. It will be the time to see just how big the picture we’re a part of really is and rejoice in the truth that God has made us a part of it.

Jesus is risen, and because He lives, we live, too.

Serving the Lord and His church,
Rev. Dr. Paul Linnemann
Northwest District President

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