Awakening to the Bread


The journey to Emmaus is a mystery. Along the way we meet a stranger and He explains the Scriptures to us. Then He breaks bread and the mystery is revealed.


Let’s introduce the stranger who accompanies us on life’s journey.


Let’s look at Luke 24:13-35 and the mystery on the road to Emmaus.

Luke 24:13-16 The Road to Emmaus

Luke 24:13 says, “Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.” That road once led west out of Jerusalem through a landscape of trees and fields to a warm spring and a town called Emmaus. The ruins are by Route 1, 40 minutes west of Jerusalem at the Latrun exit inside Canada Park, a national park maintained by a Canadian Jewish fund with beautiful trees and fields. Along the ancient road Jesus met two disciples and their eyes about to be awakened to the resurrection. Do we recognize Jesus on our travels? They did not at first.

Luke 24:15b-16 Jesus the Stranger

On the road to Emmaus we read in Like 24:15b-16 “Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.” Two disciples thought Jesus was a stranger. Is He a stranger to us who faithfully attend church? They were well-known to Jesus. As close as they may have been, they did not recognize Him. Sometimes, those who are closest to the Church also do not recognize Jesus. We are distracted by events and material things that take our minds off Him. Yet, in the midst of all the paths life takes us, Jesus is there gently walking alongside of us.

Luke 24:25-27 The Mystery of Jesus

Imagine your pastor preaching, O foolish ones, and slow of heart” as Jesus did in Luke 24:25. Joining two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (verse 27) Yet, they failed to recognize Him until later that day. He also talks with our hearts as we hear the Holy Scriptures read. He speaks to us softly through every living thing. He discusses issues with our consciences as we do daily tasks. Yet, often, like the two disciples we see Jesus and don’t recognize Him. Is it because faith is the … evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)?

Luke 24:28-32 Our Hearts Burn

Along the road to Emmaus two disciples encountered Jesus, but did not recognize Him. He explained the Scriptures to them, but they did not recognize Him. He almost departed from them, but they invited Him to stay. Then, the guest became the host, as Jesus broke the bread at the meal table. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.” (Luke 24:31) Is this a picture of our lives? Does Jesus join us on our journeys? Do our hearts burn? Does He expound the Scriptures to us? Do our hearts burn? Does He then open our eyes at simple events like a meal?

Luke 24:33-35 The Mystery Revealed

An original definition of the word sacrament was simple. It meant “a visible sign of an invisible grace" according to Augustine of Hippo or as many still teach today, “all of life is a sacrament.” Eastern Orthodox call these sacraments mysteries because we see one thing and believe another. Let us pray to see God’s invisible grace in the visible things around us. For instance, communion bread is far more than a mere symbol. It is a sacrament, a visible sign of an invisible grace through which Jesus the Messiah is revealed to us. Has the mystery also been revealed to us that, The Lord is risen indeed” (Luke 24:34)?


Our lives are a journey to Emmaus. Along the way we meet a stranger who walks with us and opens the Scriptures to our understanding. Then as we partake of the bread do we recognize who that stranger is and the Good News he brings?

Awakening to Ministry


When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection did He really establish confession to a priest?


Let’s understand what Jesus said and how it was understood in early church history.


Let’s look at John 20:19-31 and Jesus’ appearance to the disciples.

John 20:19 Peace in Our Fears

In John 20:19, what did Jesus mean, peace be with you? He said it on Resurrection Sunday and the following Sunday. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines it as "the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is." The apostles began their letters with this greeting. Christians ought to offer peace to friend and foe alike. Many churches offer peace before communion. Jesus came to the disciples in their fears and brought them peace from heaven. They were then sent with the message of peace, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

John 20:23 Sent Proclaiming Heaven’s Forgiveness

Does John 20:23 mean confession to a priest? Early church fathers taught confessing to God for most sins and in public for grievous sins. In the early Church, confession was before all. Western practices are from the 7th to 11th centuries and are not the most ancient interpretation of this passage. In the east, sins are confessed to God and witnessed by a priest. For practical purposes the priest represents the entire community. Verse 23 literally means, “their sins have already been forgiven” i.e. by heaven. This instruction was given to all those assembled. Anyone sent in power of the Holy Spirit is sent with this message of forgiveness.

John 20:23 Faith and Forgiveness

In John 20:23, does Jesus contradict his instructions mandating forgiveness in the Lord’s prayer? The gospel message is a message of forgiveness of sin to those who accept it, but those who refuse forgiveness are not forgiven. Thomas saw Jesus’ wounds, but faith is evidence of things without visible proof (Hebrews 11:1), a mystery. All the disciples doubted, not just Thomas. This is written that we might believe and that believing we might have life through his name. Faith is a gift from God. God entrusts incredible authority to faulty disciples. We accept the message of Jesus, delivered by ordinary faulty people, and will be forgiven when we do.

Early Church Fathers on Confession

Does the church have authority to forgive sins? This is a topic of dispute between Protestants and the two most ancient church communities, Catholic and Orthodox. Though its format has changed, the early church fathers seem to have accepted confession of sin to God in the presence of a priest as normal.
  • Didache ca. 70 AD “Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience... gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure.”
  • Irenaeus of Lyons 180 AD “make a public confession”
  • Origen of Alexandria ca. 244 AD “he does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and ... if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him [James 5:14-15].”
  • Cyprian of Carthage 250 AD “sins are expiated... conscience has been purged in the ceremony and at the hand of the priest... let everyone who has sinned confess his sin while he is still in this world”
  • Athanasius of Alexandria 295–373 AD “he who confesses his sins with a repentant heart obtains their remission from the priest.”
  • Basil the Great 330–379 AD “confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries [i.e. the Sacraments] is entrusted [i.e. priests]... in the Gospel ... they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matthew 3:6]; but in Acts they confessed to the Apostles [Acts 19:18].”
  • Augustine of Hippo ca. 354–430 AD “...when you hear a man confessing his sins, he has already come to life again; when you hear a man lay bare his conscience in confessing, he has already come forth from the sepulchre; but he is not yet unbound. When is he unbound? By whom is he unbound? “Whatever you loose on earth,” He says, “shall be loosed also in heaven” [Matthew 16:19; 18:18; Jn 20:23]. Rightly is the loosing of sins able to be given by the Church… (Psalms 101:2-3)
  • Ambrose ca. 333–397 AD “for sins to be forgiven ... Christ granted even this to His Apostles, and by His Apostles it has been transmitted to the offices of priest.”
  • Jerome  ca. 347–420 AD “Just as in the Old Testament the priest makes the leper clean or unclean, so in the New Testament the bishop and presbyter [i.e. priest] binds or looses”
  • Theodore Of Mopsuestia ca. 428 AD “It behooves us, therefore, to draw near to the priests in great confidence and to reveal to them our sins”
  • Chrysostom ca. 344–407 AD “Priests ... Whose sins you shall forgive,” He says, “they are forgiven them: whose sins you shall retain, they are retained” [John 20:23].
  • The Letter of Barnabas 74 AD “You shall confess your sins. You shall not go to prayer with an evil conscience.”
  • Ignatius of Antioch 110 AD “For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. For where there is division and wrath, God does not dwell. To all them that repent, the Lord grants forgiveness, if they turn in penitence to the unity of God, and to communion with the bishop.”
  • Hippolytus 215 AD [The bishop conducting the ordination of the new bishop shall pray:] God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ... pour forth now that power which comes from you, from your Royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and which he bestowed upon his holy apostles... and grant this your servant... to have the authority to forgive sins, in accord with your command.

Scriptures on Confession

What does the Bible say about confession?

Confessing Sin

“he shall confess that he has sinned” (Leviticus 5:5). “confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers” (Leviticus 26:40). “make confession to [God]” (Joshua 7:19) “in a great ceremony... confessed that they had sinned against the Lord” (1 Samuel 7:6).  David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13) “make confession to the Lord God” (Ezra 10:11). “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away” (Psalm 32:3). “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” (Psalm 32:5). “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
“confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel” (Daniel 9:20) “baptized ... confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:6) “many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds” (Acts 19:18) “every tongue shall confess to God.” (Romans 14:11) “Confess your trespasses to one another” (James 5:16) “confess our sins” (1 John 1:9)

Confessing Christ

“whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32) “confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus” (Romans 10:9) “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:11) “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims” (Hebrews 11:13) “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:2) “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:15)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Confession is an ancient part of a godly life. People confessed their sins publicly, and to God’s representative, and in prayer. Confession is good for the soul. Confession seems to come in two parts. We confess that we are sinners and that the sinless One is our Savior. In other words, after confession of sin comes forgiveness and public confession of faith in Christ.

John 20:28 MY Lord and MY God

At the cross all the disciples abandoned Jesus. He appeared to them and offered his peace. Thomas confessed very personally, “My Lord and my God!” He did not say OUR Lord or even THE Lord, but MY Lord and MY God. This is what is meant when people speak of a personal relationship with God. Jesus went on to give a special blessing to us who would believe even though we have not seen. We see Jesus, not with physical eyes. When we see Jesus with spiritual insight, we also believe like they did. And as Jesus revealed himself to those disciples, so he reveals himself to each of us.


We confess that we have not faithfully stuck by Jesus but have been fearful like those disciples. Jesus stands among as he stood among them granting us the peace which surpasses all understanding. Ministry begins when we openly confess our sins. Then it awakens as we are able to boldly confess the One who forgives us all our sins.

Resurrection Faith


What is your reaction to the resurrection?


Let’s learn about some typical reactions to the resurrection.


We will look at John 20:1-18 and three reactions to Jesus’ resurrection.

John 20:1-5 They Have Taken Away the Lord

Mary Magdalene was from Magdala a wealthy town on Lake Galilee. John 20:1-5 records that she went to Jesus’ grave site early in the morning perhaps just to see it. She had accompanied the disciples on their travels and contributed to their support financially. Had Jesus’ body been moved? Mary ran to Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved. Although he arrived first, the disciple that Jesus loved seems to have deferred to Peter to enter the tomb. Peter’s denials do not seem to have damaged his reputation among the disciples, probably because they all knew that they had fled and Peter at least had stayed around for a while.

John 20:6-9 He Saw and Believed

Written as an eyewitness account, John 20:6-9 details what Peter saw when he looked into Jesus’ tomb, the burial cloths and the head cloth rolled up separately but no body. Then the beloved disciple went in and believed, implying that he was now convinced. Perhaps this was not yet a full resurrection faith, “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead,” (verse 9; Psalm 16:8-11; Psalm 22:16-24; Isaiah 53:3-12) but it was a beginning. Jesus had earlier said, “I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.” (John 14:29).

John 20:10-16 Woman, Why are You Crying

After investigating Jesus’ empty grave two of the disciples went to their separate homes (John 20:10-16). Mary Magdalene was left crying at the tomb. Looking inside, she saw something quite different to what the two men described. Mary saw two angels. They asked her, ““Woman, why are you weeping?” In very personal terms she described Jesus as “my Lord.” Unlike the disciple that Jesus loved, who simply believed, Mary’s focus was on the missing body. Then Jesus asked her the same question adding “Whom are you seeking?” At first she thought he was the gardener and then He spoke her name, “Mary.” She seems to have immediately recognized his voice.

John 20:16-18 My Teacher

After our risen Lord called out Mary Magdalene’s name, she addressed Him very personally, “ῥαββουνί” (rabbouni, my Teacher). He asked her not to touch him because he had not yet ascended to heaven and she needed to go to the other disciples and tell them that Jesus is ascending to His and her Father and His and her God. Jesus told Peter, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.” (John 13:36) But, he told Mary the disciples were his brothers. Mary exclaimed to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” John saw the empty tomb and believed. Mary heard Jesus and believed.


This was a story of three reactions to the resurrection. Sometimes we see evidence that Jesus was here and believe, sometimes we see it and don’t know what we believe, and sometimes through a veil of tears in our grief Jesus calls our name and we believe.

Yashá Na!


Christianity teaches that God is love. Jesus showed this throughout his ministry culminating in the epitome of Godly love on the cross. Pontius Pilate is a caricature of all the false gods of the ancient and modern world. Jesus’ Palm Sunday parade into Jerusalem mocks false Roman gods and human leadership and is a symbol of the humility of God’s government.


Let us compare human failure to govern itself with God’s wonderful government, the kingdom of heaven.


We will look at the Palm Sunday parade from Matthew 21:1-11.

Matthew 21:5 Jesus the Colt Whisperer

As Jesus calmed the storm, he calmed an unbroken colt. Our lives can be like a wild colt, untamed and unpredictable. But, if we let Jesus take the reigns, he’ll calm things down. In business, if a person does not want to help, bosses yell and blackmail workers with their pay check. We cannot steer a church like a business, because a church is made up of volunteers. Churches cannot be yelled at unpleasantly or blackmailed. People just leave. So, as in all volunteer work, we are grateful for those who help, but we do not browbeat those who do not. We look to Jesus the colt whisperer, to change hearts.

Matthew 21:5 Why a Colt

Contrast the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem on a colt with dignitaries of this world. One monarch has over 100 coaches and carriages in the royal collection. One is covered with gold leaf, weighs four tons and requires eight horses to pull it. Contrast that with Jesus’ royal entry into Jerusalem on a colt with its mother trailing behind. The old world order is over. The new kingdom is already here preparing a people. Old world leadership was self-aggrandizing and arrogant. New world leadership is self-effacing and humble. The colt symbolizes a new day for humanity, a change in leadership style and those who change will join Jesus at his return.

Matthew 21:8 Mocking Pilate

Jesus’ parade into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt mocked Pontius Pilate’s proud tradition as a cavalry officer. History records Pilate as a Roman knight of the Pontii family from the central Italian region of Samnium. He was a cavalry commander appointed military ruler of Roman Judaea to police and collect taxes. Roman Judea included historic Judea, Samaria and Idumea. Pilate insulted the Jews by hanging worship images of the emperor throughout Jerusalem and minting coins with both pagan and Jewish religious symbols. Jewish criticism of Pilate made him vulnerable to discipline from Rome. The Jews capitalized on this and Jesus’ insulting parade to obtain a death sentence on our Lord.

Palm Sunday in the Heart

There is historic evidence that Pilate was marching in parade into west Jerusalem with his army to police the large Passover crowds as Christ entered from the north. Jesus’ procession challenged and mocked the government of the day. Perhaps this is why Pilate acted as he did at Jesus’ trial. The world believes that the solution to human problems is a war horse instead of a peace donkey, using the word “donkey” as an insult instead. A world that more than ever disparages the Gospel and Christianity, is more than ever in need of it. Let us rejoice with a Palm Sunday parade in our hearts that heaven’s king is coming.

Matthew 21:8-9 Easter’s World Change

Easter heralds a change in world power. Jesus conquered the powers of this world: death, sin and evil. Jesus triumphed over death and we celebrate the beginning of a new creation. Jesus’ new world order has put an end to a world overrun by sin. Palm Sunday remembers a parade celebrating that victory. Forgiveness of sin is now a way of life. Jesus offers humanity the freedom of life without condemnation. This evil world only had the power to put Christ on the cross. He willingly allowed it because he has power beyond the grave. Our dead lives have been raised with Christ as a new creation where love prevails.

Matthew 21:8-9 Rage Against the Machine

A younger generation once expressed their struggle against evil as “rage against the machine.” Christianity is a protest movement against all the corruption and greed that has destroyed our world. Jesus’ triumphal entry was a real success, though not in the manner that the world views. The world does not see triumph in the cross, but self-sacrifice is the ultimate victory. It is the victory over self-centeredness. It is a victory over all the forces of evil in our world and worthy of a parade. Overcoming is our triumph and must also be like that of Jesus, refusing to win by worldly means with violence but by godly means with self-sacrifice.

Matthew 21:9 Save Please!

Jesus approached Jerusalem with bands of Passover pilgrims chanting "Hosanna" or “Yashá Na” in Hebrew (“save please” Psalm 118:25) to the King of Peace, who brings a peace that passes all understanding. Worldly business, worldly government, worldly entertainment are not there to give but to get. They are there to get our money, to get power over us and use us for selfish purposes. Palm Sunday is to remind us that there is need for a new king, a king who will bring reconciliation between people and between people and God. Let us welcome Jesus into our lives as the peacemaker between ourselves and between all of us and God.


Pontius Pilate is a caricature of human government and Jesus’ Palm Sunday parade into Jerusalem serves as both a mockery of worldly governments and a symbol of the humility of God’s government. Our only hope is the establishment of God’s government in our hearts and Jesus’ return to save the whole world. Be a part of the future and allow God to rule in our hearts today. Hosanna! Lord, save us!

Who Will Never Die?


What kind of life would we lead if we were guaranteed not to die? How would we live if we knew already that we were immortal?


Let’s realize that immortality is a reality in Christ.


Let’s examine John 11:1-45, the resurrection of Lazarus and the One who dares to call himself “the resurrection and the life.”

Dilemmas in the Passage:

John 11:17 Why God Delays

Sometimes we pray and God delays. Why? Perhaps the healing of Lazarus will provide a clue. When Jesus heard of his friend’s sickness, he indicated that the illness would be used for God’s glory. While others panicked and were concerned, Jesus was calm in his faith. Then he went on to say that God’s purpose was “so that you may believe.” Lazarus’ sisters both responded quite emotionally that if Jesus had been there sooner he would not have died. By this time, he had been dead four days. Again Jesus emphasized the necessity to believe. Even his prayer, which was a public prayer, was said so that hearers may believe.

John 11:35 A Real Man Weeps

Jesus wept. Why? Theologians speak of Jesus having been the most complete human being to have ever lived since Adam. Adam sinned. So have we. Jesus did not. He was like Adam in every regard except one — he never sinned. He had human nature in its pure, unblemished form. He was the only man who ever lived to have pure, untainted manliness, as God intended it to be. We see that Jesus was deeply moved. It is not manliness to show no feelings. Was it anger or heartfelt compassion upon people with so little faith? It’s hard to tell. One thing is sure: a real man was moved to tears.

John 11:39 Four Days Late

When Lazarus was reported dying why did Jesus delay (verses 5-6)? Why did disciples try to dissuade Jesus (verse 8)? Why did Thomas disparage Jesus’ plans (verse 16)? Why did Martha (verse 21) and Mary (verse 32) blame Jesus that if he had been there their brother would not have died? Why did Martha doubt that anyone could do anything after her brother had been dead four days (verse 39)? Is your marriage dead? Is your business dead? Are you too old to do God’s work? Are your hopes and dreams dead? That’s the perfect time for Jesus to come. God may delay answering prayer but he’s always right on time.

John 11:41-42 Public Prayers

Jesus taught us to pray in private (Matthew 6:6). Why did others pray publicly in God's house (Matthew 21:13), in small groups (Acts 1:14), by a river (Acts 16:13), on the seashore (Acts 21:5) and everywhere (1 Timothy 2:8)? The context of Jesus’ instructions regarding private prayer, with other examples, shows that he wanted to highlight what our motive ought to be in prayer. If we are uncertain that our motive may be to show off spiritually or promote ourselves as super-spiritual, then it would be better to pray in private. In John 11 Jesus prayed in public to help others, that they may believe.

Good News in the Passage:

John 11:25 I AM

A close friend of our Savior, Lazarus from Bethany, died. His sisters were Mary and Martha. The resurrection of Lazarus is a vision for the future and for today. When speaking to Martha, Jesus did not say that he would be the resurrection on that final day, although he certainly will be that too. He spoke in the present tense, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” Could it be that when we believe in Jesus, we already enter from death to life? We live in fear of death. God helps. We no longer need to fear death, because when we believe in him who is life, we have life too.

John 11:25 The Resurrection and the Life

When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life”, it was a claim to divinity. He has the power over resurrection and life. Notice that Jesus said “I am” and not “I will be.” He personalized resurrection in himself. Jesus demonstrated his authority over life and death by raising Lazarus. Then he said, “Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” The resurrection of Lazarus was a temporary example of what Jesus will do for all believers after death of the body. The body dies, but the spirit lives on, received into heavenly places.

John 11:44 Take off the Grave Clothes

From the day we are born we begin to die. Our bodies are winding down. We are already dressed in grave clothes. Life’s greatest enemy is death. Jesus has the power over life and death. As "God in the flesh", Jesus resurrected people temporarily from death, which was a foretaste of the resurrection to eternal life. In a skeptical world it is quite a challenge to hear that whoever lives by believing in Jesus will never die. That’s what he said as he boldly claimed, I am the resurrection and the life. So let’s take off the grave clothes of doubt and fear. Believe in Jesus Christ and live forever.


What did Jesus say to Martha? “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this...?”
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.