Just as every person has a story to tell, so every Christian has an encounter with Jesus to share. That’s because Christianity isn’t a religion rooted in laws, land, status, or heritage. Instead, it’s rooted in a person, and the story he first wrote for us – one full of sacrifice, emotion, and above all else, love. Sometimes these encounters are big, life-changing moments. Other times, they’re smaller, subtler moments – moments we only recognize as significant when we look back years later. But if you’re a Christian, you’ve had an encounter of one kind or another with Jesus Christ, because at the core of our beliefs, it’s Jesus who calls us all to faith in him.
32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”
35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread.
Of course, our modern encounters with Jesus don’t necessarily look like the encounter we see in Luke 24:13-32. Instead of walking to Emmaus, maybe you were walking around your neighborhood when you saw a CedarCreek sign. Instead of talking with a stranger, maybe you were talking with a Christian friend who invited you to church for the first time. Instead of a physical encounter with the risen Lord, maybe it was an intuition, a sense of something bigger, a thought at the back of your mind that you couldn’t quite shake.
Still, there are some similarities between our modern encounters with Jesus and the biblical encounter we see in Luke 24. For starters, we don’t always recognize right away that it is Jesus we’re encountering. It could seem like an everyday event: a casual conversation with a friend, or a debate you’ve had a hundred times before; an invitation card left on your table, or a sudden desire to leaf through the Bible your parents gave you.
But no matter the situation, any encounter with Jesus starts with openness, a willingness to engage with the situation and consider that it might be more than it seems. The two disciples in Luke 24:13 could have ignored the stranger and written off whatever he had to say, but what a loss it would’ve been if they had! Only through their willingness to listen was the truth of Jesus’ identity revealed to them. As Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Another similarity between this ancient encounter with Jesus and our own encounters today is the inward response. The disciples in Luke 24:32 describe the feeling as their “hearts burning” within them. Similarly, when we respond to an encounter with Jesus with open hearts, we feel it. Sometimes it’s a quiet feeling that we’ve found something true; other times it’s a tidal wave of emotions. Either way, it elicits a change in us, calling us to the source.
But perhaps the most important similarity between our own encounters with Jesus and the encounter we see in Luke 24 is this: the outward response. Once the two disciples realize that the Lord Jesus Christ has risen, their first response is to share the news. As it says in Luke 24:33-35, “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem … Then the two told what had happened …”
Isn’t that still our natural instinct when we receive good news—to share it with others? Of course, we all know sharing the good news of the gospel isn’t always easy. But it’s still an important part of any encounter with Jesus. For all you know, the act of sharing your story may lead someone else to their own encounter with the risen Lord.
Do you have an encounter with Jesus Christ that came to mind as you read this devotional? What did it look like? How did it feel? What was your response to it?
Think about your own encounters with Jesus and experiences as a Christian. Identify a couple close friends or family members with whom you can share these experiences. Now share!
Heavenly Father, we are so grateful that you are a personal God. You reach out to those who are seeking, and you speak to us where we are. Help us to listen for your voice and to keep our hearts open to encounters with you in our daily lives. Give us the courage to tell others about our experiences with you. May lives be saved and hearts be changed through the stories we share. Amen.
This post was written by Payton Lechner, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.
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