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The Burning Heart - Shepherd of Hope

And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

– Luke 24:32

Note: The following message was delivered in four parts during Resurrection Week 2019.

 

Palm Sunday marks the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. It marks the high point of Jesus’ ministry in terms of His popularity. It was also the fulfillment, to the day, of a prophecy of the prophet Daniel, who predicted the triumphal entry of Messiah some five centuries before the event (cf. Daniel 9:24-27).

Palm Sunday is called “Palm Sunday,” because upon Jesus arrival to the Jerusalem He was given a king’s welcome. People laid palm branches in the road before Jesus like they would for a king making a triumphal entry. The people, “took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!’” (John 12:13; cf. also, Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; and Luke 19:28-38).

This was also Passover week. Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with His disciples. What He really did though, was He came to be the Passover Lamb (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7). Soon Jesus would be betrayed, crucified, and then gloriously resurrected from the dead. This is the heart of the Christian gospel. This is the heart of the good news that Christianity has to offer to the world.

This time of year, is not about Easter bunnies and Easter eggs. The Easter bunny is bogus. So are the eggs (though I like eggs for breakfast and I am partial to white chocolate even if in the shape of an egg or bunny.) This week is about fulfilled prophecy, sacrificial atonement at the cross, crucifixion, and a climactic resurrection defeat of death. This week is about Jesus who did all of these things for you and for me. Love and the joy set before Him propelled Jesus to incredible redemptive acts. Jesus, God in the flesh, the Son of Man, our substitute and representative Man, He is the reason for this season of year. This is a time I prefer to call Resurrection Week. It’s a time when we pause to consider the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s a time when we consider the cost of our salvation and eternal life. It’s a time when we examine the heart of our faith. And this last item of our faith, the heart, is what I want to focus on.

Vance Havner, a past Senate chaplain, once said,

“We are not going to move this world by criticism of it, nor conformity to it, but   only by the combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.” [1]

 He’s right about that. We are living in a time of incredible political conflict. Politics is front and center in the news and in our daily lives. It seems like there’s no escaping it. Most everyone has a political opinion. There’s criticism everywhere. Debate is hot. Many people are blindly conforming to their party stances regardless of whether or not that party stance is based on truth. The media isn’t helping as it leaves journalistic objectivity and falls into political propaganda. All of this has this nation, and much of the world, dare I say it, headed to civil war. Politics isn’t the answer. Politics and citizenship are important. But politics doesn’t have the power for the real change that we need. Politics isn’t going to get us where we need to go.

What we really need is a powerful work in the heart. John Wesley, a man whose heart was burning and who the Lord used to revive a nation, said:

“If I had three hundred men who feared nothing but God, hated nothing but sin, and were  determined to know nothing among men but Jesus Christ and him crucified, I would set    the world on fire.” [2]

A disciple of John Wesley, John W. Fletcher, paid tribute to Wesley’s fire in his later years saying:

“With unwearied diligence through the three kingdoms, calling sinners to repentance and to the healing fountain of Jesus’ blood. Though oppressed with the weight of near seventy years, and the cares of nearly 30,000 souls, he shames still, by his unabated zeal and immense labors, all the young ministers in England, perhaps in Christendom. He has generously blown the gospel trumpet, and rode twenty miles, before most of the professors who despise his labors, have left their downy pillows. As he begins the day, the week, the year, so he concludes them, still intent upon extensive services for the glory of the Redeemer and the good of souls.” [3]

That’s what we need! We need a heart warmed, no set ablaze for the LORD. We need Him to ignite in us a fire that will propel us and make us what we need to be, to do what He calls us to do, for His glory, until He returns.

Yes, we need a burning heart. But let me caution you. We need a burning heart not just to have a personal exhilarating experience. We need a burning heart so that we can serve the Lord more effectively. We need a burning heart to reach a lost world. Our motives for a heart burning must be selfless. Our motive and objective for a burning heart should be the glory of God. All that we do needs to be, “to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

Resurrection week, and all it entails, from the Triumphal Entry to Resurrection Sunday, is all about impacting the human heart in a way that will enable us to relate to and know God as well as to make an impact on this world for the better and the glory of God. Remember, Jesus summed up the end of the gospel and eternal life by saying, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). The burning heart is set aflame by knowing Jesus personally, drawing close to Him, and staying close to Him.

If we jump ahead a bit, we see a verse that provides us an indication of the impact the crucifixion and resurrection have on the human heart. Shortly after Jesus rose from the dead, two disciples are walking on the road to Emmaus (which is about 7 miles east of Jerusalem) when the resurrected Jesus joins them. A conversation ensues after which these two disciples make the following comment:

  • Luke 24:32 (NKJV) – 32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

Two things we want to notice from this verse at this point. First, their hearts were burning as a result of their contact with Jesus. Second, the opening up or explaining of the scriptures by Jesus was the means used to make these hearts burn.

That is what we are going to do, we are going to look at the scriptures. We are going to look at the scriptures and what they say about the human heart and what they say about Jesus, His crucifixion and resurrection. And in the end, we hope our hearts will burn like the hearts of the two disciples of this verse.

We Have a Heart Problem

Jesus came to walk among us in part because of the state of the human heart. He came with a clear message. He spoke in illustrative parables so that no one would mistake His message. They still did not understand. Some because of dullness, some because of disinterest, and others because they simply did not want to know the truth. They did not want to allow anything or anyone that would upset their comfortable lifestyle.[4] And Jesus, from the start, spoke of the problem of the heart of humanity. For instance, He said:

  • Matthew 13:14–15 (NKJV) – 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; 15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’
  •  Matthew 15:19–20 (NKJV) – 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

We have a heart problem.

From the beginning of time humanity has had a heart problem (cf. Genesis 3). In fact, the Bible teaches humanity is born with a heart that is naturally rebellious and opposed to God. King David wrote:

  • Psalm 51:5 – “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me”

We have a heart problem from birth.

God’s desire for us is to have a heart of loving obedience. He wanted this for their own good:

  • Deuteronomy 5:29 (NKJV) – 29 Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!

God desired that His people love Him with all their heart:

  • Deuteronomy 6:5–6 (NKJV) – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

He wanted them to love their neighbor as well:

  • Leviticus 19:18 – . . . you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD

But with these instructions came the caution that there was a heart problem. Through Moses He warned:

  • Deuteronomy 11:16–17 (NKJV) – 16 Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, 17 lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.

And we know that this is exactly what happened. God’s people continuously and persistently strayed from Him. They did not love Him or others the way they should have. Their sinful ways led to captivity and loss.

The heart we’re born with has been infected by sin. Our sinful heart is a deceitful heart. The prophet Jeremiah was inspired to write:

  • Jeremiah 17:9–10 (NKJV) – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

We have a heart problem. And this is not only true for Israel, this is true of all people.

In the New Testament the Apostle Paul recited a list of Old Testament scriptures explaining the sinful waywardness and corrupt heart of humanity. He stated:

  • Romans 3:9–18 (NKJV) – What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. 10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17And the way of peace they have not known.” 18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

When we look at the human heart, it’s not a pretty picture. Some hearts are worse than others. Some hearts have a measure of good in them. But the problem is no heart is good enough.  

Before we can have a burning heart, we need an entirely new heart. The heart infected by sin is beyond repair. It’s dying. We need a heart transplant. We need a new heart. 

The New Heart Solution

We know inside that this is true, that we need a new heart. The LORD by His Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and our separation from our Creator (e.g. Isaiah 59:1-2; John 16:8-11). And God has built humanity for fellowship with Him. Humanity tries to replace God in their lives, but no part of this world can replace the piece that God has reserved in us for Himself, in our heart.

The Bible says we are created by God with “eternity in their hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). That means we are created with an inherent desire to relate and fellowship with God. There’s a piece missing from our heart. That piece is God Himself. Because we are warped by sin, we try to fit all kinds of stuff and people into that heart-void, but nothing but God will do.

Without God we are incomplete, not right, out of sync, unfulfilled. A Church Father once said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”[5] So, our heart is conflicted. We are built with this inherent need to relate to God, but because of sin, we are at odds with the One, the only One, who can solve our problem. We need a new heart if we are ever going to be right and be used to better this world and bring glory to God.

God loves humanity. And because of His love for us, He does not just clear the table of us and start over. No, because of His love for us He makes a way for us to be restored to Him. Because of His love for us, He makes a way for us to be repaired. Through the prophet Jeremiah God states:

  • Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV) – The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

God in love provided a New Covenant (e.g. Jeremiah 31:31-34). He mentions this provision first to Israel, but it is a New Covenant that will benefit the world beyond Israel.

In the first part of the book of Ezekiel when the prophet Ezekiel is addressing the sin problem of God’s people, the Lord through him states the following:

  • Ezekiel 18:30–32 (NKJV) – 30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”

The prophet Ezekiel later elaborated on this concept of “a new heart” that God, through a New Covenant, would one day provide His people and humanity saying:

  • Ezekiel 36:26–27, 29a, – 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. . . . 29 I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.

While this pertains specifically to Israel, we know from the New Testament message that a new heart would also be offered to the gentile world.

How can we get such a new heart? The Apostle Paul is inspired to share God’s answer to that question when he states:

  • Romans 10:8–10 (NKJV) – But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Faith is, and always has been, God’s prescribed means to be right before Him and yes, receive a new heart (e.g. Genesis 15:6; Habakkuk 2:4).

What do we need to accept by faith to receive a new heart?

We receive a new heart by faith in the following way:

  1. In faith we agree with God that we are sinners and that our sin separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2).
  2. In faith we agree that our sin breaks God’s holy law and is offensive to God Who is Holy (Habakkuk 1:13; Psalm 66:18; Romans 3; Galatians 3:10-13).
  3. In faith we agree with God that the just penalty for our sins is death (Romans 6:23a).
  4. But in faith, we turn from our sins, ask God’s forgiveness for our sins, and accept that Jesus has paid our debt of sin (by dying for us) as a free gift of God’s grace (Romans 6:23b).
  5. In faith we believe Jesus’ dying on the cross atoned for our sins and paid our sin penalty because God’s stamp of approval is Jesus defeating death in the resurrection (Romans 10:8-10).
  6. In faith we believe that, having done this, we are a new creation with a new heart and in a new eternal relationship with God through faith in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 1:22-25).

We can receive a new heart by faith in God to provide us one. You may not understand all of the details, but God will provide a new heart to the one who asks Him in faith.

A Heartbeat Away 

The Bible describes the lifespan of man as frail, a vapor. In Psalms it states:

  • Psalm 39:4-7 – “LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreaths, and my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but a vapor. Selah. Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them. And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.”
  •  Psalm 62:9 – “Surely men of low degree are a vapor, men of high degree are a lie; if they are weighted on the scales, they are altogether lighter than vapor.  

In the New Testament we have a similar statement:

  • James 4:14 – “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

Life is a vapor. Death is for sure. Death is sure because of the curse of sin. The Bible says:

  • Romans 6:23a – “For the wages of sin is death. . .” 

The term “wages” (Greek opsonion) means the rations of a soldier, allowance. The idea involves consequence. Those who sin and live for sin, will receive a ration of death. If you sin and live in sin, you will die.

And after death comes judgement. The Bible says:

  • Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”  

Are you ready to stand before God with your dark sinful heart? Don’t fall into the trap of depending on your good works or personal efforts to offset the guilt of your sin. If you go before an earthly judge for living a life of crime, he’s not going to let you off because you performed a few incidental good deeds along the way. You’re going to be convicted, sentenced, and thrown in prison. You must pay for your criminal deeds. You must pay for your crime. Don’t expect anything less from the High Holy Judge of the universe who is perfectly just and demands perfect justice.

But there is a way to avoid the jail cell of hell. There is a way to justly avoid the penalty for sin. It isn’t something we do. It is something, a provision provided by God in Christ simply because He loves us. On our own we are hopelessly destined for the finality of the gavel blow of “guilty!” On our own we are hopelessly lost to an eternal death sentence. But God, in mercy, in grace, in love, looks down on us and provides a way for us to be redeemed from our sinfulness. Let me tell you about what God has done for us.

Life is a vapor. Death is for sure. Sins the curse. But Christ is the cure! The Bible tells us that Jesus died for us. He became a curse for us:

  • Galatians 3:10–13 (NKJV) – 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),

The Bible states:

  • Romans 6:23 (NKJV) – 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

On the cross Jesus took our sin and its death penalty for us and anyone who takes that to heart by faith will not only be forgiven, but will have the righteousness of Jesus put to their account:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) – 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

You see, our penalty for our sins is death. That’s what we deserve. And that’s why Jesus died on the cross. He died in our place. He paid our death penalty.

Why did God do this? What motivated Him? The Bible tells us He did this out of love for us:

  • Romans 5:8 (NKJV) – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So, let me ask you something. Are you ready to stand before God in judgment? If you were to die, right now, are you ready to stand before God in judgment? What would your sentence be? Guilty? Then you aren’t ready.

Don’t fall prey to presumption of innocence. Sometimes I think we’re self deceived by our own fake news. Truthfully, are you ready to meet the Just Holy God? No one is, on their own. We need help. We need and Advocate. We need Jesus.

Are you just figuring to wing it? You’re not ready, you don’t really care, and you figure if you die, you’ll just wing it. Did you know that 735,000 Americans have a heart attack every year? Did you know that about 610,000 people die of heart disease (including sudden heart attacks) every year in the United States? [6]That averages out to about 1,671 people dying of a heart related illness each day. There are 50 states in the Union. That averages out to a little over 33 people per state per day dying of a heart attack. Some states I’m sure are more stressful than others. As of April 1st, 2019, New York surprisingly ranks 21st highest stressful state. (I don’t know if that’s an April Fool’s joke but I’d bet if you ask most people in New York they’d think they’re under more stress than that.) But think of that. A heart attack is sudden and can be fatal. What if you were to die of a heart attack today, in a moment, now? Would you be ready? Would you be willing to just wing it?

We’re a heartbeat away from meeting God in judgment. Are you ready? Are you really going to just wing it?

  • If you were seeing a tax auditor, would you just wing it?
  • If you were going on a job interview, would you just wing it?
  • If you were meeting your boss or superior to discuss a special project, would you just wing it?
  • If you were seeing a judge about a traffic ticket, would you wing it?
  • If you were going to court to see a judge about a serious crime, would you just wing it? Or would you get a lawyer?

You’re going to be seeing God. You could be meeting Him in a heartbeat. Are you ready? Are you really going to just wing it?

The Bible says that Jesus is our Advocate, our Defense Attorney. It states:

  • 1 John 2:1–2 (NKJV) – My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

Jesus is the Best and Only Defense Attorney we need to stand before the LORD on our judgment day. That’s because He actually paid our death penalty. Jesus satisfied God’s just requirements for us to secure a decision of innocent (i.e. propitiation). If you want to be ready for God’s judgment, accept Jesus as your Defense Attorney. He is willing to be that freely as a gift of God’s grace. All you have to do is turn from your sins and ask God’s forgiveness for your sins, based on believing in Jesus as Savior. We know all of this is true because Jesus defeated death and was resurrected. Jesus’ resurrection is God the Judge’s stamp of approval and acceptance. Accept this by faith and live for Jesus and you’re ready for judgment. And not only that, at the point of putting your faith in Jesus God gives you a new heart; one suited to spending eternity with Him. 

The Beginning of a Burning Heart 

Remember these words again: 

  • Luke 24:32 – And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”  

What scriptures might Jesus have opened to them along the road that lit their hearts aflame? We don’t know for sure, but Jesus might have begun with what is believed to be the first mention of the gospel in Genesis 3:15 which states:

  • Genesis 3:15 (NKJV) – And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

This speaks of the conflict that sin brings in relationships. It speaks of the divisive devilish work of Satan. And it speaks of the solution to the sin problem. Satan would bruise the heel of Messiah (“her Seed”), a non-fatal blow, but Messiah would “bruise your head,” a fatal blow to the serpent.

Jesus likely would have spoken of faith as the means to appropriate God’s provision for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). He would have clarified how the sacrifices and feast days and the Law all pointed to Him (e.g. Exodus; Leviticus; Deuteronomy; Hebrews 10:7). Jesus would have clarified the scarlet thread of redemption that runs through the entire Old Testament.

But at some point, Jesus would have pointed to the words of Isaiah about the coming Messiah and His substitutionary atoning work. Amongst many possible portions of scripture in the Old Testament, Jesus would have likely pointed to Isaiah 52 and 53 where it states:

  • Isaiah 52:7 (NKJV) – How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

 

  • Isaiah 52:13–15 (NKJV) 13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. 14 Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men; 15 So shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; For what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider.

 

  • Isaiah 53 (NKJV) Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6            All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. 10Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. 11He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. 12Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

We all like sheep strayed from our Maker. But our Maker sent His only Son Jesus to take our burden of sin on Him so that we could return to Him. It’s all laid out there in the inspired words of Isaiah. Isaiah ministered some eight centuries before the birth of Jesus. Don’t miss the point here. This was God’s plan from the beginning. He knew what humanity would do when He created them. And He knew what He would do in response. He wouldn’t trash them and start over. No. He would orchestrate and incredible act of redemption. And that redemptive plan would be an eternal monumental incredible living description of His own love. There are no superlatives or adjectives we can use to truly describe that.

Jesus would have ignited the hearts of Cleopas and his friend by explaining scriptures like that in Isaiah. Jesus would have ignited their hearts in explaining how it was necessary for Him to fulfill God’s holy justice by going to the cross to pay the penalty for humanities’ sins. Jesus would have explained that His resurrection showed the power of the gospel to defeat death (e.g. 1 Cor. 15). But would have explained how His resurrection was even more than that. Jesus resurrection was the Father’s stamp of approval on His atoning cross work. By rising from the dead Jesus demonstrated that His substitutionary atoning sacrifice was accepted as perfectly sufficient and totally satisfactory to meet the holy standard of the Father’s justice.

There are many, many other portions of scripture that speak of Messiah Jesus’ saving work. Indeed, in Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 10:5–7 (NKJV) Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. 6In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. 7Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God.’”

In other words, “The point that the entire Old Testament is all about Messiah Jesus.” Whenever we study the Bible we should always ask, “What does the tell me about Jesus?” That’s the most important question in our Bible Study. Do you study the Bible like that? If you do, your heart will burn.

Later in the New Testament another man, whose life was dynamically altered in salvation by Jesus, the Apostle Paul, would link together the cross and resurrection in two passages. These two passages encapsulate how a burning heart is ignited:

  • 1 Corinthians 2:1–5 (NKJV) – And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

The cross is central to the gospel because it was at the cross where Jesus paid off our penalty for sin (e.g. Galatians 3:10-13; 2 Cor. 5:21; Romans 6:23). There is no salvation from sin without the cross of Christ. No cross, no crown.

But the way we know that what Jesus did on the cross was absolutely acceptable and totally sufficient to fulfill God’s righteous requirements of justice to deal with the offense of sin, is by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The role of resurrection in our salvation from sin is explained by Paul in the following inspired words:

  • Romans 10:8–10 (NKJV) – But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Without the resurrection the words of the Old Testament and the words of Jesus are just that, words. Without the resurrection we have no more claim to truth than Buddha, Krishna, or atheists. But the resurrection is proof positive that all the Old Testament and Jesus claimed and spoke are absolutely true. It is the resurrection fo Jesus Christ from the dead that sets Christianity apart, no far and away above all other religious alternatives.

At the tomb, on the Emmaus road, in the upper room, and elsewhere that Jesus showed Himself in resurrection, each individual disciple, as well as the apostles, had a decision to make. They had to decide whether or not they believed Jesus had risen from the dead. And in believing the resurrection, they were accepting all that had gone before with Jesus. To believe in your heart that Jesus has risen from the dead therefore, is to not only accept the resurrection, BUT EVERYTHING ELSE REGARDING JESUS ABOUT HIS ATONING WORK!  

And this is where the burning heart begins. The burning heart began with Cleopas and his friend as they began to receive and accept Jesus as He “opened the Scriptures to us.” The burning heart begins when by faith, we believe in our heart, that Jesus rose from the dead. That is the point being made by the Apostle Paul in Romans 10. That belief, in the heart, that Jesus rose from the dead, when genuine, leads to the outward confession of Jesus as Lord. Our outward confession of Jesus as Lord is the evidence and proof, the fruit that we have indeed genuinely believed in Jesus – His crucifixion and atoning work and resurrection of validation. And that is what saves us from our sin and ignites the burning heart within us. 

What is a Burning Heart?

Now that you have a new heart, let me ask you another question. What do we mean when we speak of “The Burning Heart”? The Burning Heart is a good thing. When we think of the fire of a burning heart we think of warmth, light, purity, energy. The Burning Heart is a heart that warms others, lights the way for the lost, remains pure in times of temptation, and is empowered to do what God directs it to do.

How do you know if you have a burning heart? Leonard Ravenhill used to say, “You don’t have to advertise a fire.” If you have a burning heart you know it; others know it. If you don’t have a burning heart you probably know it; others probably know it too. You don’t have to advertise a burning heart just like you don’t have to advertise a fire.

Maybe this is a bad example, but how do you know you’re in love? You just know. You eat, drink, sleep and awake to thoughts of the one you love. Your heart is aflame with love. Your heart is agitated and eager to be with and serve the object of your affection. When you have a burning heart for the Lord, He becomes your all-consuming passion and reason for living.

Jeremiah was sent on a difficult mission. God sent him to be a prophet to a people that would not listen to him (Jeremiah 6:17). So frustrated did Jeremiah become with his situation that he told the Lord he was going to shut up and not speak anymore. But read what his burning heart taught him:

  • Jeremiah 20:9 – “Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.”  But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.”  

The Burning Heart is a heart filled with the fire of God that just can’t be contained.

The Smoldering Heart

As humans we are flawed; scarred by sin. That remains true even after our hearts are ignited to spiritual life by faith in Jesus. Even after we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we are limited. Life can beat us down. We can become disappointed in things, discouraged, damaged, and for a host of reasons, the flame begun can be reduced to a flicker; a smoldering wick. Jesus doesn’t snuff out those with a smoldering wick.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a portion of Isaiah concerning Messiah is quoted and applied to Jesus which states:

  • Isaiah 42:3 (NKJV) – A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.  
  • Matthew 12:20 (NKJV) – 20 A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to victory;

Jesus is gentle. Jesus understands us (e.g. Hebrews 4:13-16). He will not break us off and throw us away when we are bruised. He will not snuff us out when we burn down to a flicker. No, He will mend us when we’re broken and He will fan us to a flame again when we are flickering. Life can be hard and trials can beat us down and snuff us out. But Jesus is there to mend us and reignite those who are interested for Him to do so.

I say “interested,” because not all people are interested in being mended by Jesus or reignited by Him. Some are satisfied with mediocrity and living for much less than Jesus intends for us. I speak of lukewarmness.

The Lukewarm Heart

Like Jeremiah, we often try to repress or limit the flame of God in us. We get fed up or disenchanted, or discouraged, and we are tempted to throw our hands up in the air and give up. Nothing will quench a burning heart faster than despair, discouragement, self-pity, sin.

There are many lukewarm, lackadaisical, and limping Christians. That is what we see in a personal letter of Jesus to the church at Laodicea where He writes:

  • Revelation 3:14-19 – 14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”

Without going into all of the historical background of the Laodiceans, we can glean some very valuable truth from Jesus letter. And what Jesus wrote to this church is very important because the state of those Laodiceans is found in many churches today.

Jesus is talking to believers. This is the state of some who name the name of Jesus. Jesus is their Savior. Jesus has some strong words of disappointment for these believers.

Jesus, who identifies Himself as “the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God,” identifies the problem as lukewarmness. They are neither cold nor hot. They can take Jesus or leave Jesus.

This is totally unacceptable to Jesus. It’s of the utmost offense to the One Who gave His all on the cross. It’s repulsive to Jesus. Lukewarmness is the ultimate act of unappreciation and unthankfulness. Therefore, Jesus says they should be either cold or hot, but not lukewarm (Revelation 3:14-15).

So repulsive is this to Jesus that He says He will “vomit you out of My mouth” (3:16). Why are they lukewarm? Because they are rich in the things of this world. They are preoccupied with worldly wealth and unaware or uninterested in their spiritual needs (3:17). They have allowed the things of this world to quench the fire in their heart.

Jesus counsels these lukewarm believers to “buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich” (3:18). Hmmm, “fire,” that sounds interesting for our study. Jesus also speaks of white garments (which speaks of holiness) and eye salve, which points to their need of opening their eyes to their need and putting their eyes on Jesus (3:18).

Then Jesus tells them, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (3:19). Jesus loves the lukewarm believer even though He despises their lukewarmness. A lukewarm believer may be cool toward Jesus, but Jesus is on fire for them. He loves them and that is why He takes the time to try and shake them out of their complacency and lukewarm condition. Jesus calls us out of a lukewarm condition because He loves us!

The Fire of Zeal

The word “zealous” in Revelation 3:19, (Greek dzelos) refers to a fervent on fire condition of a holy jealousy and desire for the things of God. How does Jesus say the Laodiceans and we can get that zeal, that fire? He says:

  • Revelation 3:20-22 – 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

That is a verse we often use to evangelize the lost. But it is in fact a verse aimed at the lukewarm believer! The remedy for a lukewarm heart is opening up and inviting Jesus in. Jesus is the solution to lukewarmness. Opening up and spending time with Jesus. You can’t be lukewarm in the presence of Jesus. If you are lukewarm, you’re probably far away from Him. The Burning Heart is ignited by the presence of Jesus.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Is the Holy Spirit speaking to you? It is the Holy Spirit that ignites a fire in our heart. He is the One who stokes the flame in us. Are you listening to what He is trying to tell you?

Why not open up your heart right now. If you feel no urgency about the things of the Lord or if they are low on your list of priorities, you’re lukewarm and in need of a fresh torching by the Lord. He’s here and He wants to make your heart burn again. Jesus loves you so much and it pains Him and grieves Him to see you in your lukewarm state. The choice is yours.

Why Would Anyone Want a Burning Heart?

Why would anyone want a burning heart? Because we need fire in life. We light our way by fire. We cook our meals by fire. We warm ourselves by fire. We ward off predators by fire. But besides the common uses of “fire,” it is used in God’s inspired word in the following notable ways:

  • God manifested His presence to Moses in a fiery burning bush – Exodus 3:2
  • The Holy Spirit manifested His presence upon the disciples with tongues of fire over their heads – Acts 2:3
  • Fire is used to indicate the power of God – e.g. the 7th plague of God on Egypt – Exodus 9:24
  • Fire is used to express God’s approval – e.g. of the priestly ministry – Leviticus 9:24
  • Fire is used to express God’s wrath – e.g. Sodom and Gomorrah – Genesis 19:24; Matthew 25:41; Hebrews 12:29; 2 Peter 3:10-12
  • Fire was used by God to guide Israel through the wilderness – Exodus 13:21-22
  • Fire was used to transport a saint to heaven, e.g. Elijah – 2 Kings 2:11
  • God refers to a “wall of fire” to protect His people – Zechariah 2:5
  • The words of God are likened to fire – Jeremiah 5:14
  • Jesus the Messiah is described as a “refiner’s fire” – Malachi 3:2
  • Fire is a purifier – e.g. Isaiah – Isaiah 6:5-7
  • The fire of love – Song of Solomon 8:6

In addition to these more positive uses of “fire” the Bible also mentions the fire of affliction (Isaiah 43:2), the fire of lust (Proverbs 6:27-28)), the fire of persecution (Luke 12:49-53) and the fire the tongue can start with sinful words (James 3:6). We need The Burning Heart to ward off these sinful aspects of fire.

In light of these uses of “fire” in scripture, when we speak of a burning heart, we are saying a burning heart is one that is filled with the presence, power, approval, purposes, protection, and purity of the Lord.

We Need a Burning Heart Today

What we need, more than any political or psychological band aid, are new hearts. And that “new heart” is really what Resurrection week is all about. Resurrection week is about God’s plan to receive a new heart, cleaned from sin, and on fire with a passion for Him and all the truth, promise and blessing found in His word. Resurrection week is about The Burning Heart.

The early church had hearts burning for the Lord and they turned the world upside down for Jesus (i.e. right side up – Acts 17:6). Unfortunately, the Church of today often seems to be turned upside down by the world. Why is that? Where are the burning hearted people of today? If the flame of our heart has gone out or is just a flicker, how can we be re-ignited, or re-fired for the Lord? What do we do to have our hearts burn for the Lord?

Let’s revisit our verse one more time. Read it again. Read it in faith. Read it prayerfully. Read it with a hunger for a burning heart. Our verse states:

  • Luke 24:32 – “And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

Ah, that’s what we want. We want to say with Cleopas and his unnamed friend, “Did not our heart burn within us. . ..? But how can that happen to us? How can that happen to you and me? How can a person get a new and burning heart? How can someone who received a burning heart, but whose flame is flickering, have their heart burn again? To answer those questions, we have to go backward before we can go forward. We have to look at the context of this verse.

Why Don’t We Have A Burning Heart?

Why don’t we have a new heart? Why don’t we have a burning heart? There’s a number of causes of our heart problems. When we look at the context of Luke 24, we see a number of reasons for our heart problems.

First, we don’t have a new or burning heart because we are “perplexed.” Luke 24 gives the account of Jesus resurrection and His interactions with various people. He’s risen from the dead, but no one knew it yet (other than the angels). The first four verses state:

  • Luke 24:1-4a – Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, . . .

The women who knew Jesus came to the tomb early the first day of the week (Sunday) in order to complete the anointing of Jesus’ body for burial. Because it was a high holy day (Passover) they hadn’t had time to do this.

The passage tells us that when they got to the tomb the stone was rolled away from the entrance. This must have seemed surprising to them. When they entered the tomb, the body of Jesus was not there. As they witnessed these peculiarities, it states, “they were greatly perplexed.”

“Greatly perplexed” (Greek diaporeistha: Present/Middle/Infinitive of diaporeo) is an interesting phrase. “Vincent (Word Studies in the New Testament, 1:338) says diaporeō describes “one who goes through the whole list of possible solutions, but finds no way out.” Diaporeō may emphasize a growing sense of despair. It is a very important Lukan word used as a reaction by people to a manifestation of God’s power.”[7]

Why don’t people have a new or burning heart? Because, even though they have gone “through all the possible solutions,” to whatever life issue they are going through, they are perplexed and at a loss as to what the solution is. Sometimes we just can’t figure life out. Sometimes we have all the pieces to life’s puzzle, but we just can’t figure out how they fit together. When life throws us a curve balls, we swing and miss and often strike out. Then we are left to ponder and be perplexed, we’re at a loss as to what to think or what to do next.

Does that describe you? Has life thrown you a curve? Have you gone to the tomb only to find the body is missing? Are you confused, at a loss, don’t know what to do, despairing? If so, don’t worry, Jesus has a way of helping us when we encounter perplexing life situations.

Second, we don’t have a new or burning heart because we “seek the living among the dead.” The passage continues:

  • Luke 24:4-5 – And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?

As they were pondering these unexpected circumstances, “two men stood by them in shining garments,” angels. They reacted like any of us would likely react, they “were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth” in reverential awe. These were angelic beings with the aura of heaven about them. But what the angels said to them is important. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

The reason we don’t have a new or burning heart is because we are looking in the wrong place. What I mean by that is not that they or we look in the wrong geographical location. No, they went to the tomb expecting to anoint Jesus for burial. This was not out of the ordinary or to be unexpected. But we look in the wrong place when our expectations are too low. They were looking for Someone who they thought was “dead” when they should have been expecting to find someone who was “living.”

Jesus had provided them with all the information for the proper expectation. But their sights were set on earth, on the horizontal plain. Their sights needed to be elevated. We don’t have a new or burning heart because we set our sights to low. We look for something to give us life or hope, but we look in dead empty places where we won’t find anything living.

Third, we don’t have a new or burning heart because we don’t remember what Jesus said. Luke continues:

  • Luke 24:6-7 – He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”

Their heart was tepid. Their heart was drained. Their heart was weak and wilting. Their heart was deflated with despair. Why? Because they hadn’t remembered what Jesus had said to them!

The reason we don’t have a new or burning heart is because we don’t remember what the Lord tells us. The Lord always gives enough information for what we need. He had clearly told them that He would be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and rise again on the third day. They had forgotten all of that. They had allowed grief to push Jesus words out of their mind and heart. When that happens, no new heart will be had, and hearts once on fire for Jesus will be reduced to a flicker.

Fourth, we don’t have a new or burning heart because we don’t believe. The passage continues:

  • Luke 24:8-12 – And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

The ladies who went to the tomb did then remember the words of Jesus. A flicker of hope ignited. They ran from the tomb to where “the eleven and to all the rest” were staying. They told what they had seen to the Apostles. But it says, “their words seemed to them like idle tales.” “Idle tales” (Greek leros) means literally nonsense, words that make no sense, foolishness. This is the only place this Greek term is found in the New Testament.

Then it says, “they did not believe them.” The phrase “did not believe” (Greek epistoun: Imperfect/Active/Indicative of apisteo) is translated from a term that means to disbelieve, be unfaithful, to betray a trust.

The reason we don’t have new or burning hearts is because the reality and truth of our circumstances seem nonsensical or foolish to us. We don’t have new or burning hearts because we don’t believe what we’ve been told from God’s word.

The Bible says:

  • Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) – But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Everything God does in and through us is done by faith. Indeed, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). If we are going to receive a new or burning heart, we are going to have to trust the Lord to give it to us.

How Can we Get a Burning Heart?

Now we come to the immediate context of the verse that states, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” Here we see two men walking along the road to Emmaus talking together about the events of the previous few days. And in this context, we will begin to see what fuels a burning heart. If we want a burning heart this passage of scripture will help us find our way.

First, a burning heart is available to those who are sad. The account continues:

  • Luke 24:13-17 – 13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”

Jesus takes the initiative and came up beside these two men. That’s grace. He enters into conversation with them. He asks them why they were “sad” (Greek skuthopoi adjective of skuthropos). “Sad” here means, sad, depressed, sullen. They looked how they felt. They were at a point of despair over the crucifixion of Jesus.

Are you sad, depressed, sullen, discouraged? If you are, Jesus wants to talk with you. He has some helpful and hope producing words to share with you.

Second, a burning heart is available for those who question. It states:

  • Luke 24:18-24 – 18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” 19 And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

They had a lot of pieces to the puzzle and a lot of questions about how the parts fit. Jesus graciously listened. And Jesus is willing to entertain your questions. He will even endure some of your irreverence. Jesus is not afraid of our questions. We shouldn’t fear questions either. Questions are how we find answers. If you want a burning heart, ask questions.

Third, a burning heart is available to those who will to listen to Jesus answers. They asked, Jesus answered. He corrected them. He gently rebuked them. That’s more grace. And they listened. That’s smart. If you aren’t teachable or willing to listen to the answers of Jesus and His word, then don’t expect a burning heart. It states:

  • Luke 24:25-26 – 25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”

At this point, they didn’t know this was Jesus talking to them, but they were still willing to listen. They were teachable. They were open to hear. There’s no hope for the person who closes their heart to the Lord. Now the Lord has a way of convincing the closed hearted person to open up to Him (e.g. Jonah). But if we are to receive a burning heart, we need to be open to hear from the Lord.

Fourth, a burning heart is available to those willing to study God’s word. It continues:

  • Luke 24:27 – And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Notice the instrument used by Jesus to begin the process of burning their hearts. Jesus takes them to the word of God! God’s word is one of His greatest instruments of His grace. If you want a burning heart, go to Jesus and listen to what He says through the word of God. God’s word is the fuel that stokes the fire of a burning heart.

Fifth, a burning heart is available to those who hunger for more. Jesus opened the scriptures to them. And when it appeared Jesus was going to leave them, they insisted He stay with them. It states:

  • Luke 24:28-29 – 28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.  

They invited Jesus to stay longer. Jesus accepted their invitation. That’s grace too. There’s a lot of grace to the burning heart. When’s the last time you actually invited Jesus to stay longer? Are you usually rushing to complete your time with Jesus, or do you hunger for more of Him? Jesus will stay with you as long as you want. How long do you want Him to stay? How much do you want a burning heart? The questions are linked.

Can you imagine having an individual teaching time with Jesus as He expounded in “all the Scriptures the thing concerning Himself”? It must have been an incredible time. And when Jesus made like He was going to continue on without them, there was no way they would allow that. They were hungry for more!  

These two disciples didn’t settle for just a little. They weren’t bored with what Jesus taught them. They wanted more! Maybe they remembered something Jesus had said earlier in His ministry – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). They wanted to be filled? Do you want to be filled too?

Sixth, a burning heart is available to those who will come to the Lord’s Table. It states:

  • Luke 24:30-32 – 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”  

It’s no accident that their eyes were opened as they sat with Jesus and as He “took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.” It’s when we dine with Jesus at the Lord’s Table in Communion that we see His grace in its fullness. Jesus often ate with His disciples. And besides baptism, the only other ordinance Jesus commanded His disciples to partake in was Communion; that which reminded them of His atoning sacrificed body and shed blood. We are not saved by Communion. And there is nothing magical about the elements of Communion turning into the actual body and blood of Jesus. But there is revelation and eye-opening truth to be received when we spend time with Jesus at His Table. Their eyes were opened and their heart burned when they met with Jesus as the Communion Table. There’s something to that.

What Does a Burning Heart Do?  

What does a burning heart do? What do we see in a burning heart? The remainder of the passage shows us very clearly what a burning heart does.

First, a burning heart just has to share about Jesus with others. The passage continues:

  • Luke 24:33-35 – 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.  

After Jesus left, they wasted no time in returning to Jerusalem to find the eleven Apostles and the others and confirming that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. They shared with the others what Jesus had said and how Jesus was known to them “in the breaking of bread.” What a story that must have been. I don’t doubt a tear came to their eyes when they remembered Jesus breaking bread with them.

Second, a burning heart may still fear and doubt, but it takes comfort in fellowship with Jesus. It continues:

  • Luke 24:36-43 – 36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” 40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.  

As they discussed what they had experienced that day, Jesus came into their midst. He said “Peace to you.” They were “terrified” (Greek ptoethentes) or startled and frightened and “frightened” (Greek emphoboi) literally filled with fear. Jesus merely asked why they were frightened and then very calmly showed them His wounds and let them touch Him. He was no ghost! Jesus was real. Jesus was risen. Jesus is real! Jesus is risen! And that reality was still almost too good to be true for them (“they still did not believe for joy, and marveled”). Jesus calmly and soothingly asked them for some food. And He ate in their presence.

Even with a burning heart we may be fearful. But when we fear, we need just wait for Jesus to arrive. Then, we just need to touch Him and take in His calmness. They were steadied by “joy” (Greek charas – charo) joy, delight. The presence of Jesus can dispel our fears, even our terrors. The burning heart looks to Jesus in such situations. When Jesus is there, (and He always is) the burning heart can weather any storm. 

Third, a burning heart is stoked by Jesus’ revelation of the Scriptures. It states:

  • Luke 24:44-4544 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.  

Jesus opens our understanding. The burning heart should be continually fed the fuel of God’s word. And when we go to God’s word, we should ask Jesus to open our understanding.

Fourth, a burning heart is a witness of Jesus. Jesus told them:

  • Luke 24:46-48 – 46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things.  

The burning heart burns to share Jesus and the gospel with others. The burning heart is on a mission. The burning heart preaches Jesus to “all nations.” The burning heart is by nature, a witness. A witness tells what they have experienced firsthand. You can’t share what you haven’t experienced. The burning heart shares the word and bears witness of their burning heart to others. Remember, you don’t have to advertise a fire, its just clearly there for all to see. John Wesley used to tell his ministers, “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.”

Fifth, a burning heart is empowered by the Holy Spirit. The gospel concludes:

  • Luke 24:49-53 – 49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” 50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

Jesus spoke to them and instructed them to receive the “Promise of My Father,” which is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit; the empowering to serve Jesus. The account of these burning hearts baptized with the Holy Spirit is provided in the book of Acts. That’s what we should seek to experience, a present-day Book of Acts. Acts is the account of burning hearted followers of Jesus impacting the world for God’s glory.

Do you have a new heart? Do you have a burning heart? Do you want one? I encourage you to prayerfully study Luke 24:32 in its context. Invite Jesus to look at it with you. Ask Him to show you the burning heart. Ask Him to give you a burning heart. I know of no one who has asked Him that who hasn’t received what they ask for. Lord, please give us a burning heart that will glorify You. In Jesus name. Amen. Burn on!

 

[1] https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/184881-we-are-not-going-to-move-this-world-by-criticism

[2]Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979. Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: [a treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers]. Bible Communications: Garland TX

[3] Frederick W. MacDonald, John W. Fletcher (1885), p. 118, quoted by A Skevington Wood’s The Burning Heart Minn. Minnesota: Bethany House Pub. 1978, p. 124

[4] We might have difficulty interpreting some His parables today only because we miss some of the cultural contextual realities of Jesus’ day.

[5] Augustine of Hippo

[6] CDC.gov

[7] Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Delta-Epsilon.

 

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