Would you like to get better at hearing God?
Come with me back in time to a bright spring afternoon, the very first Easter. The birds are singing; lilies are blooming across the Jerusalem countryside. Jesus is risen. The angels have appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary only this morning. They have reported it to the disciples and Peter and John have run to check the sepulcher to find that it indeed is empty. Unbeknownst to Simon and Cleopas, two of Jesus’ disciples, Jesus has already appeared to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb.
Simon and Cleopas are starting out on a short trip to a little village outside Jerusalem called Emmaus. As they walk, they discuss what has happened. While they speak with each other, Jesus himself draws near and walks with them. Picture for a moment that you are there, walking down the road to Emmaus with them.
Along with Simon and Cleopas, your eyes are restrained somehow so that none of you can recognize him (Luke 24:14-15). He seems to be only a stranger.
The Stranger asks what you’ve been talking about. ”Why are you so sad?”
Cleopas answers, ”Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?”
In other words, ”Aren’t you keeping up with the news? You must not be from around here, otherwise how could you not know what’s been going on here?”
The Stranger answers, ”What things?”
Cleopas and Simon answer him, taking turns explaining to him about how Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet mighty in deed and word before God, had been delivered to the chief priests, condemned to death and crucified.
His followers trusted and hoped that he would be the one who would redeem Israel. They recounted how the women had gone to the sepulcher earlier this morning and had found angels and how Peter and John had found the tomb empty; but they didn’t see Jesus. (Luke 24:19-25)
He replies, ”O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” Beginning at Moses and all the prophets the Stranger expounds to you in all the scriptures the things concerning Jesus.
As the little group approaches the village of Emmaus, the Stranger starts to go on further, but Cleopas and Simon constrained him saying, ”Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.”
So he decides to go in and tarry for a while.
As he sits to eat with you, he takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and begins to hand it to each one of you. As he looks into your eyes, your eyes are opened and you know who he is. Just as the reality sinks in, he vanishes from your sight.
Each of you look at the other and say, ”Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” You rise up with your companions and return to Jerusalem immediately. You find the eleven apostles gathered together along with a group of Jesus’ other followers.
In excitement, you join with Cleopas and Simon telling the others the things that had happened on the road to Emmaus and how you each recognized him when he broke the bread. As you are in the middle of explaining this to the others, Jesus appears in your midst and says, ”Peace be unto you.”
All of you are afraid, supposing you are seeing a spirit. But Jesus says, ”Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”
He lets each person see his hands and feet as proof of his resurrected body, and that he indeed is the risen Lord.
”Have ye here any meat?” he asks. You run to bring him a piece of broiled fish and a honeycomb. He looks into your eyes, takes it and eats so that everyone may see and believe.
This is what Jesus had tried to explain to the disciples all along, even before he died — that everything that was written in the law of Moses, and by the prophets, and in the psalms concerning Him must all be fulfilled. Those ancient writings truly testified of His birth, His death and resurrection. All those prophecies had to be fulfilled.
As everyone gathers around Him, He opens your understanding of the scriptures, explaining how they truly testified of His suffering and His rising from the dead on the third day. He also shows where the scriptures had prophesied that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
He commissions His apostles saying,
”Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:15-16) ”Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all the things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
He takes your company as far as Bethany and lifts up His hands and blesses each of you. And as He blesses each person, He departs and is carried up into heaven. Afterward, everyone returns ”to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.” (Luke 24:52-53).
The scriptures truly testify of Him. When we study them prayerfully, and put ourselves into the place of the people there, the scriptures come to life. We gain insights, knowledge and understanding about how to practically apply these events to our own lives.
Did your heart burn within you as you walked to Emmaus with the risen Lord? Did you trust the feelings that you experienced?
In the past, has your heart burned within you when a truth was expounded to you in something you read, heard or saw? Did you trust that feeling? How were you at hearing God?
The Lord’s Spirit speaks to us in our hearts and in our minds, many times through our emotions. As we learn to trust and listen to those feelings we can be led to understand the mysteries of God As we prayerfully study the scriptures, and liken them to ourselves, we become as those who understood the parables that Jesus taught.
When the disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in parables, He explained, ”Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” Matthew 13:10-12
Our adeptness at hearing God is based upon our willingness to listen, study, and seek understanding through prayer and through listening to the Spirit when it testifies of truths to us. If we will do this, then we will receive His promise that we shall be given more in abundance.