[forthright] Walking and Talking

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 17:05:54 -0300
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: Field Notes

Walking and Talking
by Michael E. Brooks

   "Now behold, two of them were traveling
   that same day to a village called Emmaus,
   which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And
   they talked together of all these things
   which had happened" (Luke 24:13-14).

Working among the churches and remote areas of
South Asia often involves considerable walking.
Sometimes it is just a matter of a few hundred
yards from the nearest road or river into the
village, but on some occasions I have walked
several days in order to visit a particular area.
At such times one good way to fill the hours is by
conversation with fellow travelers.

I remember a preacher in Nepal studying the Bible
with our hired Hindu cook while we were walking
near Dunche in the mountains. He was able to cover
a lot of doctrine and text as we traveled for
several miles. Since I am limited to English, I
usually confine my conversation to the few English
speakers who are normally preachers accompanying
me to translate and provide leadership for the
treks. This time has enabled us to deepen
relationships, exchange personal information, and
discuss doctrinal and practical issues of our
ministries.

I can hardly imagine a conversation so fascinating
however as that engaged in by the disciples of
Jesus on the road to Emmaus. "These things which
had happened" might conceivably include all the
life and ministry of Jesus, or at least as much as
they had witnessed or been told of. More likely
though they would have focused upon the events of
the last days of Jesus' life, especially the week
of his final ministry in Jerusalem and his arrest,
trial, crucifixion and resurrection. 

These were not articles of faith, doctrine or
historical record to these two men. Rather they
were events of which they were eyewitnesses. And
they were very recent events, some occurring that
very day. These things involved them – their hopes
and dreams, their own experiences, perhaps even
their safety and security. After all, there was no
certainty that the disciples of the executed Jesus
would not yet be arrested and tried for their
association with the "famous criminal", or on
suspicion of stealing his body for fraudulent
purposes (Matthew 28:13).

No doubt they were second-guessing and analyzing
these events, wondering if they could have done
anything to have prevented Jesus' suffering. There
was likely some guilt expressed, along with much
grief. Beyond that there must have been a great
deal of puzzlement concerning the meaning of
Jesus' prophesies of his death, and why, if he was
indeed the Messiah, God allowed these things to
happen.

Christians still discuss these events. Much the
same topics and motives dominate our
conversations. Guilt is felt when we realize that
he suffered because of our sins. Philosophically
and theologically we are still troubled by the
possibility and necessity of God dying. We marvel
at how he loved us, and how he suffered for us.

But although we may talk about the same things, I
wonder how many modern believers ever approach the
emotional intensity of the two disciples on the
road to Emmaus. The events were so recent (still
occurring, actually), so personal, so dramatic
that they were involved to the very core of their
being. How could they not discuss them, puzzle
over them, relive them in their memories? 

But are we not just as involved? Jesus' physical
death occurred two thousand years ago and ten
thousand miles away, but spiritually it is just as
near as my last sin, or my last repentance. He
died for each of us – it does not get any more
personal that that. And his death conquered sin,
death and hell. That is as much drama as this
world can conceive.

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus are
still recent, relevant, and real. As we walk with
our friends, visit with neighbors, or work with
associates, let us talk about these things,
discussing their meaning and their significance in
our lives. It not only will help us pass the time
–- it will also help determine how we and others
will "pass" eternity.

----
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