Myth Became Fact | John 1
Brian Hedges | January 15, 2017
Good morning. Once more, welcome to Fulkerson Park this morning and thank you to our worship team for leading us in worship this morning. If you will, let’s just bow together one more time in a word of prayer.
Father of grace and God of glory, we come before you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We come as needy sinners, needing the light of your word, and needing the powerful influence of your Holy Spirit, to make the word real. To make the gospel sing in our hearts again. And we pray that you would send your Spirit this morning, for that purpose. That you would draw near to us as we draw near to you. And that you would be glorified in our worship, even as we continue to worship over the word of God. So, draw near, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Though he was raised in an Anglican home, C.S. Lewis abandoned the Christian faith when he was just a child. The story of his eventual conversation to faith in Christ and the impact on Christianity and on the world throughout the twentieth century is now well-known. But, exactly how he came to faith in Christ is perhaps not as well known.
He had rejected Christianity, yet his imagination as a child was captivated by stories. And especially by mythology. By the pagan stories. The stories of Greek gods and Norse and Roman gods. Those stories captivated his heart. They thrilled him so that when he heard them, something was awakened in his heart and in his soul. But, it was entirely divorced from his belief system. Until 1931.
On a warm summer evening in September of 1931, Lewis was hanging out with two other professors. J. R. R. Tolkien, eventually of Lord of the Rings fame, and Hugo Dyson, who was a guest lecturer at Magdalen Collen College there in Oxford. They went for a walk along Addison’s Walk – a walk along the river, a circular path – on this warm summer evening and as they walked, they discussed the nature of metaphor and myth. And eventually their discussion moved to Christianity.
The setting was now in Lewis’ rooms. And they talked long into the night. Tolkien was the first one to leave at three o’clock a.m. And something momentous happened in that conversation. Lewis, who was at this point a theist, but not a Christian, Lewis moved out of that conversation to Christianity. In a letter to his life-long friend, Arthur Greeves, written about a week or ten days later, Lewis said, “I have just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ – in Christianity . . . My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal to do with it.”
And this is essentially what happened. Lewis had never been able to accept Christianity because he couldn’t understand the significance of the life and death of Jesus Christ. And Tolkien helped Lewis see that all of the things that Lewis found so attractive in the mythologies, actually could come to him through the life and death of Jesus Christ. And essentially what Tolkien said was that the resurrection of Christ was the true myth. It had all of the imaginative power of these mythologies that had captivated Lewis’ imagination. But, with this one difference—it was historically true.
And so Lewis was brought into the faith as he opened his imagination and his heart, not just his reason, but, his imagination and his heart to the story of Christ. Again, he wrote to Arthur Greeves, “The story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened.”
This morning I want us to think about this whole idea of the myth becoming fact. “Myth Became Fact” was a title of an essay that Lewis wrote years later where he dived into this essential idea that was so formative for his conversion. We’ve been talking about “The Word who became flesh.” We’ve been talking about the record of the Apostle John, the evangelist John, given to us in the gospel that bears his name. And I want us to be one more time in John chapter 1, the second half of the chapter.
We looked at it last week. And, essentially, last week, we talked about conversations about Jesus. Gospel conversations. Bringing the gospel home. Sharing the gospel with friends and family. And we looked at several principles relating to that. This morning, I want to look at the same passage again but I want to focus in especially on verse 45, where we see how Philip was so captured in his heart and his imagination with Christ who is the fulfiller of the great stories of the Old Testament. And so I’m going to read the passage, but then focus in on this idea of story and this concept of the myth becoming fact.
So, John chapter one, reading verses 35-51:
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). 43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
This is God’s word.
So, this morning, I want us to notice three things: first of all, the importance of stories; secondly, how Jesus completes our stories; and then, thirdly, the difference the story makes.
I. The Importance of Stories
On one level we can just say this is obvious when you read the Bible, because the majority of the Bible is a narrative. The majority of the Bible is made up of stories. Of course there are sermons, there’s letters, there’s psalms, there’s epistles, there are prophecies. But, by and large the lion’s share of the Bible is a narrative. It is a continuing story, the story of God’s purpose and plan to rescue his people through the nation of Israel and then through the descendent of Abraham. This descendent of David. David’s greater son, Jesus, the true Israelite. The one through whom the world is saved.
The Bible is a story. The Bible is a narrative. And it’s also obvious in the gospel of John. As John begins this gospel, he tells a story and that’s what a gospel is. It is a telling of good news. As I read a statement that someone quoted online a few days ago, and I’ll just paraphrase it. The gospel is not just good views. (That is, the right doctrines.) It’s not good dues. (That is our morals and ethics and things we’re supposed to do.) The gospel is good news. It’s an announcement. It’s telling a story and the gospel of John, like all of the gospels is full of stories. As someone once said the gospels are really passion narratives with extended introductions. They are stories that center around the cross and the resurrection of Christ and that’s especially true in the gospel of John. As from John 12 to the end of the book. It’s essentially about this final week in the life of Jesus.
So, it’s pretty obvious, when you just read the Bible, and you read the gospel of John, that stories are important, especially this story. But, I want to give you three other reasons why stories are important. Here’s the first.
(1) Stories are the lenses through which we view the world. We tell ourselves stories to make sense of who we are. There’s a philosopher named Alasdair MacIntyre who has said, “I can only answer the question 'What am I to do?' if I can answer the prior question 'Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?' So, for example, we make sense of our national identity with certain stories. The story of the Boston Tea Party. No taxation without representation. Or the story of Patrick Henry’s impassioned speech, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Or Paul Revere’s midnight ride, “The redcoats are coming! The redcoats are coming!” Or George Washington’s soldiers at Valley Forge.
We tell those stories in order to evoke the ideas of freedom and liberty and the cost of such freedom and liberty and how precious that liberty is to us as citizens of the United States. We also make sense of our personal identities with stories about our lives. We tell stories from our childhood. Maybe we’ll remember just a handful of stories. Things that happened between us and our parents or us with our siblings or maybe in school. We think about how and where and when we were raised. Those early formative experiences that happen to us with friendship and so on.
And that helps us make sense of our lives. And this is true on a larger scale when it comes to how we view ourselves in relation to God and to history and to the rest of the world. We have stories and those stories are the lenses through which we read the world.
(2) Stories move us more deeply than mere explanations. Have you ever been deeply moved by a story? Wes mentioned a few moments ago how he and I like to discuss movies and I’ve been a movie buff pretty much all of my life. And those of you who know me well, know that I particularly love science fiction movies, fantasy movies, things of that nature. And I want to tell you, this may seem a little bit silly to some of you that don’t share the same experience, but it illustrates my point, that last year when the new Star Wars movie came out, The Force Awakens. When I saw the trailer, so it’s kind of the long extended trailer and it’s the trailer where Harrison Ford, playing Han Solo is talking to these two younger people and he says essentially something like this, he says, “It’s all true. The stories are true. The Force. The Jedi. It’s all true.” I mean, I just had chills went down my spine. And then when I saw it in the movie and there’s this moment when Rey, the heroine, the young character in the movie. She first hears about Luke Skywalker and there’s this supposed map to Luke Skywalker and she says, “Luke Skywalker! I thought he was a myth!” Well, that’s the moment when I liked the movie.
Now, it’s not just because I have great nostalgic memories of seeing Star Wars movies when I was a kid, which, of course, I do. And it’s not just because I like the action and the effects and the music and all of that, which of course, I do. It’s because there’s something deep in my heart and in my soul that thrills at the idea of a myth. A myth, a story! A powerful story that communicates something to it. And I can get just as excited about a good drama. That’s why I get chills when I hear about these stories. There’s something about stories that move us more than mere explanations. And we all know this.
Someone one time asked Flannery O’Connor, that great southern gothic novelist, if she could just explain her story. And I think she was a little bit frustrated. She said, “A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is…if I could say it in a sentence I wouldn’t have written the story.”
Now sometimes I think we want to just distill Christianity into its basic doctrines. Its basic rules. Its basic rituals. Tell me what it means and tell me how to live and we can lose the wonder of the story. Story. Stories move us more deeply than mere explanation because we are creatures who lives within a story. We are people who live within a story. We make sense of our world with a story and so stories are essential.
That leads us to the third reason why stories are important.
(3) The mythic element is an essential dimension of our faith. The mythic element, the story, the narrative—it’s an essential dimension, an essential component to the faith. There’s a scholar of world religions named Ninian Smart, who’s written quite a bit on this. And he’s analyzed all the great religions of the world and he said that there are essentially seven dimensions to religion. You can see these in a chart. There are seven dimensions.
There is the doctrinal dimension. That’s where religion talks about its doctrinal and philosophical beliefs and explanations about the way the world is. There are rituals. Those are the ceremonies and the practices, the things that an adherence to a religion do. There’s the emotional dimension. That’s the realm of experience. The feelings of love and joy and peace and fear and awe and dread and delight. There’s of course the ethical dimension. The morals. The way one is supposed to live. The do’s and the don’ts. There’s a social dimension. There’s where the people connect with one another. You think about the institution. Think about the church in Christianity. And there’s the material dimension. The use of material things like water and bread and juice. But, there’s a mythic dimension. Or a narrative dimension. That dimension is the dimension of the stories. The stories that are told and it’s right at the heart of the faith. It’s an essential component to the faith. These stories, this mythic dimension.
That’s why another one of these great essayists and authors of the 20th century, Dorothy Sayers, said that, “The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man — and the dogma is the drama.”
The essential teachings of the faith have to do with the story. They have to do with the drama. The drama of the God-man who came to rescue his people. So, stories are important. And sometimes we underestimate just how important they are, but the gospel writers certainly understood, and they tell their story in such a way as to show that Jesus is the fulfillment. Jesus is the completion. Jesus is the one which is bringing a resolution to the conflict in our story. Which leads us to our second point.
II. How Jesus Completes Our Stories
I want you to see this in two ways.
(1) I want you to see, first of all, Jesus and the story of Israel. Jesus, of course, fulfills (and we know this) he fulfills prophecies. Spurgeon one time said, “Our prince treads along a path paved with prophecies.” He fulfills the prophecies and that’s why the gospel writers so often will say that Jesus did this and this. He did such and such, in order to fulfill what was said by the prophets. And they’ll quote Isaiah or one of the other prophets.
There’s the prophecies but there’s also the types. There’s typology. Those are patterns that seem to be repeated again and again throughout history. There’s a pattern of God’s people being rescued as they go through the water and then they go through the wilderness into the Promised Land. And that’s why Jesus, when he comes on the scene in his earthly ministry, goes through the waters of baptism and straight from there into the wilderness to be tempted and then ascends a mountain to give his interpretation of the law in the Sermon on the Mount. Reconstitutes Israel as he chooses twelve disciples, representing twelve tribes of Israel.
There’s all kinds of typology, these patterns that are repeated in the life of Jesus. And then, of course, there’s symbols. The great symbols of the Old Testament, like the temple. Or the Sabbath. And you can see this in the gospel of John. Just in John 1, think about the names of Jesus. Some of which we have seen and looked at in detail in this series. Jesus is called the Light, the true Light which lightens every person who comes into the world. He’s called the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He’s called Son of God and Messiah. The King of Israel. Jacob’s Ladder, there at the end of this passage as we saw last week. The Son of Man on whom the angels of God ascend and descend. Every one of those names evokes a story.
The Lamb of God—the story of the Passover. Jacob’s Ladder—the story of the patriarchs. Kind of Israel—the promise made to David and to his descendants. And that’s why Philip and Andrew, for that matter, were so captivated by Jesus. They met Jesus and they suddenly understood, this is the one. This is the one! This is the Messiah! This is the Christ. This is the one that Moses wrote about, that all the Law was about, that all the prophets was about. And that’s why they are so captivated by Jesus and went sharing who Jesus is, witnessing to Jesus. But they were doing so by evoking the stories.
And then when you look in John’s gospel, even further, you can see this in lots of other ways. There’s a replacement theme that runs through this gospel. I’ve mentioned this before. In John 2, Jesus cleanses the temple and essentially claims that he himself replaces the temple. In John 3, he compares himself to the serpent that was lifted up in the wilderness so that the children of Israel, when they looked at that serpent, they would be healed. Remember that story of the brazen serpent? And Jesus compares himself to that.
He is the Living Water, in John 4. He is the Bread from Heaven in John 6. He’s the Light of the World in John 8. He is the Good Shepherd that lays down his life for the sheep in John 10. And he is the True Vine, John 15. All of those are images that are firmly rooted in the Old Testament. And you see these images, they are not just illustrations of who Jesus is and what Jesus is like, they are metaphors woven from the threads of the Old Testament into a tapestry and the face on that tapestry is the face of Jesus. Jesus fulfills the story of Israel and that’s what captured the hearts of these early disciples.
(2) But, I want you to see something else. I want you to also see Jesus fulfills and completes the stories of the world. This is what captured C. S. Lewis. This is what he wrote about in that little essay, “Myth Became Fact.” And here is the key quote: “The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history.”
Now that’s what captivated Lewis. Lewis saw that in Christianity, all of the things that he hoped for, all of the things that touched his imagination and all of the stories that he loved--that all of those things actually found their fulfilment, they found their true reality in the historical record of Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, was buried and was raised on the third day. And so he saw that there was a connection. There was a connection that Jesus completed and fulfilled the stories of the world.
Now there’s Biblical grounds for this as well. The Apostle John, and I’m assuming for a moment that John also wrote the book of Revelation, when he comes to that book, there’s a wonderful place in Revelation 12, where he tells a story. And the story is about a woman who gives birth to a child and a dragon that comes to devour that child and how the child overthrows the dragon.
And New Testament scholars such as Grant Osborne and Craig Keener and others have shown very compellingly that John is using categories of ancient mythology. So the stories of Apollo, he’s using those categories and he’s showing that Jesus fulfills those stories. He’s showing that Jesus is this child who overcomes the dragon. And I could give you the quotes, I’m not gonna do that but I just want you to see that there’s even a Biblical grounding for thinking this way. That part of our evangelistic witness is to tap into the stories of our world, the stories of our culture and show that Jesus is the only one who brings a resolution to these stories that hold our hearts.
All good stories echo the great story. Let me give you some examples. Christopher Booker wrote a book a few books ago called, The Seven Basic Plots. These plots, he says, are overcoming the monster. And you think about so many stories that are just about this: Beowolf. Or Dracula. Or Jurassic Park. Alright? They are overcoming the monsters. Any kind of a monster movie, and any kind of a monster story.
There are rags to riches stories. Think of Cinderella, or Jane Eyre, or that great musical, My Fair Lady. They are all rags to riches stories. Here’s someone who’s born in poverty and they come to inherit great wealth. Oliver Twist. Great Expectations.
Or think of the hero’s quest. Homer’s, Iliad, or Bunyan’s, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Or an Indiana Jones story. What’s it about? It’s about a quest to find some great artifact—the hero’s quest.
Voyage and return: The Odyssey. Or The Wizard of Oz. Or The Hobbit (“There and back again”). Or if you like Disney, Finding Nemo. Voyage and Return.
I won’t go through all of these, but these are examples. These are some of the basic plots that get reused over and over and over again.
But, did you know that in every one of these plots, there’s an analogue. There’s a point of connection with the gospel.
Jesus is the one who overcomes the monsters of sin and Satan and death and hell. “He has met and fought and beaten the king of death,” as Lewis says. He has gone through death and out the other side. He’s made death itself turn backwards. He’s beaten the monster.
The rags to riches story—Jesus was rich, but he made himself poor so that we through his poverty might be made rich. The ultimate story of grace—we were poverty stricken and he took us into his arms! He welcomed us as children into his royal family. He has made us his bride, the bride of Christ.
Or the hero’s quest. Wesley had it right:
He left his Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace
Emptied Himself of all but love
And bled for Adam’s helpless race
’Tis mercy all, immense and free
For, O my God, it found out me.
What is it? It’s a story of a hero who leaves his homeland to come and rescue a people for himself.
Or a story of rebirth. Beauty and the Beast. Have you seen the trailer for that new movie? I mean, I get moved by that, too. It’s not just Star Wars. What is this story of Beauty and the Beast? Well, it’s someone who’s ugly, who can only be transformed if they experience true love. And what does it take? It takes the self-sacrifice of the beauty to rescue the beast. And isn’t that exactly what the gospel is? We were the beast and Christ, the most beautiful one of all has come and has given us this unconditional, sacrificial love.
Or Sleeping Beauty is another one of these stories. What does it take? It takes a kiss of true love to wake us from the sleep of death. Read Ephesians 2 in that light. “You who were dead in your trespasses and sins, he’s made us alive!” How has he done it? He’s done it through the gospel. You see, all the great stories have their point of connection with the true story—the story of God’s love for man demonstrated through the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. Charles Wesley, in his great Christmas hymn, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” says,
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
You see, we all have deep longings in our hearts. Christian and non-Christian. Believer and unbeliever. We all have deep longings in our heart. But what story will bring those longings to fruition? What stories or what story will actually bring fulfillment to those deepest desires? And the gospel tells us, it’s the story of the God who became man, the Word who became flesh, the myth that became fact.
So, what difference does it make? We’re almost finished.
III. The Difference the Story Makes
(1) It makes a difference in our formation. We’ve talked a lot in the last few months about discipleship and about formation. How is it that we follow Jesus? How do we become more like Jesus? And one of the things that we have emphasized are practices. There are practices that help us become more like Jesus. Now, there’s a lot of those practices, but one of the practices all Christians across pretty much all traditions and across all the centuries agree, one of those practices is the study of the Scriptures. The reading and the mediation and the study of the Scriptures.
Now, some people talk about lectio divina. Some people talk about having a quiet time. Some people talk about Bible study. Some people use the word mediation. But all of us are really getting at essentially the same thing, aren’t we? That somehow this ancient book is meant to shape us and form us, to change us. That the story that is in this book is essential to our transformation, our formation as Christians.
And John 1, in many ways is about discipleship. It is the story of the very first disciples. Those who first followed Jesus and how they came to Jesus. But what’s the running thread through John 1? I’ve already showed you in part, but what’s the running thread? Well, it’s the witness to Christ who is the Lord in the wilderness, using the Exodus language of Isaiah 40. You see that in verse 23. It’s the story of Christ who is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, verse 29 and verse 36. It’s the story of Christ who is the Messiah. He is the anointed one. The prophet, priest and king--verse 41. He is the one that Moses spoke of as well as the Law and the prophets--verse 45. He is the Son of God and the King of Israel--verse 49, and He is the mediator between God and man. The ladder between heaven and earth. The Son of man on whom the angels of God ascend and descend. The one who makes and keeps the covenant with God’s people—verse 51.
What I want you to see is this—that just as reading the Scriptures is a key part of our formation, so reading the Scriptures as the story of Jesus is our key to understanding the Scriptures. You will only grow in your understanding of the Scriptures and grow as a disciple, when you learn to read the Bible as the story of Jesus. In other words, you’re not just randomly reading the Bible to get a principle to obey. Or a law to keep. Or a doctrine to believe. And all of those things are important but you’re not only doing that, you can’t leave out this narrative story dimension.
You’re reading the Bible in order to be reminded again and again and again of the story of creation and the fall and redemption and restoration that happens through the God who creates the world and then redeems a fallen people for himself, through this great rescue operation of sending his Son into the world to save us from sin and death by giving himself as the price for our sins. And then being resurrected from the dead on the third day. Jesus is the key to the Scriptures, which are the key to our formation as Christians.
(2) Here’s the second implication. The second way this makes a difference: in our witness: We must remember that our task in evangelism is to tell a story.
Does anyone here find evangelism difficult? Anybody want to raise a hand? We all find evangelism difficult. You know, there’s like three extraverts in the room. They find it easy. Everybody else finds it difficult. We find it difficult and one reason I think we find it difficult is because sometimes we forget what our purpose is.
What is our purpose in evangelism? It’s telling a story. It’s telling a story about Jesus. It’s good news. We’re not simply trying to get people to come to our church. We’re not merely trying to get people to live the way we live. To keep the 10 Commandments, as if they could and as if any of us have been saved in that way, which we haven’t. We’re not even trying to get them to adopt our philosophical beliefs or our doctrinal beliefs. Now, of course, all of that is included. But, what I’m saying is that those things aren’t really the entry point. It’s telling the story. The story of Christ who is crucified for our sins and resurrected on the third day. And you’ve got to reckon with that story.
And so, next time you’re in an evangelistic conversation, do that. Tell the story of Jesus. You may not can answer all their questions about suffering. How could a good God allow suffering? I don’t know how to answer that question to the satisfaction of someone who’s struggling with cancer. I mean, I can put it together and I can quote some verses but the real answer to that question is, “Let me tell you a story about a God who’s not immune to suffering but a God who suffered for us and defeated suffering! And if the worst that suffering can do for you is death, what if there’s a God who in the Person of Jesus Christ, defeated death? What if there’s an answer to suffering and death in the resurrection of Christ?” You see, it tells a story. And we’ve got to do that in our evangelism.
And again, you see it in John 1. John the Baptist points out Jesus as the Lamb of God. That’s language out of a story, the story of Passover and the story of sacrificial lambs and the story of the war lamb, the victory lamb who will come in victory over his enemies. Or Andrew, who says, “We’ve found the Messiah,” evoking the hopes and dreams of every Israelite that the promised one would come and deliver his people. Or Philip, in verse 45, “We found him of whom Moses and the Law and the prophets wrote ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”
So one of our tasks in evangelism is to tell the story and here’s the thing I want us to understand, that we can use virtually any story to help us get there. You’re talking about a movie that you love—what’s the basic plot of the movie and how does Jesus fulfill that plot? You talk to somebody who loves overcoming monster movies. And I didn’t mention westerns but it’s the same thing, right? It’s overcoming the villain! Now, why do we love those stories? Well, because we really hope deep in our hearts that good will triumph in the end. And the gospel tells us that it will.
Use the stories to take people to the story of the gospel. Do that in your evangelism.
(3) And then, number three, and finally: worship. We need the mythic elements in our worship. Worship isn’t just about right doctrines, good works, and warm fuzzy feelings. We need our hearts, indeed we need our entire lives, to be recaptured by the story of the gospel.
Do you remember Luke 24? Jesus is resurrected and he encounters two disciples who are walking on the road to Emmaus. And the text tells us that beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Now, they don’t recognize who he is yet. Do you remember what happens? Jesus sits down to eat with them and he breaks bread and then their eyes are opened and they suddenly realize who he is and he vanishes. He disappears. And they say in verse 32, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
Probably the greatest sermon. Wish I could have been there. But, do you know what I think Jesus was doing? I think he was showing them that he was the true and better Isaac and the true and better Moses and true and better David. I think that’s what he was doing. He was showing them the connections between the stories of the Old Testament and himself.
And you and I in worship, must rediscover that burning hearts come from telling and retelling the story of the God-man who came to earth on a hero’s quest to overcome the monsters of sin and evil and awake his beloved from the sleep of death. And if we come on Sunday morning and when we repeat together the Apostle’s Creed, we recognize that we’re not just rehearsing doctrines. We’re telling the story of Jesus who is crucified for us. The story that has utterly life-changing, world-changing implications.
If we could do that. If we could tap into that. If we could somehow recapture the wonder. If we could get that feeling, it’s not just a feeling, but tap into that reality that it’s really true. The story is really true. It really happened. The myth has become fact. That’s the moment where worship happens. And that’s what we do when we come to the table. We come to the table and we tell a story. What’s the story we’re telling? We’re telling the Passover story of how we are spared from death and judgment because of the Passover Lamb who was sacrificed for us. And we’re telling the story of Jesus, the Bread of Life. That if we will eat him, if we will take him, if we will receive him, he’ll give us eternal life. So, let’s pray as we come to the table.
Father, we thank you for the gospel. Thank you for the good news of what Christ has done and what your Spirit continues to do in taking the realities of this wonderful, rich story and applying it to our hearts and to our lives in transforming ways. Would you burn it deep into our hearts this morning. Help us be gripped by the wonder of it all. Let us be deeply moved at the very core of our being that the story is really true. That good will ultimately triumph. That there’s an end to this world’s sorrow and sadness. That evil will be overthrown. That justice will be vindicated. That there is mercy for repentant, broken-hearted sinners. That grace is free. That our Prince has come to wake us from the sleep of death.
And this morning as we take the bread, as we take the juice. As we eat and as we drink, may we do so with believing hearts. Knowing that as we partake Christ and all that he is, so we are nourished through his work and by his Spirit. And may that be so for us this morning. We pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.