If you’re like me, you don’t like when you run out of something … gas in your car, money in your bank account … or cookies in your cupboard!  In general, we would say that empty is not a good thing.  But what happens when we feel empty, inside? Then it’s a bit more serious – you begin to lose hope.  You may even stop trying. You find yourself saying things like, “well, it is what it is.” With that you’re saying it’s never going to change. It’s always going to be this way. You’ve lost hope. And when you lose hope, you feel empty inside.

Following Jesus’ crucifixion, two of his disciples were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  It appears that they have lost hope, because they say:

“but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.” – Luke 24:21

They had such high expectations. They had all these ideas about what Jesus was going to do. But those hopes were buried with Jesus in the tomb. You’ve no doubt been there. Maybe you are right now? When life doesn’t turn out the way that you thought it was going to or you have high expectations for things and then they don’t come true, you run the risk of losing hope. And when you lose hope you feel empty inside.

So empty’s not a good thing. Unless, unless it is the tomb that once held the body of Jesus Christ. Then empty is the greatest thing that ever happened to mankind and the greatest thing that happened to you. Because if the tomb is empty that means that Jesus is alive. And if Jesus is alive, that means that you can have HOPE …

1. Hope because Jesus listens.

Famed author Steven Covey says this,

being listened to is the psychological equivalent of air. It is the deepest hunger of the human heart.” – Steven Covey

We want to be heard. We want somebody else to empathize with us. The truth is, we have a Lord who listens!  Look at the disciples going from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Jesus joins them on the journey. And what is the first thing that He does? He listens to them. He asks what they’re talking about.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” – Luke 24:17

And He listens even as they say to Him,

“are you the only one in Jerusalem that doesn’t know what’s been happening around here?” – Luke 24:18

He loves them enough to listen to them. And He listens to you too! He invites you to talk to Him:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Why not set some time aside to talk to Jesus today?  He’s waiting for you to come to Him.  He’s listening!

2. Hope through the teaching of Jesus.

Often we lose hope because we’ve lost perspective.  We don’t see things correctly.  Things didn’t turn out the way we wanted, and now we just don’t see another option.  This is exactly what happened to the disciples.  They had hoped that Jesus was going to lead Israel in a rebellion against Rome … and then they’d crown Him King!  But their perspective was all wrong. That’s why Jesus said to them:

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” – Luke 24:25

In other words, He’s saying, “You don’t get it. You’re slow of heart.” In other words, your emotions are getting in the way. Your frustration and disappointment is getting in the way of you seeing anything other than what you expected to happen. And then what does Jesus do? Jesus teaches them …

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. – Luke 24:27

He opened up for them a new perspective. And it gave them hope!

“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” ­– Luke 24:32

Jesus wants to give you a new perspective too.  He says:

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:29

What is it that you need to learn from Jesus?  Is it patience?  Perseverance? Boldness? Perhaps He just wants to strengthen your faith.  Don’t lose hope.  Let Jesus teach you! … and the best way to do that is by opening His Word.

3. Hope because Jesus is present.

There’s nothing worse than the sinking feeling of isolation.  It can be as painful as actual physical pain – that feeling that you’re all alone.  (That’s why the most extreme punishment of inmates in prison is some form of isolation or solitary confinement.)  When you feel that you’ve got to face things all by yourself, then you’re isolated and it saps your hope. But you are not alone! Neither were the disciples walking along the road to Emmaus.  The Bible tells us,

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him … – Luke 24:30-31a

Much like the famous “Footprints” poem, they were not alone – Jesus had been with them the whole time. And He’s been with you the whole time too; whatever you’re going through.

What’s more, Jesus chose to reveal Himself to the disciples while He was breaking bread with them. Likewise, He reveals Himself to us when we receive the Lord’s Supper and is really present with us in that meal. Why not experience the presence of Jesus in Holy Communion sometime soon?

If you find yourself discouraged and needing hope, come to Jesus and tell Him what’s on your heart.  Then listen to Him as He teaches you a new perspective on things.  Learn from Him to see things as He does.  Things are not what they seem – whether it’s the situations of your life, or the empty tomb.  And because of that – you can be filled with HOPE!

Pray: Lord Jesus, we look to the empty tomb and we know that you are alive … and living for all eternity.  We thank and praise you that you’re always there to listen to us when we call to you.  Thank you that you let us pour our hearts out to you, and you hear whatever is on our heart and mind.  Thank you that through your Word you teach us – and that through it we know your presence with us. Thank you that you come to us in your Word and Sacrament and also through other believers – the Body of Christ.  Through your presence, your teaching and your listening, please fill us with hope in you.  In Your Name we pray.  Amen.

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