Preparing the ground for God’s word
Taking more out of a divine service is a lesson we learn from a biblical divine service: the encounter of the Emmaus disciples with the risen Jesus. What can believers learn from this today? Here is a divine service about a divine service.
“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” This Bible text from Luke 24: 27 was the focus of a divine service in Trebaseleghe (Italy) on 22 April 2018.
“The Bible text is taken from the account of the Emmaus disciples’ encounter with the risen Christ,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained. Jesus was dead. The disciples had not lost their faith, but they were very sad and disappointed. “They felt alone and forlorn.”
“They met the Risen One and He comforted them.” He reminded them of what was written in the Old Testament. He drew their attention to God’s plan of salvation—from Moses to the prophets—and explained that all the things referring to Him had already been foretold. “Later, when the Lord had supper with them and He broke the bread, God opened their eyes and they recognised Jesus.”
Following the example of the Emmaus disciples
“We can understand the thoughts and feelings of the disciples,” the Chief Apostle said. “We too, are often discouraged and sad because we see that evil still has great power. We are disappointed because our wishes and expectations have not been fulfilled. Sometimes we feel alone and forsaken.”
“We meet the Lord in the divine service, and He wants to comfort us. We do not see Him as a person, but recognise Him through the words that are preached by a human being.” It will be easier for us if a certain condition is fulfilled, he said, referring to the Emmaus disciples: they were well-versed in the scriptures, and Jesus was able to build on this knowledge.
Preparing for and following up a divine service
“We must be familiar with the Bible. It is important that we regularly read the Bible,” the Chief Apostle said. “It is important and useful to prepare for the sermon and to follow up on it afterwards by reading in the Bible; that is our job.” Because knowing the Bible
- … creates security and comfort,
- … reinforces the sermon and increases its effectiveness,
- … helps us to recognise mindsets that are incompatible with the gospel.
“If someone disappoints you, take five minutes and read about how Jesus was disappointed and how he reacted. When He was treated unfairly, His prayers were not answered, and His wishes were not fulfilled—we can read about His reactions in these situations. And read a few lines about how He treated sinners. That is how we want to become. That is how we want to act—like Jesus Christ.”
The effects of the proclamation of the word
The risen Lord’s encounter with the Emmaus disciples also demonstrates what happens during the proclamation of the word. The Holy Spirit
- reveals God’s plan of salvation: “The greatest miracle is God’s grace and our election. He wants to draw you into His fellowship with His love.”
- proves that God is in control: “The things that happen today have been foreseen and foretold. Never fear! God will protect us.”
- reminds us of the divine promises: “God watches over His small flock to whom He wants to give His kingdom. The Lord Jesus promised that His strength is made perfect in weakness.”
- points out what Jesus expects from the believers. “Unity was his most fervent desire. If we understand that, we will manage to overcome all the problems that can come up in a congregation.”
The high point as a turning point
The story of the Emmaus disciples even reflects the high point of the divine service: “This is the experience of Holy Communion,” the Chief Apostle pointed out. “It is not just a ceremony. For at that very moment we experience the presence of the Son of God. He is here, right next to you.”
“Let us take the trouble and get to know the Bible better so that the Holy Spirit can build on our knowledge in the sermon and thereby strengthen and comfort us through the word,” the Chief Apostle asked the congregation in conclusion. “May everyone experience the presence of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. And then let us follow the example of the Emmaus disciples, who immediately turned around and testified, “Jesus lives, we met Him.”