So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. (Luke 24:33–35)
There are many things in our daily lives in which we certainly have a choice, but the one thing which is not a matter of personal choice is that of being a witness to Christ. The words of the great commission are as relevant to every believer today as they were to those early Christians. It is a command that has never been rescinded. We are commanded to be a witness to Christ ‘to all the ends of the earth,’ and for those of us who don’t feel confident or able to do so, there is wonderful encouragement in today’s verses. It lies in the simple illustration of breaking bread.
Even when being a witness to Christ, we can look to Him as the perfect example of how this can be achieved.
The story of the two on the road to Emmaus is one of ‘normal’ people, just like you and I, who meet Jesus along the way. It’s true that, at first, they did not really know Him – they didn’t recognise Him for who He really was. Many of us are like that. We know Him in theory. We walk with Him as we would an interesting stranger, one who seems to be going in the same direction, and though we converse, it’s in the manner of those who ‘share space’ rather than with any real intimacy. We have a surface knowledge but remain separate. It is impossible to be a witness to Christ with this kind of relationship. Something needs to happen, to change – to change us, not our circumstances.
The second interesting features is that Jesus expounded the Scripture to them. As they walked, He ‘walked’ them through the entire Bible, explaining the words of the prophets, of Moses and Elijah, and all the other spiritual truths they needed. This is a powerful illustration of the absolute necessity of knowing the Word of God. It’s also a reminder that we need the power of God Himself through His Holy Spirit to be able to understand it. It’s a reminder that simply knowing the Word cannot make us an effective witness to Christ. We need wisdom and discernment, and we need the spiritual understanding that transcends the conventional understanding that comes with simple knowledge.
All too often, we equate a knowledge of the Bible with a knowledge of God. The real truth, however, is that we can come to a place where we can spount the entire Bible, cover to cover, and still not truly know God or understand anything on a spiritual level. Knowledge for it’s own sake is not simply useless, it can also be the greatest hindrance to being an effective witness to Christ. Simply quoting Bible verses without spiritual wisdom, discernment, and understanding makes us little more than ‘Bible punchers.’ It seldom draws people to Jesus. In fact, it has the opposite effect of pushing them away.
One of the most common misconceptions today is that being a witness to Christ is a matter of choice. Many fall back on the old excuse of ‘free will’ and on quoting the well-worn misinterpretation that ‘God will never give us more than we can handle.’ This is, of course, all based on the issue of self and what we are comfortable with. I so often hear people say that speaking out for Jesus is ‘not in my nature,’ that it’s not ‘my personality to witness,’ or that they simply aren’t made to be able to witness. These claims, while they may be founded in fundamental truth, actually contradict the Word of God which commanded us all to ‘go.’ It’s as good a saying that He made a mistake or that He’s wrong.
To grasp this, we must understand that there is an enormous difference between being a witness to Christ and being an evangelist. One is ministry, the other is servanthood. One is a specific calling, the other is a way of life. Whichever way we look at it, however, we need to accept the truth that God will never call us into doing something which we’re able to do in our own strength. Read the Bible from cover to cover, and you will never find a single instance of anyone called to any purpose who did not have to rely completely and utterly on the grace and strength of God to fulfill it. Even for an evangelist, then, which many may regard as a ‘high calling,’ there is a fundamental truth that it may be against their natural inclination, outside of their natural ability, and greater than their natural expectation.
When it comes to being a witness to Christ, this is even more true. We must take hold of the truth that God never intends us to do it in our own strength or ability. We must also accept that it will, more often than not, go against our natural inclination and challenge our natural personality. Being a witness to Christ has nothing at all to do with who or what I am, how knowledgeable I am about the Bible, and whether or not I feel like doing it. It is a command. Period. This may be a daunting truth, but God has, in His mercy and grace, made a way.
Today’s verse highlights this for us. If we look back a couple of verses, we’ll see that the two only recognised Jesus when He broke bread. This is powerful. It was only once He revealed Himself that they abandoned their journey, packed up, and hurried back to Jerusalem. Remember, they had camped for the night, and had invited the ‘stranger’ to stay with them. They had no intention of going back. But when Jesus revealed Himself, something changed within them. This is the ‘key’ to being a witness to Christ. It can only happen effectively when He reveals Himself to us.
To understand this a little better, we must look at another startling truth – the way in which He revealed Himself. It wasn’t by revealing His power and glory, by revealing His victory on the cross, or by some miracle or wonder. It was by the simple action of breaking bread. What Jesus was revealing in that moment was His servanthood. He was reminding them that He was broken in order to be shared. That is our purpose – to share Jesus. At the moment of revelation, these two simple men were utterly changed from interested commpanions to vital, committed witnessess. To be an effective witness to Christ, we need this simple revelation that has the power to utterly transform us.
If we struggle to be a witness to Christ, let us take hold of the encouragement offered to us today. If we look, we will find all we need to fulfill the final command of Jesus. First, we are not required to do it in our own strength. Jesus showed us very clearly that it’s a matter of servanthood – a willing heart, a heart able to identify with His being broken for us all. Second, we must be willing to walk with Him on the road. Third, we must listen to the voice of the Spirit as He expounds the Scripture and teaches us spiritual truths, wisdom and understanding.
But above all, Jesus showed us that He would reveal Himself. This should be the desire of every believer. We should set aside our natural inclinations and our misconceptions and accept that being a witness for Christ is not a choice, and that it has nothing at all to do with what we are able to achieve in and of ourselves. It has nothing to do with our gifts and talents and individual personality. It has everything to do with the nature of Christ.
Being a witness to Christ follows automatically after a revelation of Christ. If we desire to be obedient to the great commission, if we desire to obey Jesus because we love Him, we need only to earnestly pray that He would reveal Himself to us as He did to these two men. That is the path to transforming power. We will find that self no longer has any say. Being a witness to Christ will become the single most important thing we could ever do. In a single moment of every day, this will be our heart’s desire. It is a spiritual desire, something that transcends the shallow protests of natural self and releases us into our daily purpose.
God’s grace is beyond measure, and we will find it in the most unexpected places. Let us seek Him for courage to set aside our worldly limitations and desire the right revelation of Him. He will be quick to respond, and will empower us to be a witness for Christ in everything we do, think, and say. It’s not about ‘me’ but about Him, and that alone should encourage us to reach beyond ourselves. Jesus was broken so He could be shared to ‘all the ends of the earth.’ Our purpose is simply to share Him. If your heart is willing, He will reveal Himself to you too.
Sweet Saviour, thank You for Your love and grace, for Your patience with our humanity. Touch our hearts today and stir a willingness to share You. Grant us a revelation of You, not the hype and emotional eexcess of the world, but a real revelation that transforms and empowers us to obedience.