Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Luke 24:29b-35, where the Bible tells of these events after Jesus had walked to Emmaus with two of His followers on the evening of His resurrection:    

So, [Jesus] went in to stay with them. 30 When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” 33 And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.



What a Bible study it must have been that day! On the road to Emmaus, Jesus ROOTED those disciples in the firm promises of the Bible that had come to fruition in Him. Even more, Jesus set their hearts on fire by anchoring their faith in Him in all things (verse 32). That’s a fire which comes from God’s love and grace through faith in the Son of God. It comes from knowing that God’s OFFER OF LIFE AND SALVATION IN JESUS BURNS, BUT DOES NOT DESTROY. INSTEAD IT EMPOWERS US AND SETS OUR LIVES ON FIRE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, BOTH NOW AND IN OUR ETERNITY WITH HIM.

In my work in Washington D.C., I see a lot of passion around town. There are people who are passionate for this policy or that legislation. There are people who think that if we just “restructure” the government correctly, then all of our problems would be solved. (That’s definitely not me!) Then there are people who are passionate about their jobs, their hobbies, or their families. These can all be good, but they must never be the ULTIMATE THING in our lives. Passion, even for the good things in life, must be rooted in the fire that comes by faith in Jesus. Then the fire of our Spirit-inspired passions, rooted in and refreshed by God’s Word and Sacraments, will not devour us. Instead, they will “burn” in us in a way that empowers our lives as Jesus’ disciples and fuels our love for others in His Name.

Jesus speaks bluntly about the things that naturally burn in our corrupted, selfish, and sinful hearts. “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man” (Matthew 15:19-20). Even worse, such fires can blind us to the love that God has for us in Jesus. They can blind us to the wisdom of God’s Word for our lives and for the lives of those whom we love. The passionate fires of sin and rebellion may seem fulfilling for a time, but those which go contrary to His Word only seek to disconnect us from Jesus and ultimately destroy life.

If you have been singed by those fires or if they are burning out of your control in your life today, hear the good news of this text. Even amidst the fires of hopelessness, ignorance, or unbelief, Jesus comes with the fires of God’s Law to call you to repentance and then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to open your heart to His grace, forgiveness, life, and salvation, even delivering such gifts to you at the table of His Supper. Then the fire of God’s Gospel promise in Christ burns brightly to help you battle the fires of sin and temptation in your life.

So the question posed by this text today is, “What makes your heart burn?” When it’s the Word of Scripture seeking to deepen your faith in your Savior Jesus Christ, that’s an empowering fire, not a devouring one. When life is continually resourced by the fires of God’s Word in the enduring promises of the waters of Baptism and at the Table of the Lord, that’s a heavenly heartburn which offers grace through faith in Jesus. It is sure to not only bless you, but to bless others through you. May that blessing be yours today in Christ as it was for those who walked with Him so long ago and recognized Him in the “breaking of the Bread” (verse 35).

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, open my eyes to see the empowering fire of Your Word as it creates and strengthens my faith in You. Then give me courage to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) with the passion and the humility that comes from receiving the blessings of Your Word by grace through faith. AMEN.

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