Komm, Herr Jesu, sei unser Gast, und segne was Du uns bescherret hast. Amen.
That was one of the first prayers I learned when I was boy. Many of you learned it, too. Some even learned it the same way I did, but most of you learned its English form. Since my father grew up speaking German in a very German home, he, of course, had to teach us the German form. Do you know what it is in English?
I know you know it, because we say it frequently downstairs or in the fellowship hall, and I've heard it in your homes. It's this: “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen.” That version is very close to the German – just a little different. If you were to translate the German form more literally, it might read: Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and bless what you have gifted us.” It emphasizes a little bit more the activity of the Lord Jesus as the Giver. It's His act of blessing and His gracious act of giving that puts these things before us.
Whoever first penned that prayer seems to have had this text in mind. Towards the end we read: “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if He were going farther. But they urged Him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So He turned aside from the road and went into the house with them. Next we see them sitting down to eat. Jesus took the bread, blessed it, and gave it to them. See the connection? “Come, be our guest, and bless what you gift to us.”
What a wonderful privilege those disciples had; they had Jesus as their giving guest! What a wonderful blessing they enjoyed; He bestowed His gifts upon them. And His gifts that evening were much more than bread for the body; His greater gift was the food He gave their souls. They needed it! Boy, they needed it badly!
And so do we! With them may we ever pray (and not just at the table): Lord Jesus , Come; Stay with Us. Stay with Us…
I. …for our walk in life is often a sad one.
How do times of sadness affect you? If something goes wrong in your life, do you want people around you, or do you want to be left alone? I used to prefer to be left alone, to deal with my sadness in solitude because it was easier that way; it was quieter and I didn't have to bother anybody else.
There is some benefit in such solitude. On the other hand, if a person shuts himself off from others, he can't possibly receive the help and support that they might give him. No man is an island to himself and can exist in his own little world. If he thinks he can, he will have problems. Like last week's Gospel on Thomas and his doubts, the story in our text today serves to illustrate some of these same truths on a spiritual plane.
On the afternoon of that first Easter, two of Jesus' disciples were on their way home to a village called Emmaus, about 7 miles from Jerusalem. That would be about the distance from Zion to the Battlefield Mall or from Peace to the Exotic Animal Paradise - not too far – perhaps a little over an hour and half walk. But I'll bet it took them a lot longer that day, for it was anything but an enjoyable walk. The two of them couldn't forget all that had happened in the last few days, things that caused them such sadness and distress.
As they were walking, a stranger joined them on the way. But it really wasn't a stranger; it was the risen Lord Jesus, the very person on whom their discussion centered. Wow! How thrilled they must have been, right? Overjoyed to know that their good friend was alive! But they weren't happy; they didn't even recognize Him.
Now you tell me, friends, how could that be? How could these disciples not recognize the Lord Jesus, with whom they had been and talked so often?
Some say that God kept them from recognizing Jesus. Others say that their grief was so great that they couldn't see Him clearly through tear-filled eyes. That's possible, I suppose. But does God hide Himself from anyone, let alone those who follow Him? And don't people recognize their friends, even if they should be crying heavily? Tears don't blind a person that much. I guess such things are possible, but it could be that another answer to their “blindness” is found in the words Jesus spoke later when He lamented, “How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”
Slowness of heart to believe is what blinds people to the Lord Jesus; unbelief keeps a person from recognizing Him.
How sad that close disciples should rob themselves of a joy that could have been theirs. The Savior had risen, just like He promised! But they were depressed. It wasn't God who made their walk in life a sad one; it was they who did it to themselves, for they were “slow of heart to believe” what God had promised.
Why can we be so afraid to take God at His Word? Why are we so slow of heart to trust Him? Unbelief causes us such problems.
Of this the story is told of a weary traveler in the early days of our country coming to the banks of the Mississippi River for the first time. It was the dead of winter and there was no bridge. The surface of the mighty stream was covered with ice. Could he dare cross over? Would the uncertain ice bear his weight?
Night was falling and it was urgent that he reach the other side. Finally, after much hesitation and with many fears, he got down on his hands and knees and began to creep cautiously across the surface of the ice. About halfway across, he heard the sound of singing behind him. Out of the dusk came another man, driving a four-horse load of coal across the ice and singing merrily as he went his way. Here he was on hands and knees, trembling lest the ice not be strong enough to hold him up. And there, as if whisked away by the wind, went the other man, horses, sleigh, and load of coal – upheld by the ice on which he skeptically crept.
Some learn to creep cautiously upon the Word of God, as though the lightness of their steps might make His promises more secure. Others are “slow of heart to believe,” if they recall His words at all. The result? Sadness, fear, a downcast spirit, feelings of hopelessness (v.17,21), symptoms displayed by these two. Jesus did not mince His words when He addressed them. He said, “How foolish you are! Haven't you read the Bible? Don't you know that God's prophets said that all these things would happen to Christ for your sake so that He could redeem you?” And then He told them again everything that the Bible said about His death and resurrection for sin, and the eternal promises of life in His name. All Scriptures point to Him (v.27) and His saving work on behalf of people. And so He comforted their hearts that were slow to believe.
Dear friend, is your own walk in life often a sad one? That's not God's fault; it's yours for He has given you countless promises in His Word, highlighted by forgiveness and life in Him. Don't be foolish and slow of heart to believe, but be quick to pray: “ Lord Jesus, Come and Stay with Us for our walk in life is often a sad one of our own making. This is our sin. When we falter, forgive us for Your name's sake, enable us to hold fast to Your Word and to take it in with pure hearts. In that…
II. …You will open our eyes and cheer our hearts to see You. So, come, Lord Jesus , stay with us and bless us with your gifts.”
As the three walkers arrived at their destination, Jesus acted as though He were going further. But His two companions would not hear of it. I should say! - they didn't want Him to go away. He had so lifted their hearts by reminding them of all the things God had promised about the Savior. So they urged Him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” And Jesus turned in with them.
What a wonderful privilege those disciples had. They were able to say to the Lord face-to-face, “Come, be our guest. Stay with us.” It isn't that much different from what we say in our prayers, except we know whom we are addressing; they didn't fully understand yet. But as He did what they asked, what a wonderful gift they got.
He did what He always does. As they sat to eat, He blessed their food and extended His hand of blessing to give it to them. In that gracious act He opened their eyes and cheered their hearts to see Him as the risen Savior. It's exactly what He wanted them to see and wanted to give them – Himself.
It really shouldn't surprise us that He did all this for His desire is to be with His people at all times that He might bless them with His presence. Wherever just two or three come together in His name, there He is in their midst (Mt.18:20) He's on duty day and night till the end of the world (Mt.28:20).
And if that's not enough, He stays with us through His holy angels to watch over, to guard, and to keep us from all harm.
He comes through Word and Sacrament to feed our souls with the assurance of His forgiveness.
He comes to give us our daily bread.
And when the day of our present lives is almost over, and night-time draws near, He will come again to receive to Himself all who believe in Him as the risen Savior. In all these ways and more He opens our eyes and cheers our hearts to see Him.
We want Him as the unseen guest at our tables. We want Him to walk with us through life through the good and the sad, and so, through the power of His resurrection, to give us comfort and hope always. So it is that we pray, whether in English or German or Spanish or Chinese: Komm, Herr Jesu, sei unser Gast; und segne was Du uns bescherret hast. Amen.
God grant it to us for Jesus' sake. Amen.