Lenten Day 45: Thick Heads and Slow Hearts.

Good Friday-Today’s Lectio Divina: Luke 24: 17-26 (MsgB)

He (Jesus) asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?” They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?” He said, “What has happened?” They said, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed Him, got Him sentenced to death, and crucified Him. And we had our hopes up that He was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find His body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.” Then He said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into His glory?”

A pattern is starting to develop here.

It’s an ugly pattern we addressed just a couple of sessions earlier, but from what Luke tells us in his gospel, it’s becoming quite an epidemic.

Thick-headedness. Slow-heartedness.

Apparently, the first-century followers of Jesus have got it really bad. And it’s spreading like wildfire.

First, we find this new case of thick heads and slow hearts popping up at the tomb on Sunday morning. Some of the women were heading there to finish up the burial procedures left undone on late Friday afternoon. Jewish law prohibits any work of any kind on the Sabbath, so with such a last-minute burial right before sundown on Friday, Sunday morning is the first opportunity for Mary Magdalene and several of her friends to proceed to the gravesite. And let’s be honest here, none of them are going to the tomb with any expectancy of finding a resurrected Jesus. Thick heads and slow hearts prevail.

Next, Luke shows us Peter and the rest of the disciples swimming in their well-developed case of thick-headedness and slow heartedness. From everything we read, these guys have it much worse than the women. Even when the ladies do their best to tell the disciples about the visitation of the two angels, bringing reports that Jesus is alive, none of them will have anything to do with it. They’ve got it bad. Really bad!

Keep in mind that these stubborn, self-sufficient men have a long history of being highly susceptible to this virus of thick-headedness and slow-heartedness. On numerous occasions as these guys walked with Jesus, there are constant signs that this bug has been with them for a long, long time.

Jesus calls his friends on the carpet on many occasions, diagnosing their ailment with amazing accuracy. “O you of little faith” was a common title Jesus gave His followers. And from everything we read in the gospels, their disease takes a real turn for the worse during the final days of Jesus’ life in Jerusalem. By early Friday morning, as the sun rises, most of Jesus’ followers are so overwhelmed by their sickness; they don’t even show up for work. Peter is the only one who pulls himself out of bed to be there with Jesus. But as we all know, a severe attack of this disease hits him in the courtyard and suddenly he is delirious. This attack is so bad; he apparently can’t even remember anything about himself, or Jesus as well!

Now, here we are on Sunday afternoon on the Road to Emmaus. Two of Jesus’ disciples have apparently heard the reports of Jesus’ resurrection from the women and it makes them so sick to their stomachs, they leave Jerusalem, deciding to take a seven-mile hike to the little town of Emmaus. Maybe they hope a breath of fresh air will clear their heads. But alas, the thick-headedness and slow-heartedness follows them like a cloud. And the fog is so deep they can’t even recognize familiar faces.

And then Jesus, the best doctor the world has ever known, steps onto this road to Emmaus and quickly diagnoses their fatal disease. As we’ve said, it’s not too hard to spot. And Luke, being a good doctor himself, knows full well that Jesus spots their problem as soon as he begins chatting with Cleopas and his friend.

Thick minds. Slow hearts. A disease that has been the most common ailment amongst earth-dwellers from day one. Today the epidemic has now become a worldwide pandemic. And like most serious diseases, it can quickly become fatal if not treated properly.

As I see it, the cure comes in becoming like a Kingdom child. Jesus put it this way, unless you become like a child, having innocent faith and a firm belief in the basic nature of good, no one will be able to escape the virus of thick-headedness and slow-heartedness. Untreated, our thick heads and slow hearts will continue to grow in size, eventually overtaking our lives in ways too horrible to mention here.

What a tragedy. Yet, as we’ll see with these guys on the road to Emmaus, this disease can be treated quite easily, especially if we choose to hang around Jesus, the Good Doctor.

My prayer: Lord, the virus of thick-headedness and slow-heartedness has been in my life for much of my adulthood. Thank You that You are able to spot it quickly and offer me Your sure-fire remedy. May I be wise enough to take the medicine You offer, so this fatal disease not shipwreck my faith and my life in You. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: What symptoms of a thick mind and slow heart are evident in my life today? Have I been complacent, allowing myself to be infected by this pandemic that thrives all around me? What pro-active steps can I take to become more like a Kingdom child, allowing Jesus to unclog my thick head and release Holy Spirit vibrancy into my slow-beating heart?

So, what are you experiencing today as we are journeying through this Lenten Adventure?

Over a 48-day period (from Ash Wednesday through the Monday after Easter), you and I will be taking a deeper look at the stories surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus (especially the last week known as Holy Week) as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Our Lenten Journey home page for ease of use. 

If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!

Click here to go onto the next Lenten session…

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