When Jesus Led A Small Group

By Ryan Sanders
In Home Groups
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On the very day that Jesus rose from the dead, he led a small group. The story is recorded in the 24th chapter of Luke. Two men were leaving (fleeing?) Jerusalem for a nearby town called Emmaus when Jesus showed up and joined their journey. The men didn’t realize that it was the resurrected son of God walking with them. They also didn’t realize that they were unintentionally setting a model for small group discipleship for generations to come. But this little knot of three men did three things that are vital to the success of any small group.

First, they opened the scriptures together. Verse 27 says, "And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself.” I have learned from some pretty great Bible teachers, but wouldn’t this take the cake? The Messiah himself explaining his place in the Old Testament? That’s a small group I would love to join! 

Notice that even Jesus brought the scriptures into focus in this group. We don’t know whether he unrolled a scroll or just recited passages that he knew by heart, but Jesus directed attention to the written word. Don’t miss that: the incarnate Word of God explained the written word of God. Jesus was the author and embodiment of the Hebrew scriptures. He didn’t need to cite any sources for his message other than himself. But even he directed the attention of this small group to the Good Book. 

Our desire is for every IBCer to be part of a small group of people who gather around the word of God. When you sit in a circle with the scriptures open you invite the resurrected Jesus to show himself. When the word of God and the people of God gather, the presence of God is made manifest.

Secondly, these men learned from Jesus while they were literally on their way through life. We don’t know exactly why these two men were going to Emmaus. They might have had business there. Or they might have been fleeing Jerusalem where the followers of Jesus were facing a threatening and uncertain future. But whatever the case, Jesus met them on the road and walked with them. He did not block the path and interrupt their journey. He did not say, “I know you have a business trip today, but I need you to cancel it and do this Bible study.” Of course, Jesus could do such a thing (just ask Paul) but in this case, he discipled these men as he went along with them, shoulder-to-shoulder, on their way through life. 

Small group discipleship takes a huge step forward when it stops being just a meeting on the calendar. When the lessons and issues of Bible study extend outside of an hour on Sunday morning. When we begin to “do life” with our fellow disciples in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus walked alongside these brothers; we should do the same. 

Finally, it’s important to note the setting when this little Bible study reached its climax — at a meal. When Jesus blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to these men, they realized that they had been doing something more supernatural than debating religion. They had been in the presence of God. I think it’s interesting that these men didn’t recognize Jesus in the lecture or on their walk, but at a table. I believe Jesus still shows up at tables. When the people of God feed their bodies together, there is something in the meeting that feeds our souls as well. And more times than not the presence of God surprises us after the fact. After the bread is broken and the scriptures are read and prayers are offered and hearts are lightened, then we look at each other and say, “What just happened? I think God was here!” 

Jesus, the Word of God became Christ the Bread of life to sustain us on the journey of discipleship. Thus it was on the day of his resurrection. Thus it will ever be. As you meet with your Home Group, Life Group, First Watch table, Women’s Bible Study table, Bible Community table, or neighborhood group this week, let’s try to follow the example of that early small group of Jesus followers on the road to Emmaus, and see if Jesus himself doesn’t show up.

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