Our text for this morning immediately follows the
account of the resurrection we heard earlier from the 24th chapter
of Luke’s gospel. Beginning
with verse 13, Luke introduces us to two individuals who had followed Jesus and were devoted to him, but who were
not part of the 12 disciples.
Luke records, “13
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15
While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16
But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
he said to them, “What is this conversation
that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18
Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus
of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20
and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be
condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.
Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some
women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,
when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of
angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those
who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow
of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to
them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if
he were going farther,
they urged him strongly, saying,
“Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he
went in to stay with them.
he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke
it and gave it to them.
their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished
from their sight.
said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn
within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us
the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned
to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34
saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
This is such a fascinating story in part because it’s riddled with dramatic
about it. Here
are these two people (at least one of them
was a man, Cleopas—the other
we know nothing about) are walking on the road to Emmaus and according
to Luke, they are having a lively discussion about the
events of the past few days.
Then, appearing more or less out of nowhere, Jesus makes his first post resurrection
appearance in Luke’s gospel. The angels at the tomb had told the
women of Jesus’ resurrection, but this is the first we see of the
resurrected Christ in Luke. But
the tension of this disclosure remains because he doesn’t immediately
make himself known. We
don’t know how long he kept his identity from these two, but it could
have been a few of hours depending on how detailed his explanation of the
Old Testament was.
That tension is heightened because we know that these
men are clearly sad about what has happened.
It says in verse 17 they were
“looking sad.” Jesus allows
these clearly distraught and perplexed people to remain in that condition
for awhile. He
listens to them pour out their
hearts about the earth-shattering disappointments they
and many others had recently experienced.
He hears them relate this strange
report of an empty tomb and angelic proclamation, which clearly had not erased their
during all this, he’s playing dumb when he is the One at the
epicenter of all this. After
he rebukes them for their
unbelief and takes them on what must have been an unforgettable walk
through the Old Testament, he ratchets up the
tension one more notch when he feigns a need to journey farther and
separate from them.
He consents to join them only
after they strongly urge him to stay with them. Then, as the
story climaxes and he finally reveals himself to them and they
recognize him, he immediately vanishes. They had no chance to celebrate with him or worship him--he supernaturally
Some might accuse Luke of being unnecessarily dramatic in how he tells this
we come to stories in the Scripture like this with some curiosity
about them, we should ask, why?
First, out of all the people Jesus
could have chosen to disclose himself to, why does he appear to these
two thoroughly nondescript people? They were alone and out in the middle of
were not in the top tier of disciples—they
were not part of the 12. One of them
is never even explicitly named in Scripture and this is the one and
only appearance Cleopas ever makes on the stage of divine revelation. Their inclusion in
the story would have made much more sense if they
had brought this final, definitive resurrection evidence back to the
12 apostles. That’s
not their role. When they rush back to Jerusalem
to tell them they’d seen
the risen Christ, they end
up being scooped. Simon
had already seen Jesus alive from the grave.
Why? Why this story—why these people? Why the
don’t pretend to know all the answers, but this morning, I’d like
to give three reasons for this story from the text.
The first reason is because:
risen Christ by placing on display his sovereign authority over these
of the tensions are resolved when you see it from this perspective. It’s clear that Luke
wants us to see that when the risen Christ makes his first resurrection
appearance, he has made a dramatic break from his role as the silent
Lamb, seemingly victimized by his circumstances.
This is no victim--this is the
risen King who is absolute Master of every circumstance. We see this in his supernatural appearance and disappearance.
Jesus is no longer even held by the natural laws that he voluntarily
submitted to before and during his passion.
He is not bound by space or walls--he does whatever he pleases without bowing
to the physical laws of the
The fact that Jesus has authority even over the
precise moment when these two recognize him is a powerful display of
his authority when you think about it. This is a miracle in and of itself.
Think about it—these two men
would have been quite ready to recognize Jesus at this point.
They WANTED to see him.
They had been crushed by the
events of the past three days and they
had heard this strange but hopeful report from the women about angels
and an empty tomb. They
weren’t totally buying it because the one decisive piece of empirical
evidence had yet to surface—the risen Christ himself had not appeared. They had to be looking
for him in some sense. Notice,
Luke helps us to see into their sense of growing anticipation by including
this tidbit in verse 21 where they say, “Yes,
and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.” That observation is
not simply the product of counting the
days since the crucifixion.
They had remembered at least some sort of prophecy about Jesus rising on
the third day. Couple that with this strange empty tomb report and their
own deep need to see Jesus and that was enough right there to easily
see and recognize Jesus. But there’s another
reason why they absolutely would have recognized Jesus had he not in
his sovereign authority prevented this.
Perhaps most remarkably, they
hear Jesus give this ground breaking, heart warming exposition of the
Old Testament on the necessity of the
crucifixion of the Messiah and how all of Scripture pointed to Jesus. Even with that, Luke
makes it clear that these two never connect the
dots between the great Teacher, Jesus and this great Teacher. Who else could teach
they heard the report of
the resurrected Christ from the
women, their “faith-drenched” response in verse 11 was, “…these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” Those distraught men were clearly in no position to teach on the
necessity of the crucifixion of Jesus.
The point is--Luke clearly reveals two men who were absolutely set up to
make an instantaneous, positive identification of Jesus Christ if he showed up.
But Jesus, in his sovereign majesty trumps all of that and they
discover his identity at precisely the moment he sovereignly chooses
and not one second before. Finally,
when Jesus has done all he needs to do here—without warning or permission, he vanishes without a trace. The point again is
to communicate—this is the risen Christ. He is finished with
his redemptive work in submitting himself to human authority to the
point of death on a cross—now, Luke places his brazenly sovereign authority on display.
A second reason I think this story was included is because: It
powerfully displays the
authority of the
you’re here today and think, as many people do today-- something like, “I
deeply admire Jesus, but you can have all this business about the Bible—this ancient book having absolute authority over
If that’s the way you feel, I
hope you will especially attend to this truth Luke presents.
Luke presents Jesus giving what could scarcely be a more powerful testimony
to the absolute authority of Scripture over all things, including his
own life and mission. After
these two share their hearts
about what has happened and why they feel so sad and perplexed, Jesus
rebukes them harshly.
foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe the report of these women who told you of the resurrection.” No, that’s not what
it says. “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe a report
by sinless angels.”
That’s not why Jesus rebukes these
says, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken!” Then, he explains why
the Messiah had to suffer and die, but he doesn’t speak off the
he teaches them from the
Bible—the Old Testament.
“He interpreted to them in all the
Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
It’s interesting to compare this story with Luke’s account of the
angels’ testimony to the women at the
empty tomb. The
angels rebuke these women for even being at the
in the chapter in verse five, they
ask these women, “Why do
you seek the living among the dead?
He is not here, but has risen.
Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee that the Son of Man must be delivered
into the hands of sinful men and be
crucified and on the third day rise.” When
the angels confront these
women, they ground their
rebuke in the fact that Jesus
had told them of his resurrection on the third day. But when these
two men, who also knew about the third day, are rebuked by Jesus, he
cites an authority Luke clearly pictures as being equal to Jesus’ own.
He doesn’t say, “Remember
what Jesus told you... about the third day resurrection.” Instead, he cites
the authority of the prophets
who predicted these events in what we call the
Old Testament. When
you compare the two accounts, Luke has a point to make. That is: you are just
as guilty of unbelief if you fail to believe the prophets as you are
if you fail to believe Jesus. Luke
places them on the same
level of authority.
We see this same deference to the
authority of Scripture when Jesus later appears before the twelve. Notice where Jesus
grounds his authority when he explains to his apostles what has happened.
Verse 44 says, “Then he said to
them, “These are my words that
I spoke to you while
I was still with you, that everything
written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” He says in effect,
“I told you that my life and ministry
must be circumscribed by the prophecies in the Bible including my death and resurrection.” Do
you hear what he does there?
He bases his authority in himself quoting the
Old Testament. So,
if we take Luke’s accounts as a whole, first we see the angels quoting
as the authority on the resurrection. Then, Jesus cites
and teaches the Bible as
his authority to the two on the
road to Emmaus. Finally, to his apostles--Jesus quotes himself
Bible as authoritative.
Do you see the point? Luke’s burden is to
show us that Jesus places the teachings of Scripture on the
same level of authority as his own. The template of his entire life and ministry was the
prophecies of Scripture. Finally,
when Jesus teaches his own 12 disciples about his death and resurrection, notice how he does that in verse 45,
“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”
He takes away the veil that had
kept them from understanding and believing the
witness of the
Scripture concerning himself.
Do you see now how inconsistent it is to on the
one hand say, “I admire Jesus, but the
Bible—that’s some ancient, irrelevant book that has no authority over me!” Anyone who believes that doesn’t know much about the
Jesus of the Bible because Jesus quoted the
Bible like a fundamentalist preacher and cited it as an eternal authority, not only on his life, but on all things. A second reason for
this text is that it powerfully displays the authority of Scripture.
A third reason for inclusion of this story in Luke’s gospel is: It glorifies the
risen Christ by exhibiting the
central place he occupies within God’s redemptive plan.
One of the most important verses
in all of Scripture for understanding the big picture message of the
Bible is verse 27. Jesus
is proving to these two people on the
road to Emmaus that the painful events of the
past few days were necessary. Then
Luke explains, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Jesus
does what must have been a phenomenal survey of the Old Testament and
teaches these two that all of it—the
contents of the entire Old Testament orbit around him—it all pointed
to him. What’s
more, he showed them that the
absolute climax—the defining moment of all Biblical history had occurred
in the past three days in his own death and resurrection. To claim to be at
the very center of Biblical revelation is some claim to make, but he
makes it on more than one occasion. In John chapter five, Jesus is in dialogue with the
crooked religious leaders of his day, the Pharisees and he says to them,
search the Scriptures because you think
that in them you have eternal life; and
it is they that bear witness about me,” He
points out the enormous irony of what these
teachers are doing as he says in effect—“you
are turning your back on me as the source of eternal life in favor of the
Scriptures, but the
Scriptures are all about me.”
Many people, even many followers of Christ, fail to understand that the
Bible is NOT simply a disconnected collection of religious writings.
It is absolutely unified in its message.
The miraculous thing about the
Bible is that it was written by over 40 authors of very diverse socio-economic backgrounds and religious training
in three languages over 1500 years. It is made up of diverse literary forms including history, poetry, biography, drama, sermons,
letters, etc. Yet,
this incredibly diverse book written by very different, multiple authors over more than 15 centuries has one, absolutely
unified, perfectly consistent message from cover to cover.
And that is--to reveal God’s unified plan of redemption and that plan, to
quote the apostle Paul is, “to
unite all things in him [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth…to the praise of his glory.”[Eph
1:10, 12] And
the central work necessary to accomplish that was finished by Jesus
in his death and resurrection. Everything in the Bible before that-- points
forward to it in some way and everything in the Bible after it, looks
back to it in some way. The
death and resurrection of Jesus is the epicenter of divine revelation.
The Bible is loaded with promises and all the
promises in the Bible are fulfilled –they
“find their yes”
in Christ [2 Cor 1:20]. Jesus
is the seed of the woman
who, way back in the Garden of Eden, God promised would come and one
day crush the head of the
serpent, while only bruising his heel. That head crushing, that mortal wound of the
serpent occurred as Jesus bruised his heel on the cross. Jesus is the
promised Seed or Offspring who would come through Abraham and the
is the Israel of God—God’s ultimate Son who makes a way for other
sons to be adopted. Jesus
Christ is the Great Prophet to whom Moses and all the
subsequent prophets pointed--he is the ultimate Word of God. Jesus is the Great High Priest to whom Aaron
and all the subsequent High Priests pointed.
All the Old Testament system
of worship drenched with the blood of all those animal sacrifices
foreshadows the blood of Jesus on the
is THE Lamb of God. Jesus
is the Great Warrior King in whom David and all other
Old Testament kings find their fulfillment.
Jesus is the temple
of God who tabernacled among us.
Jesus is the Mediator of the
definitive Covenant relationship between God and Man to which Moses was only a shadow.
Jesus is the ultimate expression
of the glory of God.
In his life, death and resurrection he is the
consummate expression of God’s holiness, love, grace, mercy and power.
Jesus in his incarnation is the
ultimate and highest expression of humanity. Jesus is the inheritance
of God--the Treasure of all treasures.
We could spend a very long time reviewing the
redemptive themes of the
Bible that all come together and are united in Jesus Christ. All the
redemptive themes in the
Bible are brought together in Jesus Christ.
Those who have placed their
trust in Christ will spend all eternity discovering his manifold glories.
But if you are here today and you have never placed your trust in Christ—you
do not have a personal, intimate, life-transforming relationship with God, then
let me just gently remind you of one more role Jesus plays.
That is—he is the Judge of the
Father has given all judgment into his hand.
One day, everyone will stand before him and, just as he predicted his resurrection,
he also predicted this about many who would stand before him as Judge.
“21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord,
did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23
And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”
We were created to live for him, not for ourselves. This
is at the
root of what sin is—our desire to live for ourselves instead of God and the Bible teaches that we come into this world fallen in
our sin. “All
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The
Bible says our sin makes us enemies of God.
Through our apathy and indifference to him,
we are rebelling against him and the
purpose for which he created us.
The Bible says, “There
is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All
have turned away.”
Jesus, because he is a good Judge, must punish
sin. He can do nothing else.
Paul writes, “He
will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
They will be punished with everlasting destruction
and shut out from the
presence of the
Lord and from the
majesty of his power. (2 Thess. 1:8-9)
Jesus is the Judge of sinners, but he also loves sinners. He
loves people so much that he went to the cross where he died to take the penalty we deserved for our sin.
The Bible says, “Christ
died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
Christ purchased his people out of sinful
humanity with his own blood.
We know God accepted Jesus’ death on the
cross as payment for our sins because he raised him from the dead.
That means the work of salvation has been done for us by God and that’s
one of the
major reasons why the
resurrection we celebrate today is so important. Christ is risen—God accepted his death as payment for
We couldn’t ever be good enough for God—good
enough to be acceptable to a Judge like Jesus by being a nice person or even mentally believing the right things—his standard is perfection. The
apostle John tells us that apart from faith in Christ, the wrath of God remains on us, so unless we place our trust
in him we stand condemned before the
Judge. There is nothing we can do to earn eternal life. Our
part is simply to place our trust in Christ and his saving work for us.
believes in the
Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on Him.” As
we place our trust in Christ and what he did for us on the cross, we experience his cleansing, his forgiveness and
he gives us his own perfect standing before God as a gift.
At the same time Jesus cleanses us, he gives us a new heart—a
heart with new passion to live for him and not ourselves.
If you haven’t done so, place your trust
in Christ so that you can know for all eternity the joy of being in this relationship with the risen King of Glory—to know and experience his perfect
By faith today, repent of your sin and accept
loving reign of King Jesus over your life.
May God give all of us the grace to do that.
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