The Road to Emmaus
O FOOLISH ONES AND SLOW OF HEART TO BELIEVE
Intro: If you could travel back in time to witness any event in the Bible, what would it be? Would you go back to the very beginning of Creation to see the first ray of light? Would you like to see Noah’s ark just before the worldwide flood? What about the Exodus with Moses and the children of Israel as they crossed the Red Sea on dry ground? Would you like to see David’s victory over Goliath? Then there are all those notable moments in the ministry of Jesus: the shepherds at the manger, His baptism in the Jordan, any of the countless healings, feeding the 5000 men and their families, Christ walking on the water, His glorious transfiguration on the mountain. The list goes on. We all have different preferences. I would choose our text today. I would like to travel the gospel road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, walking with the two downcast disciples on the first Easter afternoon, listening to Jesus explain how everything in the whole Bible is about Him. It must be the greatest Bible teaching in history!
Luke 24:13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.
Luke 24:14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
Considering everything that happened over the previous few days, the conversation must have been animated.
There was much to discuss from the triumphant entry to the empty tomb. The way Luke describes their emotional state, they must have been taking their time doing it. They were disappointed. They were bewildered. They were sad. They were grieving.
Their friend had died and now His body was missing.
As they were walking, a stranger overtook them on the road.
Luke 24:15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.
Luke 24:16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
What prevented these disciples from recognizing Jesus? (a) unbelief (b) did not expect to see Him again (c) too weighed down with grief to take a good look (d) providential hindrance
Jesus was traveling incognito because this was the gracious will and saving purpose of God. He wants these shaken disciples to know and believe the truth, so the Lord will reveal Himself to them gradually.
Luke 24:17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”
Luke 24:18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”
Christ begins with an everyday question: “Hey, what are you guys talking about?”
These pedestrians were dwelling on the past—what was; and on disappointed hopes—what might have been.
Cleopas and his companion were having a serious conversation about spiritual things. Jesus is the master evangelist, so He chose a normal way to insert Himself into their conversation that might give Him a chance to share the good news.
But His question did not disarm them. Their emotions were too raw. Cleopas replied that Jesus had asked a silly question. “You’re the only one around here who does not know the answer to that.”
His comment indicated that everyone knew what had happened to the one called Jesus. Jerusalem was buzzing with the news of His crucifixion, and maybe also by now with the news of His possible Resurrection.
Everybody was talking about Jesus…except, that is, this mysterious stranger who interrupted them on the road to Emmaus. Apparently, He was more out of touch than anyone else in the whole city.
Yet, v.18 could not be more ironic. Cleopas thought this stranger’s apparent ignorance was severe enough to point it out to Him.
In reality, Cleopas was the one who did not know what was truly happening in Jerusalem!
Jesus knew it all, better than anyone, because it had happened to Him!
He alone could explain what happened during the Sanhedrin’s trial and the trial at Pilate’s house. He alone could testify to what it was like to be mocked and to be tortured and to die in disgrace. He alone had felt the crown of thorns on His brow and nailed being pounded into His flesh and through His bones. He alone could describe the inside of the dark tomb at the first light of Resurrection.
Instead of being the only person who did not know what was happening, Jesus was the only person who did!
Rather than defending His infinite knowledge, Jesus patiently helped these disciples come to understand the Gospel.
Luke 24:19a And He said to them, “What things?”
This is good evangelism: asking people questions to help clarify where they are in their understanding of Jesus.
Christ walked with unknown disciples down their lonely road of disillusionment listening to all their doubts.
And Jesus will show us the same kindness! He will overtake us along life’s road, in stride with our sorrow and confusion. Then He will ask what we know about Him. We will hear the good news and see Him as the only Lord and Savior?
Someplace along the road between Jerusalem and Emmaus, these two troubled disciples are standing somewhere between faith and unbelief. When the mysterious stranger asked what they were discussing, all of their thoughts and feelings came pouring out.
We learn that Jesus is good company. He is the kind of disarming personality that people instinctively trust and to whom they will bare their souls.
What follows is one of the longest speeches in Luke by someone other than Jesus…
Luke 24:19b So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
Luke 24:20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.
Luke 24:21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.
Luke 24:22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us.
Luke 24:23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.
Luke 24:24 And certain 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.”
It’s an impressive summary of the previous week’s events. There’s only one thing missing.
“But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.”
More than anything else, this is why they were so downcast, so disheartened, so confused that day.
They were coping with having their expectations and hopes dashed. They had been looking for a champion, a Redeemer, who would deliver them from the unbearable Roman occupation. They hoped Jesus would be that champion.
But they did not have in mind that their Redeemer would deliver them through His own suffering and death. How could He help them if He were dead?
What did they miss? There was no Resurrection appearance in their summary. They weren’t sure about the status of Jesus after His death.
At this point the two disciples did not know whether the empty tomb was good news or bad news. They didn’t know whose report to believe. They didn’t know what to make of any of it.
This is true for all of us. There is no good news unless Jesus rose from the dead.
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then everything that is wrong with this world will never be made right.
Cleopas and his friend were not quite there. They still could not see that this stranger was their risen Lord.
More irony: the last words of their summary were, “…Him they did not see,” and there they were a few hours later looking straight at Him and they didn’t see Him either!
Luke 24:25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Luke 24:26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”
Here is a not-so-subtle rebuke from Christ.
Jesus does not rebuke the disciples for disbelieving the evidence associated with the resurrection, or for disbelieving the witness of the women, or even for not recognizing Himself.
He rebukes them for reading the Scriptures without understanding and faith. The disciples’ problem is not in their heads, but in their hearts.
“foolish” in our modern vernacular is likely a little too strong – “clueless” is probably closer to His intended rebuke.
“O clueless ones, you should have known that the Messiah would be a suffering servant. Why is it taking this long for you to understand and believe?”
There were many good things they did believe about Jesus, but they were slow to believe all that was necessary to be saved.
They did not yet “believe in all that the prophets have spoken.”
Specifically, they did not have room for suffering, dying, and rising Redeemer. They did not yet understand that far from proving that Jesus was not their Messiah, the suffering on the cross proved that He was!
So, Jesus proceeded to preach to them the Gospel from the OT.
Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
The resurrected Lord is the living Word who alone can enlighten and interpret the written word.
There has never been a better evangelistic sermon than the one the Risen Jesus preached to His downcast disciples on that first Easter afternoon on the road to Emmaus.
Jesus gives us the golden key to unlock the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures: they are all about Him.
The NT says that “in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17), and this is true of the OT.
What does the OT say about the sufferings of Christ?
Genesis – seed of the woman will be bruised by the devil before crushing the devil’s head (3:15)
Exodus – people are delivered from death by the offering of a Passover lamb (12:13)
Leviticus – atonement made only through blood sacrifice (16:14-16)
Numbers – bronze serpent is lifted up; everyone who looks to it is delivered from death (21:9)
All these truths find their fulfillment in the saving work of Jesus: He is the son of the woman who was bruised on the cross before ultimately crushing Satan’s head. He is the lamb whose blood is offered for our sins (John 1:29) and who was lifted up for us to look to for salvation (John 3:14-15).
Isaiah – God’s Servant will be pierced for our transgressions, wounded for our iniquities (53:5)
Jeremiah – Messiah will be mocked and abused (20:7-10)
Zechariah – he will make atonement for the whole land in a single day (3:9)
These prophecies all find their fulfillment in the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ who was wounded, pierced, and abused in offering Himself as an atoning sacrifice for sinners.
The first half of the Gospel is the suffering of the crucifixion: “ought not the Christ to have suffered these things…”
The second half of the Gospel is the glory that follows: “and to enter into His glory?”
Therefore, Jesus preached to them the glory of His Resurrection from the OT Scriptures.
We find the risen Christ in:
faith of Abraham – who believed that God would raise his son from the dead (Gen 22; Heb 11:17-19)
sign of Jonah – who spent 3 days in the belly of the fish, as Jesus spend 3 days in the darkness of the tomb (Matt 12:39)
What more can I say? I could preach from the Scriptures every day for the rest of my life and not begin to exhaust everything that is said about the Lord Jesus in the OT.
On every page His coming is prophesied, His life is prefigured, or His Resurrection life is promised.
The OT has one central theme: Jesus Christ. It is not simply background material for the NT, but it contains the very message of the Gospel.
It is so full of Christ that Jesus could prove the good news from any page.
illus: JESUS IN ALL 66 BOOKS…
HOW DOES THE LORD JESUS HELP THOSE WHOSE HOPE IS WAVERING?
(1) He comes to us
“Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.” (v.15)
(2) He corrects us
“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe…the prophets…ought not the Christ to have suffered these things…?”
(3) He clarifies what is true
“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”