On Easter Sunday our pastor preached from Luke 24, focusing on the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It’s a story that calls to me, maybe to most of us, because don’t we all long for Jesus to open the Scriptures for us, showing us Himself in the books of Moses and the prophets? Would our hearts not burn within us if we could have that intimate instruction? Join me in Luke 24 as I process my notes from the sermon.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.Luke 24:9-13
Cleopas and his friend left Jerusalem even amidst the discovery that Jesus was not in the tomb. You have to wonder what was urgent in Emmaus, why these two decided to leave. I’m projecting of course – hindsight does that to us – right? Knowing what we know now, we can’t imagine not wanting to stick around Jerusalem to see firsthand the living Savior!
As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. … He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.Luke 24: 15-16, 25-27 NIV
The two friends deep in discussion, possibly debating their ideas about the empty tomb. Jesus joins them, and for reasons known only to Him, He chooses to be anonymous, chooses to appear to not know the recent events. Of course, He’s the one that knew them best!
And then Jesus begins to explain the divine plan taking the travelers back through their scriptures beginning with the books of Moses. In the 2 hours or so that it would take to walk to Emmaus, Jesus could not have delved into every scripture concerning himself in the Old Testament. Looking back at Luke’s account it is quite possible that Jesus focused on prophetic passages about His suffering. We can only speculate – did Jesus go back to Genesis 3:15?
And I will make enemies Of you and the woman, And of your offspring and her Descendant; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise Him on the heel.Genesis 3:15 NASB
Did Jesus mention clothing Adam and Eve by sacrificing animals? Did he draw their attention to Abraham, Isaac, and the ram caught in the thicket? Did Jesus remind them of the Passover lamb on the night that Israel was delivered from Egypt? Or the whole Levitical sacrificial system, the bronze serpent, the passages in Isaiah about the suffering serpent? Instead of His suffering did Jesus point to the passages about entering glory? Maybe Jesus taught them from Daniel 7 – one like the son of man approaching the Ancient of Days being given authority, honor and sovereignty!
No matter where Jesus began to teach, no matter the passages, He emphasized the unity of the scriptures, how it all works together and has one central theme! Clearly the overarching theme of the Old Testament is the person and work of Jesus!
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on 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 went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.Luke 24:28-31
It was only when Jesus broke bread with them that their eyes were opened, and they knew they had been with Jesus Himself! I love that! Jesus could have revealed Himself at any point, but He waits until He is seated with them around the table, sharing a meal. It is in that intimate moment of breaking bread, offering a blessing that He opens their eyes.
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven … the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”Luke 24:32 – 36
Two thoughts resonate as Cleopas and his friend not only acknowledge Jesus’ presence, His teaching, but they rushed back to the others to share what they had experienced!
The resurrection changes what we think about the Scripture’s story!
The resurrection changes what we think about our own story!
Jesus joins the assembly some time after Cleopas and his friend share their experience. Then Jesus does for the other disciples what He had done for them – He opens their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures they had read and studied. Jesus clearly identifies His person and mission as the climax of the redemptive story. His disciples are given the gospel in a nutshell, the “Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.“
In the resurrection the promises of God are fulfilled!
Christ is risen, Christ is risen!
Tell it with a joyful voice.
Christ has burst the three days’ prison;
Let the whole wide earth rejoice.
Death is conquered, we are free;
Christ has won the victory.
Come, you sad and fearful hearted,
With glad smile and radiant brow.
Death’s dark shadows have departed,
All our woes are over now;
Through the passion that he bore,
Sin and pain have power no more.
Come with high and holy hymning;
Chant our Lord’s triumphant might.
Not one gloomy cloud is dimming
That bright glorious morning light
Breaking over the purple east,
Symbol of our Easter feast.
Christ is risen, Christ is risen!Cecil Francis Alexander, 1846
And has opened heaven’s gate.
We are free from evil’s prison,
Risen to a holier state;
And a brighter Easter beam
On our longing eyes shall stream.