Intro: The preacher has nothing to say this morning, so we are going to dismiss now and grab an early lunch. April Fools! This is a special day on the calendar, you know? It is April 1st, April Fools Day. You also know that there is never a day when the preacher has nothing to say. So I doubt I fooled any of you. But more importantly, it the first day of the week. That is the day we worship God and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, Our Lord. That is no joke, and only a fool would refuse to believe in the risen Savior.
Luke 24:13-25; This encounter is unique to Luke (although it in briefly mentioned in Mk. 16:12). We might wonder why Luke includes it. It certainly provides a powerful testimony to the fact of the resurrection by two credible witnesses (Cleopas and his companion were probably well-known to the other disciples). But there is more here. Take a closer look at the event…
I. The Despondent Disciples Head for Home…
A. “Two of them” – who are the main characters here? Besides Jesus there are two disciples (the “of them” points back to the disciples of Jesus). Later one of these disciples is identified as Cleopas. The other disciple is unnamed and uncertain. Some connect the name Cleopas with the Clopas of John 19:25, the husband of one of the Marys at the crucifixion, and view his companion here as this Mary, his wife. Tradition identifies this Cleopas as the father of Simeon, a later elder of the church at Jerusalem.
1. They are traveling home from Jerusalem to Emmaus (about 7 miles) conversing on the phenomenal events of the last couple of days in Jerusalem. (about a 2-hour trip). The word translated reasoned in v. 15 is sometimes rendered argue or dispute. It signifies an investigation. Everyone was talking about what happened at Calvary, but who could make sense of it?
II. Jesus Draws Near… v. 15 – “Jesus Himself drew near…” As they discussed Jesus, He came alongside. But they did not recognize Him.
A. “Their eyes were restrained”(v. 16)–Mark 16:12 tells us that Jesus “appeared in a different form”. This does not imply a spiritual vs. a physical body, but just that he looked different than before. Luke’s text implies that Jesus was keeping them from recognizing Him. Why does Jesus not just reveal Himself immediately? Surely, they would believe if they saw Him with their own eyes. Hold on to that question.
1. V. 17 – Jesus asks… “”What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” And they stopped walking and looked discouraged. (HCSB) Jesus is asking because He does not know. He is starting a conversation. Luke describes these two as downcast. This is the Greek adjective skuthropos – (skpp-thro-pos) “angry-visaged, i.e. gloomy or affecting a mournful appearance: KJV – of a sad countenance. (Vines). They were discouraged, and it showed.
2. V. 18 – “Are You the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?” (HCSB). Cleopas cannot fathom that anyone could be unaware of the events of the last few days. Ironically, he is speaking to the only One who does know the truth about the things that happened. Jesus asks, “What things”.
3. V. 20-24 – The two disciples give testimony to the event of Jesus crucifixion and the impact it had on their faith. They describe Jesus as a powerful prophet, whom they hoped would redeem Israel.
a. “Redeem” is the Greek verb lutroo. It means to “to free by paying a ransom…”to liberate from an oppressive situation, set free, rescue.” Although this word describes Jesus’ spiritual work of redemption from sin, Cleopas and his companion are probably referencing their hope for a military redemption. Their words point to the Messianic hope that many Jews shared Their words remind us of Zacharias’ prophecy in Luke 1:68-79: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, 70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, 71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, . The Son of David on a physical throne.
b. The word “had hoped“ (NIV) in v. 21 is elpizo – “to look forward to something with confidence. In the imperfect tense it has the idea of continued action in the past, “were hoping.” But now Jesus has been dead for three days, and they are no longer hoping.
c. Added to their hopelessness is confusion. They tell this Stranger that some of the women disciples went to the tomb but could not find Jesus’ body. These women claimed to have seen angels who said He was alive. Others (Peter & John) also went to the tomb and found it empty. But no one has seen Him. These two disciples tell Jesus they were “amazed” (NIV) or “astonished” at the reports. The word is existemi, “to cause to be in a state in which things seem to make little or no sense; confuse, amaze, astound.”
III. Jesus Reacts to Their Hopelessness –V. 25 – 26; “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” Notice again that He does not reveal Himself and clear up their confusion. He could reveal Himself and then rebuke them. But He does not. He speaks them as a stranger.
A. “O foolish ones…”These words might seem harsh to us. Jesus calls them foolish ones. The word here is anoetos (an-o’-ay-tos) signifies “not understanding” It is a compound that literally means not applying + the mind, a lack of perception.
1. Jesus does not rebuke them for not accepting the testimony of the women or of the other disciples. He does not call them fools for ignoring that what they had seen with their own eyes – He had not revealed Himself as such yet! Jesus points them back to the OT scriptures (believe all the prophets have spoken). They were fools to not believe what God had already revealed about the Christ.
IV. Jesus Opens the Scriptures – The Risen Savior begins to reveal Himself. But notice HOW He does it. V. 27 “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (ESV)
A. The term “Moses and the prophets” was a reference to all the Hebrew scriptures. Can you imagine this Bible study! Jesus pulled together the entire OT scriptures for them and interpreted all the things concerning himself. There is no NT yet, but the events of Calvary and the resurrection can be taught and understood from the words of the O.T.
B. While we do not know the specific passages Jesus used, there are plenty that He could have cited.
• Genesis 3:15 – “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. And He will strike your head and you will strike His heel.”
• Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him.”
• Isaiah 7:14 – “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son and name Him Immanuel.”
• Isaiah 53:3 – “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like one people turned away from; He was despised, and we did not value Him.” 7 – “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter, and like a sheep silent before His shearers, He did not open His mouth.”
• Zechariah 12:10: “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the house of David and the residents of Jerusalem, and they will look at Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly for Him as one weeps for a firstborn.”
1. Christ was the substance of every Old Testament sacrifice, ordained in the law of Moses.
2. Christ was the true Deliverer and law-giver, like Moses; the true King, of whom David was the type.
3. The true Shiloh to whom the people were to be gathered
4. The true scape-goat— the true bronze serpent— the true High Priest – he true bread of heaven. Are these the things that Jesus made known on the road to Emmaus?
a. Jesus wanted them to see that the solution to their hopelessness was already provided in the words of God. If they would only believe what the Scriptures taught, their questions about Jesus and the perplexing events of the last week would be answered. Jesus consistently called His followers, and even those who refused to believe in Him to the testimony of scripture FIRST…
b. Jesus is the proper interpretation of the scriptures. I am convinced the Jesus was teaching them a lesson in hermeneutics (interpretation of the Bible). The proper way to interpret and exegete the OT scripture was to see Jesus. It was all about Jesus. In John 5 Jesus gave the Jewish leaders of His day the same lesson. John 5:39 – You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. He gets more specific in verse 46: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.”
1) Many people will try to tell you who Jesus is. They will characterize Him as just a good man, or a good teacher, or one of many ways to get to heaven. But you cannot see Jesus or understand what why He lived or why He died without understanding scripture.
c. Jesus wanted these disciples to establish their faith FIRST in the testimony of scripture, even before the trusted in the testimony of their own eyes… Walk by faith, not by sight.
1) Jesus is establishing a priority of evidence. Why didn’t Jesus just tell them who He was? He was going to open their eyes, but He wanted them to see Him FIRST in the scriptures with the eyes of faith, before they identified Him with their physical eyes. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Outside of the word of God there is no reliable witness to who Jesus really is. Do not fail to see this powerful picture – Rather than reveal Himself to these unbelieving disciples physically, the risen Jesus reveals the scriptures to them to prove his resurrection.
2) The New Testament authors and teachers followed suit. Acts 18:24 – A Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was powerful in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus… v.28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah. (HCSB) Apollos demonstrated Jesus is the Messiah from the OT scriptures. Even the apostis resurrection appealed to the scriptures first… Acts 17:2-4 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”The apostle Paul does not merely say, “I saw him!” He said, “Read your Bibles!”
i. Consider these words from Brent Kercheville on this passage: The scriptures are not about us. They are all about the Christ. The scriptures are preparing the world from the Christ to come. The scriptures are foreshadowing what the Christ will do when he arrives. The scriptures teach what kind of people the Christ will have for his followers. The scriptures teach the need for salvation and forgiveness that only comes through Christ. The scriptures are all about the Christ. Jesus is the Christ. We do not read the scriptures to find out God’s plan for us. We read the scriptures to find out how we can fit into God’s plan.
3) Are the scriptures enough? I do not suggest that the disciples’ faith was not anchored in the physical post-resurrection appearances of Jesus and the eyewitness testimony. Jesus willingly offered the physical evidence to Thomas – “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” John 20:27-29. But then He said to him… “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That faith would be based on scripture. Those who clamor for or glamorize some mystical confirmation of their faith fail to understand the nature of faith and the priority of the evidence that produces it.
4) Remember in Luke 16 when the rich man who was in Hades asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to his five brothers so that they would not come to this place. Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets. Let them hear them” (Luke 16:29). The rich man argues that a personal appearance from a dead person would do the trick. Abraham answered… “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31) The scriptures are not only sufficient, they are better than a resurrection appearance! Some will not believe even if God showed himself to them personally. We have a hard time with that thought, but we know it is true. When Lazarus was raised from the dead, some people tried to kill him. God showed himself through Jesus for years and yet thousands of people rejected him. If the scriptures will not convince you, then nothing will.
V. Jesus Opens Their Eyes… (v. 28-35) Return to the text. As they come to Emmaus, the stranger (Jesus) indicates that He is traveling on. But the disciples are so thrilled by what He has provided on this journey that they beg Him to stay longer. It is interesting to note that the roles are reversed at dinner. Although Jesus is the invited guest, He breaks the bread, gives thanks for it, and serves the disciples. It was customary for the head of the household or an honored guest to do this. even when they were in private households, as the honored Rabbi, Jesus would probably have been asked to offer this blessing. Had these disciples seen Jesus do this in their presence before? Whatever caused it to happen, the moment comes that we have all anticipated… Luke 24:31 – Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him, but He disappeared from their sight. (HCSB)
A. Jesus immediately disappeared from their sight. What they saw with their eyes confirmed what they received by faith in the words of the scripture. Do you think they gasped? What were they thinking at that moment? Read the end of this event.
1. Luke 24:32 – 32 So they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” They testify to each other that their hearts were on fire. When? At the moment they physically recognized Jesus? No, they were set on fire when the Stranger opened the scriptures to them. Has this ever been you? Have your heart ever been set on fire by the truth of scripture, when you came to understand what God was truly saying to you? Truth revealed was the answer to the despair and hopelessness of these two disciples.
2. What do they do next? Luke 24:33-35 – They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. (NIV)
3. They turn around and head back to Jerusalem! Given their excitement and change of attitude, it might not have taken them two full hours to arrive with the other disciples!
4. What they find in Jerusalem is not despondency, but certainty! The other disciples (the eleven are there too) are shouting “it is true! The Lord has arisen!” The phrase “It is true!” (NIV) or “indeed” (KJV) is the Greek adverb ontos, and means “pertaining to being actually so, really, certainly, in truth.”Cleopas and his friend tell their own story to the attentive disciples. “Told” in verse 35 is the Greek verb exegeomai, which means to relate in detail. It is the word from which we get the theological terms “exegete, exegesis”. I think maybe they were exegeting some OT passages for the others!
a. A final note: When things happen that are contrary to our expectations (like Cleopas not expecting Jesus to die), do not be tempted to doubt His words. Do not lose faith and head back home. Those are not the times to neglect the Word. Rather, those are the times to spend hours looking for Jesus again.
Conclusion: Do you know why we are assembled here today? Because we are certain that it is true. The Lord has arisen. We came together, as we do each first day of the week to proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again. We are not in despair. He has redeemed His people, just as He promised. Even now the scriptures cause the hearts of God’s people to burn within them. Are you in Christ? Do you have faith in Him? If not open the scriptures (your Bible) and let Jesus teach you. Then obey Him.