Christ On the Road to Emmaus
It is certainly appropriate to speak of resurrection for on this day, and every first day of the week we are to remember the resurrection of our Lord, the man, Jesus Christ.
Resurrection means raising, to make stand again.
Notice the connection with the word erect which means to raise.
To make to stand again infers that which had gone down previously.
Now it is obvious to all of us that at death it is the body that has gone down.
We need no scripture to know this for it is all around us!
I live near Serenity Gardens Cemetery and each day as I go by I am reminded of the bodies awaiting resurrection.
It is the body that we place in the grave so therefore if resurrection is to take place, if standing again is to take place, it then must be the body that is resurrected.
From scripture we are told that at the death of a saved person an absence from the body takes place in order to be present with the Lord.
So, what is it that absents itself from the body and does not go down with the body to the grave?
Scripture answers that question for that which absents itself from the body is the spirit of the body, the person of the body, which presents itself to the Lord.
Upon your last breath which is a function of the body, you will leave that place where you have abode and if you are saved you will go to a place Jesus Christ has prepared for you, a place in heaven.
You can read of this in Ecclesiastes 12:7, Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Genesis 3:19 tells us what this dust is, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Therefore, that which is raised or resurrected is the body for the spirt has been separated from the body upon the death of the body for there is no physical connection of the spirit with the body.
Upon resurrection God reunites the body with the spirit.
The body of Christ was laid in the tomb for three days while his spirit proceeded to Paradise bringing with Him the thief on the cross among other things.
Peter, on the day of Pentecost, referred to Davidís prophesy of Psalm 16 concerning Christís death and necessary resurrection.
Jesus Christ himself spoke of his resurrection on many occasions and those occasions are recorded in every gospel.
There is no dearth of witnesses who verify that he did indeed rise from the dead for his appearances after his death were numerous.
Ten different appearances of the risen Christ are recorded in the New Testament.
John and Mark report of his appearance to Mary Magdalene at the sepulcher.
Matthew reports that He appeared to certain women, the other Mary (mar-ee'-ah) Salome, Joanna (ee-o-an'-nah) and others as they returned from their early morning visit to the Sepulcher.
According to Luke in the Gospel of Luke and Paul in I Corinthians He appeared to Simon Peter alone on the day of the resurrection.
He then revealed himself to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus in the afternoon of the resurrection day which is recorded fully by Luke and referred to by Mark.
That evening of the resurrection day, John reports that He appeared to the ten disciples at Jerusalem, Thomas being absent from them.
Eight days later Mark, Luke, and John report His appearance to the disciples who were again assembled, this time Thomas, fortunately being present.
That very Thomas who has earned the worldwide and unforgettable name of Doubting Thomas.
Let not that descriptive word be associated with your life!
John is the only writer who records Jesusí visit to the disciples when they were fishing at the Sea of Galilee.
From the Gospel of Matthew and I Corinthians we learn that he appeared again to the eleven disciples and to over 500 brethren at once, at an appointed place in Galilee.
Paul, in I Corinthians reports his appearing to James without providing any details of that appearance.
And then before he ascended to the Father, he appeared to all the apostles.
As recorded in Acts 1:9 they accompanied him from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives, and there they saw him ascend "till a cloud received him out of their sight."
There is ample proof that he appeared bodily and was not simply a spirit for we are told that the disciples talked with him face to face, they touched him, and he even ate bread with them.
We are even given Paulís report of his meeting with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus.
The number of witnesses establish without doubt the veracity of Christís resurrection and show that it would be foolish to be challenged in any court of law.
Two of those witnesses who would boldly testify regarding the resurrection are described in Luke 24.
They are two men who left Jerusalem that day, chosen of God to become witnesses of the living Christ, the Christ whose dead body was laid in the tomb, but is now alive and walking on the way to Emmaus.
From the details given in Luke 24 I think we can conclude that their witness took place on the day, the first day of the week, most likely in the afternoon, of the resurrection of the body of Jesus.
So, let us begin our study of this event by reading Luke 24:13-24:
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
(furlong is the length of a furrow in a cultivated field, 660 feet, Threescore furlongs is about 7.5 miles, about from here to Kentucky Fried Chicken)
And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: (from the Romans) and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
We are given to see that the risen Christ has joined himself to two travelers who left Jerusalem the day of his Resurrection and are on their way to a place called Emmaus.
The eyes of the two men have been prevented from recognizing Him and he is accepted as just another fellow traveler.
He was not dressed in any glowing regal gowns, just dressed as He would have before the Resurrection.
But the Lord Jesus Christ notes the countenance and the manner of conversation of these two men and asks them what is it that causes their sadness.
They, of course, relate to him all the astounding events that had taken place during the last few days.
And emphasizing the events in relation to one in whom they trusted to redeem Israel, one whom they supposed was the long-awaited Messiah.
In this they majored upon the glory of the Messiah, while neglecting the clear teaching of the Word of God relative to the suffering that He must first bear.
Not recognizing the need for a suffering Savior is not recognizing the sinfulness of man that needs to be dealt with for His glory to come.
A Messiah of glory only, will not be a Messiah that truly delivers Israel and truly delivers sinful men.
In a way this kind of stance is built upon a denial of the sinfulness of man which the scriptures clearly teach.
So, in response to this ignorance on the part of the two disciples Jesus Christ, taking the form of an unknown stranger, is quick to strongly rebuke them for not believing the clear Word of God.
If you want to get Godís ire up it is with unbelief!
Godís wrath is wholly concerned with unbelief!
This rebuke takes place in Luke 24:25-27, Then he said unto them, O fools, (such strong language) and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
The problem with these two men is that they did not believe all that the prophets had spoken.
This is an important teaching for it is also our tendency to not believe all the Word of God.
Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked and that plays into how we handle Godís Word.
We read and study the Scriptures through the filter of our own sin, of our own desires, our own ambitions, and preferences.
It is the natural man in us who accepts that which enhances his strengths and rejects that which reveals his weaknesses.
Those things in the scripture that make us feel good we embrace but those things that oppose what we do we tend to ignore and de-emphasize.
We too are quick to look for glory but when suffering comes, we think that God is against us.
This is what we find in the disciples and it takes strong rebuke from this stranger to get them to think straight about the Word of God.
How many were the times Jesus told his disciples of his coming suffering and death and resurrection and they would not hear of it?
So, Jesus held back from them his identity so as to move their attention to the written Word of God.
Coming to them in physical form as the Messiah, would have diverted their attention from the written Word of God that they so desperately needed and as we too so desperately need.
Apart from the written Word of God we could never conceive of a God who would bring about the salvation of men as he did through the suffering and shed blood of His Son.
Were it not for the Holy Spirit using the prophets to reveal to us Godís ways and Godís thoughts we would never know them for they are spiritually discerned.
Remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.
The rich man requested that Lazarus be sent to his Fatherís house, to his five brothers, so that they could be warned (Luke 16:27-28).
Jesusí answer was that they had Moses and the prophets.
The rich man protested saying that a warning from one who had risen from the grave would be more forceful, would be more convincing.
In Luke 16:31, Jesus replied to this, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Jesus is living out this admonition to these two men on the road to Emmaus.
They must believe Godís word.
God always elevates His word over works.
Jesus kept from showing himself to first turn these two men to the Word of God.
Once they understood the Scriptures, he was free to physically show himself to them that he had risen from the dead.
Let all things be done decently and in order and therefore He had put first things first and first things was believing the word of God.
He laid the foundation outlining the biblical necessity of His suffering, death, and resurrection, and then He revealed its fulfillment in Him.
Think about why these men were sad, why were they in despair?
Why is any disciple sad, why are any disciples in despair?
It is because they do not view their circumstances from Godís point of view because they do not believe Godís word.
Do not all things work together for good to Godís sons and daughters?
We tend to not judge our circumstances spiritually.
If they would have viewed these events biblically, they would have found that everything that had happened was part of Godís plan.
For Godís plan included not only the suffering and death of Messiah, but also His resurrection.
We finite creatures, we fallen creatures need the Word of God to recognize the hand of God.
These disciples had the Scriptures, but their understanding of them was warped by their sin, their prejudices, and their ambitions.
They thought they were headed for a glorious future, but they neglected the scriptures which spoke of suffering first with glory later.
It was only when this stranger, in truth their Lord, explained the Scriptures to them, and when the Holy Spirit opened their eyes, they understood the mind of God.
Although Jesus first rebuked them for their spiritual dullness, he did not leave them in that state.
Rebuke should never be just for rebukeís sake. It ought to be given for correction, for that is true love.
So, Jesus graciously went on to show them from the Old Testament, beginning at the first five books of the Bible, called Moses here, then through all of the prophets, that the Messiah was prophesied to suffer and then to be glorified.
I believe suffering is always the path to glory even in things on this earth.
Even in vain things like sporting contests, suffering must take place before the gold metals come.
Even in the learning of the piano, suffering must come before the recital.
Even to the getting placed on the Academic Honor Roll there is suffering.
Ask the Congressional Metal of Honor winner of his or her scars of suffering?
There never is an easy path to glory.
Unfortunately, in this age we try to make it so when we so easily reward children for nothing much at all. This is anti Bible!
But the path to glory for Christ was through the valley of the shadow of death and that in itself is part of his glory.
We will forever worship in heaven the One who was slain!
Read Revelation 5:9, And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
Jesus Christ will eternally have the marks of his crucifixion on His body for that is His glory.
The details of what Jesus told the two men are not given us for we also are to study the scriptures as a workman who needs not to be ashamed as these two disciples ended up being.
They did not rightly divide the word of truth and this should be an admonition to us to daily search the scriptures for we too can be deceived by our willful ignorance of them.
Why did they not recognize the suffering savior that was given to them in Psalm Twenty-Two?
This is the Psalm which tells us of the father forsaking the son.
This is the Psalm which tells of those who laughed him to scorn, which tells of those who told him to deliver himself.
This is the Psalm which tells of the piercing of his hands and his feet.
It even tells of the parting of his garments and the casting of the lot for his vesture.
But Psalm 22 is only one place our Lord took these disciples for Luke tells us in verse 27:
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
He did this as a stranger so that they would not be disturbed by any recognition of himself physically.
What a lesson this is for those of us who teach.
We are to avoid bringing attention to ourselves but always desire the bringing of attention to Godís Word and specifically the Lord Jesus Christ.
That in all things He might have the preeminence!
In this, Jesus was pure for he waited until he had expounded the scriptures before He opened their eyes for them to see him in his body.
We read of this in Luke 24:28-35, And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went into tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
(This was the time of telling of his appearances and who could top the other)
We see here in this passage our Lord bringing into the lives of the two disciples an opportunity for receiving greater light.
He has expounded all the scriptures and in indicating to them a continuance of His journey, he gives them opportunity to accept what He has taught or to reject it.
He does not force himself upon them for he acts as though He would go on in His journey.
In this action Jesus is looking for a response to what He had been teaching.
If they wished to reject it they would have let Him go on his way but by constraining him it was obvious that they wanted more.
They desired to be with Him, even though they did not yet realize who He was.
Because they had urged Him to stay, they had their eyes opened to recognize who He was.
So, by their desiring further light they were given the privilege to sup with the very Savior they thought of as dead and gone.
And because of their decision their eyes were opened to meet Jesus Christ, their Lord.
That is the way with light.
Men who desire darkness will never meet Christ.
Men who desire light will meet Christ face to face.
And their desire for more light brought their eyes to be opened, to again see the one in whom they had put their trust.
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
Some say that they recognized Him by the way He broke bread.
This is simply a supposition for we are simply told that this was the occasion, not the reason, for their eyes to be opened to the Savior.
Jesus Christ chose the time and the place to open their eyes for their eyes were holden or bound until He opened them.
The light had been given and it was now the time to reveal himself to these men that they would be witnesses to others of the risen Christ.
It was then that Jesus disappeared for these two men, who had been given this great gift, were now responsible to share the good news to the other disciples of this most critical part of the gospel, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
They immediately returned to Jerusalem to report to the rest what they had experienced, and what they had heard.
They too had good news to hear for when they told of this most glorious experience, they heard from the disciples that they already knew that Jesus was alive, because He had appeared to Peter during the time of their absence.
I think the testimony expressed with these words cannot be exceeded: Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?