4/15/12 The Road To Emmaus

The Road To Emmaus
Luke 24:13-35 Kevin Jesmer NIU UBF 4-15-12 DuPage/NIU UBF Bible School

Key Verse 24:26 “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

In today’s passage we will find two downcast disciples trudging along the road to Emmaus. They are about to have a personal encounter with the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ. Their lives will be forever changed. The discourse between Jesus and these two disciples is a good picture of our own journey from doubt and unbelief to faith and victory through Bible study and a personal encounter with the Risen Lord. As we listen to the story of these two disciples, may you behold Jesus and the Gospel in the words of God. May the Risen Christ, who visited his two disciples, also visit your hearts as well. God bless!

Part l: The Christ Had To Suffer These Things And Enter His Glory. (13-35)

In the opening of this passage we find two disciples. Look at verse 13. “Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.” One was named Cleopas and so they were not of the 12. Jesus had a larger circle of 72 disciples. At one point they were all sent out 2 by 2 to preach, teach, heal the sick and drive out demons. There were also 500, more loosely associated disciples. These two disciples belonged to the circle of 72. They may not have been as intimate with Jesus as the 12, but Jesus loved all of them equally and had great hopes and plans for each one. Here we find them deciding to leave Jerusalem for Emmaus which was 7 miles away.

First, they were walking away from Jerusalem. Verse 14 reveals what could be on their minds. “They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.” They were talking about Jesus’ ministry of compassion, how he healed the sick, raised the dead, mended the broken hearted, befriended the lonely, forgave the unforgiveable and set captives free from the sin. They talked about the injustice perpetrated upon Jesus during his trials, the extreme suffering he endured and how Jesus bore it all with love, honor, dignity and forgiveness. They talked about the disciples’ hiding and fleeing and about the women’s claims to have met the Risen Jesus. These disciples knew everything, but they did not know one crucial event. They had no personal knowledge of the Risen Jesus.

Even though they were fleeing from Jerusalem, they couldn’t flee their inner oppression. Their hopes had been dashed to pieces for they had followed Jesus hoping he would establish the Messianic kingdom, redeem Israel from Roman oppression and make Israel glorious, like in the times of King David. Their hopes were political, earthbound…not spiritual. It is not that Jesus didn’t try to instill in them heavenly hopes. He taught them about the kingdom of God over and over again. But the disciples held fast to their own earthly hopes. And so, when Jesus died, their hopes died too. They asked themselves, “Were the last 3 ½ years a complete waste?” And so these men despaired and were running away to Emmaus, possible to seek shelter and protection or to try to get a new job in their hometown. Who knows? Despite their reasons, they could not recognize Jesus, their Risen Savior, even though he was right their with them.

At this, one of the darkest times in their lives, Jesus came. Look at verses 14-19, “They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?’ 19 “What things?” he asked.” These disciples noticed that a stranger joined them along the road. But little did they know that he was no stranger at all, for it was Jesus himself, come in the flesh. Their sorrows and despair kept them from recognizing Jesus. Jesus came to ease their sorrows, to rebirth their shattered hopes, to fan into flames their faith. Our shepherd, Jesus, never leaves us alone in our time of need…never!

Then Jesus probed their hearts to draw out what they were struggling with. Look at verses 19b-24, “… ‘About Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.’” They knew almost everything about Jesus. They heard Jesus’ teaching; experienced his power and witnessed his miracles. But they had not opened their hearts to listen to an essential teaching of Jesus and as a result, they were fearful & downcast.

One thing is clear, people must have hope. Without hope they despair. But our hopes must be in the Lord and in the Kingdom of God or we will one day be greatly disappointed. If our hopes are in the everlasting Kingdom of God and in Christ; if our hopes are God’s hopes, then we will never be disappointed and have great joy. I repent that I was holding onto my own hopes of a establishing a certain type of ministry, where all of my kids shared in my hobbies and my love of ministry, where we all serve Jesus together and have three generations under one roof. I had hopes of having a cozy Bible house, right campus where 120 NIU students would hang out, study, barbeque, play sports, have daily bread every day, teach the Bible and eagerly invite their friends to Bible study and fellowship. We would have 3 hours praise and worship events every week on campus. Eventually all these disciples would mature and grow and UBF Bible houses would be established in the DEAR area, DeKalb, Elgin, Aurora and Rockford, which I would oversee. Also, I would be invited to be a guest speaker on house churches on campus’. Do you see a problem here? Even though this seems like good hope, it is in fact earth bound and holding onto this hope caused me many years of sorrow, because that is not how God is leading my life and house church. Earthbound hopes caused me to be sorrowful and frustrated for over a decade. They pushed me to impose unreal expectations and judgments on those who are close to me, who were not working hard to fulfill my hopes. I was so despaired of life, the that I could not even see the Risen Savior, Jesus, walking right there with me. I repent of my earthbound hope of receiving glory and honor and meaning from ministry and place all of my hope in Jesus and the Kingdom of God. I pray to open my eyes to see Jesus walking with me by my side.

Jesus helped his disciples in the best way. Look at verses 25-27, ““He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” He gave them a gentle rebuke, nudging them in the right direction and then expounded on the gospel as revealed in the Old Testament. The Old Testament is full of Jesus. Jesus and the Gospel are nestled right in there. And so Jesus had a long Bible study from Genesis to Malachi focusing on the person and work of the Christ. They needed to know that Jesus’ suffering was absolutely necessary and part of God’s sovereign plan. It was not a tragedy— but a victory and crucial for salvation. It was also necessary prerequisite to the resurrection. Unless Jesus suffered and died for their sins, they could never be forgiven and saved to enter into eternal life in the Kingdom of God. They needed to know that living for Jesus, and serving was still worth it, for Jesus did not die. He is Risen. Death has been defeated. They should not be fleeing like a driven tumble weeds, but stand up as victorious followers of Jesus.

When we reflect on what is said about the suffering savior, from Moses to Malachi, we will find that the Christian faith is a faith like no other. Its origins are of old and are of God. Let’s explore just a few of these accounts. Around 1400 B.C., Moses spoke of Jesus when he said: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.” (Deut. 18:15) In 800 B.C., Isaiah spoke of Jesus when he said: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering… He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows… He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:2-5) The prophets of old spoke of Jesus. They prophesied that Jesus would suffer, die and rise again to enter into his glory. Our faith is rooted in prophesy and the promises of God and history! We can trust the Gospel! We can have assurance of God’s grace and forgiveness and mercy.

In many ways I have habitual Bible study, or I search for principles to follow as I live as Christian. But I must renew my quest to find Jesus and the Gospel in each one of my Bible studies. Also I discover that I must accept Jesus’ way, which is revealed in verse 26, “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” My hopes were in establishing a glorious ministry and me being at its helm. But I learn here that Jesus himself had to suffer. He had a handful of scattering followers at the time of his death. Instead of trying to behold the glory of ministry in this world, I see that Jesus entered his glory after his suffering and death and resurrection. In this time of such rapid, discontinuous, cultural changes, I don’t know what God has in store for my family and our small ministry. Nobody can know for certain. But I know one thing is that the risen Jesus is alive and with me, my family and ministry and leading us. I know that his plans are the best plans. These plans will include some suffering. But Jesus is leading all the way to the kingdom of God. My true hope of glory is in Jesus and the resurrection to the everlasting Kingdom of God. I am sure that Jesus will grant me some measure of success in this world and in ministry, but this is “gravy”, God’s grace and his gift to me. I will accept all that he deems fit. Thank you Jesus for straightening out my head and my heart through your word in verse 26.

Part ll: “Were Not Our Hearts Burning Within US?” (28-29)

As Jesus talked, their hearts began to respond. Look at verses 28-29, “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29 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.” Jesus is an expert in drawing out faith in peoples’ hearts. The hearts of these men were peeked. They wanted to learn more. It was because the word of God was circulating in their hearts and the Spirit of God was at work. They invited Jesus to stay with them. Jesus accepted their invite. Sometimes, loving others means accepting others’ gestures of love.
These men were great because they where practicing true hospitality. To them, Jesus was still an interesting stranger, who knew a lot about the Bible, but still a stranger. They wanted to cook supper for him and to give him a place to sleep. Here lies the secret of becoming a missional church. We need to reach out to strangers and practice Christian hospitality. We must become incarnational, serving even strangers with the love of God in their need. It is easy to invite friends, family and fellow church members to supper, but strangers? George Washington did it. Every time he ate supper he sent his servant into the street to invite a stranger to come and sit at his table and eat with him. Maybe we can invite a complete stranger to eat with us once a month?

As they ate the eyes of their hearts opened. Look at verses 30-31, “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” The disciples had seen Jesus take bread, give thanks and break it many times. Through these times of having an intimate meal with Jesus, his love was embossed on their hearts. And so when he did it again this time, their spiritual eyes were opened and they recognized him. They personally met the Risen Christ.

This shows how important eating fellowship and other forms of informal fellowship is in coming to know Jesus. Yes, their Bible study with Jesus was very important. The time of walking and talking with Jesus was essential for it created an environment in their hearts. But the event that finally opened their hearts was this meal together. As servants of God, we need to go beyond just having scheduled programs and slow down and engage in such basic things as eating with people. (without neglecting the former.) That is what the missionaries did with me before I came to believe in Jesus. I believe DuPage UBF knows this for there is so much delicious food at this conference. Thank you for all who served!

Jesus wonderful shepherding had a great affect on these disciples. Look at verses 32, “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?’” Their hearts burned within them. This was a good thing. The Holy Spirit was at work, burning away the chaff of their worldly hopes, fear and despair and making them into new creations through their personal encounter with the Risen Jesus. Their hearts were burning to know more about Jesus. They were burning to be with Jesus and burning to go and tell others about the glorious Risen Savior!

They were also full of a sense of mission. Look at verses 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.” After meeting the risen Jesus, resurrection faith infused in their soul. And so they made a complete 180 degree turn and went back to the place that they were fleeing from. They were excited. They were happy! Their despair turned to hope. Their unbelief and confusion turned to faith. And for the first time in their lives they could understand how God loved them so much that he gave his One and Only Son that they might not die in their sins but believe in him and live forever more. They became men of courageous faith and their sense of mission, to go and tell, was restored. I pray that God way continue to burn away the chaff in my own heart and rekindle within me a burning desire to go and tell the students of NIU and the people of DeKalb about the suffering Savior who died and rose for their salvation.

In today’s lesson we see how two fearful and despaired disciples were changed when they met the Risen Jesus. Through a study of the Scriptures and the wise and gentle shepherding of Jesus, along with the work of the Holy Spirit they came to understand the Gospel and meet the Risen Living Jesus in a very personal way. They were used by God as witnesses of the resurrection. May God work in our hearts in a similar way as we search the Scriptures and allow Jesus to reveal himself to us very personally.

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