WITH JESUS ON THE WAY TO EMMAUS
1. I’ve never been a huge fan of religious art, but for some reason I love this work by Swiss painter Robert Zund (1827-1909), The Way to Emmaus.
a. It’s not because I think it accurately portrays what happened; it’s because it illustrates the power to capture our imagination the story it’s based on has.
b. It has to do with Luke’s extended description of the single post-resurrection appearance of Jesus he focuses upon.
c. The passage has been called “another of the immortal short stories of the world” (Barclay), “the most beautiful of all the post resurrection accounts” (Summers), and “Luke’s treasure” (Morris).
2. Luke 24:13-35 is all of that to us because we will all need the transformation that occurred in the two disciples who were with Jesus on the way to Emmaus.
1. Hope In The Past Tense, v. 21
a. “But we had hoped” perfectly summarizes the mood of the two disciples who are walking along, and it does it in a way we can almost feel.
i. It’s “that very day” when the tomb of Jesus has been found empty, and they already know about the report the women had brought and the results of Peter and John’s trip to the tomb, but they haven’t taken any of it seriously enough to stay in Jerusalem.
ii. Now they’re walking along sharing their doubt and confusion over the events of the last few days, looking downcast and glum.
iii. Though they thought very highly of Jesus, and though he had actually risen and was there with them, they were speaking of hope in the past tense.
b. And, even though we live on this side of the resurrection of Jesus, our journey is sometimes characterized by dashed hopes.
i. It may be with our dreams for a career that did not come to fruition as we thought it might.
ii. It may be with what we had planned for our family life.
iii. It may be disappointment with people who let us down–or worse.
iv. It might even be with ourselves, with our own faults and failures in our efforts, attitudes, or conduct.
v. That hope sometimes seem to fade is just life; the awful thing would be to live permanently in that condition (cf. Eph. 2:12).
2. Misguided Expectations, v.21
a. What was most responsible for their lost hope about Jesus was their own mistaken expectations about what it would mean for him “to redeem Israel.”
i. They knew the circumstances behind, and the manner of, his death (v.20), but they never expected it to lead to glory.
ii. Having heard that the tomb had been found empty, the part that stayed with them was “but him they did not see” (v.24)–even though they were looking at him!
iii. Misplace assumptions can blind us to obvious hope.
b. Before we go farther, it might help us to examine our own expectations about what it will mean for the Lord to redeem us.
i. What we need to be redeemed from is a “vain manner of life” (1 Pet. 1:18).
ii. What it must involve is not new-found wealth or restored political power, but “the forgiveness of sins” (Eph. 1:7).
iii. And what it gives us the right to anticipate is not perfect people, or easy going, or constant success, but the faithful care of God through whatever life brings (cf. 1 Pet. 1:21).
3. Knowing The Scriptures From The End To The Beginning, v.25-26
a. Expectations are corrected and hopes are renewed when we understand the Scriptures from Jesus backwards (cf. v.32).
i. These two disciples were familiar with the Scriptures, but they had missed the point of them.
ii. Verse 27 describes how Jesus opened the Scriptures to them: he showed them what Moses and the prophets had said about him.
iii. But verses 25 and 26 are our only description of what he said: it was necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory.
b. If we would read the Scriptures from the perspective which sees the resurrection of the Christ who suffered as the main point, our hearts would burn within us, too.
i. Think of the way the God who raises the dead brought forth Isaac, as if from death to life (Rom. 4:17; Heb. 11:19).
ii. Remember how Jonah was three days in the belly of the great fish, and what Jesus said about that being his sign (Matt. 12:40).
iii. Hosea pleaded for his unfaithful countrymen to return to the LORD by saying, “On the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (6:2).
iv. The Hebrew writer spoke of the heroic faith of those who, when tortured, refused to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life (11:35).
v. Acts 26:22-23
4. Opened Eyes, v.31
a. The eyes of people who haven’t recognized the resurrection of Jesus as the reality that changes everything can be opened.
i. In this case, their eyes being opened meant that he was made known to them (v.35), they recognized him (v.31).
ii. It is interesting that this happened “in the breaking of the bread” (v.35), while he took the bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to them (v. 31).
iii. Was it because of the way in which he had fed the five thousand? Was it because of what he had done a few nights before at the supper?
b. What do people see when their eyes are opened like this?
i. They see that the cross, rather than being a defeat, is the way to glory.
ii. They recognize that Jesus, rather than being only a prophet mighty in deed and word, is Christ the Lord (cf. Acts 2:36).
iii. They understand that he is alive, and that he is with his people all along (Matt. 28:20).
5. Turned-Around Lives, v.33-34
a. Knowing about the resurrection of Jesus turned these two disciples around right then!
i. They went on the same road, but in a different direction (v.33).
ii. They went with a very different demeanor (v.33). No more “lagging feet, under leaden skies,” as one writer described the way they had been walking toward Emmaus.
iii. They joined in quite a different discussion (v.34-35).
b. There is power in the news of the resurrection of Christ which must have that same impact on each one of us.
i. Luke 24:46-47
ii. Like the two in our text, we must act upon what we know, in a manner which is in keeping with it (Acts 2:38).
iii. When we do, it leads to a similar resurrection (Rom. 6:4).
1. Think of this picture when you read of the “living hope” to which the Father has “caused us to be born again...through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).
2. All of us are on the way somewhere. Which way are you headed? Who are you with?