A Walk to Remember
We have before us this morning one of the most vivid and insightful accounts of our Lord's appearances after his resurrection. Luke is the only one of the four gospel writers to include this story. It is a story that reveals to us not only something about who we are, but how Jesus opens our eyes to see him for who he is and about how we can come to know him.
The journey to Emmaus is both a literal and a spiritual journey. On one hand, it recounts the story of two disciples who, after the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord, walk seven miles from Jerusalem to their village of Emmaus. On the other hand, it outlines for us the journey that we all take from not recognizing Jesus, to understanding what the Scripture says about him, to recognizing him for who he is, and finally to our giving witness of what we have experienced.
Notice with me five things from this passage:
Jesus Seeks Us (vss. 13-26)
Although the disciples knew who Jesus was, they did not recognize him. They knew a lot about him. They had been witnesses to all those things that had happened in Jerusalem. They had heard, no doubt, on many occasions the things Jesus had testified about himself. Yet, they were not able to recognize Jesus when they met him.
There were several reasons they did not recognize Jesus:
· God did not want them to recognize him (vs. 16)
“but they were kept from recognizing him.”
The original language conveys the sense that they were kept from recognizing him because God had a purpose in blinding their eyes from reality. Jesus is not being cruel here. His gradual revelation of himself allows them to learn certain lessons about trusting God's promises. The disciples had been told about these events many times, but they had not believed.
· Events had not happened as expected (vs. 21)
“we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”
Although they use the word redeem, they do not have in mind spiritual redemption. Redeem means “to purchase with the object of setting free”. Thus, a slave might be purchased from their master in order to be given their freedom. From there it came to mean what we usually take it wo mean, redemption from sin.
That is not the meaning that these disciples applied to it. To them it meant political freedom from Roman oppression. They thought that when Jesus came to Jerusalem the rebellion would begin. The Romans would be driven out and Jesus would take his rightful place as king of Israel.
They had a preconceived idea of who Jesus was, what he had come to do, and how he should do it. But when things did not turn out like they thought they should, they dismissed the whole thing as a mere failure, as misplaced hope and trust.
While God always has a plan, we are not always privy to that plan. When things don't turn out like we expect, instead of giving up and admitting defeat, perhaps we would be wise to see things differently, to see if maybe God is up to something we simply do not understand.
· They had little faith (vs. 25)
"How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”
They had heard the reports of the women who went to the tomb. They had seen the empty tomb for themselves and yet they had not believed. The supernatural working of God to raise Jesus from the dead was outside their paradigm. They had never seriously considered who Jesus was.
We need to be careful not to make the same mistake, to discount what God has done simply because we cannot explain it or understand it. While God often uses natural things to accomplish his will, he also does things we can neither explain nor understand. These two disciples knew something had happened, but it was beyond their level of faith to see things as they truly were.
Just because they knew about Jesus does not mean they knew him. Just because they could see him does not mean they could see who he was. Many people today know who Jesus is. They have heard about him, read about him, use his name, and many even claim to know him. They would not have recognized him if they saw him. Their eyes have not been opened. Knowing about him and knowing him are two different things.
Secondly notice that ...
Jesus Opens Our Eyes (vs. 27)
Verse 27 says, "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself."
While we do not know the specific passages Jesus used, we know he opened to them the Scriptures with a view toward showing them how all the Old Testament pointed to him as its fulfillment.
Perhaps Jesus began with Genesis 3:15, where God cursed the serpent saying, " And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
From there maybe He pointed them to Deuteronomy 18:15, which says, "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.”
And from there to Isaiah 7:14 where God says, " Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
From there Jesus could have taken them to Isaiah 53:3: " He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem."
Perhaps Jesus showed them what Isaiah 53:7 says: " He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."
Maybe Jesus quoted to them Zechariah 12:10: " And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son."
We know that Jesus walked them through the entirety of the revelation to show how it gave witness to who he was, why he had come, and why it was necessary. Jesus wanted them to see that if they would only believe what the Scriptures say about him, they would understand why He came and why He had to suffer. They would have known who he was.
Scripture gives testimony of who Jesus is. He uses it today to open the eyes of those who do not know him.
Many people will try to tell you who Jesus is. They will tell you he is one of many ways to get to heaven. They will tell you he was a good man, a great prophet, a good teacher, or a rebel who defied the Roman authorities. But outside of a knowledge of Scripture you will never have a proper understanding of who Jesus is.
That is one of the reasons it is so important to believe in that all of Scripture is God's word. For if it is untrustworthy at any point then it can be untrustworthy at every point. It is either all God's word or it is not his word at all. When you know the Scriptures, they will build your faith, and only through faith can you come to Jesus. The truth of Scripture about Jesus leads to personal faith in Jesus.
God prevented these two disciples from recognizing Jesus to convey a deep truth: Even if we were to see, we might still not believe. We must trust the testimony of Scripture.
Jesus tells us that we must have the scriptural truth to understand who he is. 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.
The scripture tells us the truth about Jesus.
But look in verse 30...
Jesus Reveals Himself (vss. 28-32)
It was only as they had fellowship with Jesus that he disclosed Himself to them. Jesus reveals Himself to those whose eyes he has opened through the truths of his Word.
It is not without significance that it is around the supper table that the disciples' eyes are opened and they see Jesus for who he really is. After the resurrection, many of the appearances of Jesus are associated with table fellowship. This is true here, in Luke 24:41-43, in Acts 1:4, and in John 21:9-15. In the intimacy of fellowship Jesus reveals himself to us. His working in our lives becomes clearer, and his provision and protection come into focus.
But when they recognized him he disappeared. Fellowship with him was not going to depend on their ability to see him, but rather upon their taking him at his word.
And notice finally their response. Once they recognized Him, they could not help but share Him.
Jesus Moves Us to Share (vss. 33-35)
When your eyes have been opened, you will want others to have their eyes opened.
Can you imagine the excitement they must have felt? They said to one another, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?" Their encounter with Jesus had been emotional. It had stirred them on the inside. It had moved their very hearts. And once moved they could not help but share.
That very hour, dark as it was, late as it was, dangerous as the road was, they left for Jerusalem. They gave witness that Jesus was risen, that he had walked with them and talked with them, explained the Scriptures to them, and broke bread at their table.
All who have experienced the risen Savior should be moved with similar emotions. All who have come to know him should react the same way. We should not be able to contain it. Jesus told Thomas in John 20:29, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Do you know Jesus this morning? Have your eyes ever been opened to who he is and what he has done for you? Do you know that he walks with you and talks with you? Can you testify to his presence in your life? Do you have fellowship with him? Has your experience with him been so real, so moving, so life changing that it has caused you to tell others about him? What will you do with Jesus?