Road Trip (Part 2): The Road to Emmaus

The Road to Emmaus

As we continue this series, let us notice two men who were traveling the road to Emmaus. As we go along with them, we will learn about recognizing Jesus.

And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. And He said to them, ‘What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?’ And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, ‘Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?’

And He said to them, ‘What things?’ And they said to Him, ‘The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.’

And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He was going farther. But they urged Him, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.’ So He went in to stay with them.

When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?’ And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, ‘The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.’ They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of bread” (Luke 24:13-35).

This occasion was one of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Interestingly, even though these men were disciples, they did not recognize the Lord at first. Let us consider some points from this.

Talk about the Things of Christ

These two disciples were discussing what happened to Jesus as they traveled. When Jesus met them, He heard what they were discussing and asked them more about it. Talking about Jesus led to an opportunity to answer questions about Jesus.

One lesson for us is that we should seek to develop a habit of discussing spiritual matters. The Israelites were told, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). God’s law was to be part of their regular conversation, just as spiritual things are to be a regular feature in our discussions.

Obviously, talking about Jesus would have been more natural and expected as these disciples traveled to Emmaus. After all, this was a major event – Jesus had just been crucified and there were reports circulating that He was alive. For us today, it is easy to become distracted by both regular and urgent matters. However, that just makes it all the more important for us to be intentional about discussing these things with others.

When we make it a habit to talk about Jesus, His word, the church, our hope, and so on, we will often find doors being opened to questions, just as Jesus asked these disciples. We must be “ready always to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15, KJV) or, if the situation does not allow this immediately, offer to discuss it later. As we become involved in these discussions, we need to maintain the proper attitude so as to make these conversations as productive as possible. Peter said we are to answer questions related to our faith with “gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). Paul explained the proper attitude to Timothy: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). It is important that we talk about spiritual matters as this can invite questions from others, but we need to be sure that our attitude is such that people are invited to consider these things further rather than tuning out and moving on.

Possible to Know/Believe and Miss the Point

These two men knew what happened to Jesus. They had even heard about the empty tomb. However, it was not just that they were aware of the news of the day, they were disciples. They believed in Jesus and hoped that He would redeem Israel. However, they missed the point of Jesus’ mission in coming to earth.

There may be several reasons why someone might believe in God, understand His word (at least to some degree), and miss the point about Jesus, His kingdom, or their responsibility before Him.

  • He could be blinded by sin – This happened to David in his infamous sin with Bathsheba. When Nathan came to him with a parable about a rich man who wronged a poor man (2 Samuel 12:1-6), the king immediately recognized the sin of the man in the parable. Yet he did not see his own sin until Nathan directly said, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7).
  • He could be blinded by pride – In Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), the Pharisee saw himself as being “better” than others and, therefore, never recognized his need for forgiveness.
  • The truth may be different from what he expected – Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He spent forty days teaching His apostles about the kingdom (Acts 1:3). Yet at the end they asked, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Despite all of the time and private discussions they had with Jesus, they were still expecting a physical kingdom to be part of His plan, rather than a spiritual kingdom that would be established on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2). It seems that this reason – that the truth was different from what they expected – caused the disciples on the road to Emmaus to miss the point about Jesus.

It is one thing to believe in God and understand His word. It is another to recognize what we must do, say, or be as a result of what His word teaches. James wrote, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). Paul told the brethren in Colossae, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (Colossians 3:17). It is not enough to simply know about Jesus and recognize what His word teaches. We must put His word into practice in our lives, giving every part of our life to Him.

When we miss the point on any of these spiritual matters, the way to remedy that is by going to the Scriptures. That was why Jesus directed them to “Moses and…the prophets, [and] explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). To make sure we do not miss a point that God wants us to understand, we need to spend time in the word and study it in order to know it.

Proof of Christ in Prophecy and Testimony

Jesus used the writings of Moses and the prophets to explain about Himself. He did the same thing with His apostles later in this chapter: “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45).

Paul explained to the Galatians that the Law of Moses was a “tutor to lead us to Christ” (Galatians 3:24). When Jesus cited various “witnesses” that testified about Him, one of these was the word of God: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me” (John 5:39). If we want to know more about Christ, we must understand His word.

The word of God has been revealed in order to produce faith in us. Paul wrote, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Real faith is not produced by subjective feelings; instead, it is founded upon the unchanging truth of God’s word. Notice the following verses:

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8-9).

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).

If we want evidence that leads us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, we will find that in the word of God that has been infallibly and completely revealed to us in the Scriptures.

After Seeing Jesus, Tell Others

Eventually, these two disciples recognized Jesus. Once they did, they were motivated to tell others: “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon” (Luke 24:34).

Christians have a responsibility to tell others about Jesus. When the members of the church in Jerusalem were scattered because of persecution, they “went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). As we have already noticed, we have a responsibility to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [us] to give an account for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15). The hearts of the disciples burned within them (Luke 24:32), which led them to speak. We need to have the same attitude as was described by the prophet Jeremiah: “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).

Why should we tell others about Jesus? We do so because He “has really risen” (Luke 24:34). Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope. Paul explained, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). Because Jesus conquered death and was raised from the dead, we can be delivered from death and have hope for eternal life with Him in heaven.

People are looking for hope. This has always been the case, but it is especially true when we have to go through difficult circumstances – either individually or collectively. Real hope is only found in Christ – never outside of Him (cf. Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:13). Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). We need to point people to Him.

Conclusion

It is essential that we recognize Jesus as the risen Lord – the one who saves us from our sins. As we understand this, we need to talk about Him, His kingdom, and the hope that He offers as we try to help lead others to Him.


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