That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing (reasoning) together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. (“gloomy, sullen, dark") Then one of them, named Cle'opas (probably Jesus’ uncle), answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?"
And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. ("to liberate from an oppressive situation, set free")
Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. (“Nothing seems to make sense; astound") They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even 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 as the women had said; but him they did not see.
And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! ("Without, understanding or perception") Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (A corresponding OT word analogy literally meant “heavy.” Jesus was a heavyweight, a Messiah worth his credentials.) And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him (Jesus "made understanding possible"); and he vanished out of their sight.
They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:13-35)
I want to talk today about what we learn about Jesus in this passage, how this encourages us, and how this challenges us (and they will probably all run together).
1. Life is hard, but Jesus joins us in our journey
Through Jesus, God entered a world He created in which grief and joy cross paths constantly.
- Jesus goes from John’s baptism to temptation in the wilderness
- He was praised for miracles and then walked into traps
- He fed the 5,000 and was then pummeled by storms
- Lazarus lived/Lazarus died/Lazarus lived
- Peter walked on water – and then Peter sank
- Crowds love him, but villages hate him
- The triumphal entry was followed by crucifixion, then resurrection
- Now, on the Emmaus road, there is despair followed by great joy.
The resurrected Christ did not demonstrate the fullness of His glory by removing all the uncertainty and turmoil from life – He demonstrated the fullness of His glory by entering into those situations and redeeming them. David talked about how God would be with him when he walked through the valleys, not if.
You may have noticed that Jesus has not removed all the turmoil and uncertainty from your life. There are still valleys.
- Friendships ride roller coasters…
- Marriages overwhelm us one day with happiness and bury us the next day in frustration…
- Jobs fulfill and crush…
- Physical health comes and goes…
- Freedom from temptation is followed by what feels like overwhelming temptation…
- Death impacts all of us
- Or, like those on the road to Emmaus, the way in which you sense God near – or far – can change dramatically.
Here is the encouragement of this story: Jesus walks with us spiritually like he walked physically with those on the road to Emmaus. He did not remove them from this tumultuous world, and he does not remove us – yet. One day He will. One day there will be no more sickness, no more dying, no more tears. One day all that is bad will be undone. Until then, Jesus joined them, and Jesus joins us, and His ongoing presence points toward our ultimate reconciliation with Him in Heaven.
2. Jesus is content to remain hidden at times even though He is always near.
We do this with kids all the time, right? When teaching them to ride a bike, that first time we let go of the seat we run right behind them as long as we can just in case. We watch them on playgrounds even though they don’t know; we may or may not read Facebook posts when they don’t log out. We are often hidden even though we are near. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s the closest human expression I can think of.
When Jacob was traveling (Genesis 28:11) he had a dream that he was in the presence of God. Jacob said, “Surely God is in this place and I did not know it.” Scholars speculate that the Emmaus road revelation likely happened at the same place that Jacob dreamed he was visited by God. At the same place, the same thing happens to the travelers as happened to Jacob: “Jesus was in this place and we didn’t know it.”
God could have miraculously revealed himself to Jacob at any time. On the Emmaus road, Jesus could have instantly caught up and BAM, threw back his hood and said, “Guys! It’s me!” But he let them peddle their spiritual bicycles and wobble for a while as he walked beside them, hidden to them.
Perhaps that is why we must walk with friends like you see in this account. It is much easier to keep going when you have a walking buddy. Many times we don’t sense God is near; one way to we find strength is by walking with others. This is why we stress relationship at our church. Nobody needs to walk their Emmaus road alone.
- Ted ‘walked with me’ after my dad’s death
- Scott and Karl have ‘walked with me’ for 18 years now through the ups and downs of life, which included that time
- Paul and Jackie ‘walked with’ Sheila and I at a time when our marriage was really struggling
- You all have ‘walked with me’ since my heart attack (very patiently and gently)
Those weren’t necessarily times when I didn’t sense God’s nearness, but they were certainly times when I had a lot of questions and uncertainty. There was something about the conversations, the time spent together, the laughter and tears, that stabilized me by giving me access to the ambassadors of God, the representatives of Jesus, in a way that I could experience. Some of it was deep; lots of it was trivial. And yet it wasn’t. It’s nice to have pictures on our walls of Jesus with his arms around us to remind us of His love. It gets a lot more real when we are hugged by someone with the love of Jesus flowing through them.
We need each other. Perhaps others aren’t good at reaching out to you. Reach out to them. Maybe they are really clumsy in their attempts to walk with you. Offer them grace. Maybe you are really clumsy at it. Be honest about that to. I’m sure they noticed already.
Bearing each other’s burdens is one way we fulfill God’s command to love (Galatians 6:2). That means we must reach out for the burdens of others – and we must offer our burdens as well so they have the opportunity and the privilege of fulfilling this command to love.
3) Jesus will reveal Himself in His time
The two disciples did not recognize Jesus on the road. Revelation was required. How does God do this?
A) He Reveals His Glory Through His Word. Jesus could have just revealed this without opening the book – the book is about Him after all. He could have just skipped that step and popped out. But they had the Scriptures, so He walked them through the Scriptures as the form of revealing Himself even though He was right there. We see this form of revelation consistently in biblical accounts.
- Old Testament quotations and allusions are found in the Gospel of Matthew (which was written especially to convince Jewish readers).
- Apostles' sermon material found in the Book of Acts constantly refers back to the Old Testament (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Psalm 2:1-2, 7; 16:8-11; 110:1; 118:22; Isaiah 53:7-8; 55:3; and Amos 9:11-12) as a means of revealing who Jesus is.
- Once the New Testament was in place, that also became a foundational way of revealing Jesus to people.
If you are walking the Christian road, and you need to see Jesus…. read the Bible. This is the foundational revelation of His glory. Now, it was Jesus who made understanding possible to the travelers, and it will be Jesus who makes understanding possible for us, but it’s in the study of Scripture, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit inside of us, that Jesus is revealed, and we are strengthened and transformed. [i]
B) He Reveals His Glory Through His Suffering. Jesus tells them: “Wasn’t it necessary that the Messiah suffer to reveal His glory?” Then Jesus showed them through the breaking of the bread: At the Last Supper he had said, “Take, eat, this is my body ,broken for you.” Jesus wants people to see His glory. How will this happen? Through his suffering for our sins, and through our suffering for the sake of the gospel.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17-18 (NIV)
While there are many kinds of suffering, the Romans passage we just read talks specifically about suffering for the cause of Christ. We are not being threatened with beheading or burning by ISIS, but we have significant ways in which we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ.
- Jesus commands us to be pure, and we suffer in our struggle to remain pure in our thoughts and actions. Clicking the remote or turning off the computer can be a war. Saying no to sexual opportunities can be epic. But if I want to share in the glory of Christ’s purity, I must be willing to suffer the hardship of sexual restraint.
- Jesus commands us to love people, and we suffer as we taken on the burdens of relationships with others. But if want to share in the glory of true Christ-like love, I might have to be deeply wounded and still come back for more if I want to share in the glory of Christ’s love.
- Jesus wants us live lives of self-sacrifice, and generosity, and patience… and we can suffer as everything within us wants to be selfish with our time, greedy with our money, and impatient when things don’t go our way. But if we want to share in the glory of Christ, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow.
- You might suffer as you stand for the truth of Scripture, and because you love Christ so much you will not compromise on the gospel. And when you do this with truth and grace – when in the midst of opposition you increasingly reveal not just the truth of the gospel but the heart and mind of Jesus – you are pointing toward and sharing in the glory of Christ.
Can we all agree the world needs to see the glory of Christ? It will be seen when we pay a spiritual price for the cause of Christ.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (NIV)
He was known to them in the breaking of the bread. “Do this in remembrance of me.“ He will be known to us, and the world will see His glory, as we are broken too. Amy Carmichael, a missionary who worked in India for 55 years, once wrote (and I paraphrase):
‘Have you no scar? No hidden scar on foot, or side or hand? I hear you described as mighty in the land: I hear them hail you as a rising star: Have you no scar? Have you no wound? As the master is so shall the servant be. Pierced are the feet that follow me; but yours are whole. Can you have followed far if you have no wound? No scar?’”[ii]
We share in God’s glory when we suffer for His sake. His glory fills us and then leaks through our scars as our lives are broken on his behalf, and for His glory. But we do not lose heart, because we realize:
1 Peter 5:10 (NIV) “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
Life is hard, but Jesus walks with us. Sometimes He hides, but He always reveals Himself and His glory through His word, His life and His people. If you are willing to be spiritually broken and poured out for the cause of Christ, God will reveal His glory through you to a world that desperately needs to see Him.
 “When Jacob was travelling the sun set…and he had a dream that he was in the presence of God. God spoke to him there. And the name of the place was originally known as Luz — in the Septuagint it is Oulammaus. In the Codex Bezae this is the name used for Emmaus in Luke 24. In an early reading of Luke (perhaps the earliest) the Emmaus road revelation happened at the same place that Jacob dreamed he was visited by God.” http://vridar.org/2007/11/17/the-logic-and-meaning-of-the-emmaus-road-narrative-in-luke/
[i] Check out The Bible Project at https://thebibleproject.com. They have a bible reading plan where you read in conjunction with very helpful videos they have on the website. Shirley Beadle also has a Bible Reading Plan available in the office here at church.
[ii] See also 1 Peter 4 and 1 Peter 2:21