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The Road to Emmaus
Does the Bible really matter to you?
Luke 24:13 to 35
My name is Shawn Farrell, and it is my privilege to open the Word of God with you this morning. I am the college pastor here at FBC, and I also serve as one of the elders. But during the day, I sell surgical devices and implants. I spend much of my time in the operating room helping surgeons as they operate on knees, shoulders, and other body parts.
Recently during surgery, I heard the following story from one of the surgeons that I work with. He hired a small company to remodel his house. They had removed most of his possessions and transported them into a 10×30 storage unit in order to do the work. Now this is a very wealthy man, and he estimated that he had over $100,000 in art alone. In addition, his furniture did not come from IKEA. In fact, it did not even come from Pottery Barn. His furniture had all been custom built and was very costly. He estimated the contents of his house to be between $200- to 300,000–not bad.
He received a message from the owner of the remodel company. “I have some bad news. I have been very sick and unable to function at a normal level. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay the fee for your storage unit and so the lock was cut and all of the contents went to auction. I’m terribly sorry about this.” Click.
After recovering from the initial shock, he found out that the storage company was well within their rights to liquidate the contents. Although his last name was on every single box in the unit, he was not on any of the paperwork, and so it was too late.
That afternoon he went home and walked through his empty house. He saw the place where his favorite lamp sat, the one he had bought early in his marriage for $1,800. He went into his bedroom and took out the small drawer that had come from the mahogany dining room table that he loved. He had taken it out so that it wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. It was all that was left, and he finally admitted to himself that he had lost everything.
It’s hard to imagine losing everything, isn’t it? It would make you stop to ask the question, “What is most valuable to me?” And I am pretty sure the answer would be different for each of us. For me it would be the hundred-plus-year-old Tiffany pocket watch that belonged to my great grandfather, which by the way still works. This amazing picture at my wedding where I am dipping Tracy. And my computer.
What about you? What do you value most? A family heirloom, or old family videos, your favorite stuffed animal, or your signed jersey? I think the answer would be different for each of us, but I wonder if any of us would put the Bible on that list. That’s right, your copy of God’s Word.
“Oh Shawn, that’s not fair. Of course I would bring my Bible–that goes without saying.” And while most acknowledge the importance of the Scripture, sadly for many it is not always the reality. For some, the Bible only comes off the shelf on Sunday as it makes its weekly trip to church and back. For others, it is just a few minutes here or there.
But friends, we cannot underestimate the value of this book. It is of incalculable worth. It speaks of life, of death and answers the riddle of why we are on this rock hurtling through space. It gives us meaning and helps us to understand our purpose in life. The Bible is living, powerful, and penetrating. It convicts of sin and is sufficient to bring a person to salvation. Its value is greater than riches and is sweeter than honey. It is eternal, it is binding, and every word is true. In it we find a history of the past and a window into our future.
And while it is true that it speaks of our life and our destiny, it is not a book about us. The Bible is a single story woven together over 4,000 years, broken down into 66 books, written by 40 different authors, and listen carefully–it has one message, one great theme, and one main character. The Bible’s greatest character and central theme is Jesus Christ.
From the fall in the Garden to the triumph of Revelation, the Bible is His story. It sings His songs, proclaiming His glories and extoling His majesty. It tells of His great love and His plan to rescue mankind from sin. And so we read and study the Scripture because it is here that we can see Him and know Him.
Our desire for the Scripture therefore, is a clear indicator of our desire to know Christ. And the quickest way to draw near to Christ is to come to His Word. The passage before us illustrates this truth. And my hope is that we will see Christ more clearly through His Word this morning, and that we would rightly value this book in our lives.
1 Knowing the Bible is your RESPONSIBILITY Verses 13 to 26
Let me start by catching you up on the context of this story. Jesus has been active in ministry for three years, healing the sick, raising the dead, performing miracles and teaching in a way that captivated the masses and caused many to believe that He was the promised Messiah. One week earlier, He entered Jerusalem to palm branches and shouts of, “Hosanna”.
But it is now Sunday afternoon, and everything had changed. Jesus was dead. He had been arrested, convicted, sentenced, and crucified like a common criminal. As He died, the hopes of His disciples died with Him. The eager expectation of Messiah had been replaced by tremendous sorrow and confusion. And so we pick up the story in verse 13, as two of Jesus’ disciples are headed home from His funeral.
Verses 13 to 17, “And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. [They were rehashing the events of the week and trying to reconcile all that had happened.] 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. [They didn’t know it was Him. The verb is passive, God kept them from recognizing that it was Jesus.] 17 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.”
Jesus question reopens the wound, stopping them dead in their tracks. They are unable to cover their disappointment and sorrow. So they launch into the whole story. Verses 19 to 25, “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, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. [There was an eager expectation that Jesus was the Messiah and that He was going to set up His kingdom but clearly it wasn’t Him because He is now dead.] Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. 22 But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. 24 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.’”
What a story–they got all the details right, but their conclusion was wrong. And so Jesus in verse 25 brings a pretty strong rebuke. “And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!’” Literally translated—“You dull and stupid men. You have failed to understand and believe what the Old Testament teaches.”
The prophets had spoken plainly enough, but they did not accept what had been taught. And Jesus holds them directly responsible. Did you get that? They are fully culpable for their understanding of the Bible. He doesn’t blame the Scripture. He doesn’t say, “Yea, I know–the Old Testament is pretty tough to understand. I totally get how you could be confused.” No, not at all. The prophets have spoken. God didn’t mumble when He wrote the Bible. It is clear.
There is never an excuse for biblical ignorance to those who possess the Scripture. It is not the fault of the Scripture if you do not understand. It is clear. A failure to search the Scripture may obscure the truth, but nonetheless, the reader who possesses the Scripture is still responsible. (John MacArthur)
And these guys missed it. Verse 26, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” But they didn’t see this. Their Messianic theology was limited to the glorious king who would vanquish their enemies and set up His kingdom, thus redeeming them from their oppressors. But this is not what the Old Testament teaches. According to verse 26, “the Christ must first suffer before entering His glory.”
The shame and the glory of Christ are linked together. You cannot have the crown without the cross. You cannot have a risen and glorified Savior without first having the lowly man of sorrows. Their error in study and interpretation led them to an incomplete and erroneous conclusion about the Messiah.
And there is a huge warning here. A partial understanding of Scripture is a major problem. And the responsibility to search the Scriptures, digging deep in study belongs to each of us. We have been given the whole revelation of God, and in the same way that Jesus held these men accountable for the truth written in the Old Testament, so He holds us responsible for what we do with this book. And we must be diligent to read it, study it, and to apply it to our lives.
But often, like the men in this story, we are slow to believe in the promises of God that are revealed in Scripture. Are you struggling with doubt or worry? Do you find yourself questioning God in your trials? The reason is because you do not take God at His Word. You have chosen to trust your emotions and your circumstances above the Scriptures. And this is always a problem. Would Jesus call you foolish and slow of heart for your lack of trust in Him? Too often in our trials, we lower our heads and try to charge through on our own strength instead of raising our eyes to Heaven in humble dependence on the Word.
Can I encourage you to go back to His Word and meditate on His unchanging love, His faithfulness, His power, and His mercies which are new every morning, and there to find hope?
2 UNDERSTANDING the Bible leads to Christ Verse 27
“Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Jesus takes them on a whirlwind tour of the Old Testament, focusing on Himself. He starts with Moses, that is the first five books of the Bible, then extends to the prophets, and verse 27 says, “all the Scriptures.”
We don’t know exactly what He said, as Luke only gives us a summary verse. But we do have the Old Testament, so we have a pretty good idea of where He would have taken them. Jesus may have started all the way back in Genesis 3, recounting the fall of man, which plunged the world into sin and brought the curse of death to all.
And yet right there, a promise of redemption is made. Jesus is the wounded seed of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head. Victory would be won, but it would come at a great cost. Genesis 3:15, a few verses later we see the first animal sacrifice. Adam and Eve were naked and God clothed them with animal skins. Jesus is the true covering and payment for the sinner’s guilt (Genesis 3:21).
Maybe He went to the flood in Genesis 6, and God’s judgment for sin in which He wiped out every living creature except for eight souls who boarded the ark, and how Jesus is the true ark into which sinners must enter to escape the fury of the wrath of God.
He could have gone to Gen 22, and the sacrifice of Isaac, who as an innocent son carried wood on his back up the hill to be sacrificed. But the real picture of Christ is in the ram caught in the thicket that was sacrificed as a substitute.
He certainly would have taken these Jewish men to Exodus 11 to review the Passover, in which God gave instruction to Israel to paint the doorposts of their houses with the blood of a lamb so that the angel of death would pass over the house. Jesus is the true Passover lamb, whose blood was spilt to protect us from divine judgment.
He would have gone to Leviticus 16 and the Day of Atonement, the highest day on the Jewish calendar, in which once a year special sacrifices were made on behalf of the people. Two lambs were killed, one as a substitute, whose blood was sprinkled on the altar, and the other was called the scapegoat and was led outside the camp to die alone, showing the complete removal of sin. Christ represents both, the perfect offering for sin and the scapegoat, who died alone having removed our sin from us.
In referring to specific prophecy, the Messiah would be a descendent of David, born in Bethlehem, to a virgin. Isaiah 11:1, Micah 5:2, Isaiah 7:14–He would open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf, and make the lame to walk. He would preach freedom to those under the yoke of sin and alleviate the suffering of the afflicted–Isaiah 35:5, 61:1, Matthew 11:3 to 5.
He would enter Jerusalem on a donkey, He would be betrayed by a friend, sold for thirty pieces of silver—Zechariah 9:9, Psalm 41:9, Zechariah 11:12 to 13, 9:31, 11:16. In utter humiliation and shame, He would be struck by His enemies, His face unrecognizable from the countless blows. They would spit on Him and mock Him, pulling out His beard, and then hang Him from a tree as an utter curse, piercing His hands and His feet in crucifixion. His only earthly possessions were divided and He was hung between two thieves.
He would be taken down from the cross without a single bone being broken, uncommon for crucifixion, and would be put into the tomb of a rich man. But He would not stay in the ground, God would raise Him from the dead in resurrection–Isaiah 50:6, Psalm 22:16 to 18, Psalm 69:21, Isaiah 53:12, Psalm 16:10.
All of this is prophesied in the Old Testament. Obviously we can’t look at all these texts, but I want you to see Isaiah 53. Isaiah is referred to as the fifth gospel since it speaks so often of Christ, and nowhere more explicitly than in chapter 53. I will only read verses 5 to 6. “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
Luke 24:26, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” The answer is, “Yes.” But this is not all. There is so much more. Throughout the Old Testament, Jesus was present. He was there in the burning bush of Exodus 3, He wrestled with Jacob in Genesis 32, He was the fourth man in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 4. It was a vision of Christ that Isaiah saw in chapter 6, when He said, “My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts,” (John 12:41).
The first Adam led His people into sin, slavery, and death. Jesus is called the second Adam in Romans 5, who led His people out of slavery and into life. Jesus is the better Abel according to Hebrews 12. Abel’s sacrifice pleased God but had no atoning power, whereas the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin.
The Israelites were led out of Egypt by a pillar of fire, and Jesus said in John 8 that He is the light of the world. Manna was given as a temporary provision to those wandering in the wilderness, and Jesus said in John 6 that He is the true manna from Heaven, the bread of life which satisfies forever.
Moses struck a rock, and from it poured out water to let the people drink, but 1 Corinthians 10:4 says that the rock is Christ, and He was struck once, and from Him flow the waters of life.
When the people were bitten by serpents in Numbers 15, they were to look up at the bronze serpent on the pole in order that they might live. And in John 3, Jesus declared that He would be lifted up on a cross so that all who were dying from the venom of sin would look to Him to be saved.
The sacrificial system was given to remind the people that sin required death. Sacrifices were made day after day, but the there was nothing in the death of an animal that could take away the sin of men and women. Hebrews 10 says that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice offered once for all. In fact, when John the Baptist saw Him in John 1, He declared, “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.”
The Old Testament had judges who ruled over the people, but Jesus is the greater judge who rules His people in fairness. The Old Testament had prophets who spoke the words of God to the people, but Jesus is the Word made flesh. The Old Testament is full of priests who stood between man and God to mediate and advocate, but Jesus is the great High Priest who perfectly stands between God and man. The Old Testament had kings, both good and bad, who ruled over the people of Israel, but Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords who rules with justice and with love.
The Bible is one great story, one theme, one message, and it revolves around one person–Jesus Christ. It is all about Him. All of creation, all of history, all of life, and all of Scripture is about Jesus Christ. He is the Creator and Sustainer. He is the Alpha and Omega who holds the keys of life and death. He is God with us, the Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd, the True Vine, the Great Physician, the Chief Cornerstone, our Deliverer, our Mediator, our Brother and our Friend. He is the Captain of our salvation, the Resurrection and the Life, the Author and Perfector of our faith, the Lord of glory, the Lion of Judah and the Great I Am.
He came once as the humble servant who suffered and died, and He is coming again as the risen and conquering King to lead His people home. Jesus said in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.”
And at this point, according to verse 32, “their hearts are on fire,” literally burning within them. Maybe it is the same for you right now. And I don’t want to get ahead of the text, but look at verse 32. Why are their hearts on fire? Because they understood the Scriptures. For the first time, their Old Testament made sense to them, and all the pieces are coming together in their minds that Jesus was the Messiah.
And so they beg the stranger, pleading with Him in verse 29, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. Their invitation is not so much about hospitality as much as it is about teaching. Give us more. And realize that they still do not know it is Jesus.
Verse 30, “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.” Jesus sat down and bowed His head to bless the food. He said some very familiar words–more than likely He began His prayer the same way He always did, “Our Father.” And for these two men, there was a growing familiarity with this stranger–something so natural, so comfortable, so normal.
Is it possible that as He reached out His hands to serve the bread, the sleeves of His cloak were raised up just enough to expose the fresh scars on His hands? And verse 31, “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.” God opened their eyes. The veil was lifted, and in an instant they recognized that the man who was across the table was Jesus Christ. And now they knew He was alive, and everything was true–the Messiah had come. Reclining on the other side of the table was God Himself.
What a moment. What an unbelievable turn of events. And their sadness and sorrow is replaced with overwhelming joy. It is Him! It is Jesus! And right then, verse 31, “He vanished from their sight.” He was gone–disappeared. And they must have looked at each other and went, “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Woaahhhhhhh. It’s Him, He is alive. He is alive!”
3 Embracing the Bible produces a radical response verse 30 to 35
There are three responses when the Word of God is active in your heart:
1) A burning heart verse 32
It was Henry Martin, the great missionary to India, who said, “Now let me burn out for God.” His heart was set on fire by the truth of Scripture. David Brainerd, that young missionary to the American Indians who died in his youth, said, “O that I were a flame of fire in the hand of God.”
2) Immediate action verse 33
“And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them.” They didn’t wait for daybreak–they left their food on the table and ran out the door and made their way seven miles back to Jerusalem in the dark. You can’t help but jump up and obey.
3) Confession of Christ verses 34 and 35
“Saying, ‘The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.’ 35 They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.” They can talk about only one thing, and that is Christ. He is in their hearts and He is on their lips. And the only thing that makes sense is to tell others about Him.
When the Word of God finds a soft heart, it penetrates deep within and changes the person from the inside out. I love this story–to see Christ so clearly is exhilarating, and it overwhelms my heart with joy and I trust it is the same with you. We need to wrap this up.
Evaluate your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Do you know Him? Is He Lord of your life? It is one thing to see Him in the Scripture, it is another thing to submit all that you are to Him. The same Jesus who met these men on the road will meet you right here this morning. In His great love, He stands ready to forgive your sins and to welcome you as a son or daughter. Won’t you come to Christ and find rest for your soul?
Get your Bible on.
A gentle reminder that in the Bible we see Jesus Christ, and it is here that He speaks to us, and it is here that we come to know Him more. If you wonder why your heart has not burned for Christ in a long time, it is very possibly because you have not drawn near to Him in His Word. If you have never really had a consistent devotional time, then what a great day to start. If you do spend daily time in the Word, then I hope this passage serves to excite your heart to study, meditate, memorize, and read even more.
Tell others about Him.
Much like the two men in our story, let’s seek to share Christ with others.
Back to my doctor friend–not knowing what else to do, the doctor decided to drive down to the auction house. He found that true to what he had been told, his possessions had been sold on the auction block. He was indeed too late. But to his surprise, two of his items were still for bid. The mahogany table, still missing its little drawer, was on the stage, and resting against it was his favorite lamp. With a sense of great affection, he entered the bidding process and he bought back the items that he thought were lost. These are now his most prized and cherished possessions.
In the same way, Jesus came and found you when you were lost in sin and hard-hearted rebellion. And out of great love and care, He opened your eyes and revealed Himself to you, and bought you with His own blood. You belong to Him, a trophy of His grace and one of His most cherished possessions. What an amazing Savior. Let’s pray.