Jesus on the Emmaus Road

We are continuing to read about the drama as to how the resurrection of Jesus was received by the disciples of Jesus (Scroll down for yesterday’s meditation).

13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him. 17He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19“What things?” he asked.  “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see” (Luke 24:13-24).

In this passage, we have two disciples of Christ walking together toward the village of Emmaus, seven miles westward of Jerusalem. We are told the name of one, Cleopas (Verse 11), but not the other. The day they were walking we know to be Resurrection Sunday, the third day after the crucifixion of Christ (Verse 21). Passover had finished, but the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasted seven days, was continuing. To walk any further than a mile on the Sabbath was considered work, so this was their first opportunity to walk more than a mile. We don’t know why they were walking westward away from Jerusalem; it may have been that they were walking to their homes or to a place of work.

As they walked, a stranger came walking along behind them. The stranger caught up and walked beside them, listening to a very deep and intense conversation. Cleopas and his friend were comparing notes with one another and reflecting on the last three days’ events (Verse 14). Perhaps, they talked about the curtain torn from top to bottom in the Temple (Matthew 27:51), i.e. the curtain that separated man from God. Maybe they talked about the tombs breaking open at the death of Christ and about the bodies of many holy people coming out of their grave (Matthew 27:52). The two were believers but not of the eleven Apostles. They were probably two of the 120 disciples that were gathered in the Upper Room for the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, still forty–seven days away (fifty days after Passover).

They had become disillusioned since the One they hoped would redeem them had been murdered at the hands of the religious leaders. Depression and discouragement had settled in their hearts. Their belief and trust had been thrown to the ground, “We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Verse 21). We are told two things about this appearance to the two. Luke tells us, “They were kept from recognizing him” (Verse 16). Some think it was the setting sun in their faces as they walked westward in the late afternoon. Others think that it was because he had a cloak with a hood on it that kept them from seeing clearly His face.

It is a lesson to those who are strong believers to come alongside those who are discouraged or weak in their faith. We are to encourage one another by explaining the Scriptures that our God is never far from us, even when we are low in our faith. He is always close at hand and ready to meet with us, especially when we lack understanding in what He is doing in us and through us. God will manifest Himself to those who are seeking Him and enquiring after Him: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). I pray that today, if you don’t understand all that God is doing in your life, that Christ might come and walk with you today.

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. Click on study 65 at this link, Jesus on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-35). Keith Thomas.

They Will be Like the Angels in Heaven

We are continuing our meditation from yesterday on the topic of Jesus’ words in Luke, chapter 20, where Jesus was talking about the eternal state. To the Sadducees who had scoffed at the thought of a resurrection of the dead, He had four thoughts for them. We looked at the first one yesterday, we’ll look at the second and third today. Here’s what He said:

34Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20:34-38).

2) The Lord speaks of the resurrection as a fact (v. 35), and although the Sadducees only use the five books of Moses, Christ used those books to prove the patriarchs are very much alive at the time He spoke these words, they are at the present time with the Lord. Jesus stated to them, “Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive” (vv. 37-38). When God spoke those words to Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been dead for more than 400 years. The Lord reminded the Sadducees that God didn’t say, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they were very much alive after they had passed from this world, and He used the present tense to speak of them.

The Sadducees could see no evidence of resurrection in the five books of Moses, but they had a moment of revelation at the insight of Jesus. After this debate, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions. His arguments were causing the religious leaders to question their own beliefs and they were not successful in swaying the crowd away from Jesus.

3) There is no death in the eternal state, for those who are considered worthy will be like the angels (Verse 36). If we are to be like the angels, what does that mean? Angels are trusted with great power. When the Assyrians attacked Jerusalem, King Hezekiah of Israel cried out to the Lord to deliver Jerusalem. God sent one angel. The power of one angel was enough to defeat a whole army!

36Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! (Isaiah 37:36).

The word angel literally means messenger. They were described as having a brilliant appearance. Often, the reaction when people encountered them in Scripture was to be afraid and to fall to the ground (Daniel 10:5-9). Meeting an angel is overwhelming to our physical state. We could say much about the holiness, power, and character of the angels, but suffice it to say that the believer in Christ, if he is to be like the angels, will be an awesome personality that will radiate the likeness of the Lord. Paul the Apostle told the Corinthian Church that God’s people would be “sown in weakness” but “raised in power” (I Corinthians 15:43). We are told in the book of Daniel the prophet, that those who are counted worthy, or wise, will radiate light when the end shall come and the dead are raised:

2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:2-3).

I don’t know about you, but I want that! Are you helping those around you to come to receive the righteousness of Christ? If you are, then you are wise!

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. To view, click here. Click on study 54. Luke 20:20-47. Questions About Eternity. Keith Thomas

What is the Rapture of the Saints?

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[a] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV).

There are some Christians who do not believe that there will be a rapture of the saints. I don’t know how they get around the plain understanding of these verses. Sure, I agree with them that the word rapture is not found in the Bible. The word Rapture is a word we use to describe the church, the people of God, being caught up to heaven. The English word comes from the Latin word rapere, meaning rapid. The Latin word rapere is from the original Greek word, harpazō, translated as “caught up” in theKing James Version and English Standard Version, as in the passage above. Harpazō means: “to strip, spoil, snatch. To seize upon with force; to rob. It is an open act of confiscatory violence…to snatch or tear away, yank away, pluck out of, remove by swiftly and aggressively grasping.”[1] There is coming a time when the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout (how those that have refused and scorned His grace and act of love will tremble), and at that instant we will be snatched from this earth and changed as we are gathered together to be forever with Christ. It goes along with what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the change in our nature:

“in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52-53).

This word, changed, what does it mean? That which is on the inside, the real you, the character that God has been working on throughout your life, will someday be revealed. Our new bodies will not be the same as our old nature that we inherited from Adam; Paul says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50). It will no longer be perishable but imperishable (15:53). We won’t all sleep; there will be some who are transformed instantly without going through the death process. This is the rapture or being caught up, whichever word you wish to use. When Christ comes, in a flash, in the batting of an eye’s time, we will be changed from having a perishable body to being clothed with an imperishable body (Verses 51-52).

…the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21 Emphasis mine).

Isn’t this your longing and desire, to be like Jesus?—I hope it is. What a wonderful thing. This word that is translated transform is the Greek word Metaschēmatizō. It is a construction of two Greek words. Meta means a change of place or condition, and schēma meaning shape, or outward form. To transform, change the outward form or appearance of something, refashion, reshape.[2] There is a rapture of the saints at the coming of Jesus, a transformation. That which is on the inside will be revealed—and it will be glorious:

2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:2-3).

Taken from the series The Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column. Click on the study, The Rapture and Day of the Lord. Keith Thomas

[1] Key Word Study Bible, AMG publishers. 773 Harpazō.

[2] Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Page 1651.

“I Go to Prepare a Place for You”

We are continuing to meditate on the thought that God has called out of the world a people from all nations to be in a marriage relationship to Himself. This relationship is one that is brought about by the greatest of loves, that of agape love, self-sacrificial love. Jesus came to express His love by dying in place of guilty man. The judgment of sin was, “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). God has made a way of escape and sent His Son to take man’s punishment upon Himself—self-sacrificial love. God raised Him from the dead, and now He waits for man to respond to His act of love. In this act of love, He has betrothed those who accepts His death as theirs, into a marriage relationship. When Christ comes, then will begin the festivities. Until then, we are in an engagement or betrothal relationship. We are to live in purity for Him and Him alone. Christians are those who have entered into a covenant of marriage.

I borrow from the words of C.H. Spurgeon here:

“The marriage of the Lamb is the result of the eternal gift of the Father. Our Lord says, “Yours they were and you gave them to Me.” His prayer was, “Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am. That they may behold My glory, which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” The Father made a choice, and the chosen He gave to His Son to be His portion. For them, He entered into a Covenant of Redemption, whereby He was pledged in due time to take upon Himself their nature, pay the penalty of their offenses, and set them free to be His own.

Beloved, that which was arranged in the councils of eternity and settled there between the high contracting Parties is brought to its ultimate end in that day when the Lamb takes unto Himself in everlasting union the whole of those whom His Father gave Him from of old.

Next—this is the completion of the betrothal, which took place with each of them in time. I shall not attempt elaborate distinctions. However, as far as you and I were concerned, the Lord Jesus betrothed each one of us unto Himself in righteousness when first we believed on Him. Then He took us to be His and gave Himself to be ours so that we could sing— “My beloved is mine and I am His.” This was the essence of the marriage. Paul, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, represents our Lord as already married to the Church. This may be illustrated by the oriental custom by which, when the bride is betrothed, all the sanctities of marriage are involved in those espousals. Yet, there may be a considerable interval before the bride is taken to her husband’s house. She dwells with her former household and has not yet forgotten her kindred and her father’s house, though still she is espoused in truth and righteousness. Afterwards, she is brought home on an appointed day, the day which we should call the actual marriage. Yet, the betrothal is, to Orientals, of the very essence of the marriage.”[1]

That is what we will talk about next, the home that the Lord has been preparing for us. He said, 1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:1-3). I’m looking forward to being with Him in that place, I hope you are too.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas


An Appointment with Death

We have been meditating on the subject of eternity over the last few weeks (scroll down for other meditations). Erwin Lutzer tells the fable about a Baghdad merchant who sent his servant to the marketplace to run an errand. When the servant had completed his assignment and was about to leave the marketplace, he turned a corner and unexpectedly met Lady Death. The look on her face so frightened him that he left the marketplace and hurried home. He told his master what had happened and requested his fastest horse so that he could get as far from Lady Death as possible—a horse that would get him to Sumera before nightfall. Later that same afternoon, the merchant also went to the marketplace and also met Lady Death. “Why did you startle my servant this morning?” he asked. “I didn’t intend to startle your servant—it was I who was startled,” replied Lady Death. “I was surprised to see your servant in Baghdad this morning, because I have an appointment with him in Sumera tonight.”[1]

You and I have an appointment with death. We cannot run from it, and we cannot hide from it. We can only face it. “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Thankfully, there is a God in heaven who has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). We needn’t face death alone. Christ has told us that He will be with us until the end of the age.

When George Bush Senior was Vice President, he represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Communist Russian leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, that this life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that this same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.[2] There was the leader of a Communist country trying to stamp out all knowledge of Christ and His Word, yet even his wife was a secret believer with the thoughts of eternity in her heart.

We have come a long way over the last few weeks as we have explored what God says about our destiny and where we will spend eternity. We are made for more than the way this world is set up! We have an enemy that seeks to keep our minds occupied with things of this world alone. That enemy, Satan, desires to stamp out all thoughts of another life in Christ, a life that is better by far. He does not want us to focus on the eternal, but he wants us to be mesmerized only by the physical, material world in which we are in to keep us “duped” and ineffective. The enemy does not want us to consider that we are only passing through this present life and being prepared for another. Jesus said that, even though a man dies, yet shall he live (John 11:25). You can deny the thoughts about eternity, and you can tell them to shut up, but that inner knowledge that death is not the end cannot be extinguished. There is a God in heaven Who has not given up on you; He calls to you that you may find your way to His home. You shall seek me and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). Over the next few days we will take a look at who we are and where we are going. Who are we? Jesus calls us His Bride, and He is preparing us for eternity with Him.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

[1] One Minute After You Die, Erwin W. Lutzer, Moody Publishers, Page 119.

[2] Gary Thomas, in Christianity Today, October 3, 1994, p. 26