The Risen Christ Explained the Scriptures

We are meditating on the appearance by the risen Lord Jesus to two discouraged men on the road to Emmaus (Scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts). The two men did not know who it was that was walking with them. The Lord patiently listened as the two men unburdened their broken hearts. At the right moment He responded:

25He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:25-27).

These two disciples needed to understand what the Scriptures taught. They only had a limited understanding of what God was doing in the days they lived. It is the same today. When they read the writings of Moses, they did not look closely and ask the “why’ of the text. We can learn a lot by the “who, what, when, where, and why” questions that we can ask of the text. The two disciples had clouded vision due to their belief that Jesus’ mission was to release them from Rome’s bondage and occupation. The Lord began to explain the Old Testament Scriptures to them, beginning with Moses and the Prophets (Verse 27). But what Scriptures did He refer to?

He more than likely explained what Moses wrote in the first five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, that Christ was the One about Whom  God spoke at the Fall when Adam was told of One Whom God would send to crush the serpent’s head (a picture of Satan), although the heel of the One sent would be struck (a picture of Christ and His crucifixion): “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” (Genesis 3:15). He probably explained how the substitutionary Passover lamb’s blood that was shed and placed on the lintel and door posts of the doors would deliver the obedient from Pharaoh’s slavery. Perhaps, He explained that the Rock that was smitten by Moses, thus bringing forth water for Israel, was a picture of the Rock of Israel, Christ, being struck for sin so that the Holy Spirit would be poured out for the thirsty (Exodus 17:6). Paul the Apostle also wrote about Christ being the Rock of Israel. He wrote that they all “drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). Perhaps, He explained that the heavenly food that came to Israel while in the desert was a picture of the heavenly bread of life that God would give, i.e. a picture of Christ, the Bread of Life:

32Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” 35Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:32-35).

Perhaps, He also explained that Moses had said, “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” (Deuteronomy 18:15). Pharaoh and Egypt were all a picture given hundreds of years before Christ of the greater bondage and servitude of sin that will not release its slaves unless payment is made of the death of a substitute, i.e. the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

To these two, disheartened disciples, Christ also went to the prophets. He might have spoken of King David, who wrote of One who would come Who would be scorned, despised, mocked, and Whose clothes would be divided and lots would be cast for His garment (Psalm 22). His hands and feet would be pierced (Psalm 22:16). He might have mentioned Zechariah’s prophecy of One upon Whom they would look, the One who had been pierced for them: “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” (Zechariah 12:10). Oh, how each of us would have loved to be an unseen listener to the conversation of Jesus as He unpacked the Old Testament scriptures to them. Let’s think more on this tomorrow.

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.

A God Who Hides Himself

We are continuing our meditation on the resurrected Jesus appearing to two discouraged disciples as they walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus (Scroll down for yesterday’s meditation). On this first day of Christ’s resurrection, why did Jesus appear in a different form to two discouraged believers? Why would Christ travel incognito? This is not the only time our God has hidden Himself from His people. On that same morning, Jesus had risen and hidden His identity for a short while from Mary Magdalene:

13They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). (John 20:13-18).

Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel (Isaiah 45:15).

Perhaps, these two disciples on the Emmaus road would have talked differently if they knew Who it was that was walking alongside them. They were able to share with Jesus and articulate why they were so low and disillusioned. The Word of God tells us that their blindness was of a spiritual nature and not a natural phenomenon at all. God has shown up incognito on several occasions in the Scriptures. For instance, Gideon spoke with the LORD without realizing to Whom he was speaking (Judges 6:22-23). Samson’s parents spoke to the LORD Who appeared as the Angel of the LORD (Judges 11:16-23). Abraham also had YHVH appear to him in form as of a man, described as the Angel of YHVH (Genesis 18:1). When the word LORD is capitalized it always means YHVH, God Himself. Most Christian scholars believe The Angel of the LORD to be a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus. He comes alongside us to bear our burdens, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2).

I wonder how many times the Lord has been walking with us, and we have not been spiritually aware that it was He. As Christ drew alongside of them, He took the initiative and said to them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” (v. 17). Cleopas and his friend are amazed at Jesus’ question about what has been going on in Jerusalem. Their body language portrayed their incredulity. Verse 17 tells us that they were shocked to a standstill with their faces downcast.  “One 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?’ ” (v. 18). Their hearts were low as they talked about their hopes and dreams for the future being broken and dashed by the crucifixion of Christ. The Lord often asked a question to draw out people. He said to them, “What things?” (v. 19).

Our God longs that we share with Him exactly where we are at in our faith. He knows us more than we know ourselves, yet He loves us more than we can ever realize. It’s not that God doesn’t know what is going on in their hearts and ours. He longs that we might talk with Him about our situation. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). He is a good listener. I’m sure that Cleopas and his friend shared more than is written down for us, but the Lord did not reply until they unburdened themselves. He took the initiative to ask them to talk about why they were disillusioned. Their pain caused them to pour out openly with a stranger. When they were finished sharing their disillusionment, He replied by explaining to them the Scriptures. Today is a good day to unburden ourselves to the Lord.

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.

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.