Wednesday 20 January 2016

The third day (Notes from Luke 24:13-35)

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.

  • It’s the same day as the Resurrection.
  • Here are two people leaving the scene of the crime, they have been there, done that. But now they are headed home.
  • Later on in verse 21, Cleopas says, “It is now the third day since this happened,” meaning that’s it. Jesus is really dead. (Compare John 11:6, 39 - Jesus waiting till after the third day before visiting Lazarus) The show is over. They tried staying back for the post-credits extras but nothing happened.
  • Emmaus was 7 miles from Jerusalem, meaning it was still within the province of Judea, close enough for Cleopas and his friend to be familiar with all that Jesus said and did these past few years. Their expectations were built up over some time and this particular visit to Jerusalem over the Passover weekend was full of anticipation. Instead, it ended up a huge disappointment.

14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.

  • They were gossipping. The same way the Internet was abuzz when Bowie and Rickman died this week. “Did you hear? After all he did? What a shame!”
  • Talking is a way of thinking. Of processing. They weren’t discovering new information. They were trying to make sense of what they had already seen and heard.
  • So much had happened. The miracles. The crowds. The triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The arrest by the Romans. The trial. The torture and crucifixion. They talked about “Everything that had happened.”
  • In fact, verse 15 describes how they “discussed” these things. A better word would be “debated”. They had strong opinions. They had questions they wanted answers to.

15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.

  • This was not Paul’s encounter on the road to Damascus where Jesus knocks him off his horse. (Acts 9)
  • Instead, Jesus joined them in their journey. He “walked along with them.”
  • He didn’t stop them mid-conversation. Jesus wanted to be a part of their conversation.

16 But they were kept from recognising him.

  • ESV: “Their eyes were kept from recognising him.”
  • This anticipates later when “their eyes were opened” (verse 31).
  • For now though, Jesus doesn’t want them to see. Instead, Jesus wants to know what they think. He wants to know their honest opinions.
  • Good teachers do that. Good parents know this. They don’t rush to give their kids the answers. They give them enough to start them thinking. They ask questions.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast.

  • “What are you talking about?” This simple question stops them in their tracks. ESV: “And they stood still, looking sad.”
  • You have to wonder why. After all, they were happily discussing with one another. The events were public knowledge. People who love gossipping, love attention. They love it when someone new asks them about the elections, immigration or Donald Trump.
  • But this issue was personal. They weren’t talking about the latest fad. Their expectations were real. And their emotions were raw.
  • To them, Jesus was a stranger prying into their personal lives. Maybe they didn’t realise how deeply it affected them until just then.

18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

  • It’s meant to be an insulting comeback. “Are you a tourist? Are you blind?” Meaning: “Everyone knows this!” The Malay expression for this is “katak bawah tempurung” (a frog under a coconut shell): to be oblivious to the world around you.
  • The reaction of sadness followed by anger reveal how personally involved Cleopas and his companion were in the events of the cross.
  • But Jesus persists: “What things?” (verse 19) Literally, a single word: “What?” (Poia) One word was all it took for Cleopas and his friend to open up.

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.”

  • The floodgates open. From verses 19 to 24, the two travellers give a summary of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
  • “He was a prophet,” they said, thinking of Old Testament heroes like Moses and Elijah. “Powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” We find this phrase on the lips of Stephen in Acts 7:22 referring to Moses, who was “powerful in speech and action.” Like Moses, therefore, there was an expectation bound up with what Jesus had come to do, specifically to “redeem Israel” (verse 21). This was the consensus opinion among “all the people”.
  • What they really want to say is, “Jesus is the Christ,” but they can’t bring themselves to do so. The most that Jesus could have been was a prophet, albeit a powerful one from God. So close but no cigar.

20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him.

  • This is insightful. They do not mention the Romans or Pilate. Rather, the ones responsible for Jesus’ death, according to the two travellers are the chief priests and our rulers. They “handed him over” to be crucified. They gave him up, as it were.
  • Earlier, in verse 7, the two men at the tomb say, “Remember how he told you… ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” The exact same expression is used - the Son of Man must be “handed over” (paradothenai) to sinful men to be crucified.
  • It’s passing the buck. Letting someone else do the dirty work.
  • Yet Jesus himself anticipates this betrayal and reminded his disciples to anticipate his betrayal. This must happen.

21 But 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.

  • The greater the expectation, the greater the disappointment.
  • They wanted Jesus to redeem Israel, to free them from occupying armies and kick out the Romans, to establish God’s kingdom on earth and to make theirs a proud nation once again.
  • “What is more, it is the third day since all this took place.” Three days since Jesus was tortured, crucified and buried.
  • Yet, there might be more to this being the “third day”. The promise of verse 7 says, “On the third day be raised again.” Maybe that’s why they stayed behind in Jerusalem.
  • They were thinking, “Maybe… just maybe.”

22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning.

  • Aha! So they did know about the empty tomb (verses 1 to 12). They were one of the “others” in verse 9 whom Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James told. “They came and told us.” (verse 23)
  • Their reaction? Verse 11: “But they did not believe the women because their words seemed to them like nonsense.”

23 But they didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.

  • All they had to go on were these women’s words. A missing body? Angels? It was lot to take in.
  • Things would be different if Jesus appeared. Why leave an empty space where the body used to be? Why send angels? Why choose women as your eye-witnesses (whose testimonies in ancient culture weren’t admissible)?

24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.

  • Back in verse 12, we read that Peter “got up and went to the tomb.”
  • But here, we find out he wasn’t alone. Others thought, “I need to see this for myself.” They found the tomb “just as the women had said.”
  • “But him they did not see.” They wanted to see Jesus. That would have made all the difference.
  • Ironically, Cleopas and friend see Jesus but their eyes are kept from seeing him. Meaning, this was intentional. There is something that Jesus wants us to see more than what we think we need to see in order to believe him. He wants them to see him in his promises. In his Word.
  • Up to this point, Cleopas and his friend were doing all the talking. And they had all the facts.
  • Evangelism is more than accurately conveying the facts about Christianity. Cleopas was accurate with the data, even the bits he wasn’t convicted by like the women seeing the tomb. He didn’t hold anything back.
  • Evangelism is more than being sincere about Christianity. Their hopes were sincere. Their disappointment was real.
  • Evangelism is speaking the gospel. For all their accuracy and sincerity, Cleopas and his friend did not know the gospel. The gospel says Jesus had to die. The gospel tells us why Jesus had to die.
  • To the gospel, you first have to know the gospel.

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”

  • We expect Jesus to say, “How foolish you for not recognising your Saviour?” or “Why didn’t you believe the women?” or “Why not check the tomb out yourselves?”
  • Instead, Jesus rebukes them for not trusting their bibles.
  • He doesn’t dispute the facts that Cleopas and his friend brought up - the crucifixion, the empty tomb - because the facts were absolutely right. Cleopas was accurate in conveying the data.
  • Instead, for the rest of the journey, Jesus does bible study with them.

26 “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

  • The Christ, or Messiah, is God’s chosen King.
  • According to Jesus, it is necessary - a job requirement - for God’s chosen king to suffer. Think of King David hunted by Saul for years before ascending to the throne. Think of Joseph sold by his brothers into slavery. Remember Moses’ forty years in exile from Egypt.
  • In part, suffering teaches God’s leaders humility and dependence upon God.
  • But Jesus’ connection between suffering and glory paints a bigger picture - that God’s chosen king must suffer on behalf of the sins of his people.
  • Sin is the rejection of God as our king. Therefore, God’s chosen King must bear the same rejection that God experiences from his people.

27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

  • “Moses and all the Prophets” sums up the entire Old Testament canon. All of Scripture points to Jesus.
  • It means you can turn to any bit of the Old Testament and see Christ.
  • More importantly, it means you haven’t understood the Old Testament until you see how all of it points to Christ.
  • Jesus does bible study with his two friends. Notice, they didn’t have a bible app on their phones, they didn’t have Gideon bibles in their knapsacks. They knew their Old Testaments by heart. They had all the data.
  • But Jesus opened their eyes to the gospel. He showed how all the Scriptures pointed to him.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going further.

  • They reach their destination. The story should end here.
  • Jesus doesn’t press for a decision. He does the bible study, points to himself from the Scriptures, and for him, that’s job done. In a sense, he leaves the conclusions with them.

29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening, the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

  • What a change! Cleopas and his friend urge Jesus strongly to remain - literally, to abide (see John 15:4-7, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you”, also John 1:39) - with them. Jesus is no longer a stranger. There is real concern for him.
  • Jesus responds to their invitation by remaining with them, just a while longer.
  • Everything we know about God, we know in relationship with God.
  • Even though their eyes have been kept from recognising Jesus, their eyes were opened to seeing him in the Scriptures.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.

  • The sequence of actions of Jesus taking the bread, breaking it, giving thanks for it and distributing it is reminiscent of the feeding of the five thousand (Luke 9:10-17) and the last supper (“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them.” Luke 22:19)
  • It is symbolic of Jesus’ giving of himself on the cross as the bread of life.
  • This was more than a meal. This was an invitation to friendship with God, to be a part of his family.
  • When Jesus did this, something triggered in the hearts and minds of his friends.

31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight.

  • Some say they recognised the nail wounds from his hands when he gave thanks for the bread. That’s possible.
  • More likely, in the same way that their eyes were kept from recognising Jesus spiritually back in verse 16, so Jesus chose this moment to open them, that is after he had opened the Scriptures to them.

32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

  • He does the exact same thing with apostles later: “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Verse 45)
  • This is how we truly know we have encountered Jesus in his glory - when he speaks to us from his Word and opens our eyes to the gospel.
  • Before, their minds were foolish and their hearts were slow (verse 25). But now their eyes are opened and their hearts are burning.
  • This is the experience of every believer in Christ. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them assembled together.

  • Seven miles back to Jerusalem, back to the apostles and in a sense, back to the church, to “those assembled together”.
  • The gospel that saves us is the same gospel message that builds us up as the church. Evangelism doesn’t simply happen outside the church to outsiders. Evangelism results in the church gathered around God’s word. As the gospel message goes out, God’s people are gathered in.

34 And saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”

  • When they say, “It is true!” they are obviously referring to the resurrection evidence. (If you are wondering about the appearance to Peter, it isn’t documented in any of the gospel accounts, but only in 1 Corinthians 15:5 - “And he appeared to Cephas”)
  • But how did they know it was true? Often times, we hear evangelists say, “Investigate for yourselves the evidence of the resurrection.”
  • But Jesus presents the truth of the resurrection in the gospel. Specifically, in the Old Testament. You see, Cleopas and his friend had the data of the resurrection in their heads, but they refused to believe it because a suffering Messiah did not make sense.
  • So when they say, “It is true!” They aren’t simply saying, “It’s accurate!” They are saying, “It makes perfect sense. God’s promises have come true!”

35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognised by them when he broke the bread.

  • Remember how earlier they say, “Him they did not see.” (verse 24) Here were two witnesses saying, “We saw him. We walked seven miles with him and talked with him. And we recognised it was really him when he broke the bread.”

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