Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
He Explained to Them - April 26, 2020 - Third Sunday of Easter - Text: Luke 24:13-35
Our Easter celebration continues as we continue to declare that Christ is risen, He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! Our Easter celebration continues because for us Christians every Sunday is an Easter celebration as we come to divine service to worship our risen Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Today we pick up the after Easter account again on Easter evening and the account of Jesus appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. As we hear this account, we place ourselves into the shoes of these two disciples as if we were there on the road with Jesus.
Our text begins with Jesus meeting up with the two disciples. We read beginning at verse thirteen, “13That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16But their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (v. 13-16).
A couple of comments about these first verses. Notice that these were disciples, not apostles. The distinction we make between a disciple and an apostle is that the apostles were the twelve closest to Jesus, they were His inner circle. They were the ones that were set apart for special work for Jesus. Jesus had many other followers who were His disciples, which means they were His followers and learners. We rejoice because this definition reminds us that by faith in Jesus we too are His disciples and learners.
These two disciples were discussing the things that had been happening in Jerusalem. Their minds were filled with mixed emotions; grief, wonder, awe, and confusion. They were not thinking about who was around them or who was listening in on their conversation, so they did not notice nor did they recognize Jesus as He walked along the road with them. The text says that their eyes were kept from recognized him. Jesus did this for a reason as we will see and as we know that all that Jesus does He does for a reason, a good reason, His Godly reasons.
Our text continues with Jesus speaking with the two disciples and asking a question. We pick up at verse seventeen, “17And he said to them, ‘What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?’ And they stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’ 19And he said to them, ‘What things?’ And they said to him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24Some 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’” (v. 17-24).
These two disciples cannot believe Jesus does not know what had happened. Of course, we know that Jesus does know what had happened. He asks the question in order to help them express their feelings and so He can show them the truth.
You can almost sense the excitement in their voices as they share with Jesus, and yet at the same time there is sadness as we see that their faces are downcast. It is like it was an almost experience. We almost had a Messiah.
They explain everything that had happened according to their understanding. They thought that Jesus might be the Messiah, but He did not fit their understanding of the Messiah, because they were looking for an earthly Messiah. He was almost the man they were looking for, but not quite. The man they were looking for would not die on a cross.
Jesus responds as we continue at verse twenty-five, “25And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (v. 25-27).
Jesus begins with a gentle, but caring rebuke. And He goes on to explain all of Moses and the Prophets. It is almost like He says, “alright I will try to explain this to you one more time, now pay attention.” Interestingly enough, they finally do get it, after the fact. Are we not the same way? After something is explained it becomes obvious to us. Oh, yeah!
For the rest of the account we read picking up at verse twenty-eight, “28So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29but they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.’ So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32They 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?’ 33And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread” (28-35).
The two disciples had reached their destination, a place about six to seven miles from Jerusalem. Jesus acted as if He were going on, yet they urged Him to stay. They liked what they were hearing and wanted to hear more. In such a short time they had come to like this new found friend, this traveling companion. Jesus has such a way with touching peoples lives.
So, Jesus stays. He takes bread, blesses it and breaks it. Please understand, this is probably not the Lord’s Supper, simply an evening meal. As He gives them the bread we are told they recognize Him and He vanishes from their sight. What was it about this encounter? What was it that gave Jesus away? Was it the way He broke the bread? Was it what He said? What was it that now brought them to the realization that this was Jesus? It was the fact that Jesus opened their eyes so they could recognize Him. Jesus opened their eyes so they could understand all that had happened, that it happened according to God’s perfect plan and purpose.
After Jesus left, they began to express their excitement to each other. And they were so excited that they ran all the way back to Jerusalem, some six to seven miles away. And when they got to Jerusalem they shared what happened to them with the apostles and all the others that were there. Oh, what an exciting day.
What does this mean? We are a lot like those disciples on the road to Emmaus. We tend to be slow to believe, we tend to be a skeptical bunch. Often, we want to believe only what we want to believe, and only the way we want to believe it. Whenever you ask for peoples opinions, everyone is ready to jump in and give you theirs. But are we ready to put our opinions aside, our human reasoning aside and take a long, hard look at what God says, at what the Bible says? We are very much like those two on the road to Emmaus. We would rather form our own opinion and state our opinion as fact, and not change our opinion, we would rather listen to human reasoning even if it is contradictory to what God says, rather than actually face the facts, as the Bible tells us. We like to think that we are so much smarter than God. What does God know anyway? What has He done for us lately?
It is only when we go to Jesus, in His Word, or rather that He comes to us in His Word, that we can know the truth and then it is the Holy Spirit who works through the Word to point us to the Truth and that Truth is Jesus. We do not have to go very far, simply to the means of grace. The means of grace are those ways in which God gives us His gifts, faith, forgiveness, life and salvation. Those means are the Word, the Bible, confession and absolution and the Sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Unfortunately, when we absent ourselves from these means we have a greater tendency to depend on our own thoughts and opinions, based on our own realities and not on God’s Truth, Jesus. And that is when we often have questions, concerns, cares and even worries about why God is not acting the way we think He should be acting. I am amazed at how many people turn their backs on God, shun Him, refuse His gifts by neglecting to be in divine service and Bible Class and then get upset with Him for not being the God they expect Him to be.
Being God is much like being a parent and a mother, except with greater responsibility, for the world. We try to raise our children right, yet we cannot make them live and do what is right and even though it hurts us when they stray and fail, we still love them and desire that they come to us and seek our wisdom and advice. And we continually fail God the same way. He has created us to love us. He loves us and He has shown His love in the giving of His life in Jesus for us. His desire is to be our God, to love us, to care for us, to give us all the good gifts and blessings He has to give and yet how we hurt Him as we daily sin much, as we daily and weekly refuse His gifts and blessings opting to do something more important than be where He gives His gifts. And yet, He continues to love us.
Our Lord’s desire is to be our God, to love us and to care for us, so that when we do make use of His means of grace, when we do read His Word, when we do confess our sins, when we do remember our Baptism, when we do partake of His body and blood, then our eyes are opened. With our eyes open, we confess our sins and we are given forgiveness, faith, strengthening of faith, life and salvation.
God has so much that He wants to give to us. We are very much living in the days of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, that is we are living after the resurrection fact. We can look back and with eyes wide open we can see how Jesus is the fulfillment of all the books of Moses, the Law and the Prophets. We can look back and see the Easter fact of the resurrection. And we then move from depending on ourselves and our misunderstandings to depending on the Lord and His Truth, and grace, Jesus Christ, the Lord. We are moved to be loved by God, to be forgiven and robed with His righteousness. And we are then moved to say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.