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Year A Easter 3 - 6th April 2008
Luke 24: 13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 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?" 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. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 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. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 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." 25 He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 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. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 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?" 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Like many young men in their late teens I grew a moustache to look older! My wife, Melanie never knew me without a moustache until I shaved it off on Chloe’s first birthday in November 2001, when I was well past my teens. I could see Chloe noticed straight away it had gone, but Melanie didn’t notice it for about 90 minutes.
On Easter Sunday 2022 I shaved my beard off and, either no-one noticed in the churches, or they were too polite or too disinterested to mention it to me.
Cleopas and his friend were involved enough with Jesus to know early on that some of “our” women, verse 22, had gone to the tomb The two knew didn’t find Jesus body, and saw an angel who said Jesus was alive. The two also knew that some disciples had visited the tomb and found it empty. We also read that they knew Jesus well enough to recognise how he gave thanks for bread and broke it. Yet, they did not recognise Jesus when they first encountered him. Even when he was explaining the Scriptures to them.
16 but they were kept from recognizing him. The Greek says, literally, their eyes were seized or held back that they should not know him
We don’t know if they were prevented from knowing they were talking with Jesus by their own presuppositions – that he couldn’t have risen. Or by their own thoughts – being wrapped up in what they had been told, which did not include anyone saying they had met the risen Christ. Or they may have been unobservant, perhaps tired after the events surrounding the Passover and Jesus’ time in Jerusalem. Or it could be that God blocked them from recognising Jesus.
J.B. Philips translation of verses 30 & 31 conveys well what happened when the two recognised Jesus. While he was sitting at table with them he took the loaf, gave thanks, broke it and passed it to them. Their eyes opened wide and they knew him! But he vanished from their sight.
Jesus could appear and disappear at will. In a locked room, by the Sea of Galilee at breakfast time, on a road.
Where can we meet the risen Jesus today?
Firstly, in the Bible, God’s word to us. In today’s gospel “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” v 27. Wouldn’t it have been brilliant to know what Scriptures Jesus pointed to and to have heard him explain this. It was so amazing that the two said, verses 31, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
If we want to know God and his ways, we need to know his word. Jesus knew the Scriptures well enough to speak with the two about passages that he would have memorised. He wouldn’t have got out his pocket Bible or the Bible app on his phone. We saw at the beginning of Lent that he knew his Bible well enough to counter the devil’s temptations with scripture.
Secondly we can also meet the risen Jesus through God the Holy Spirit. Peter talked about believers receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit in today’s NT reading, Acts 2.38. The Holy Spirit is sometimes called the Spirit of Jesus. ( Phil 1.19, Acts 16.7 ). This is because Jesus promised his disciples he would send the Holy Spirit after his ascension back to heaven, Lk 24.49f. The Holy Spirit speaks of Christ ( Jn 15.26 ), gives power to believers, and brings glory to Jesus ( Jn 16.14 ).
The Holy Spirit reveals how to receive eternal life through Jesus.1 Cor. 2. 9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” (Isa 64.4) the things God has prepared for those who love him – 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Bible says that people are spiritually blind until God the Holy Spirit gives them sight. That people are spiritually dead until God gives them life. The two on the road to Emmaus were blind to the fact they were talking with Jesus! It was only when God opened their eyes wide that they could really see him.
How can people have their eyes opened? Ask God. That is all anyone needs to do. Just as blind Bartimaeus asked Jesus to give him sight Mk 10.51 all anyone needs to do is ask God for sight, for life.
Thirdly, we can encounter the risen Jesus in fellow believers. In Matthew 25.31-46 Jesus told the parable of the sheep and goats. In Israel sheep and goats looked similar from a distance. Jesus talks about sheep, true believers, and goats, false believers. He distinguishes between them by how they treat fellow believers.
Matthew 25. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Jesus identifies genuine believers by how they treat him in their Christian brothers and sister. Jesus lives in every believer by His Spirit. So every believer has Jesus living in them. Therefore, we are to treat every believer as we would treat Jesus. We are also to treat everyone well, because everyone is made in the image of God and is sustained by God.
An early Church father, Tertullian, noted that Romans, non-believers, would observe the fast-growing community of Jesus’ followers and exclaim, “See how they love one another!”
Jesus commanded his followers to love each other. John 13. 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So, we should meet the risen Jesus by His Spirit, in fellow believers. Those who are not yet believers should also meet the risen Jesus in believers. We are called to live lives transformed by God’s Spirit, and the first fruit of the Spirit is love. So we have a source of divine love within us. God’s love for us led Jesus to the cross (Jn 3.16). Because of God’s love for us we should love one another.
So, we can meet the risen Jesus in His word, the Bible. Through His Spirit, who lives in every believer. In His people. And, as His people we are called to share God’s love in our churches but also from and outside our churches. To reach out to people who are spiritually blind and need to see and respond to the risen Jesus.
I was walking through Norwich last week and recognized Clive & Margaret Grinham, walking near the market. We served together in Derby 14 years ago, and haven't seen one another for 13 years. I recognized Margaret immediately, He said I hadn't changed. I have, I shaved my moustache off in 2001, and have done ever since!
Why did the men on the road not recognize Jesus?
Also Mary, thought Jesus was gardener, 2 weeks ago John 20:15, though she recognized his greeting.
He appeared suddenly to disciples, they thought he was a ghost Luke 24:37, but showed them his hands and feet.
John 21 Jesus stood on the shore but the disciples didn't realize it was him, though could have been the time and the distance.
Jesus was not resuscitated, but resurrected, He received a new resurrection body. Able to suddenly appear and disappear into and out of a locked room.
So it is clear the resurrection body is very different, but there is some continuity. Certainly the personality of someone is not lost. Perhaps in the way that someone who is 50 might say they feel young within.
We, like the men on the Emmause road, can encounter the risen Lord Jesus Christ today. How ?
Through His Spirit and Through God's word.
God's Spirit enabled the men on the road to Emmaus to understand and get excited about the scriptures that pointed to Christ.
The Spirit opened their eyes to recognize Jesus, verse 31.
We need to be open to God's Spirit, through His word, in our beings.
It is only through the work of the Spirit that people can understand the Scriptures, have their eyes open and respond in faith. e.g. Eva.
We need to pray for God's Spirit to be at work in us, so we are ready for heaven.
We need to pray for God's Spirit to open the eyes of others to what God has done for them in Jesus. We need to pray that God's Spirit will change them from within.
Through the church, the body of Christ.
Every believer has Jesus living within them by His Spirit. This should lead to a deep respect and love for fellow believers because when we deal with them we deal with Jesus.
If we deal with them well that is great. If we do not, we are accountable for that, as we read in the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, illustrated by the story I told in the Parish News this month.
Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, 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.
Let us encounter the risen Lord Jesus through His Spirit, through the Scriptures, through and in the church, in others, and may others know the risen Lord Jesus in us.
To receive God's Spirit;
For someone to come to faith;
For our church and for everyone in it that we may manifest the love and power of the risen Lord Jesus in our corporate and individual lives.
It was late afternoon on Easter Sunday. We have two followers of Jesus, who were not part of the group of the eleven remaining disciples. They were showing typical signs of the first emotions of bereavement. They were sad ( verse 17 ), and disappointed ( verse 21 ). There was also confusion over the empty tomb and resurrection stories ( verses 22-24 ).
Jesus joined them without being recognized ( verse 16 ). It says that they were kept from recognising him, suggesting that this was the work of God. This is probably the main feature of this passage, the recognition of Jesus as the true, risen, Messiah. Jesus came among these two people to reveal himself to them. As a Saviour who has conquered death as foretold in the Scriptures. Our Old Testament.
Note how Jesus engineers the conversation to talk about the crucifixion and resurrection in verses 17 and 19. He wanted to hear what they thought before he speaks himself. Their opinion focuses on Jesus person and mission.
They said that he was a prophet, a spokesman from God. Whilst Jesus certainly did speak the words of God he is a lot more. Today people may have an inadequate picture of who Jesus is that denies his deity and denies a call to respond to what he has done. An example of this is the opinion that Jesus was a good moral teacher. There is an element of truth in this, Jesus was a great moral teacher but he is so much more !
They said he was powerful in word and deed. It is important for someone's words to be backed up with their actions. So, for example, it is no use the Conservative or Labour Parties saying that they support families when they have introduced tax legislation that has eroded benefits for married couples. Words and actions. It is so important for us as Christians that what we say, we do.
In verse 21 they say that "we had hoped he was going to be the one who was going to redeem Israel". Jesus is the one who has redeemed Israel. He has rescued from the power of sin and death the people of God. The true Israel. But the speakers were looking to a different kind of redemption. Someone who would set the nation of Israel free from the Romans. Someone who would lead the nation of Israel to the glory that it had enjoyed under the rule of King David. To someone who had these hopes the crucifixion of Jesus was a disaster. But it was God's way of showing his glory, and his victory.
Their reports of an empty tomb bear the marks of a true story. They are clearly unsure about exactly what has happened, as well as the significance of it. They are not expecting Jesus to rise. Note that there is no report of a sighting of the risen Lord Jesus yet, verse 24. This is part of the jigsaw of facts that prove the resurrection of Jesus. A physical resurrection. We are not talking about Jesus' spirit leaving his body. Otherwise the tomb would not have been empty. Death would not have been conquered. But we have an empty tomb and a risen, transformed body. One that is not bound by space and time. That can appear in a locked room, verse 36. That can disappear, verse 31. There is continuity with Jesus old body, such as the nail marks. But his risen, glorified body is different too. The Bible says that when we are resurrected we will be like him. So this gives us some clues about what our resurrection bodies will be like.
Jesus doesn't pull any punches. He calls these two foolish and slow of heart ( verse 25 ) ! Again this suggests it is a true story. Who would make up a story where Jesus insults you. Jesus points to the Scriptures, our Old Testament as the authoritative proof of his crucifixion and resurrection. The common hope of a Messiah who would defeat the Romans and restore the nation of Israel was wrong. The Old Testament backs up Jesus claims to be the Messiah. It would be fascinating to know exactly what Scriptures Jesus referred to. Perhaps these included Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.
On Antiques Programmes they sometimes mention the word 'provenance'. This is something that is evidence that the piece is what it is claimed to be. So an old piece of furniture might have an old receipt, or proof of carriage as provenance that it existed at a certain time and place.
Jesus sees the O.T. as authoritative in pointing to his person and work as Messiah. The anointed one sent by God to set his people free. This is one of the important uses of Scripture, pointing to Jesus, who has died in our place on the cross, and who has risen from death. Jesus is the Christ and this is proved by Scripture, and by his resurrection. Jesus is the key to the Bible. Jesus saw the O.T. as important. We should not disregard it because it shows us a God who has revealed himself to his people in history. And it looks forward to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
A tourist was looking around a picture gallery in Florence. He asked "Are these masterpieces ? I certainly don't see very much in them." The curator replied, "Sir, it is not the pictures that are on trial. It is the visitors!"
So with the Bible. It is not on trial. It is a masterpiece that has no equal. It is how we respond to it and use it that is the important thing.
When a Bible is being studied properly it is an exciting, challenging book. As Jesus expounded the Scriptures to the two men their "hearts were burning" , verse 32. God the Holy Spirit who inspired his word to be written will work in people to alter the way that they see Jesus. And the way they live their lives.
As they approach Emmaus Jesus went to continue on the road. Being good hospitable Jews the two men offer Jesus an evening meal and bed. It was late in the day and they had walked 7 miles in hot dusty conditions. They urged Jesus strongly to stay, he did not push things although he used the opportunity to move the men on in their understanding of Jesus. It was usually the duty of the host to break the bread and give thanks. Yet Jesus did this and so revealed who he is. We don't know exactly how the men knew. Perhaps they saw the wounds on his hands. Perhaps he had a distinctive way of breaking bread and giving thanks. Verse 35 could suggest this. Perhaps God, who had stopped them from recognising Jesus in verse 16 opened their eyes. It is only through the work of God's Holy Spirit that we can recognise who Jesus really is, to understand God's word the Bible, and to enable people to turn to Christ. We can co-operate by praying for those who do not know Christ as their friend and saviour, that God the Holy Spirit will work in them to open their eyes to Jesus, and their will to respond to his love.
This recognition of Jesus as the true, risen, and glorified Messiah is the point of this story. It is another piece in the jigsaw puzzle that gives shows the truth and the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Borne out by Scripture that were written many hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Scriptures that Jesus could not deliberately have fulfilled. For example, that none of Jesus bones were broken after he had been crucified ( John 19:36 ).
Having walked the seven miles from Jerusalem the two were so excited that they walked all the way back to find the eleven disciples. When they got there they would have been happy, perhaps relieved to find that Jesus had appeared to Simon also. There is no mention of the sightings of the women. Women were second class citizens and their testimony considered invalid in court. Even a single testimony by a man was considered insufficient. Perhaps this is why Luke records two men meeting the risen Lord Jesus.
This passage is part of the proof of the risen Lord Jesus. A proof that backs up his claim that he is God, sent to die in our place on the cross to receive the punishment for everything that we have ever done wrong. The resurrection is God's 'Amen' to that.
This passage shows how Scripture points to Jesus. We need to understand how the O.T. and the N.T. point to Jesus, and the lives that God wants us to live in response to his grace. We need to study the O.T. and the N.T. to allow our theology, experience, and way of living to make sense. To harmonise with one another.
Finally this passage shows us something about the resurrection bodies that we will inherit when Jesus comes again. Bodies that will have continuity with our earthly bodies, yet ones that will be transformed and renewed.