(This series was originally posted in October 2011 on my personal blogsite. We thought we would share it with you all this resurrection week.)
This week we are taking a walk with two disciples and Jesus. During this walk, we will explore seven lessons from the story of the Road to Emmaus. Our text for the week is from The Message translation of Luke 24:13-32.
That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.
He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?”
He said, “What has happened?”
They said, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.”
Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.
They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.
Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”
— Luke 24:13-32 (The Message)
Jesus listens to their story, and then responds. But notice that in His response He ignores the comments about the women’s story. Instead, He goes straight to a lesson from 2,000 years of Jewish prophecy about Messiah.
Lesson 5: Sometimes we need Jesus to remind us of the past for us to understand the plan
Jesus takes the next several miles in their physical journey and gives them a theology lesson. He gives them a lesson in prophecy.
Remember these men still thought that Jesus was going to be the One who would rise up an army and storm the ramparts of the Roman occupation. This had to be something with which many of the disciples likely were struggling. Jesus was the conquering hero, He can’t be dead. Yet, they had watched Him die.
He takes them back to Moses and walks them forward through a couple thousand years of Messianic prophecy.
Basically, He’s telling them, “Look. It’s all right here. This was all by design.”
It was all by design.
God has a plan – for Messiah, for sin, for us.
Jesus reminds the two men of the past. Here’s what the prophets told us the plan was. All these things were part of the plan. They were part of God’s plan for Messiah. They were part of God’s plan for salvation. They were part of God’s plan for taking us from less than nothing and making us into joint-heirs with Jesus the Christ.
God has a plan for us.
In Jeremiah 29:11, YHWH tells the people of Israel that He knows the plans. He tells them that they are plans of goodness and prosperity. This prophecy is in the midst of Babylonian exile.
He has a plan that we sometimes can’t see because of the circumstances surrounding us. He has a plan.
Psalm 37 gives us several steps of the plan: “Do not fret”, “Trust in YHWH”, “Delight in YHWH”, “Commit your way to YHWH”, and “Wait for YHWH.”
Psalm 139 tells us that YHWH knew us before we were formed in the womb and He had a plan for us even then.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust in YHWH with all our being. Lean not on our understanding. Follow Him, and He will show us the path.
Jesus tells Peter, James, and John: “Follow me, and I’ll make you Fishers of Men”.
There is a plan for your life.
You have to surrender to it. You have to forsake your own highway, and step over onto the Road to Jerusalem. You know, that road that looks like it might be a dead-end.
Sometimes we have to be reminded of our past to see our future. Jesus takes some time and reminds them of the past.
Before we came to recognize grace moving on us showing us Jesus’ work on the cross, we were in bad shape. Without grace we are pretty repugnant. While God loves us, He can’t have relationship with us in that state. We needed Jesus to die in order for the veil of the Temple to be torn. We needed Jesus to die in order for the Holy of Holies to be open ground. In short, we needed Messiah.
To assume that we’re “ok” on our own is to negate grace. To negate grace is to cheapen the gift of the cross.
Like these disciples from Emmaus, from time-to-time, we need to be reminded of our sorry state without grace in order to be spurred on to take the message of grace to the world.
Unless our situation is dire and hopeless, then grace is just a buzzword. Grace doesn’t say, “You’re ok as you are”. Instead, grace says, “You’re a new creation.” It says that the old things are passed away and all things are new.
Recognize grace and its impact, and you will see the Messiah plan. See the Messiah plan, and you see Jesus. See Jesus, and you will serve.