They had information but they didn’t have understanding.
Do you know what the most famous road in the world is? Historically it is probably the Silk Road. Today it might be the one in Paris, the Champs-Elysees. In America Route 66 tops the list.
How about the Bible? There are famous roads in the Bible too. There is the road to Damascus where the infamous persecutor of the Church, Saul, was famously converted to Jesus Christ. Then Jesus described a narrow road that leads to salvation and the wide road that leads to destruction. When Jesus told the parable of the Prodigal Son it evokes an image of a ragged and once arrogant young man far away down the road making his way home. Proverbs warns there is a road “that seems right but in the end it leads to death.” Even John the Baptist metaphorically paved a road for Jesus into Israel as Matthew 3:3 says, “A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight roads for Him.” In the New Heaven and New Earth a Holy City is described as having a “great street” made of “pure gold, like transparent glass.” (Rev. 21:21).
Today we join 2 men on another road in the Bible. For Christians, this road is probably just as famous as any other: the road to Emmaus. This road leads out from Jerusalem to the small town of Emmaus, about 7 miles away. According to Google it would take 1 hour and 45 minutes to walk at a normal pace, and 2 hours and 20 minutes to walk at a relaxed pace. It didn’t say how long it would take with kids but my guess is 2 weeks
Now the day these 2 guys are walking on this road is the most momentous day in human history: the day Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.
No one was going to find Jesus in the grave that day. But they were going to find him on that road.
I want to travel to 4 mile-markers on this road: 1) Joined By Jesus, 2) Informed But Ignorant, 3) Rebuked & Revealed, and 4) Opened Home & Opened Hearts.
JOINED BY JESUS (13-16)
These 2 men are leaving Jerusalem on their way to Emmaus. Now why are they leaving Jerusalem and going there? Most likely because they live there and were traveling to Jerusalem for the various Feasts. The Passover Feast was several days earlier, the Sabbath was the day before, and the weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread just began. Maybe they were in Jerusalem all weekend long staying with other disciples. Maybe there was too much heat on anyone identified as a disciple of Jesus. Maybe they walked back into Jerusalem that morning as soon as the Sabbath was over to be with the Apostles and other disciples who were grieving Jesus’ death. Who knows exactly. But they were in Jerusalem, their heads were spinning with the things they’d been hearing that day, and on the road they were talking about it all.
Then a stranger joins them for their journey.
They didn’t know it, but their new travelling companion was Jesus. I’m reminded of the promise, “Wherever 2 or 3 are gathered.” But even though He was with them they didn’t know it, as verse 16 says “they were kept from recognizing him.” Not because His appearance was so altered that they couldn’t tell it was him, and not because He was in disguise. Someone was keeping them from realizing it was Jesus, “they were KEPT FROM recognizing Him.” This is a divine blinding.
Why does Jesus do this? He does this a lot actually. He hid from Mary in the garden at the tomb (Jn 20:14) and from the 7 disciples who were fishing (Jn 21:4). He often slipped away hiding himself from the crowds during His ministry. You could even say that Jesus “hid” himself when He came in the flesh. The very act of coming in the flesh was Jesus “hiding” His divine glory from humanity. He concealed it behind the robe of humanity. You get a sneak peak of it at the Transfiguration when He “let loose” that God-Glory that is His as God. Remember that God sends angels across our path too and we don’t know it, as Hebrews 13:2 says, “Some have entertained angels without even knowing it.”
Here’s my application, my takeaway for us: Jesus seeks them out. I love this. He goes after them. You have to see the desire of Jesus to be with His people, to fellowship with them, to walk and talk with them, to teach them. He didn’t just bolt to Heaven after His resurrection. He stayed for 40 days on the earth appearing to over 500 people. Remember that overarching plan of God, the “end-game” is to be with man in holy fellowship. Revelation 21 quotes Leviticus and says at the end God will say, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people and He will be their God.” If you learn anything about God from Genesis to Revelation it is that God desires fellowship with man and He is working His plan throughout history to make that possible. The death and resurrection of Jesus is THE part of His plan that makes fellowship with Him possible.
Another application here is this: these things really happened. This is historical. In 1 Corinthians 15:4-8 we are told Jesus appeared to all sorts of people after He was resurrected. [Read] Here’s the point: since these things really happened, and Jesus was really raised from the dead, you have to deal with Him. “God has appointed a day when He will judge the world with justice and He has given proof of this to all men by raising Jesus from the dead.” You and I have to face a living Jesus. You can’t blow Him off as some dead guy who can’t do anything to you. He’s alive, and when you’re dead you will have to face Him.
INFORMED BUT IGNORANT (17-24)
The second mile-marker on our road today is “Informed But Ignorant.” These two disciples, one named Cleopas, were all caught up on current events and the latest developments in Jerusalem. And it is pretty funny isn’t it how Jesus pretends to be unaware of things: “What are you guys talking about?” “Why no, what things have happened lately?” He hides His identity and He hides how much He knows.
Their surprise at his apparent ignorance shows that Jesus’ death was national news. Everyone knew about it and everyone was talking about it. They thought he had to live under a rock to not know what was going on. “Do you NOT know the things that have happened?” they ask. Ha! If only THEY knew – He knows more than you know Cleopas!
Yet, while they knew everything that was going on the reality is that they really didn’t know what was going on. It’s pretty clear that they had all the “pieces” you might say but they didn’t know how to put them together and make sense of it all. Verses 19-24 show that they know what’s happened, but it also shows they really don’t know what’s happening.
Let me point out two important points. First, they had the wrong expectations of Jesus. Look at verse 21 and you’ll understand their error. “We had hoped…” Stop right there. Notice the past tense, “had.” They were wishing that Jesus was “the guy” but now they are doubting he was. Certainly a great “guy”, powerful in word and deed before God, but not “the” guy. Well, what guy? Keep reading: “we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” There it is. Like everyone else they did not listen to Jesus and therefore they had misguided ideas about His purpose. Like everyone else they had the kingdom of Israel on their minds, the Christ-King who would restore the kingdom of Israel to its glory and free Israel from Roman power. This is what so many thought.
- In John 6, after feeding the 5,000 it says that Jesus knew the crowds were intending to come and make Him king by force so He slipped away from them. They thought He was the promised Prophet, and they were right – He was. But they were wrong to think the timing for the kingdom was then and there.
- Or think how the disciples argued over who would be greatest in the kingdom. They weren’t paying attention to Jesus when He talked about His suffering and death just around the corner because they were too busy imagining sitting high on the hog when He brought in the kingdom – which they thought was soon. And they were wrong.
- Or remember when the mother of James and John asked Jesus if her two boys could sit on his left and right in the kingdom? Did she have the crucifixion and resurrection 3 days later on her mind? Nope. Kingdom. Jesus is the Christ and He’s setting up the Kingdom baby. Yes, He is the Christ but “No,” He is not setting up the kingdom, yet.
- Or in Acts 1, just before Jesus left the earth to go back into heaven do you remember what they asked Jesus? “Are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Three and a half years hearing Him teach and literally his very last day on earth and they still did not get it.
What’s the point? They had information, but they were ignorant – they didn’t have understanding. They didn’t understand that Jesus had to die and 3 days later be raised up. The reason they didn’t understand is because they didn’t want that to happen to Jesus. Like Peter when He rebuked Jesus because Jesus was talking about how he would soon be killed and then resurrected, none of the disciples wanted that. It didn’t fit in with their view that Jesus was about to liberate Israel and bring the nation glory again where He would be its Christ-King and they would have prestigious positions in his kingdom.
They had information but they were ignorant. They didn’t have understanding. It’s like when people tell me “Oh, I’ve read the Bible” as though they know something. Sixty seconds into the conversation they might have some information but they are ignorant of what it teaches. They don’t have any understanding. Or when people who grow up in church say things like, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all this before” as though they know something. They may have “heard” things before but they are ignorant of God. First Corinthians 8:2 says, “The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.”
A lot of people have information but they do not have understanding. These 2 on the road that day had information of what was going on but they did not have understanding of what was going on.
If they had understanding their attitudes would have been radically different. They would have been joyful, expectant, confident, and beaming with hope. Instead they were downcast and depressed and confused. Why? Jesus told them over and over that he would be put to death and then rise on the 3rd day. He was put to death and it was the 3rd day the acknowledged and the tomb was empty and people were seeing angels. So why were they downcast? Jesus tells us in the next point.
REBUKED & REVEALED (25-27)
Jesus rebukes them and then He reveals the truth to them. Read v 25-27.
Lets pull a couple things out here.
First, Their doubt led to their dejection. The reason they were downcast is because they were foolishly doubtful. They doubted the words of Jesus, the words of the prophets, the Scriptures, and they doubted the report from the women and Peter and John of the empty tomb. They thought the dream of a glorious Israel was shattered and so they were defeated. Their misguided hopes led to them becoming hopeless. Faith leads to joy. Faith leads to understanding. Faith plows the way for hope.
APPLICATION: Faith is not the same thing as having information. Being aware is not the same thing as belief. Faith is knowing what God said and trusting it is true. Belief is knowing what God has said and acting in your life like it is true. Faith is relying on God’s words, having conviction in your heart that His words are real and true, and that what He has said will indeed come true. Their “amazement” they mentioned feeling in verse 22 and their “dejection” are not feelings born from faith. Someone might applaud them for their sincere grieving but Jesus doesn’t. He says its foolish. He says it comes from a slowness of heart to believe.
It’s actually a lot like the women that morning who went to the tomb. People might say that was such a devoted and religious gesture. But in reality as sentimental as it was it was coming from unbelief and doubt, not faith. If they had faith they would not have gone there on the 3rd day looking for a DEAD Jesus when He told them on that on the 3rd day He would come alive again. They would have gone there with smartphones out ready to record Jesus coming out alive. Sentimentality is not faith. Emotionalism is not faith. Oooey-gooey fuzzies is not faith. Faith is standing on God’s word when everything in the world is trying to shove you off.
Second, I want us to see Jesus tells them that they should have expected everything to happen exactly how it happened. Jesus says, “How foolish you are and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Did not the Christ have to suffer these things….?” All the information they were given pointed to the suffering of Christ. He “HAD” to suffer. What information? What Scriptures? Aside from Jesus’ own repeated statements the whole OT spoke of the suffering of the Christ. No doubt Jesus would have explained to them on that 2 hour trip passages like:
- Genesis 3:15 God told the serpent, “You will strike his heel but He will crush your head.” The words “strike his heel” are the first indication that the serpent would inflict some injury on the coming Redeemer
- Speaking of the death and resurrection of the Christ, Psalm 16:9-11 says….
- Psalm 22 is graphic and you will recognize many things from the crucifixion in the Gospels in this Psalm. In verses 1, 8, 11-21. How could anyone read these without factoring into your understanding of the Christ that He must suffer?
- If that’s not enough turn to Isaiah 53, a chapter removed by many Jews or absurdly explained away. 3-7, 9-11
- And then there is God in Zechariah 12:10, 500 years before Christ, declaring “The house of Jacob and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will look on Me, the one they have pierced…” And in 13:7 God prophecies about the Christ, “Awake, O Sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!”
So you see the Christ had to suffer because that’s what the prophecies foretold.
APPLICATION: Everything will happen exactly how the Scriptures tell us it will happen. Everything has happened in the past how the Bible says and everything will happen in the future how the Bible says. The question is: Do you believe the Bible is God’s word and that it is true?
APPLICATION: The Scriptures all point to Jesus. Notice how it says in verse 27, “he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning Himself.” Look over at verse 44 where Jesus says, “Everything must be fulfilled that is written ABOUT ME in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” They all pointed to Jesus. He told the Pharisees in John 5:39, “You think that because you know the Scriptures you have eternal life yet you refuse to come to me. These are the very Scriptures that SPEAK OF ME.”
***The Scriptures all point TO Jesus…..they point YOU to Jesus! Have you come to Jesus? Which leads to another reason why He had to suffer. Do you know the other reason why His suffering was necessary? Salvation. It boils down to this: unless Jesus came and died for our sins none of us would go to heaven. Now that Jesus came and died and rose again on the 3rd day we can go to heaven. He is the ONLY way for sinners to be saved. “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). It is the only way for you and I to have the chance to not go to Hell and instead spend eternity with God.
OPENED HOME & HEARTS (28-32)
In this part we see how they come to their off ramp and beg Jesus to come stay with them. Hospitality was huge in that culture. Jesus pretends like He is going to go on. Just like He pretended that He didn’t know what was going on lately. Just like He was pretending not to be Jesus with them that whole journey.
Why does Jesus do this? I think He did it to give them the chance to invite Him over, to show their strong heart’s desire for more fellowship with Him. “Ask and it will be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened.” It isn’t going to be opened or given to you and you’re not going to find if YOU are not asking, seeking and knocking.
Imagine what they would have missed if they said, “Well, adios buddy! Great talk! Best wishes! Oh, and make sure to download a news app bro and you can stay up on all the latest. You really gotta get out from under that rock more!”
I think the more they heard Him talk the more they wanted to be with Him. Isn’t that true of Jesus? The more we learn of His word the more we want to be with Him?
In this part, do you see how they opened themselves up to Jesus and then He opened them up? You have to open up and Jesus has to open you up.
CONCLUSION: THE MOST FAMOUS ROAD
Perhaps the most famous road is the one Jesus walked up to Calvary. Calvary is the hill he died on outside of the city, its Aramaic name is Golgotha, which has a gruesome meaning: “Place of the skull.” It was a place of death. Jesus walked the road to death. He walked our road to our death.
Maybe the most important road is the one you take to the cross.