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The Bible is about Jesus

July 29, 2018 Speaker: Daniel Nelms Series: Foundations of Christianity

Passage: Luke 24:13–24:27

Luke 24:13–27

 

On the Road to Emmaus

 

[13] That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, [14] and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. [15] While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. [16] But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. [17] And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. [18] Then 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?” [19] And 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, [20] and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. [21] But 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. [22] Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, [23] and 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. [24] Some 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.” [25] And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” [27] And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (ESV)

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The setting is this:  It is Sunday, probably Sunday afternoon.  These men had been following Jesus throughout his three year ministry, we are not quite sure how long they did, and we only know one of their names -  Cleopas.  Just a few days prior, they had seen their master, who they have been following for possibly years now, be rejected by all of their religious authorities and leaders in Israel and be nailed to a cross by the Romans in the most brutal fashion.  They knew he was buried, and they knew he was dead.

They are walking away from Jerusalem, and we can guess that they were walking home - home for them was an unknown town named Emmaus.  These two men who had given their all to following Jesus, probably leaving behind home and vocation, as far as we know.  They appear to have been very connected with the twelve disciples and the other women and everyone else who had stuck with Jesus until the end.  And here we see them leaving Jerusalem and going home, because with Jesus dead, there wasn’t any reason to stick around with the disciples in Jerusalem. 

They are in defeat-mode.  Their leader was dead.  They are doing the Charlie Brown walk, right?  Head down, staring at their feet, conversing about all of their hopes and dreams that were wrapped up in Jesus being the Messiah and actually, finally, redeeming Israel from their Roman captivity and to be restored to their former glory.  Melancholy piano by Vince Guaraldi is playing in the background.   I’m sure they felt duped and misled.
Here is the image we get:  Jesus had let them down.  And they were walking away, sad. 

Have you ever felt like you were in such a position?  You felt as if you had given up a lot for your faith, only to find yourself in what appeared to be a hopeless scenario?  You thought Jesus was going to do or be something, only to feel as if he had abandoned you and not stayed true to his word?

In those situations it is always very tempting to do what these disciples did:  look back to where you came from.  Abandon ship.  Find the road that you once walked and left behind for Jesus, only to turn around and try to find it once again.  This is where we find these two men.  They were probably planning on returning to their former way of life, whatever that may have been, in their hometown.  They knew that by doing so, they were going to face some embarrassment and shame by those who knew they left to follow him.  They knew fully that there would probably be some mockery involved.  “Well done guys!  Your leader is dead.  Where did he leave you?”

This is where they are.  Although that particular morning, something had happened that seemed pretty significant, yet apparently not significant enough to keep them with the disciples, and it came up in conversation with a random stranger who had intercepted them on the road.  Let’s revisit the text:

 

[13] That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, [14] and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. [15] While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. [16] But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. [17] And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. [18] Then 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?” [19] And 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, [20] and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. [21] But 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.

So they are walking, sad, talking about all the things that they had hoped that would come true when a man appears behind him.  Luke, writing as an author that is above and beyond the situation as an onlooker who already knows the story’s end, gives us the information that these two men do not have:  this person who appeared behind them and who drew near to them was Jesus himself.  Just that morning he had burst out of the tomb, defeating death.  And now he tracks these two disciples down, and plays with them a little. 
“Hey guys, what are you talking about?”  It says they stood still.  They stopped in their tracks, maybe stunned a little, we’re not sure.  But they stood still and looked up at him, their faces downcast.  Their response?
“I’m not sure if you’ve been around at all the past few weeks and especially the past weekend, but surely you know that there is really only one thing we could be talking about, right?  Are you not coming from Jerusalem?  You really don’t know what has happened this past weekend?
Jesus’ response?  “Nope.  What are you talking about?”  You have to laugh at his response a little right?  He’s just toying with them.  Now let’s look at their response, because it’s important.

Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet who did mighty deeds - our leaders delivered him over to be killed.  Part of their despair was that their own leaders had rejected the man they had been following.  And they give us a big clue as to their disappointment:

We had thought that he would be the one to redeem Israel.

And then read on:

[22] Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, [23] and 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. [24] Some 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.”

 

In summary, they said this:  “We thought he was going to redeem us” [meaning politically from the Romans and also Spiritually], but he was killed by our spiritual and political leaders.  Also, some other disciples who were women came up and said they saw an angel at the tomb, saying he wasn’t dead but now is alive.  Others verified the empty tomb that they saw.  But, we had hoped he would be the one to redeem Israel.  So we’re walking back home.”

Now there is a lot going on here.  They are talking, to begin, with Jesus himself, even though it says that they were kept from recognizing him.  And in essence what they just expressed to him was this:  we had this understanding of the redemption he was going to bring, but something else happened - he was killed.  And some people are saying he’s alive, which is intriguing.  But we still wish he was going to redeem us.”

You see, they had a very specific idea of how Jesus was going to redeem them, but all of the events they mentioned did not quite fit into their understanding of what he came to do.  It probably, like most people in Israel those days, was concerned with a political deliverance from the Romans and some sort of restoration of Israel to it’s former glory. They were looking for a Warrior-King with the white war-horse, man with sword in hand, rallying the troops and they were hoping for first row seats to be in the action. 
So when his ministry began, it probably seemed a bit off.  He began by saying things they were hoping he could say, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”  Then he began healing people, even rising some from the dead, speaking and preaching with unbelievable authority and power and truth, saying it is better the be last than first, saying they should love their most hated enemies.  This is probably one reason why, throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, his disciples often seemed to just not be getting the big picture.  What exactly is going on?  I don’t know.  It’s like the time they went to preach in Samaria, a place where half-bred Jews and Gentiles lived, a race of people that the Jews strongly disliked, and a few of his disciples said after the refused to listen to their preaching, “Hey Jesus, can we call down fire from heaven and wipe them out?”  You can only imagine the frustration in Jesus.  “No, guys no.  Come on.  Really?  You went there? No. No.  You still don’t get what I am about”  They thought Jesus’ mission was about strengthening Israel, God’s chosen people and removing from them all of these impure pagan people.  They had gotten it wrong.

So in this story today, we have this picture of two men, his disciples, one named Cleopas, who thought they knew what Jesus was about, and were disappointed in him when their expectations were not met. 
I would venture to say that this is a very common error for us all.  We want Jesus and want to be with him, just like these two disciples.  Genuinely want to be with him.  Yet, when we come to him, we have a path already charted out for Jesus.  We have Jesus’ mission and his work in your life already planned out.  So you begin walking after him, chasing after him, even sacrificing a lot for him.  But as you continue down that path, unexpected things happen. As you continue walking, things seem to come out of left field that did not meet your perception of him, and you didn’t know what to do with it.  But you still stuck in with it.  And finally, when all seemed lost, you turned around and say “well, I’ll just go back to where I came from.  At least I had something there.  At least there was a semblance of identity there, back home from the things that Jesus originally called me out of.  At least there was some sort of life there.  Jesus has left me down.  And I’ll go back.” 

This process for these two disciples was very blunt, as we see.  They were literally walking home away from Jesus.  But for us in 21st century America, it is usually far less blunt.  For us, we often expect much out of Jesus, only to feel as if he quite did not meet those expectations, but we’ve learned to separate our disappointments from other portions of our life. 
This is what I mean:  In America, we are used to living in such a way that is very unique in human history:  we live very segmented and divided lives.  For example, people have notions here in America that our religion can be privately beneficial, but you better not express your religion publicly, as if religion can be a switch that you turn on and off when needed.  We are used to clocking in for work, only to completely leave it behind when we get home.  We’re used to seeing social media news feeds of random things that have no connection whatsoever between one item and the next.  We’re used to seeing news stories that are just as random - fire in Chicago, murder in new york, weather is sunny today, stock market dipped, president Trump said this about Puerto Rico, thanks see you tomorrow.  We’re used to having portions of our life go here, go there, cut this one off when I leave it and have this one over here I go to, and so forth.  And it doesn’t bother us if one part isn’t consistent with another, because we are used to turning one part off, separating it from the other, living with and seeing massive randomness and inconsistency everywhere in our society, and still continue to live, expecting coherent results in our life.

And this is how we can often identify with these disciples from Emmaus - for us, we expected Jesus to do this or that with our jobs, our bank accounts, our marriage, our parenting, our health, whatever it may be.  And when it comes to that specific area of your life, you may not verbalize it, but you feel as if Jesus has failed you because you had expectations for him to do certain things that he appears to not have lived up to.  So Jesus becomes a switch that you turn on here or there when you feel you need his lights, but conveniently turn off when you don’t want him around anymore.

This often looks like this: you identify as a Christian, partake in Christian activities like attending services, praying and reading your Bible.  You may still recognize the value of him in many ways for your life.  But there is that corner or those corners of your heart that is on the road to Emmaus - it’s defeated, and it’s trying to find elements of your former life before you met Jesus for solace.

This kind of life is incredibly blinding.  Look at what is going on:  They were still walking back, choosing not to stick around and having lost hope, even after hearing rumors that the tomb was empty and Jesus had risen from the dead and was alive.  That still didn’t fit into their expectations, and they still walked the long dusty road back.  And now Jesus was walking with them.  And they still didn’t see him.
When you or I come to Jesus, expecting him to do this or that, or to be a certain way, or to do certain things - Jesus could be standing right in front of you, and you could still miss him.  You could find yourself walking away from him even on the morning of his resurrection.  Because you we not looking for a resurrected Lord.  You weren’t listening to him when he said he was going to die and be raised on the third day, even though in his earthly ministry he told his disciples over and over again that this was happening.  They already had Jesus figured out in their minds, and they in effect placed blinders on their eyes. 
We can’t come to Jesus with parameters of what you want him to do, what you want him to ask of you, and what you expect him to do in the world around you.  I know many people who start flirting with Christianity simply because they feel like something is missing, or they know they need help from outside of themselves to help them out of an addiction or out of a situation.  I know people who know it is good for their children to have some religion in their lives, so they ask them to be christened in the church, be married in the church, and when you have kids make sure you have them involved in church for their sake, because it’s good for them.  And on and on. 
And then you have the religious people who think that if they only pray or read their bible or tithe their money or attend church and even attend small group and even wear the right clothes and not get tattoos and look smiley on the outside and at least appear to others like you have it all together, then your relationship to Jesus is functional, it’s caused others to think more highly of you and accept you, and thus your use for Jesus is fulfilled.  And other massive parts of your life are back on the Road to Emmaus. 
What’s the answer here? How does Jesus respond to these two men?

[25] And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” [27] And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

First, he gives a rebuke.  “You are fools.”  Ouch.  “You are slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  Then he did something spectacular.  It’s doubtful he had a bible on him.  But he, being Jesus, probably knew the book pretty well.  So he began with “Moses” (the first five books of the Old Testament) and the prophets (a common phrase referring to the remainder of the Old Testament), he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

His correction was poignant.  His rebuked showed that possibly these disciples had gotten some of the prophet’s right in the Bible.  And I think they did.  Just read Revelation and you’ll see the Warrior Jesus.  They got that part right, and that is what they were looking for - a Messiah to bring these things true.

Yet, like us, their understanding of Scripture was rather segmented. They missed trees for the forest. They were in effect looking for Jesus’ second coming, and not his first.

You see, being oppressed by the Romans had made life rather difficult, and everyone longed to be freed from their grasp.  They found some promises given to Israel of a glorious future beneath the Lordship of the Messiah and free from the rule of other nations and said, “great!  The time is ripe.” 
Their longings and desires came before what the Scriptures actually taught.  And then, when they did go to the Bible, their ability to understand it was clouded.  And thus, their ability to understand the person and work of Jesus Christ was clouded. 

His correction was to return to the Scriptures.  He simply walked them through a teaching covering the whole Old Testament (as the New Testament at this point had yet to be written).  And he told them - it’s all about me.  All of it.  And it speaks of me suffering and dying and entering into my glory.

And here lies the biggest challenge for us:  how we understand and interpret the Bible is going to be in direct affect to our relationship with Jesus.  How so?  If you want to know Jesus, you MUST come to him with only one expectation:  to be, as Paul says, a Living Sacrifice.  To come to Jesus is essentially dying a death, just like he did. You are giving up rights over your own life.  And you are submitting it all to Jesus, saying, “have your way with me.”  And then you begin reading the Bible, praying prayers like, “Jesus, I want to know you more,I want to seek the treasures of who you are, to learn more of you, to be closer to you, to be more like YOU.”
This is complete submission to him, and it’s allowing Jesus to be HIMSELF in your life.  And this is where real Spiritual power comes. This is where he becomes KING in your life.  And you become his citizen.  And you read the Bible in it’s truest form: a book about God’s redemption in Jesus Christ.  The Bible is truly all about Jesus.
if you allow any other factors to come into your heart above and before you come to Jesus, you will then approach Jesus with a slanted, cloudy and misguided understanding of who he actually is and what he actually did, and possibly come to him expecting something entirely different than who he really is, even if he rises from the dead, you’ll still be walking away from him sad.  When you pick up your Bible, then, you’ll only be looking for the things that you are looking for, and you’ll find a few good trees to look at but you will miss the beautiful forest, the big picture of what the Bible really is about:  Jesus.  You’ll rather read the Bible as if it is about you and how you should live your life.  You’ll think that you are at the center of it all.  You’ll think that it is only some type of self-help book full of good advice and counsel and Jesus biomes your life coach in a way.

The answer is rather simple, actually very simple:  allow the Bible to tell you about Jesus and what to expect from him.  Allow the Bible to define the terms of Christianity and the terms of your relationship to Jesus.  Allow the Bible to define for you about the person of Jesus Christ, why you should go to him, and what to expect after you do so.

You see, the Bible is all about Jesus. Any other reading of Scripture robs Christianity of it’s supernatural power in your life.  Christianity is not ultimately about you.  You are simply brought into God’s redemptive story of re-creating all things through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, by the power of his Spirit.  You are brought into the story of God reclaiming the world that he created, you are brought into the story of God bringing his Kingdom from sea to sea through his Son.  The Bible is simply not about you.   

At Redeemer, we believe the Bible to be 100% true in all it’s words.  We believe it to be absolutely authoritative in our life.  This is because the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit in it’s words because it reveals to us primarily one thing:  God’s redeeming activity in human history in Jesus Christ, by the power of the Spirit.  This is the lens in which we are to understand the Bible.

With these disciples, if they only just listened to Jesus and had listened to the occasions where he quoted Scripture over and over and over again and applied it to himself, they would have been aware of this.  But their own cultural needs and blinders kept them from doing so, and kept having themselves and their own desires at the forefront.

So here is the application for this new budding church plant: do you want to know Jesus more?  Do you want to have all of your desires conform to Jesus Christ and be satisfied in him alone?  Do you really want Christianity for what it’s worth, for what it’s really saying and align your life appropriately? 
The first step?  Follow Jesus’ lead.  Know that this Bible is all about him.  And ALLOW it to be your authority as much as Jesus is your authority.  To disobey Scripture is to disobey God.  That’s the authority it brings to us.   When you read it, know that you are reading the very words of God.  Wrestle with it.  Fight with it.  When you are feeling depressed and lonely crack it open and pray through it’s words, asking it to bring you closer to Jesus.  The only reality is that if you want to know Jesus, you must be in its pages, praying through them and placing them on a pedestal higher than any other. Only when the Bible becomes your authority and you allow your prayers to be led and guided by it’s words will you truly be able to meet Jesus and allow him to be your authority.  Don’t read it to get a good pithy statement to help you throughout your day - the Bible is not about you and making your life improved and better.  Read the Bible to get closer to Jesus, because it’s all about him.  When I hear of people not having habits of Scripture reading in their life and throughout the years they come to me, wondering why their life is a Spiritual shipwreck and why they haven’t heard from God in so long - do you want to hear from God?  It’s simple.  Read the Bible.  Want to get closer to Jesus?  Pray over it’s pages. 
There is so much more that could be said here, especially how the Old Testament is about Jesus.  But we can sum everything up by saying this:  In all the various stories of Scripture we see men and women like us, like these two disciples of Jesus who at times do spiritually heroic and radical things, men like Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Hezekiah, and Jeremiah, women like Sarah, Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, Abagail and Esther.  But they themselves never quite seem to be the final answer of all of the problems of humanity because they themselves fail.  Any of their successes in the Bible should only point you to Jesus, a man who never failed, a man who never went spiritually bankrupt.  And all of their failures should point to the need for Jesus - Abraham selling off his wife for prostitution, Jacob lying and cheating his way through life, Joseph being an arrogant and awful brother, Esther sleeping with the King in order to get his hand in marriage, and on and on - our need for redemption is great.  And in this way, do we see that the Bible is ALL about Jesus.

Allow the Bible it be itself, let it breathe and speak to you according to the purposes of why it was written.  Come to it expecting to hear of Jesus Christ, not of self improvement.  And pray that ALL of your life will be aligned to him, which will only mean your death, but also of your Spiritual renewal.  As you do so, as Paul says, you will experience a resurrection of your own:  you will be reborn as Jesus says in John 3, you will be a NEW CREATION, 2 Corinthians 5:17.  This is the result of reading the Bible for what it’s about.  I pray that this church plant can do this week to week and day to day.  Let us pray. 


 

 

 

 

 


 

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