Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,
Broadly speaking, there are three things that broadcast the truth of Jesus’ resurrection:
1. The first is THE EMPTY TOMB.
a. You boys and girls will remember that Joseph of Arimithea and Nicodemus asked Pilate for Jesus’ body and placed it in a new tomb. We then read about a large stone being rolled in front of the tomb and that the Jewish authorities “made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.” But what do we read at the beginning of Luke 24? “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”
i. So the empty tomb is the silent witness of the resurrection.
2. But secondly, there is THE DECLARATION OF THE ANGEL.
a. To the women who had come to anoint Jesus’ body, the angel says, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!”
3. And then thirdly, THE LORD JESUS HIMSELF APPEARS TO PEOPLE A NUMBER OF TIMES.
a. And some of you might have a table of the resurrection appearances in your study Bibles. And depending on how you count them, there were around ten post-resurrection appearances of Jesus; five on the day of His resurrection and five the next day or later. And Jesus doesn’t appear for the same amount of time and give the same message to each of those He appears to; His appearances differ according to the needs and circumstances of those He visits.
And we see that as we focus on one of these appearances in particular. It is a remarkable account of Jesus meeting with two people who are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They cannot understand what has happened, but Jesus teaches them from the OT that He had to suffer these things and enter His glory.
Now normally, boys and girls, it is not nice to EAVESDROP. And to eavesdrop is to listen in to someone else’s conversation. Perhaps you remember a time when Mum and dad were talking and they mentioned some surprise they were planning for the family, not knowing that you could hear them. But you did hear it and you ask something like, “When are we going there? Or doing that?” Well, you were eavesdropping; listening in to someone else’s conversation. And usually that is not a polite thing to do. But the Holy Spirit has recorded the conversation between Jesus and these two in the Bible. So it is our privilege today to eavesdrop on this conversation; as they talk to each other, we get to listen in. And we get to see THE CONNECTION BETWEEN JESUS’ CROSS AND HIS GLORY.
1. Now, note that I refer to the two that Jesus is talking to as THE TWO and not the two men. We know that one of them was named Cleopas and that he was a he. But we are not told, anywhere, whether the other one was male or female. It could have been Cleopas’ wife or another of Jesus’ wider group of disciples, but we are not told. So we shall just refer to them as ‘the two’ or Cleopas and friend.
2. Well, it is quite apparent from v14, that Cleopas and friend are PRETTY EXERCISED about what has been going in Jerusalem in relation to Jesus. And from v18, it is clear that this is the trending topic on Twitter and Facebook in Jerusalem; Jesus is the news.
a. v13 tells us that this is the day of Jesus’ resurrection. So let’s get some perspective on how this day has unfolded for them.
i. v29 tells us that it is late in the afternoon when Jesus meets them on the road to Emmaus.
ii. v1 tells us that it was very early in the morning that the women discovered the empty tomb, heard the angel, and from the other Gospels, met the risen Lord. So a number of hours have passed since the discovery of the empty tomb.
iii. Cleopas and friend know for a fact that Jesus was crucified and that He died three days ago. We see that in vv19-21.
iv. But today they have heard about an empty tomb and folded grave clothes and an angel who told the women that Jesus was alive. We see that in v22-23.
v. But we also know from MATTHEW 28 that when the guards who were supposed to watch over the tomb reported what had happened, they were given hush money by the Jewish leaders and told to tell the people that His disciples had stolen His body from the tomb.
vi. So we can imagine that Cleopas and friend have waited in Jerusalem as long as they can to try and make sense of the conflicting stories that are swirling around. But they could wait no longer and so they have left for Emmaus so they can arrive before dark. But their hearts are so full of this that while they walk, “they were talking with each other about everything that had happened.”
vii. And such is their love for Jesus and their sorrow over what has happened, that when He appeared to them and asked what they were discussing, we read, “They stood still, their faces downcast.” They cannot believe that anyone would not know what has been happening. And of course, for them this is not just anonymous news. This is their Jesus; the one they had hoped would redeem Israel!
3. Well, v16 tells us that as Jesus joined them, “they were kept from recognizing Him.” And in reply to His first question, about what they were discussing, He receives the equivalent of a duh! They are staggered that He doesn’t know what they are talking about because it is all that everyone is talking about! But Jesus is asking this question not because He lacks knowledge, but because THESE TWO HAVE A PROBLEM THAT ONLY HE CAN HELP THEM WITH.
a. They are trying to understand what has been going on in terms of who Jesus is and what He came to do. And even though they may previously have heard Jesus explain what would happen to Him, for, as you remember from our Mark studies, three times, in very plain language, Jesus said that He had to suffer and die at the hands of the Jewish leaders and that He would rise again on the third day, this just has not registered with them either in fact or meaning.
i. If you have ever worked with POWER TOOLS that drill holes, you will know that some times you start with the wrong drill bit and it just will not penetrate, no matter how hard you press. But then, you get the right bit and pop, through it goes.
ii. Well, you could be forgiven for thinking that Jesus has thus far been using the wrong ‘drill bit.’ But that is not the problem here. Jesus’ words have always been plain and clear.
iii. ROMANS 8 tells us that “the mind of sinful man is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law nor can it do so.” But “the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”
iv. SO the problem here is that these two do not yet have a mind controlled by the Holy Spirit.
v. As we saw a moment ago, v16 tells us that “they were kept from recognizing Him.” The Holy Spirit has His hands over the eyes of these two, so to speak. And they will not see Him until His hands are removed. But He also has His fingers in their ears, so to speak, so that they cannot hear or understand what Jesus is saying, regardless of how plainly He speaks. And they will not hear and understand Jesus until the Spirit removes His fingers.
vi. And there are TWO LESSONS in this for us:
A. First, in terms of ourselves, if we believe in Jesus, it is all glory to God. It is not our cleverness in understanding the gospel. If it was just up to us, we would still be stumbling around in our spiritual blindness and deafness. It is praise God that His Spirit has opened my soul to the gospel!
B. And secondly, in terms of our sharing of the gospel, by all means pray that your work colleague or family member or neighbour might repent and believe, but pray first that the Spirit would open their ears and their heart to eternal life in Jesus.
4. Well, we return now to our eavesdropping! In answer to Jesus’ question, they begin to tell Him about all they have heard and seen. They thought that Jesus was the Christ. Look at what they say in v19, “He was a prophet, powerful in deed before God and all the people.” But, and here we get THEIR HUGE PROBLEM, from v20, “The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him.” Their problem was the same one we examined on Good Friday. They – the Jewish leaders, no less; crucified Him – they didn’t ignore Him or banish Him, they crucified Him, of all things! Jesus was crucified as an evildoer by the church! Jesus was hung on a cross!
a. There have been times when I was sitting an exam and I was trying to work out some problem but there is this word or concept or number which I just can’t get around. Perhaps you have had a similar experience? You know – Joe and Jenny have to run a marathon and they train by running 5km a day, which they increase by 1.25 km a day, for 12 weeks. So how many chocolate fish have they eaten by day 8? And it doesn’t matter what algorithms or logorithms or biorythyms I enter into my calculator, I just can’t get past the chocolate fish!
b. Well, these two could not get past the cross. The cross bought all their hopes to an end. So even though they have heard from some women that His tomb is empty and His grave clothes are sitting there, folded, and an angel has told them He is alive, all they can hear and see is THE CROSS.
c. And you know what brothers and sisters, THE CROSS is still the greatest stumbling block of the gospel but also the thing we most need to tell others.
i. Tell people that their only hope of salvation is to believe in someone who died on a cross and they will laugh at you or pity you.
ii. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Cor. 2:4, “We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but (he continues) to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” To one, the cross is ridiculous; to the other, the cross is everything.
iii. So we must be those who preach the cross. By all means, discuss creation and right and wrong and what the Bible is, but tell them that the Son of God died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.
d. Thus far, though, Cleopas and his friend could not get past the cross.
5. But now, from 25, THE CONVERSATION TAKES A DRAMATIC TURN! For now Jesus speaks, and not as someone who is ignorant of what is going on around Him, but with the voice of prophetic authority!
a. He even begins by calling them FOOLISH, which is usually not a good way to warm up your audience for your message! But they had the OT and they had been taught by Jesus, so they should know better.
i. And these words of Jesus also establish Himself as the one who can help them with their problem. Just contrast how He speaks with how they were speaking. He doesn’t come to them with questions and conundrums. He comes to them with proclamation: “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” He doesn’t remove the cross; He puts it into perspective; the perspective of Christ’s glory!
b. And then HE BEGINS TO PREACH AN EXPOSITORY SERMON ON THE OT. “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” What a sermon it must have been!
i. Genesis 3:15 – the first promise of the gospel;
ii. Genesis 17 – circumcision and the covenant;
iii. Genesis 22 – the substitute sacrifice for Isaac; Exodus 12 – The Passover Lamb;
iv. Leviticus 16 – The Day of Atonement;
v. Numbers 21 – the bronze snake lifted up on a pole so who ever looks at it is healed;
vi. Deut 21 – hang the bodies of those who break my covenant on a tree;
vii. All the prophets and all the priests and all the kings – all showing that Christ must enter His glory by the way of the cross.
viii. What a sermon this must have been! Glory comes after resurrection. Resurrection comes after the cross. No cross; no resurrection; no glory – “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?”
c. And then, as He breaks the bread with them, THE SPIRIT WITHDRAWS His hands and fingers and they see and hear! “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. 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?””
6. Well, it may be late and it may soon be dark, but they know and believe that the Lord Jesus has risen! They simply have to share this good news with others. So they race back to Jerusalem and the disciples.
And so, our eavesdropping is ended. Don’t you wish you could have been there to hear Jesus preach that sermon? But of course, like these two, we have the OT, we have what Jesus taught them, recorded in the Gospels, and we have this record of their conversation. But more than them, we have probably four 4 copies of the whole Bible, each, and one on our phone and tablet and kindle. We have all the words of Jesus, in four Gospels. And we have the Spirit inspired teaching of the Apostles in the NT, in passages like 1 Cor. 15, which we read earlier, which explain the importance and the meaning of the resurrection. We are able to open this book, anytime. We can hear the Lord Jesus speak to us as His word is preached. We can open this book and read this: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” We can hear Jesus say, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” And we have this promise: “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Do you believe in a resurrected Jesus? You see, no cross; no resurrection; no glory. But there was a cross and there was a resurrection and He has been glorified. And all those who believe in Him shall join Him in that glory. Amen.