Explaining the Evidence

Luke 24:13-35

April 15, 2012 | Brian Bill

I read about what happened one day when a young woman from Michigan visited Beverly Hills and went into an ice cream shop to get an ice cream cone.  She looked around, checked her phone, put in her order and then suddenly realized that the person standing next to her was none other than Paul Newman.  She couldn’t believe it!  Her heart started racing but she tried to keep her composure. She didn’t want to act like a tourist and embarrass herself in front of the movie star.  She tried not to stare or show any emotion.  She paid the cashier, turned, and walked calmly out of the store. 

When she got outside, she took a deep breath and suddenly realized that she had walked out without her ice cream cone.  She figured that she must have left it on the counter but she didn’t want to go back in and embarrass herself in front of Paul Newman.  So she decided to wait outside until Mr. Newman left the counter.  When she looked in and saw that he was no longer there, she walked back in to retrieve her cone.  But when she got to the counter, she felt a tap on her shoulder from behind.  She turned around and there he was.  Flashing his famous smile, he said, “Miss, if you’re looking for your ice cream cone, I watched you put it in your purse a few moments ago.”

Something similar happened to a couple people on Easter Sunday afternoon when they finally realized that Jesus was walking right next to them.  If you have your Bible with you, and I hope you’re in the practice of bringing a hard copy or an electronic version on your mobile device, please follow along as I read Luke 24:13-16: “Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.  They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.  As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.”  

Because they didn’t know it was Jesus, they ended up saying some things that later they probably felt very embarrassed about.  Jesus walked with them but “they were kept from recognizing him.”  I wonder why that was.  Why didn’t Jesus immediately reveal who He was?  I think it’s because He wants our focus not on an emotional experience with a “celebrity,” but on Scripture.  Jesus knew He was about to leave and so He wants his followers to be anchored to the Word of God.

God gives us all the evidence we need to believe and receive

Our main point today is this: God gives us all the evidence we need to believe and receive.  And our outline is simple and easy to remember.  

  • Get it out (13-24)
  • Look it up (25-27)
  • Take it in (28-32)
  • Pass it around (33-35)

1. Get it out. 

Even after experiencing all the good that happened, doubts can still creep in. The disciples knew all about that.  They had heard that Jesus was alive but they weren’t entirely sure it was all true. One pastor writes: “Have you ever noticed that some of the saddest words in our language begin with the letter D? For example, disappointment, doubt, disillusionment, defeat, despair and death.”  That “same day” refers to Easter Sunday.  It’s probably late in the afternoon and two followers of Christ are making their way home to a town called Emmaus, located about seven miles from Jerusalem.  We could call this “A Walk to Remember.”  

They were probably there on Palm Sunday when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem and no doubt were nearby when Jesus was sentenced to death and then crucified.  Notice that it says they talked about “everything” that happened.  The phrase “talking with each other” is where we get the word “homiletics,” which means preaching.  

As they communed together and questioned each other, they hear footsteps behind them, as Jesus joins their walk.  Jesus walks with us when we’re wiped out, wounded, and worried.  They did not recognize Jesus, but He was there.  Likewise, He is with us, even when we think He is far away.

As Jesus walks with them, He also talks to them by asking two questions to get them to open up so they can get it out.  The first question is found in verse 17: “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”  This stops them in their tracks; literally, as we read they “stood still, their faces downcast.” As their feet falter, their faces fall.  They’re sad because they are in sorrow about their Savior.  I love how Jesus takes the time to help these two who have lost hope.  In their minds, He is gone, and all their hopes with Him.  Cleopas can’t believe that their walking partner does not know about what has happened in Jerusalem: “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 

I love how Jesus keeps the conversation going by asking a second question in verse 19: “What things?”  Jesus is drawing them out with this question.  Jesus loves for us to talk over with Him the things He already knows about.  They summarize what they know about Jesus, and they get a lot of the details right.  Notice how quickly and naturally they’re ready to talk about Christ.  And yet I’m struck by their unwillingness to believe that Jesus is alive.  

Look at verses 19-24: “About Jesus of Nazareth… He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.  The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 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.  In addition, some of our women amazed us.  They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body.  They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.  Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 

Would you notice that they proclaim Jesus was a prophet?  Their hopes have been buried with Him.  They think it’s all over and that there’s nothing He can do in the present.  They think that Jesus just did stuff in the past and that He is not relevant in the present…a lot of people are like that today.  They also say that they had hoped, meaning that their hope is now gone.  As they’re trudging home from a funeral, they’re experiencing the truth of Proverbs 13:12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”

Some of you have had your hopes dashed as well.  Maybe you’re hurting because you’re single or you’re married and it’s all a mess.  Your dreams for your kids have evaporated as they make choices that grieve your heart.  Maybe you’ve suffered through a miscarriage or you’re trying to deal with infertility.  Some of you have lost a child or a spouse or a parent or a relative or close friend.  Perhaps you’ve lost a job or you’re barely making it financially.  Or maybe the friction in your family is so thick you can barely stand it.  Others of you feel hopeless about some health issues.  As a result, you’ve had it.  You think God has failed you so you’ve bailed on Him.

The resurrected redeemer patiently listens to His children talk, much like He does with us when we pray.  He sees them as trapped in their own understanding of the tragedy that has taken place.  But He doesn’t leave them there.  After they unload, He uploads them with truth as the conversation turns toward a time of correction.  

The first thing to do is to get it out.  Next, look it up.

2. Look it up. 

Look at verses 25-27: “He said to them, ‘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?’  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” 

When Jesus calls them “foolish” and “slow of heart” he’s rebuking them.  To be foolish literally means, “without sense” and “slow of heart” and was used of someone who was dull.  This was not the first time He said this to His followers.  Mark 7:18: “Are you so dull?” and in Mark 8:17-18, Jesus rebukes them for not remembering: “Do you still not see or understand?  Are your hearts hardened?  Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?”

Jesus reminds them that He had to suffer in order to pay for their sins and then He gives them a Bible lesson they would never forget as He starts with the first five books of the Bible, written by Moses and concludes with what the prophets said about Him.  The Greek verb used here for “explain” is where we get the word “hermeneutics,” or Bible interpretation.  The word was used of interpreting a foreign language.  

From Genesis to Malachi, the Scriptures point to the Savior.  Warren Wiersbe writes: “The key to understanding the Bible is to see Jesus Christ on every page.”  Friends, don’t leave the Old Testament out of your Bible reading.  That’s one reason we camped in the Book of Haggai for eight weeks.  After our study of Luke we’ll move into the first two chapters of the Book of Acts and then head back to the Old Testament this summer for a series on the 10 Commandments.  In the fall, we’ll jump into the Book of James.  

Romans 15:4 reminds us that the Scriptures are what give us hope: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” It’s intriguing to imagine what passages Jesus preached from in His sermon to the two followers.  It was without doubt the greatest Old Testament exposition in history.  

Note the use of the word “all.”  “How foolish you are, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken…and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”   Maybe they had just read the Scriptures selectively…leaving out the parts they didn’t like.  Some of you are disappointed with God because you have focused only on the Scriptures that speak of blessing or favor but you’ve left out the ones that describe difficulties and suffering.  These two travelers were locked into the coming kingdom and couldn’t comprehend that Christ had to suffer and die in order for that to take place.

One of the most provocative book titles I have seen is called, “The Bible Jesus Read.”  Jesus certainly didn’t view the Old Testament as a boring or irrelevant book.  Rather, he saw it, from beginning to end, as speaking of Himself.  He not only is the fulfillment of some 300 or so prophecies and pictures in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ is the main character.  Dan Doriani notes: “Jesus does not simply figure in the Old Testament as the object of prophecy.  He figures in all its pages.”  

When you’re down and discouraged, get it out and then look it up.  Third, take it in.

3. Take it in. 

After being corrected, they crave additional preaching and so they ask Jesus to spend more time with them, even though they still don’t know who He is.  Follow along as I read verses 28-32: “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther.  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.  When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  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?’” 

The reason Jesus “acted as if” he was going further was to elicit a reaction from the travelers.  He was drawing them out so they would take it in.  Jesus is a gentleman; He won’t force Himself on you if He’s not really wanted but He will always come into “the heart and home where He is invited.” (Steven Cole).  These two guys want to commune with Christ and so they urge Him strongly to stay for supper.  

Notice that it doesn’t take much to get Jesus to stay.  A meal is thrown on the table and interestingly, the guest becomes the host as Jesus “took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.”  Let me say that this is not communion as we know it, but rather a simple shared supper.  Likewise, we must learn to see Jesus in the ordinary.  When Jesus broke bread, they were reminded of when He took loaves to feed the 5,000 and when He broke bread at the Last Supper.  And then, when He passed the bread to them, they saw His nail-pierced hands…and the light bulb finally came on for them.  

Interestingly, we read that their eyes are now opened, they clearly recognize Him, and then He disappears.  Have you ever wondered why the Lord didn’t stay longer?  During the 40 days after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to people for a specific purpose: He wanted them to know that He was alive!  And, He never stayed long because He wanted His followers to follow Him without His bodily presence…just like us.  

We are not left as orphans, however because He has given us at least two things: Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit.  By the way, one reason Jesus left them then and why He ascended into heaven forty days later is so the Holy Spirit could come.  We’ll talk more about this in two weeks when we begin our “God Still Acts” series.  When Jesus was here He could only be in one place at one time but the Holy Spirit sets up residence in every heart.  

Friends, get it out, look it up and then take it in.  That leads to the final step: Pass it around.  Let it burn in your heart and then turn it loose on others.

3. Pass it around. 

These two guys had spent the day walking to Emmaus, but now they realize that they have a story to share.  They probably didn’t even do the dishes, as they pushed away from the table and sprinted back to Jerusalem.  Remember, it is now evening, and it would have been dangerous to travel on the roads at night, but that didn’t bother them.  

Friends, when we have an encounter with Jesus, we must pass it around to others!  Look at verses 33-35: “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem.  There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true!  The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’  Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”  

It’s important to connect with other believers and reinforce the truth of the resurrection.  We need the encouragement that other believers can provide.  Hebrews 3:13: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  Before they could share their good news, the other followers reported about how Jesus had appeared to Peter!  I imagine them all jumping up and down for joy!  While the eleven were stating that it’s true that Jesus rose from the dead, the other two verified this truth when they shared their experience with others.  

The news that’s changed our lives must be passed around to others

This happens all the time in Connection Groups.  One person might say, “I’m struggling.”  Someone sighs, “Me, too!”  Another one shares some Scripture.  And then they pray together.  One person shares that they’ve been living in victory and someone else says, “Right on!”  In the men’s group I’m in on Saturday mornings one guy talks about some gut-wrenching stuff and another buddy affirms him and points him to God’s grace.  The news that’s changed our lives must be passed around to others.  And it’s in community that our convictions can grow.

One of my favorite things to witness is when a man becomes spiritually alive and then courageously lives out his faith in his family.  Last week I talked with a guy and gave him a Bible to read.  I saw him again the next morning and he had just finished reading the account of Jesus being left at the Temple when he was 12 years old.  When they finally located him three days later Jesus was asking questions of the teachers.  They were upset and asked him why He was treating them like this.  He answered and told them that he had to be in His Father’s house.  My new friend then said he was really struck by what follows.  It says that Jesus went back with them to Nazareth “and was obedient to them.”

Just then his son did something that needed correction.  In the past this dad told me that he would have yelled at his boy and given him a lecture.  Instead of doing that, he called his son over and told him this story about Jesus, emphasizing the importance of obedience.  

Listen to what he shared with me in a couple emails this week: “I now understand the question of am I ready to believe and accept Jesus Christ as my savior that you presented to me yesterday…I now realize that I do believe in the Lord and accept Jesus Christ as my savior…I am ready to take the first step of giving myself to the lord by showing obedience to him.  I will not live my life in fear of failure when I can live my life with honor and courage through Jesus Christ who strengthens me…I would be honored if you shared my experience between my son and myself.  If that one experience was able to encourage just one father or mother then that would be amazing to me. I was only in the mind set of how beginning a lasting relationship with God would change my family and my life. I was not thinking about how my experiences could possible inspire others.”

I’m not a big golf guy but was intrigued by what happened last Sunday when a brand-new celebrity named Bubba Watson won the Masters.  He made it very clear that golf is not his top priority.  He puts it right out there on his Twitter account: “Christian. Husband.  Daddy.  Pro Golfer.  Owner of General Lee 1 [that’s the Dodge Charger from Duke’s of Hazzard]

Friends, get it out, look it up, take it in and then share it with others.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?