“Eyes Opened to See Christ”
Series: Certainty in Uncertain Times
Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD
Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson
Take your Bibles and join me in Luke, Chapter 24 (Page 712: YouVersion).
We have been making our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke and we are in the home stretch. Just a couple more messages in Luke and we will have completed our series entitled, “Certainty in Uncertain Times.”
Last week we looked at the first twelve verses of Chapter 24 and we read about the empty tomb and studied the doctrine of the resurrection. What we have in today’s passage is the first actual appearance of Christ in Luke’s Gospel. And I’ve got to say, I just love this particular resurrection account! This passage about how Jesus encounters two guys walking on the road to Emmaus is my favorite resurrection appearance of Christ. I’m going to read just the first few verses to get us started and then we’ll pray and ask God for help in rightly understanding His Word.
Stand in honor of the reading of the Word of God.
13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.
16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
I’ve often said that the Bible is a “Him Book,” it’s a book about Him. Truly, throughout all 66 books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible points to Jesus Christ. In fact, one of the most interesting considerations of the Bible is its strikingly simple sense of unity in spite of the fact that there were so many different authors.
Think of it: the Bible contains a sum total of 66 books from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible was composed by more than 40 different authors writing over a period of some 1,500 years in three different languages from vastly different settings and locations.
And while the Bible covers a wide array of topics and themes, one major theme and purpose runs throughout the entire corpus or body of Scripture: man’s need for reconciliation with God, and how that need is met in Jesus Christ. It’s sometimes called, “the Scarlet thread of redemption” that is interwoven throughout the pages of Scripture. The Bible is a “Him Book,” it’s about Him.
That truth is illustrated in our text this morning. Let’s just walk through this passage and follow the footsteps of these two guys who are walking along the road. I’ve arranged the material under three descriptive headings: mystification, explanation, and celebration. Let’s look first at:
I. Mystification (13-24)
We learn a bit later that these two guys walking along the road are completely mystified. They are bewildered, befuddled, sad, and confused. They are walking along the road that departs from Jerusalem and leads to Emmaus, about a 7-mile journey. And as they are walking along the road Luke tells us in verse 14 that, “they talked together of all these things which had happened.”
That is, they are talking about the crucifixion of Christ and, namely, what they had learned as recorded in the preceding verses: the tomb of Christ is empty and they can’t seem to figure out what in the world is going on. They were followers of Christ themselves, but they could’t make sense of the tragic apparent ending of the life of their Messiah and what in the world this empty tomb business was supposed to mean.
Now I love verse 15. Let’s look at it again:
15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.
Don’t you just love that?! They are walking along and talking and then Jesus Himself comes up from behind and He’s going to join them in the conversation. Do they recognize Him? No. But note Luke doesn’t say, “They didn’t recognize Him.” What Luke writes in verse 16 is:
16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
In other words, the two men did not recognize Christ because God had restrained their eyes. The grammar is a divine passive. They didn’t do this themselves. They are passive in this. God has kept the men from recognizing Christ.
This reminds me of that great historical even in 2 Kings where the king of Syria was making war against Israel and the king sends bad guys to try to kill the Prophet Elisha. The bad guys surround the city where Elisha and his servant are staying. Elisha’s servant gets up in the morning and sees the enemy everywhere and he’s like, “What are we going to do now?!” And the Bible says that Elisha responds, “16 Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:16-17).
See, if we ever do see Christ for Who He is, it is because God opens our eyes to see Him. This is why we say that salvation is by grace, by God’s amazing grace. Because I am dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and I need my eyes opened to see Christ. So the Christian sings, “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” God opened my eyes to see Christ! Amazing grace.
You can be among Christ and not recognize Him. When I was young I remember attending Sunday school and church and being among Christ, but I didn’t recognize Him. I didn’t really see Him for Who He is. My eyes had not yet been opened.
Now in this passage, we may rightly reason that Christ is keeping these two guys from recognizing Him is so that He would have a unique opportunity to teach them and explain to them the necessity of His death and resurrection and that He might show them how His death and resurrection was the fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture.
17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”
We may note, just as an aside, that walking along the road and having spiritual conversation was considered a normal and good thing. To join-in on a conversation as a passing stranger was also socially acceptable. And in more rural areas where people walk more than drive it is still common for folks to walk along the road and talk and join-in on the conversations of others.
I am struck more by the content of the conversation. How many conversations do we have with friends and acquaintances that are spiritual in nature?
God says in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, that we should be having spiritual conversations with our families all the time. He writes, “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
Some find it easier to talk about anything but spiritual things: weather, sports, job, entertainment. Jesus rightly said in Matthew 12:34, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Whatever things you love and cherish most will be the things you talk most about. Think about that next time you strike up a conversation at work, in your classroom, at the beauty parlor, at the barber shop.
So Jesus says, “What are you guys talking about?” Did He already know? Of course. He is all-knowing. But He asks in order to draw out their understanding about the events surrounding the death of the Messiah that He might explain to them what was going on. So He asks, “Why are you guys sad? What are you talking about?”
18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”
This one guy, Cleopas, is like, “What?! Don’t you know what’s been going on?! Everybody knows about the death of Christ.” Incidentally, this statement affirms the historicity of the crucifixion and resurrection, illustrating the widespread acceptance of the fact of a crucified Christ 2,000 years ago and all the circumstances surrounding His death: “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem?!” I.e., “Everybody knows about this!”
19 And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was [past tense!] a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.
21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.
22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us [and here is a summary of what we studied last week, vv.1-12]
23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.
24 And certain 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.”
This explains their mystification. Look at Jesus’ immediate response in verse 25, “Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!’” So we move from mystification to explanation as Jesus explains to them that everything is happening just as foretold in the Scriptures.
II. Explanation (25-27)
Look again at verse 25:
25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Paraphrase: Don’t you guys know the Bible? Don’t you know the Old Testament Scriptures? Verse 26:
26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”
In other words: the arrest, death, crucifixion, and resurrection are all part of God’s plan foretold in the Bible. Verse 27:
27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Jesus “expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” That is, as they walked along the road, Jesus taught them how the Bible points to Christ. He taught them how the Bible teaches about the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t you love to have been there for that Bible study?!
Explanation leads to celebration in verses 28 and following.
III. Celebration (28-35)
They’re about to have their eyes opened.
28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther.
Jesus is waiting for an invitation to continue the spiritual lesson. And they invite Him to continue.
29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.
Okay, so now they are apparently in their home. And they do what most of us do after a long journey: they decide to eat. And so verse 30:
30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
Now that is just too cool, isn’t it?! It’s as Jesus is breaking bread and giving it to them that God opened their eyes. And who knows, maybe at that moment their eyes were opened the first thing they saw were the nail prints in Christ’s hands? I don’t know, but God opened their eyes to see Christ for Who He is. And then as quickly as their eyes are opened, Jesus vanishes from their sight. Bible study over!
32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
Imagine these two guys left sitting there at the table! One says to the other, “Where did He go?!” The other says, “I don’t know, He just vanished!” Hey, did your heart burn like mine did while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” “Yes! Mine, too.” And they decide that very hour–in joyous celebration–they decide to high-tail it back to Jerusalem to share this good news with the 11 disciples. Verse 33:
33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
I just love the way this all unfolds! These two guys jump up from the dinner table and run the 7 miles back to Jerusalem to tell everybody about seeing the risen Christ. They can’t wait, you know! And they’re probably working out who will do the talking, who will share what, and–talk about somebody stealing your thunder!–no sooner do they arrive at the place where the 11 are staying, but that they pause at the door, gather their breath, enter the door, walk into the room and before they can speak one word, the 11 speak first to them: “It’s true!” they cry, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” And only now can the two men share their story, verse 35:
35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
Mystification, Explanation, Celebration.
Let me share with you two necessary actions in light of our study. First:
We Must Correctly Interpret the Scriptures
There is power in the Scriptures rightly interpreted. Verse 27 says that Jesus, “expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” That word “expounded” in the original Greek is the word from which we get hermeneutics, the matter of biblical interpretation. Jesus rightly interpreted the Scriptures.
It’s the same word that occurs again in verse 32 where the two men say, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” It’s the same word: Jesus rightly interpreted, opened, expounded, the Scriptures.
The Scriptures opened correctly, rightly interpreted, lead to burning hearts, hearts aflame with truth that changes lives for the glory of God.
This is one of the reasons we are committed to expository preaching here, verse-by-verse through books of the Bible. We take the approach of Jesus Who–verse 27– “expounded to them,” explained to them from “all the Scriptures” the things concerning Himself.
Correctly interpreting Scripture means that we explain. We explain or expound truth, truth in “all the Scriptures,” truth in the context of the Word in which it is found. We’re not interested in a topical approach where we come up with some topic and then flip through our Bibles to find verses that seem to support what we want to say. Rather, we open our Bibles and take a passage and expound text after text, explaining what is there and drawing our application from the text. This leads to burning hearts.
Interpreted correctly the Bible is something of a mirror, revealing our sins and pointing out our need for forgiveness in Christ. It’s a bit like the guy who was shaking hands with his pastor after the morning service. He looked long and hard at his pastor before saying, “Your sermons are powerful, pastor thoughtful, well-researched. I can always see myself in them and I want you to knock it off.”
Yes, the Bible is an authoritative book that often cuts us like a knife (Hebrews 4:12), pointing out what needs correction in our lives. But God lovingly uses this knife the way a surgeon carefully uses a scalpel, bringing necessary healing to our souls.
We must correctly interpet the Scriptures. Secondly:
2) We must Correctly Identify the Son
Like many today, the two men on their way to the village of Emmaus had the wrong idea of Jesus. They had incorrectly “ID’d Him.”
They believed He was a Messiah of some kind. They had said back in verse 21, “We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.” Of course, the irony is that Jesus did redeem Israel! But you see they had a different kind of redemption in view. They were seeking a political Messiah, not a spiritual Messiah.
Jesus had, in fact, redeemed Israel but it was not a redemption that meant freedom from political oppression. It was a redemption that accomplished freedom from spiritual oppression. Christ did not come to save men from soldiers, but to save men from sin.
This is the reason Jesus gives these two guys the Bible lesson that He does. He teaches them that it was necessary for the Messiah to die, to be buried, and to rise from the dead. Only by Christ’s death and resurrection can man be forgiven of sin. He died for our sins and was raised for our justification (Romans 4:25).
We may wonder which Scriptures Jesus used during that 7-mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Who knows?! In actuality, Jesus told the two not just about His death, burial, and resurrection, but again–verse 27— “He expounded to them in alltheScriptures the things concerning Himself.”
The whole of the Bible points to Christ.
Jesus began His ministry with this teaching, the teaching that the Old Testament prophets foretold His coming. Do you remember back in Luke 4 when Jesus began His earthly ministry? Hear again what He said that fateful day:
16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
The Bible points to Christ. Philip taught the same thing to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. The eunuch is reading from the Old Testament and in Acts 8:35, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.”
When Peter preached to Cornelius, what did Peter say of Christ? Acts 10:43, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
The whole Bible points to Jesus. The Old Testament is a “Him Book,” it’s about Him. Every Old Testament book whispers His name.
For example, Book of Genesis, remember Adam? Adam failed the test in the Garden of Eden and his sin is imputed to us..
Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.
Remember Abel who was slain whose blood cried out for condemnation?
Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.
Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.
Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”
Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.
Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.
Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.
Jesus is the true and better RockofMoses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.
Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his [foolish] friends.
Remember when David fought Goliath?
Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.
Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.
Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.
Jesus is the PassoverLamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.
The Bible’s really not about you – it’s about Him. [source unknown]
Stand for prayer.
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