2015-12-20 Their Eyes Were Opened!

LUKE 24:13-35                                                                                DECEMBER 20, 2015


After I graduated from seminary I did not receive a call from a church for just over a year. During that time I went to work with a “temp” agency that found short term jobs for people out of work. I worked for many companies during that time period. At one job site I worked with a maintenance department at a new distribution warehouse. The distribution warehouse which was over a million square feet had recently opened and was being used even while construction was still being completed. I worked for weeks cleaning up after the construction crews and helping to assemble the miles of lines that snaked through the entire building. My boss was also a temporary worker who had graduated from Georgia Tech with an engineering degree and was applying to many businesses including NASA and other major corporations. He was not a Christian and he asked me lots of questions.

After one discussion he said that Christianity simply did not make sense to him. He did not understand the terms and concepts I talked about when talking about the Christian faith. He did not understand the terms: “saved”, “repentance”, “walk of faith”, etc… I asked him if he understood all of the engineering terms when he first started engineering classes at Georgia Tech. He said he did not. I then explained that one must begin to read and examine the bible for oneself before the light would come on and understanding illumines your heart and mind.

In this story of the journey to Emmaus we will see how Jesus explained the events of the crucifixion and the resurrection in light of the Old Testament scripture promises concerning the Messiah and the Suffering Servant. This story of the walk to Emmaus is only found in Luke’s account. Jesus explains the Old Testament scriptures in how they point to him and how we personally understand the significance of the cross and the resurrection.

Luke 24:13-16 (NIV) 13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.” Only one of the disciples is mentioned by name, “Cleopas”. These two disciples were most likely on their way home after celebrating the Passover. It is not surprising that they were talking over the events of the past week and especially what had occurred that morning with the tomb being empty and the women receiving a message from angels. Luke mentions that the two disciples “were kept from recognizing him.”

Jesus starts the conversation by asking a question. Luke 24:17 (NIV) 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast.” The two disciples did not recognize him but Jesus also did not appear as an angel. Thus Jesus had a normal appearance but they did not recognize him as being Jesus. They were upset over the tragedy of losing their master and friend. Jesus directs the conversation, probing what they understand about what had occurred. Luke 24:19-24 (NIV) 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 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. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

The two disciples thought Jesus was a prophet and they hoped he was the Messiah that would free Israel from the Romans. As we talked last week these disciples thought that Jesus’ death on the cross ended the work of God. They got the facts right but they were unable to take the next step down the road to salvation. They thought death had the final word! They were still blinded.

Jesus rebukes the two disciples for being blinded. Luke 24:25-27 (NIV) 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Luke is calling those who are reading this gospel to open one’s heart and mind and believe that Jesus is your Savior and Lord!

The chosen people of God, the Jews have not understood the message of the Old Testament that it finds it fulfillment in Jesus. Jesus is the central figure in God’s plan.  How we respond or fail to respond about Jesus determines our eternal future. That journey of 2-3 hours where Jesus explains the scriptures and how they point to him must have been exciting. We do not have the time to examine the passages that point to Jesus. These passages include: Isaiah 40, Isaiah 50-53, Psalms 2, 16, 22, 110, 118 and Daniel 7 are but a few that point to the Suffering Servant and the Messiah. These scriptures were more than likely used by Jesus when he opened the scriptures so that they could understand the plan of God.

The two disciples were stopping at Emmaus and they urged Jesus to stop and fellowship with them over a meal. Jesus took on the role of the host. Luke 24:30-31 (NIV) 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” This scene reminds us of the Last Supper. Jesus broke the bread and gave it to them. It is Jesus alone who opens our eyes to see him as our Savior and Lord. It is Jesus who opens our eyes of faith.

It is only when Jesus disappeared that they are able to recall how they were feeling as he explained everything to them. Luke 24:32 (NIV) 32 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?” It is only in retrospection that we are able to see the journey of faith and how Jesus led us to him and opened our hearts and minds to understand how much we need Jesus and his forgiveness.

What was their response to seeing Jesus? Did they say that Jesus was nice to have shown up and explained to them? No, they knew at once they must go back and share their story. They did not hesitate to walk back seven miles at night as they were so excited! Luke 24:33-35 (NIV) 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”Once we truly understand what Jesus has done for us on the cross and by the resurrection, do we realize that we must follow him and tell the story to others. If we are not telling the story then something is wrong with us and we need to confess our hesitation and ask for the Holy Spirit to give us a holy boldness.

The writer of Hebrews says it well! From the Living Bible Hebrews 1:1-3 “Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through the prophets in visions, dreams, and even face to face, telling them little by little about his plans. But now in these days he has spoken to us through his Son to whom he has given everything, and through whom he made the world and everything there is. God’s Son shines out with God’s glory, and all that God’s Son is and does marks him as God. He regulates the universe by the mighty power of his command. He is the one who died to cleanse us and clear our record of all sin, and then sat down in highest honor beside the great God of heaven.” May our eyes be opened in the same way so that we see clearly Jesus who is calling us to believe and walk with him! And like Cleopas and the other disciple may we rush out to tell others!

Let us pray.