Sunday after Easter Online Worship
Sermon for Easter Two – Sunday April 19, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3–4, NIV84)
Luke 24:13-32 NKJV
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.
17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”
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?” 19 And He said to them, “What things?”
So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was 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. 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.”
25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther.
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.
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.
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? *
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Who comes to us in His Word,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
He is risen, Hallelujah! Well, that is our joyful Easter greeting, but when we last gathered around God’s Word, we found that things weren’t so joyful that first Easter Morning. When we last met in our homes, we found Mary Magdalene, Peter and John looking for a dead Jesus. They instead found an empty tomb – praise God – which ought to have resulted in boundless joy, but at first it only caused fear and raised questions.
They kept looking for Jesus…and eventually He found them. He gave them lasting joy, answered their questions and chased their fears.
People are still looking to find Jesus. Every so many years, magazines like Time, Newsweek and National Geographic all set out to discover something about Jesus. They strive to find ‘the historical Jesus.’ Still, after reading their articles peppered with quotes from the religious experts of our age, we find that they really haven’t found Jesus at all. One of the biggest reasons they can’t find Jesus is that they start out by rejecting the Bible as an unreliable source. It’s a bit like the TV Program ‘Finding Bigfoot.’ They are forever tromping out in the woods after dark and claiming to find evidence of a hairy bipedal animal…without really ever finding him.
On the day that Jesus rose from the dead, two of his disciples were looking for something – perhaps peace of mind – and along the way they found Jesus. They didn’t find him along the road to Emmaus…they found Him in the place where we – and anyone else truly interested in finding Him -- still find Him today. If you can’t find Jesus, perhaps you are looking in the wrong place!
Let us pray:
Lord, God, Heavenly Father, you give us every good and perfect gift. As your Holy Spirit brings to completion the good work that You have begun in us, help us to treasure whatever is true, noble, and right. Preserve us from everything that would provide an occasion for falling into sin. Teach us to live day by day in humble dependence on your promises, in cheerful obedience to your laws, and in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection from the dead. Strengthen us in spirit with power through your Word so that we may abound in love, humility, patience, and prayer until we receive the crown of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We refer to them as the Emmaus Disciples simply because they were traveling to the small village of that name, now having been lost to the sands of time. The two disciples were not two of the 12 disciples (cf. Luke 24:33), but two of the greater group (70+). They left Jerusalem in the morning, sometime after Peter and John returned to report that the tomb was empty (Luke 24:24)…but before Mary Magdalene and the other women reported seeing, touching and talking with the Living Jesus.
God’s Word tells us that Emmaus lay – literally 60 ‘stadia’ from Jerusalem. A ‘stadia’ is a measurement referring to the length of a stadium, or about 1/8th of a mile. if you walk at the Superior Dome, think of a ‘stadia’ as a half a lap around the dome. It was about 7.5 miles to Emmaus (or about 22 1/2 laps around the superior dome) and the trip usually took 2 ½-3 hours.
What were the two disciples looking for? Were they looking for peace of mind? Were they looking to get out of town? One thing is for sure, they weren’t looking for Jesus. No, that ship had sailed. Jesus was dead, or so they thought.
It was a Sunday like no other…and though they weren’t looking for Jesus, He found them. If you think about it, that’s the way it always happens – Jesus seeks us out. Jesus finds us. On this occasion, the Savior himself came walking up behind them and caught up to them on the road to Emmaus. They didn’t recognize Jesus because their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. So as a stranger He walked with them as they conversed animatedly. The word that describes their conversation indicates they were ‘throwing words at one another.’
When there was a break in the conversation, the stranger asked what they were talking about. Jesus’ question was enough to stop them in their tracks. They stood still, sullen and sad.
One of the two disciples was named Cleopas; and He thought he had found a hermit. Was it possible that someone had been living near Jerusalem and didn’t hear about the things that had occurred? It seemed preposterous.
The stranger took no offense, but asked, “What sort of things?” Jesus was well aware about what had happened in Jerusalem. He knew what they were talking about. He had been involved. He asked them so that they would explain to Him the reason why they were so depressed. It was like when Jesus asked the disciples (Matthew 16:13-17; Mark 8:27-29; Luke 9:18-20) who people thought He was and then followed it up with the question, “But who do you say that I am?”
Thus, the two of them told Jesus, what they had thought they had found in Jesus. They told him that they had found a man, a prophet. He was a prophet with powerful works and words. They didn’t say that He was the Messiah, the Promised Savior. They admitted that they were hoping they had found the Promised Savior until He was handed over and crucified, and on the third day remained dead.
What did the empty tomb mean to them? Well, nothing, because the women found nothing in the tomb and neither did the disciples. They had lost Jesus, just when they thought they found Him. The reports of the women didn’t seem to matter because – Him they did not see.
They believed that the only way to find Jesus was to see him in the flesh…the very thing they were doing…but not recognizing. Well, not much has changed. Still today people want to be able to SEE something with their eyes to believe. People insist that God has to make sense to them and fit into the parameters they establish before they will believe in Him. But the True God is a hidden God, He doesn’t sit on the street corner with a sign inviting people to take a look. He may leave evidence of Himself in the Creation, but people don’t find him there. He is to be found in His Word.
When they had expressed their sad interpretation of the events of Holy Week, the stranger spoke up again. He didn’t give them a hug and comfort them. What He said to them must have stopped them in their tracks a second time.
25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”
Let’s put ourselves into Cleopas and the other disciple’s sandals for a moment. So, you just finished explaining to a stranger the greatest disappointment in your life and he turns to you and says: “You aren’t using your head and you are slow to believe all the Promises of God.”
Excuse me sir, what did you just say? “I said you are being thoughtless and slow to believe all that God has promised in His Word. Wasn’t it necessary that the Christ suffer these things and to enter into His Glory?”
It was then that the instruction began. It was then that they found Jesus and came to know Him as God Himself had foretold in His Word. It was then that they came to learn about the Christ of Scripture, without any human additions or ideas. It was then that the Son of God opened up the one reliable textbook for discovering God and He taught from it.
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Jesus began with Moses…not the man…but the books God used him to write. No there isn’t a book named after Moses because God the Holy Spirit used Moses to write: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy…the first five books of the Hebrew Bible and of our own.
Moses wrote about the Savior Jesus, but He didn’t use the name Jesus. He pictured Jesus in different things – like the Manna, the Sacrificial Lamb. He pictured the deliverance of the Cross in the Bronze Serpent.
When Jesus finished explaining to them all that God through Moses said about Him…He opened up the rest of the Scriptures. He opened up the Old Testament Prophets to them and explained in detail what they said the Savior would come and do for Jew and Gentile alike. Jesus, like no one else, was fully prepared to unlock and open up the Scriptures. They discovered what they had been looking for all along – comfort, hope, certainty that Jesus was the Promised Savior.
They found Jesus…in the place where He always had been and always will be. They were looking in the wrong place. They had accepted the popular ideas about what the Messiah was and would accomplish for Israel.
They saw him as a political deliverer, not as the Redeemer foretold in the Scriptures. It’s no wonder they didn’t find Jesus…they were looking in the tomb. They were looking in the wrong place.
Is it any wonder that people don’t know Jesus today? If their source of information is the hearsay of neighbors and the suggestions of unbelieving journalists…how can they? If they believe in the Jesus of Hollywood, the Jesus of National Geographic, Time and Newsweek…it’s no wonder they have no comfort, direction or hope! If they begin by discounting and dismissing the Word of the Living God, it’s no surprise that they don’t find the real Jesus.
They are looking in the wrong places.
Now, here’s where you come in. Jesus has found you. He has revealed Himself to You in His Word. He is the Living One. The more that you learn of Him – from the source, His Word – the more you are prepared when people ask you about him. If you keep seeking Jesus out in His Word, then when you come across people who are distressed and depressed and looking for answers…you can direct them to the Real Jesus.
They will want more of Him. The two men on the way to Emmaus wanted more. When the stranger indicated that He was planning on going on they strongly persuaded Him to stay with them. He went with them. He sat down to eat with them. He took the role of the host, blessed and broke the bread and gave it to them…
Suddenly…they saw Him. They realized that the stranger was Jesus…and just as suddenly He was gone.
Did they return to their depression? Did they react as if they had lost Jesus all over again? Did they rejoice that NOW they knew Jesus was alive because they SAW HIM with their own eyes? NO! For faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
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? *
They had begun the day with a ‘cheap version’ of Jesus. They began the day with a dead Jesus and with no confidence that He was the Savior. After listening to Him everything changed. They found Jesus…because they listened to Jesus. It sounds so simple…and it really is.
So how well do you know Jesus? If you can’t find Jesus it may be because you’ve stopped listening to Him…maybe because you don’t think you have time or because you think you know what you need to know. It’s not about what you think you have between your ears, but who you know and rely on. If it’s your own understanding and not Jesus’ Word…there may be a problem.
Now don’t be afraid. We still find Jesus where they found Jesus on the road to Emmaus, still today…in the Scriptures. He’s not to be found in what we ‘think we know’ but in what the Scriptures say and declare about Him.
Jesus invites you to look for Him and to find Him in His Word. The more you listen to Him, the more you will find the real Jesus and He will come to dwell within you. Don’t accept cheap substitutes…look for Him in His Word. There you will find a living and powerful Jesus whose word changes hearts and grants hope and joy even in the face of death. Jesus isn’t dead, but lives and has power over death.
Life can seem to fall apart sometimes…and sometimes the reason is that we’ve stopped listening to Jesus. There is no reason to be down, to feel as if there is no hope. The answer is simply to return to Jesus, to listen to Him in His Word.
Lord, Open now my heart to hear,
And through your Word to me draw near.
Let me your Word, e’er pure retain;
Let me your child and heir remain.
(CW 282:1) Amen.