The Road to Emmaus

1.    Introduction

Today we are going to study a passage from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 24: the story of the Road to Emmaus.

2.    Reading: Luke 24:13-35

First, let me read this passage, Luke 24:13-35. I’m reading from the New King James version……

3.    Theme: Resurrection of Christ

  • Significance

As we know, the background of this story is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are secondary doctrines in Christianity, such as the way of Baptism. Solid Christians may disagree over such issue. But the Resurrection of Christ is no doubt the fundamental truth of our faith, just as the doctrine of Trinity. If people deny this truth, we will no longer regard them as a true Christian.

  • Proof/Evidence

But people do deny this vital truth of Christ’s Resurrection. One simple reason is that resurrection contradicts to the science, contradicts to the common knowledge. So often we see people die, but have never seen people rise from the grave.

Various evidences are given to prove Resurrection of Christ. One Biblical evidence is the empty tomb. Another proof is that many people witnessed the risen Lord. And the third proof is the thorough change of those disciples. They were fishermen. If Christ didn’t rose up, how could they give their lives so willingly for a lie?

So we are going to examine this story of the Road to Emmaus, to think how we may verify this fundamental truth of the Resurrection of Christ.

4.    The Story

  • Outline

First, let me try to outline the story that we may have a whole & big picture of it. As most typical Biblical narratives, we can divide this story into 4 major parts: the beginning, the development, the climax, and the end.

1) The beginning of the story is that two disciples went from Jerusalem to a small village on the resurrection Sunday ……

2) Then the 2nd part of the story is that Jesus Himself drew near to them and walked with them ……

3) And then the climax of the story is in Emmaus in that evening when they attended the table. ……

4) At the end, these two disciples rose up that night and went back to Jerusalem to report ……

  • Core

As we look at the story as a whole, we notice there is a movement:

from Jerusalem to Emmaus;

from confusion to understanding;

from sad to joy;

from eyes restrained to eyes opened;

from couldn’t recognize to fully believe/know

With these in mind, let’s think of 3 questions ……

5.    Why: can’t believe?

  • Eyes restrained

If there is any evidence to prove the Resurrection of Christ, this would be the greatest that the risen Lord standing right here in front of you.

It’s interesting that these two disciples couldn’t recognize Jesus. Verse 16 says “their eyes were restrained”. Why is that? Maybe Jesus changed His cloth, or changed His face after resurrection?

Actually we do have similar experience in our daily life. Sometimes we try to find certain item in our room, but after many times of searching, still couldn’t find, then another person points to that item just right in front of us ……

Is it that our eyes didn’t see? Do our eyes fail their function? Notice the word ‘restrained’ is in passive, there was something restrained or kept the eyes to recognize. When our hearts are occupied with something, our eyes are restrained to recognize. The hearts of these two disciples were occupied with a lot of questions and confusions, that’s why their eyes were restrained to recognize the risen Lord.

  • Hearts slow

Then we see Jesus Himself drew near to them and tenderly guided them by asking what they were discussing. When they answered Jesus the questions they struggled with, Jesus said, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!

The eyes were restrained because the hearts were occupied; the hearts were occupied because they were confused with all the things happened:

1) Jesus is a prophet from the righteous God, but He was condemned as a sinner;

2) Jesus was hoped to be the redeemer of Israel, the Messiah, but he was crucified by Romans;

3) They heard the good news that Jesus arose from the grave, but haven’t seen.

They couldn’t put all these things together, just as in a puzzle game, all the pieces won’t fit together. Is it because they were not smart enough? Or their IQ was too low? When you play a puzzle game like this, after trying all the different ways you still can’t fit everything together, do you suspect there is error in the game or do you suspect that you are not intelligent enough? Jesus said, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe”.

  • Soul bound

Natural man would rather believe that resurrection is impossible than confess that he is foolish. But indeed, man is foolish and slow of heart:

Sinners are bound by sin

ruled and controlled by Satan

and threatened by death.

Natural man is spiritually dead. He is unable to understand the truth of God; his eyes are blind; even seeing the risen Lord he won’t be able to believe the Resurrection!

If that is the miserable situation of man, how can we believe then?

6.    How: can believe?

  • Not by sight

Apparently this story tells us it is not by sight we believe. The eyes did see Jesus, but they were restrained from recognizing and knowing Him.

  • Not by reasoning

It is also not by reasoning we believe. Jesus, the Word, expounded the Scriptures from Moses and prophets to the two disciples. But even after that 7 miles of explanation, their eyes didn’t open though their hearts burned within.

  • But by receiving the grace of the Lord

When did their eyes open? It was at the table, when Jesus took the bread, blessed, broke, and gave it to them. It is in that very moment when they received the bread their eyes opened!

What is reality? Something happened outside of me and has nothing to do with me. It is real only in an objective sense. But if it has also a great impact to my heart and my life, it will be not just an external reality, but also an internal reality.

Jesus Christ did die on the cross and He did rise up from the grave on the 3rd day. But when I eat the bread which signifies His body broken for me and drink the cup which signifies His blood shed for me, my heart is sealed by the Holy Spirit. The death and resurrection of Christ become truly true to me. And by no mean I will be able to deny it.

7.    Who: should believe?

Who then should believe the Resurrection of Christ?

  • Those blind

It is those who are in the darkness, who are blind but long to see the light. Their eye shall open and see the Light of the world.

  • Those confused

It is those who are confused with the goodwill and the cruel reality, those who are puzzled with the perversion of right and wrong in this world. To them the Truth of God shall be given.

  • Those frightened

It is those who fear death all their life, those whose hearts are broken because death has separated their love. They shall receive the Bread of Life!

O Death, where is your sting?

  O Hades, where is your victory?

  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of    sin is the law.

  But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Lord is risen indeed!

8.    Prayer

Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Charles Wesley