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Home arrow Daniel arrow Luke 24:1-35: Appearance on the Road
Luke 24:1-35: Appearance on the Road Print E-mail
Sunday, 15 December 2013

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Jesus told His disciples before they made it to Jerusalem that once He got there He would die and then be raised on the third day.  He says to them in the passage we memorized: ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised’ (Luke 9:22).  We have seen that Jesus was right about His suffering.  He was right about being rejected by the religious leaders.  And He was right about being killed.  As we have seen over the last few weeks, Jesus was in fact rejected and killed in Jerusalem.  When the sun went down on Good Friday, His body was cold in the grave.

Yet, what about His prediction of being raised on the third day?  Would that come true?  Would you have believed that Jesus was indeed going to come back from the grave?  His followers struggled to believe.  It does not appear that they were necessarily expecting the resurrection.  Perhaps they had some hope, but it seems to be fading fast.

So then, what does happen?  Luke tells us of the women going to the tomb early on the third day, which would have been the day after Sabbath, or Sunday.  Look at what happens in verses 1-3.  They were expecting to find a dead body that needed further preparation for burial.  Instead, they find no body at all.  Yet, before they could make sense of it, something else amazing happened.  Look at verses 4-7.  God often uses angels as His messengers, which is what their name means.  The message that these angels delivered is the greatest of all time: He is not here, but has risen.  Just as Jesus said He would, He has come back from the dead on the third day.  How will the women respond to such incredible news?  Look at verses 8-12.  They do remember what Jesus had said and they quickly go back to tell the disciples.  Yet, the men are skeptical about what the women have told them.  They are not quite ready to believe that Jesus has risen from the dead.  Their doubt should actually encourage our belief in the resurrection.  These men were not easily convinced.  They needed evidence.  They needed proof.  They needed more than just an empty tomb, which Peter actually verified.  They needed to see the risen Savior.

Luke will spend the rest of his Gospel telling us about two appearances of Jesus to the doubting disciples.  These appearances will drive all doubt from them, so that next time we see them they are boldly preaching the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection (see Acts 1-2).  This morning we will be looking at the first appearance, namely His appearance on the road.  This is one of the longer narrative sections in the whole Gospel.  So then, what details does Luke give us about this appearance to encourage our belief in the resurrection of Jesus?

The Significance of Jesus’ death (v. 13-20)

The scene shifts from the empty tomb to a road outside of Jerusalem that led to the village of Emmaus.  Luke tells us that two disciples were walking this road and having an important conversation.  What were they talking about?  Look at verses 13-20.  Jesus appears to these disciples but they do not recognize Him.  We don’t know exactly why they did not recognize Him, but it seems that God prevented them from knowing that it was Jesus.  He asks them what they are talking about and they are surprised that He is not familiar with what has just taken place in Jerusalem.  Apparently everyone was talking about the death of Jesus.  The disciples wonder if this person is the only one in Jerusalem who has not heard about it.  Jesus’ death was not unknown in the city.  People seemed to be aware that something profound had happened, even if they weren’t clear on its impact for their own lives.  The death of Jesus was a significant occurrence in the city of Jerusalem.  People were talking about it.  The disciples were still trying to figure it out, which leads to our next detail.

The Hope (and disappointment) of the Disciples (v. 17b, 21a)

What can we learn about the mood of the disciples at this point?  Look again at verse 17b.  When Jesus asks them what they are discussing, Luke tells us that they look sad.  They are hurting.  They are confused.  They are upset.  Why are they sad?  They tell us in verse 21a.  Look at that with me.  They thought Jesus was the One who was going to come and set the people of Israel free.  They thought that Roman rule was coming to an end.  They believed that Jesus was the Promised Messiah, who would redeem Israel.  Of course, Jesus was the Messiah, He just was not doing what they thought He was going to do.  In fact, they mourn over the fact that Jesus did not redeem Israel, when in fact He did.  He did not free them from Roman rule, but that was never His mission.  His mission was to free them from their spiritual enemies, namely sin, Satan, and death, which He did at the cross.  Yet, these disciples could not see it.  All they could see was a man hung on a cross, dead and defeated.

The Confusion about the Empty Tomb (v. 21b-24)

Of course the women had given them some exciting news, but they were not sure what to do with it.  Look at verses 21b-24.  Apparently these disciples knew the significance of the third day, since they mention it here.  They also tell this stranger about what the women had experienced.  So they have the words of Jesus and the testimony of the women, yet, they still do not believe.  Why?  Because they have yet to actually see Jesus.  Only then, only when they see the risen Body of Jesus will they believe that He has truly come back from the dead.  An empty tomb is not enough to convince them.  If you have ever struggled to believe that Jesus really came back from the dead, then take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.  These disciples, along with the others, needed some proof if they were going to believe in the resurrection.

The Fulfillment of Scripture (v. 25-27)

Jesus has been listening to their story up to this point.  Now He decides to comment.  Look at verses 25-27.  Jesus rebukes these disciples for not understanding and believing what the Scriptures spoke about the Messiah.  If we read the prophets correctly then we know that it was absolutely necessary (divine imperative) for the Christ to suffer and then be raised again.  The only way to avoid the inevitability of Jesus’ death is for man to stop being so sinful or God to stop being so loving.  His suffering was foretold and necessary.  These disciples should have known, but they did not. 

Jesus then goes on and explains how the Old Testament speaks of Him.  Of all the conversations in the Bible that I would like to overhear, this one tops the list.  One of my commentators writes: “There has never been a better evangelistic sermon than the one the risen Christ preached to his disciples on the first Easter Sunday, somewhere on the gospel road between Jerusalem and Emmaus.” 1  Why is this so significant?  He answers: “Here Jesus gives us the golden key to unlock the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures: they are all about him.  Every part of the Old Testament finds its meaning and purpose in relationship to the person and work of Jesus Christ.” 2

The call of Abraham is about the coming of Jesus.  The Passover Lamb was a picture of what He would do to redeem His people from their sins.  The Tabernacle and the Temple pointed to the greatness of dwelling in God’s presence, which He has secured for us through His death and resurrection.  The prophets, the priests, and the Kings all prepared us for what He would do.  He is the root from the stump of Jesse.  He is the righteous branch.  He is the Suffering Servant.  He is Immanuel, God with us.  When we read the Old Testament, we should be looking for Him.  The whole story of our redemption, from Genesis to Revelation, is about Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen One.  And when you read the New Testament, it is obvious that the writers interpreted the Scriptures in light of Him.  All of history has been preparing us for the person and work of Jesus.  We celebrate the incarnation as the fulfillment of God’s promises.  We read Isaiah looking for Jesus because we know that He is in the prophets.  It is hard to overstate the importance of these verses for our understanding and interpretation of the Bible.  We want to read our Bibles looking for the promises and fulfillments of those promises concerning Jesus.  He is the key to understanding God’s Word and His plan of redemption. 

The Confidence of His Resurrection (v. 28-35)

We can mention one final detail from Jesus’ appearance to these disciples.  After He teaches them from the Scriptures, they ask Him to stay with them.  Look at what happens in verses 28-31.  When Jesus breaks bread with them, their eyes are opened to who He is.  They recognize Him and He vanishes.  It seems that Luke wants us to see the connection between breaking the bread and knowing Jesus.  As we come to the table today to remember what Jesus has done for us, our prayer should be that we would indeed recognize and know our Savior.

How do these men respond?  Look at verses 32-35.  They are convinced that Christ has indeed risen from the dead.  Why?  Because they saw Him.  When He broke the bread with them, He was known to them.  No longer were these disciples doubting.  They remembered how their hearts burned within them when they heard Him teach.  This was Jesus.  He had come back from the dead, just as He had said and just as the prophets had foretold.  They were convinced.

What about you?  Do you really believe that Jesus came back from the dead?  Do you believe that He was really dead on Good Friday and really alive on Easter Sunday?  Luke has written His Gospel so that we can be certain (1:4) about these things.  So I encourage you this morning: be certain that Jesus really did conquer the grave.  He paid the price for your sins and was raised for your justification (Romans 4:25).  If you turn from your sins and put your faith in Him, then your sins are forgiven and just like your Savior, you can have victory over the grave.  Likewise, Luke tells us of this appearance so that we can be certain that all of the Bible is about Jesus.  Commit to finding Him there.  Commit to meeting with Him through the pages of Scripture.  And as we come to the table each week, may we ask the Lord to open our eyes just as He opened the eyes of those disciples, so that He may be known to us in the breaking of bread.  May we believe and know the risen Christ this morning.  Amen.

Philip Graham Ryken, Luke, Vol. 2 REC (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009), p. 650.
2 Ibid., p. 650.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Sunday, 26 January 2014 )

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