My friend & I were distraught. Everyone we knew was, really. The event that had taken place a few days ago was lodged in our minds, and because of this heavy weight of grief, our hearts were nearly crushed.
We had followed this Man for three years, and we had seen Him heal blind people. We had seen Him drive demons out of people. We had seen Him command the wind & waves to obey Him and calm down. We had even seen Him raise a little girl from the dead!
And His teaching! His teaching had such a weight of authority behind it—not like the scribes who taught the Word of God in a kind of endless drone, leaving you drooling on yourself and slapping yourself as you tried to stay awake…
No… Jesus’ words had a power. Why, He would talk about God as if He had seen Him face-to-face. He would make the Hebrew Scriptures come alive with fresh insight that would convict your heart of sin, but it would also bring an unshakeable comfort and peace.
My friend Cleopas & I were traveling to Emmaus, a town about 7 miles from Jerusalem. It was later in the day, and we were seeking comfort one another. Sometimes, in the midst of great suffering, these platitudes that we tell one another (God is in control; He knows what is best; Time heals all wounds; we’ll know better down the road…) are kind of like the teaching of the scribes. They may be true enough, but there’s no power to them. They land on your soul, but just add more weight to your suffering. THEY DON’T HELP YOU!!
Especially since Jesus spoke to us about having eternal life and saying things like “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” Those are some pretty grand claims. “I and the Father are one.”
In all honesty, having a couple of days to think about all the things that Jesus did & said, and now knowing that He was dead, I was angry—angry at Jesus & angry at God. Sure Jesus, you told us “I AM the way, the truth, & the life” but now you’re dead & I feel like a complete fool for trusting you. You said things like, “He who comes to me will NEVER thirst again.” That’s great, but now you’re dead and I’m left here with everything I believe about God suspended in the air & I don’t know where the pieces are going to land or how they are all going to fit back together… I left everything to follow you, and this is what I get—utter confusion?
As I am pouring out my heart to my friend, we were suddenly joined on the Road by Someone else. It was kind of dark, and we couldn’t see who it was, but He began asking us all these questions—“what are you guys talking about? why do you look so sad? you said somebody died, ‘who died?’”
My friend Cleopas just looked at the man in disbelief and said something to the effect of “what rock did you climb out from under? Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who doesn’t know about Jesus—about how He was delivered up and crucified by the rulers of Israel ? We’re heartbroken & confused because we thought that He was the One who was going to save Israel—He told us as much, but now, here it is 3 days later & we don’t know what to do or what to believe anymore.
“ Besides all that, apparently somebody has stolen His body because some of the women came and told us they went to His tomb this morning and He was gone!”
Then the Man stopped us dead in our tracks & called us “fools & slow of heart to believe.”
“Fools—of course we’re fools! We were fools to follow. We were fools to believe. Slow of heart? How could this Man say that we were slow of heart? We gave up everything & faithfully followed Him. We DID believe.”
It was at this point that we stopped walking and the Man looked at us right in the eyes, and began to teach us Scripture after Scripture beginning with Genesis through all of the prophets about Jesus and His life. Like a master rabbi he paced back & forth as he open the Scriptures to us…
Genesis 49:10 Descended from the tribe of Judah
Deuteronomy 18:15 The prophet to come
Micah 5:2 Born in Bethlehem
Isaiah 9:7 Heir to the throne of David
Isaiah 7:14 Born of a virgin
Psalm 2:7 Declared the Son of God
Isaiah 61:1-2 Came to heal the brokenhearted
Psalm 35:19 Was hated without reason
Zechariah 9:9 Triumphal entry into Jerusalem
Psalm 41:9 Betrayed by a friend
Zechariah 11:12-13 Sold for thirty pieces of silver
Isaiah 53:3 Rejected by his own
Isaiah 50:6 Spat upon and smitten
Isaiah 53:12 Crucified with transgressors
Psalm 69:21 Given vinegar and gall
Psalm 109:4 Prayer for enemies
Psalm 22:18 Soldiers gambled for his coat
Psalm 16:10 & 49:15 Would rise from the dead
Psalm 68:18 Would ascend to God’s right hand
Suddenly, our crushed hearts started to change. As Scripture after Scripture about this Messiah washed over us with power & authority, our hope began to rise. Rather, our hearts began to burn with flames of fresh hope that Jesus was who He said He was.
As evening approached & we reached our destination, we invited this Man to stay with us. He obliged. Then, as we sat down to eat, our new Friend took the bread, and blessed it, broke it and handed it to us.
It was at that moment that we knew that we had seen this all before. The feeding of the 5,000; the feeding of the 4,000; the Last Supper—Cleopas & I looked adamantly at our new friend and realized that we were actually seeing an old friend—we were looking into the face of Jesus! At that moment He vanished. We would see Him again.
And I am here this morning to tell you that you will see Him again, too.
Jesus is Alive!