Discourses After Death: From Heartbreaking to Heartburning
By: The John Ankerberg Show
A five-year-old boy from Texas was told that the family would visit the Grand Canyon. They described it as much bigger than downtown Dallas. He could hardly wait to see it. When they finally arrived, they asked him how it surpassed his expectations. With a frown upon his face, the boy said, “I thought you said that it was a big cannon.” he wanted to see it fire something! When you’re hoping for the grand cannon, you can be let down even by something as magnificent as the Grand Canyon!
Have you been disappointed before? Maybe it was the untimely death of a parent, a child, or another loved one. Maybe it was through a painful divorce that took place in spite of your fervent prayers against it. Perhaps you lost your job and have been unable to find one. Maybe it’s a prayer request that hasn’t been answered for years. We all have times when we were disappointed by God.
That’s where two weary travelers were at as they walked the 7 miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus one Sunday. They had been hoping that Jesus was the promised Messiah who would redeem Israel. They were dejected and disappointed after Jesus died.
Luke 24:13, “Now that same day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 Together they were discussing everything that had taken place. 15 and while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus himself came near and began to walk along with them. 16 But they were prevented from recognizing him. 17 Then He asked them, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” and they stopped walking and looked discouraged. 18 The one named Cleopas answered him, “are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” He asked them. So they said to Him, “the things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet powerful in action and speech before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him. 21 but we were hoping that He was the one who was about to redeem Israel. Besides all this, it’s the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women from our group astounded us. They arrived early at the tomb, 23 and when they didn’t find his body, they came and reported that they had seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they didn’t see Him.”
A reunion on the roadside with Jesus
Some may have believed that these 2 people were men because one of them is named. However, we don’t know for sure. I think it’s a married couple. Why? They were discussing and arguing. Now I know this never happens in your marriage, but I’ve heard this happening to other people. Discussing means to examine or search through conversation.
Early church tradition identifies Cleopas as a blood relative of Jesus. He was joseph’s brother, mary’s mother in law and Jesus’ uncle. Although the name is spelled differently than in John, the other person could be mary who went to the tomb with Mary Magdelene.
John 19:25, “standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”
This may be how he knows what happened at the tomb when they are 7 miles from the site.
Suddenly, they hear footsteps from behind them. Jesus approaches them in a different form according to Mark 16:12. Verse 16, “but they were prevented from recognizing him.”This phrase “were prevented” is a divine passive. Their eyes had to be opened to see in order to see Jesus.
2 Cor. 4:3, “but if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. For God who said, “let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Jesus begins with questions. This is a rabbinic manner of discipling others. He is not asking because he doesn’t understand. He is asking so they understand.He says in verse 21, “but we were hoping that He was the one who was about to redeem Israel.” Redeem was a biblical term used to describe a person living in slavery. The slave was in a horrible situation. He was a piece of property to be used by his master. He could not do what he wanted with his life. He was at the beckoned call of his master. In the Jews case, they were oppressed by the Romans. They wanted to rise up one day and crush their enemies. They thought Jesus would lead the insurrection against Rome. After his death nothing on day 1. Then day 2, and now day 3. Nothing. The problem lies in their misunderstanding of Jesus’ person and mission. The irony in this response is that Jesus did redeem the people from their sins through His death. You may not be oppressed by the Romans, but you are oppressed by your sins, helplessly lost and without hope.
A rebuke for not recognizing Jesus
Verse 25, “he said to them, “how unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with moses and all the prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the scriptures. 28 They came near the village where they were going, and he gave the impression that he was going farther. 29 But they urged Him: “stay with us, because it’s almost evening, and now the day is almost over.” so He went in to stay with them.”
The word interpreted here is where we get the english concept of hermeneutics. It’s a big word that simply means to explain or interpret. Jesus is about to deliver the first and greatest Bible study of the Old Testamenet. The word made flesh explains the word of God. Wouldn’t you have liked to been there. Jesus probably started in Genesis 3:15 I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.
And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed my command.
The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will be among you to destroy you when I strike the land of egypt.
I see him, but not now; I perceive him, but not near. A star will come from jacob, and a scepter will arise from Israel. He will smash the forehead of moab and strike down all the shethites.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.
2 Samuel 7:12
When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and his anointed one.
They divided my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
The Lord swore an oath to David, a promise he will not abandon: “I will set one of your descendants on your throne.”
Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel—God with us.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. Verse 6: For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named wonderful counselor, mighty God, eternal father, prince of peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever.
the zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
[when he comes] then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
This is my servant; I strengthen him, this is My chosen one; I delight in him. I have put my spirit on Him; He will bring justice to the nations.
Who has believed what we have heard? and who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to? He grew up before him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at him, no appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, And we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open his mouth.
I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the ancient of days and was escorted before him. He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.
Bethlehem, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from eternity.
Rejoice greatly, daughter zion! Shout in triumph, daughter Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you; he is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the house of david and the residents of Jerusalem, and they will look at me whom they pierced. They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly for him as one weeps for a firstborn.
Sword, awake against my shepherd, against the man who is my associate—this is the declaration of the Lord of hosts.
strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will also turn my hand against the little ones.
See, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the messenger of the covenant you desire—see, he is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.
Then Jesus looks them in the eyes. The eyes he formed by his own hands, and says, “I am Him.”
But the verses about the Messiah were not confined to particular passages of sacred scriptures. Jesus’ fingerprints are on the entire Old Testamenet. It’s not a particular book, or chapter, or verse. The Messiah is the page upon which all accounts are written. The redemption story is a thread that is woven under the surface of every account, every situation, and every story. It’s on the minds of the first couple in the garden, on the hearts of the people in the wilderness, an on the thoughts of those in captivity of babylon. It converges on calvary and culminates at the tomb.
Notice how Jesus proves his identity: from the word. Does anything reveal the priority and importance of the Bible any more than this event? Surely this should be a mark to the Bible’s authority and indispensability to our life here on earth. We never graduate from the Bible. Jesus knew that faith comes comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.
The better question is: do you know the word? Can you share the gospel from the word? Can you do it from the Old Testamenet alone?
This is the 2nd encounter with Jesus in His resurrected form and we are introduced to 3 sets of people who still don’t understand what Jesus taught them. Was Jesus a bad teacher? Did he not communicate carefully the truths about the kingdom? No. Their hearts were hardened. They were lazy in seeking the things of God.
Their misunderstanding of the Word shows a lack of desire to understand the whole counsel of God. They built their theology on a few verses about the promises concerning the kingdom of God and the conquering of their enemies, but they didn’t seek to understand the prophecies concerning the suffering Savior who would die for their sins.
This mentality can happen today when believers become what I call “buffet Christians.” As long as they are choosing the foods and the portions, they are fine. Similar to standing in a cafeteria line with tray in hand, these individuals find scripture to fit their own agenda and selfish desires. They choose churches like they choose restaurants. They don’t want hard preaching. We don’t want in depth proclamation of the word. The want shorter sermons and faster the services so they can get to lunch on time. These folks love sermonettes.
A. W. Tozer said, “sermonettes produce Christianettes.”
Don’t short change the power of the word. For it’s in the word where Jesus is found.
The realization of the identity of Jesus
Verse 28, “they came near the village where they were going, and he gave the impression that he was going farther. 29 but they urged Him: “Stay with us, because it’s almost evening, and now the day is almost over.” so He went in to stay with them. 30 It was as He reclined at the table with them that He took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him, but He disappeared from their sight. 32 So they said to each other, “weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the scriptures to us?” 33 That very hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven and those with them gathered together, 34 who said, “the Lord has certainly been raised, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they began to describe what had happened on the road and how He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
Notice that Jesus had intentions of walking on without them, but they begged him to say. They didn’t understand until Jesus broke the bread. They reclined at the table and Jesus reaches for the bread. Maybe they saw his nail scarred hands. Maybe they recognized his face up close. In a similar fashion, he blessed it and broke it and gave it to them, just like Jesus fed the 5,000 and led the last supper.
All of the pieces finally came together.
It reminds me of what happens in smelting 2 pieces of metal together. When the metal is heated at a high temperature, the pieces aren’t solidified together. In the process, other impurities are burned off. As the truth came together, their hearts burned within them. Then their eyes were opened, they heard his voice, and recognized his face.
The words “were opened” are passive in nature. A divine passive is an action that God does to us. It’s not something we do for ourselves.
My favorite part of this encounter is, “weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the scriptures to us?”
This experience happened while hearing and studying the word. No gimmicks. No emotionalism. No hype. No production. No dramatization. He simply gave them the word.
A. W. Tozer: Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to me.
The problem with the American church is not Bible insufficiency but Bible illiteracy. It’s not a lack of Bibles. It’s laziness toward reading and understanding the Bible.