Emmaus Road (Easter 2017)

     The story is about a group of climbers who set out to scale a large mountain in Europe. On days when the view was clear, the hikers made the greatest progress. Yet on some days the cloud covering would block the vision of the mountaintop. On these days the climb became arduous. The goal was forgotten. Tempers were short. Weariness was an uninvited companion. We’re often like that, aren’t we? As long as we can see our dreams realized, we’re good. But take away our vision and the result is as discouraging as the journey.
Lucado, M. (1987). God came near : Chronicles of the Christ (189–190). Portland, Or.: Multnomah Press.
     In the same way, in our story coming from the Gospel of Luke, the faith of the disciples seemed to be blocked by an unclimbable mountain, and this mountain was the fact that they saw their Savior, their Messiah, crucified.  But was this the end? Let’s read and find out.
Luke 24:1-12 (NLT)
24 But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 3 So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. 5 The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”
8 Then they remembered that he had said this. 9 So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. 11 But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. 12 However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.
     This scene at the tomb starts out as being profoundly sad.  In this passage, we see the ladies coming to see about Jesus and take care of him.
    They are carrying spices to perfume and anoint the body of Jesus.  Angels appear and tell them Jesus is alive. They tell the apostles, but they’re skeptical. But to his credit, Peter actually runs to the tomb.  There he sees the linen grave clothes by themselves.
     Now I believe this portion of the story is very important because Peter sees an empty tomb with grave clothes lying there.  This is amazing, and is more proof that nobody robbed the tomb, but that Jesus actually rose!
     Now remember there were Roman guards in front of the tomb and sealed it with the Roman seal on a wax stamp.  Plus, there was a two-ton stone rolled over the tomb most of the time.  And again, if someone is stealing a body, why leave the grave clothes? No! What happened was that on Easter Sunday, the two angels handed Jesus some new robes to get Him out of His grave clothes! Folks, he did it…he really did it.
 He really did it
       I mean you gotta think about.  He really did it! Jesus physically and literally rose from the dead. Do you know that at the end of John and Luke, Christ a big deal about showing the nail marks in his hands and the hole in his side? The point in resurrecting and then showing himself was to prove to the disciples and to his readers, that he was the Son of God. His sacrifice demands a response!
VERSES 13-20
After the women encounter the angels, and Peter goes to the garden tomb and sees the grave clothes lying there, the story moves on to several other disciples who are near a village called Emmaus, right outside of Jerusalem.
Luke 24:13-20 (NLT)13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. 18 Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”19 “What things?” Jesus asked.“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. 20 But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him.
     So in this passage, we see that Christ has been crucified, and then risen.  Jesus himself draws near to these two disciples, one being CleoPas.  Cleopas looks at Jesus and assumes he has to be a visitor to the area, and explains everything that has happened to Jesus.
     This is ironic to me, because this disciple CleoPas is telling Jesus all about himself.  Basically it is Jesus himself walking with CleoPas, and CleoPas is telling Jesus all about the Passion Week.  The death, burial and resurrection of Christ are the heart of Christianity. So for us as believers, we MUST be familiar with Easter.
 If you know anything about the Bible, know the Easter story
 If we know anything about the Bible, make sure we know the story that is the foundation of the Bible.  This is so very critical…I wonder….did the writer of the Da Vinci know about the Japanese story and did he consult the Japanese folks here first? My point is that even these two stories are inconsistent and sketchy.  No, 2,000 years later, the best explanation for what happened is that Jesus rose from the dead.
Lee Strobel Case For Christ
     Now, Cleo pas acknowledged to Jesus that many of the people recognized him to be a prophet, sent from God. Many people were disappointed when he didn’t become the political or military Messiah that they desired. But Jesus had much, much greater ambitions than simply justing usurping power from the Romans.   Let’s go to verses 21-29….
Luke 24:21-29 (NLT)21 We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago. 22 “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. 23 They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! 24 Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them.
     So at this point, CleoPas tells Jesus that the people expected the Messiah to redeem Israel.  They expected a political and military Messiah.  Most importantly, the redemption that took place was the redemption of the eternal souls of all who would believe.  Jesus rebuked Cleo pas and his companion for not believing the scriptures about the Messiah.  Finally, they invited Jesus to stay with them longer
Verse 17 said that these two travelers were downcast. Their hope was shattered.  They experienced hardships and turmoil in their emotions.  But you know what? So did Jesus! Jesus faced ups and downs in his life, and we can learn from his example, and we can learned from how he encouraged Cleopas and his other followers.
                 We can identify with thetrials&triumphsof CHRIST
  I am reminded of the words of Paul about the sufferings of Christ, and how it applied to him as a Christ-follower:
Philippians 3:8-11 (NLT)
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
     Christ didn’t remove Cleopas and the rest of the disciples from the road to Emmaus, the road of suffering.  Instead, he met them on the road.   I don’t know why bad things happen to believers in Christ.  But instead of removing our suffering, the God Man Christ Jesus, entered the world and suffered with us, died for us, and rose and met us on the road.  The blessing is that somehow, through the fellowship of his sufferings, we will somehow attain the resurrection from the dead.
So now, Christ has agreed to go with these men to their home, eat, and talk more about the path to crucifixion was already foretold in the Old Testament.
Luke 24:30-35New Living Translation (NLT)30 As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! 32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.” 35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were  walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread.
Jesus is eating with these men and then he prays over the food.  At that point they recognize who he is, and then he disappears! And they realize how much passion they felt when Jesus was teaching them the scriptures!
     The men said that their hearts burned within them as Jesus opened the scriptures to them.  At dinner their hearts were opened, their eyes were opened, and they realized that this stranger was Jesus! On Easter Sunday, our doubts and fears should wash away when we are reminded of our Lord’s rising! Because he is in the business of resurrecting.
 Jesus Christ is the king of comebacks
Cleopas was on that road of shattered hopes that he was clinging to.  Now the road was full of possibilities.  Why? Because Christ was alive! They went back to Jerusalem to be witnesses to the resurrection – to tell everybody the good news. That is our ultimate hope. Because He lives, we too shall live.  Jesus specializes in resurrections.  There is nothing beyond his hope. There is no sin that His power cannot conquer. There is no relationship he cannot turn around.  There is no broken heart, no marriage, no physical sickness, he cannot cure.  He is King of the comebacks!
1. Japan and Germany, 1950s. Former Axis powers rise from the ashes of World War II to become industrial superpowers.
2. Jesus Christ, 33 A.D. Defies critics and stuns the Romans with his resurrection.
It was the greatest comeback of all time. And He’s been specializing in comebacks ever since.  Here is the key your comebacks: life in Jesus.

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