Summary: We want to follow two of these discouraged disciples and look at the three stages they passed though in coming to experience the joy and victory of Easter.
During the early part of the World War II, the crew of a vessel in the Caribbean Sea had
an experience that illustrates the theme we want to consider on this Easter morning. As
reported by Walter Maier, this vessel was carrying a cargo of oil, and was suddenly attacked
by an enemy submarine. It raked the decks with shell fire and shrapnel, and before the crew
knew what was happening a torpedo hit them. It destroyed the stirring apparatus, and tore a
gaping hole in the side. The craft began to sink, and fire broke out. Soon the order came to
abandon ship. Only one life boat and three rafts remained undamaged, and so the crew had
to squeeze into these, and roll for all they were worth to get out of the danger zone.
The captain and 8 men had been killed in the raid, but all the rest made it into the rafts.
There they were, huddled together on a dark lonely sea waiting for the night to pass in great
anxiety, and wondering what the future might hold for them. You can imagine the thrill that
came to them as the sun came up and they discovered their ship had not gone down. Life took
on an altogether different color. The blackness of despair was now the brightness of delight.
Hopelessness vanished, and hopefulness filled their hearts. With all the vigor of men who had
a good nights rest, they rode back to their ship, and with some emergency adjustments
brought it into an American port several days later.
What an illustration of the experience of the disciples. Everything was going so well, when
all of the sudden, all the forces of evil on earth and in hell broke loose upon Christ, and they
abandoned the ship. The cross was to them like a torpedo that had ripped such a hole in their
hopes that there was nothing to do but forsake Jesus, and that they did in despair and utter
hopelessness. We want to follow two of these discouraged disciples and look at the three
stages they passed though in coming to experience the joy and victory of Easter. The first
I. HOPE DEFEATED. vv. 13-24.
We know practically nothing about these two discouraged disciples. In fact, we do not
even know the name of one of them. Someone has said that Jesus made His most remarkable
revelations to the least remarkable people. Here we see Him walking 7 miles from Jerusalem
to Emmaus with two people who are never heard of before, and never again after this. This
shows there are no such things as unimportant people in the eyes of Christ. Jesus is always
busy with important people, for all people are important to Him, even if the rest of the world
only knows them as Cleopas and whats his name.
As these two walked along talking of what had happened, Jesus drew near, unrecognized,
and asked them why they were so sad. Jesus knew perfectly well what the problem was, but
like any good counselor He wanted to draw it out from them. Just as He knows our problems,
but wants us to come and share it with Him in prayer. Modern psychology knows that the
best medicine is just to talk out your burdens to a sympathetic person.
Cleopas answered this sympathetic stranger, and the jest of his answer as to why they were
sad is in verse 21, "We had hoped." Note the past tense-had hoped. We had high hopes that
at last the Messiah had come, but the nails they put through His hands punctured our hopes.
It is no wonder they were discouraged, disappointed, downcast, and depressed. No one can be
happy when their hope has been crushed. All of life is a search to find hopes that cannot be
dashed to pieces by circumstances. They thought they had found such hope in Jesus, but now
it looked as if this too had been shattered by the cross.
This search for uncrushable hope is true for all of us, and we all go through the experience
of seeing that which we had hoped for be demolished by the circumstances of life. These
experiences of defeated hopes begin even in childhood. The experience of pastor Donald
Bastion is typical of many. Though humorous to us, it is painful to those who pass through it.
He tells of how he fell in love in the first grade. He had high hopes in spite of the fact that
Marjorie was in the third grade, and she was big for her age, and he was small for his age.
His hope never wavered until one day he fell on some cinders at school.
As first grade boys will do, he began to cry, and walked around the corner of the school