Summary: When Jesus rose from the dead, Thomas got a 5 minute show and tell. By contrast, the 2 men on the road to Emmaus received a 3 hour dissertation. Why the difference? Perhaps Jesus spent more time with these hopeless men, to show us how to have a living Hope in a hopeless world.
OPEN: A preacher told of going through his father’s effects after his dad died, and among the things he found was father’s 7th grade report card. Back in the Fall of 1941 this 7th grade report card showed the grading scale on the back of it. There was A, B, C, D, F, and something he’d never seen before: the letter G! Who would have thought there was a grade you could get that was below F. But back then there was. “F” of course meant FAILURE. But apparently there was something worse than an F … a G! On the back of the report card, beside the letter G was this one-word explanation: “HOPELESS!” (Earnest Easley)
In our text today, we find two men walking along the road, and their lives have become rated “G.” They have become hopeless. Their lives have fallen apart.
They said “Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people… our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” Luke 24:19-21
They had HOPED Jesus would be the answer to their dreams. They had HOPED He would change their lives. They had HOPED He would make a difference in their world… but He was dead now.
There was no longer any hope. They were filled with despair, defeat and discouragement.
Now, they HAD heard stories that Jesus WASN’T dead. “some (of the) women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that (Jesus) was alive.” Luke 24:22-23
But you can tell, by their conversation, these guys don’t believe it. Dead people tended to stay dead. For them, the stories of Jesus rising from the dead was just wishful thinking. They refused to believe in a “false hope.”
ILLUS: There was a recent movie where one of the heroes mockingly said “Don’t give me false hope. And one of the other characters replied: “It’s not false hope if it’s possible.”
Hope in God is what makes us who we are. Hope in God is the essence of our being. David wrote: “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who HOPE in his steadfast love” (Psalm 33:18). And again: “For you, O Lord, are my HOPE, my trust...” (Psalm 71:5).
As children of a living God, we need hope in our lives. In fact, we can’t SURVIVE without hope.
ILLUS: An Air Force Instructor once wrote something called the Rule Of Threes: “You can survive 3 weeks without food; 3 days without water; 3 hours without shelter; 3 minutes without air, but not three seconds without hope.”
When I first read that I thought – “Yeah sure – you can’t survive without hope? Of course you can. I know plenty of people who survive without hope. But then I got to thinking… this is a military expert explaining the truth that SOLDIERS cannot survive without hope.
Now, I’m something of a history buff, and lately I’ve been watching a series of videos on YouTube that described some of the greatest military battles of history. As I was thinking about this sermon, I suddenly remembered (from those videos) that the armies that lost their hope… lost the battles. They either believed that the other army was so powerful that they had no hope of stopping them, or they discovered that their leader had been killed or had run away. Either way, because they’d lost hope, they often would turn and run; and when that happened the opposing army would chase them down and slaughter them on the field of battle.
You know… I’ve seen churches that have lost their hope. I’ve seen preachers who have lost their hope. I’ve seen Elders, Deacons, Sunday School teachers, and just plain old Christians who have lost their hope. And when they lose their hope they were devastated. They lost their faith, their trust and their confidence, and suddenly… there was nothing left but a shell of the Christian they once were. We need to understand as Christians, we cannot survive without hope.
(PAUSE) Now what I found interesting about the story in Luke 24, is that these men (walking to Emmaus) didn’t realize who they were talking to. They didn’t realize it was Jesus. But I found odd was that Jesus didn’t just say: “Hey guys, it’s me! I’m alive. It’s not a hoax! Here, put your fingers in the nail prints, put your hand in my side”
Wait a minute. Didn’t Jesus say those exact words to someone else? Who did say that too? That’s right – Thomas. So… Thomas gets a 5 minute “show and tell” and these guys on the road to Emmaus get a 3 hour dissertation. What’s going on here?