Summary: We preach The Gospel Of Jesus and we live The Gospel Of Jesus, and because of who we are we can do both even when we don't realise it.
Last week I preached about the two men who encountered Jesus as a stranger on the road to Emmaus, and how we too can encounter Him in the most unexpected place and at the most unexpected time.
It seems to me though that something else unexpected also happened that day.
The two men, both disciples of Jesus, were broken. Their hopes had been dashed. Their Lord and Master had been killed and now they were directionless and hopeless.
They were not even at the point of starting to think what they would do next.
They had no plan, and no direction, except to leave Jerusalem and walk towards Emmaus.
On the road they encounter a stranger who walks a way with them and asks them what they are talking about.
Why are they so down hearted?
Cleopas is amazed that the stranger has not heard about the apparent life changing events that occurred in Jerusalem, three days previously.
After all, an innocent man was executed, after a sham trial, and as a result the sky darkened, high winds blew and the curtain in the temple was torn.
The victim, His name was Jesus, was a man who spoke about eternity as someone who had a personal experience of it. He healed the sick and even raised the dead. He did no one any harm. He was famous.
How could the stranger not have heard about these things?
To the two disciples these were earth shattering events, but to the rest of the world it was just another dark and stormy day with high winds.
The only people who actually knew what had happened were those who had witnessed it with their own own eyes, and those who would have heard the news as far as it could have reached, by the morning of the third day.
You see in the Roman world people were executed every day.
Life was hard in a subjugated nation where the slightest disobedience, the slightest disorder in the public order, could result in the swiftest and harshest punishments.
Death, in their society, and in their land, was an everyday occurrence and not something to make you look up for.
On the road to Emmaus though, two unusual things happen. Firstly the two men, unknowingly, meet the risen Christ in the most unexpected place and at the most unexpected time.
The second unexpected thing to happen is that Cleopas preaches The Gospel of Jesus Christ for the very first time.
He says, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “About Jesus of Nazareth, He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
In just a few concise sentences Cleopas nails the Gospel. He speaks it out for the very first time, except he proclaims it from the perspective of negativity.
In his version of the gospel there is no joy and all hope is lost.
From his perspective something really bad has happened but from our perspective, with the benefit of history, hindsight, and scripture, we can see that actually something good happened and a great victory was won.
Because of his grief, because of the place and because of the time, Cleopas fails to notice the significance of what he is saying. “Jesus, the Nazarene, a prophet, who was powerful in word and deed, before God and all the people”, is a wonderful confirmation and proclamation of The Promises of God.
Every Jew would know that ‘The Word’ spoken about by Cleopas was The Word Of God, that which spoke creation into existence.
The Word! The Power behind the throne, and no one in history, except Jesus, possessed such a power.
Many prophets before Him, and even kings, had been able to pray to God, to speak to God, and ask Him to do things, and many times God did them. But no one in history, before Jesus, could actually speak out The Word and change things, instantly!
And He was the one in whom they had put their hope. Their hope of redemption for all Israel.