Summary: Jesus changes the attitude of the disciples on the way to Emmaus with the expounding of Scriptures - showing them and us hope.
There are experts in the field who tell you how to shake a hand, how to walk, how to talk, to try to look more confident, more assured - more impressive. Maybe you remember your mom telling you on occasion, “stop slouching! Say thank you! Stop mumbling! Look at me when I’m talking to you.” You can tell a lot about a person just in the way he walks or talks - whether he is confident or not, happy or sad, eager or timid. When Jesus approached the disciples on the way to Emmaus and asked them what they were talking about, today’s text says, “They stood still, their faces downcast.” They didn’t have to say anything. You could tell just by looking at them - with their faces buried at the ground - that something was wrong. It’s kind of like when mom hears a crash upstairs, comes running up and asks, “what happened?” I guarantee you, there will be some kids looking at the floor - sad over the fact that one of them is going to get it. The disciples were depressed, and Jesus knew why. The reason he asked the question, was because He wanted to change their countenance, liven up their night. As we study this conversation, we’ll get to see how
Jesus Turns Your Frown Upside Down
I. The frown
When Jesus asked them the question, the disciples were in awe over the thought of Jesus not knowing. It shows that this crucifixion of Jesus was not just some isolated incident that only a few people knew about it. The whole region was abuzz. Cleopas, one of the two disciples, responded, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “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. This answer to Jesus reveals the source of their depression.
Why were they depressed? Because they had the wrong expectations of Jesus. The disciples had been impressed with the POWER of Jesus - in His words and in His deeds. He had raised the dead. He had healed the sick. He had spoken in ways they had never heard before. Therefore, they expected Jesus to redeem Israel, as the Scriptures had said. But their idea of REDEMPTION was messed up. Redeem is literally in the Greek “lutrousthai”, which means to release on receipt of ransom, to liberate by payment of ransom. Their idea of redemption meant freedom of the physical sort - freedom from the slavery to the Romans, and the re-emergence of the state of Israel. (There are still many today who foolishly place the hopes of the end of the world on the state of Israel as we know it.) Therefore, when Jesus died, they realized that their hopes for a physical Israel - a great reestablishment of the kingdom - was gone - and they were depressed because of it. They were depressed because Jesus didn’t use His POWER to fulfill THEIR hopes and dreams.
I wonder if that’s one reason that Judas decided to betray Jesus also? Ahab did not want to confer with Jehoshaphat because he never prophesied what he wanted to hear. (1 Kings 22:7) Paul also predicted to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3 that, “the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” God doesn’t always tell us what we want to hear. He doesn’t always do what we ask him to do - or even what we EXPECT Him to do. The problem is that we are born to want to turn to God for His POWER, but not for His CROSS. Some people respond with anger. Some respond by just turning to other gods. And some, like the disciples on the way to Emmaus, respond with depression. It’s how you feel when you pray and pray that God would bless the surgery your mom is having, but He has her die instead. It’s the reaction you have when you ask God to help you overcome your feelings of anger or your love of slander, but find it happening again. You feel depressed, sad, and disappointed in God - wondering to yourself, “where WERE you? I THOUGHT you were going to be there for me! I thought you promised to answer my prayers! I can’t believe you didn’t pull through! How couldn’t you?” It’s almost like having your best friend come up to you and punch you in the gut. The physical pain hurts for a while - but it’s more the emotional pain - the “why” that hurts more. As you lay on the ground smarting, you wonder, “why didn’t you help!”