Summary: The confusion and despair of the disciples on the day of the resurrection turns into joy because Jesus the King explains the Scriptures to the companions on the road to Emmaus.
You can listen to the full sermon here:-
Our King Jesus Interprets Scripture
The day of the resurrection must have been a very confusing day for many.
The Passover festival has finished and so has the Sabbath. It is time to go home. That is what thousands of people did on the Resurrection Sunday.
We might kind of forget that because we spend our Sunday at church. The first day of the week coming together in worship. But for the Jews the worship stopped yesterday - actually it stopped at sunset yesterday.
Now they need to go back to work.
Now they need to get back to the ordinary.
Except there is no ordinary. The events the first Easter weekend have created all sorts of questions.
We know this is the case because Luke collected, and put into his Gospel, an account which gives us great insight into the thoughts of the followers of Jesus on the day of the resurrection.
Where is Emmaus today? We don’t actually know. Small towns, with mud brick homes, and without walls don’t tend to survive for 1000’s of years.
Luke tells us it is sixty stadia from Jerusalem to Emmaus. A stadia is 185m, so 60 stadia is 11km. If you walked from our church to Central station in Brisbane, that is the distance we are talking about.
Most of us could walk it in about 2½ hours.
Indeed nearly everyone in the ancient world walked.
So picture a road. Many Roman roads were paved, although in the provinces a lot of minor reads were still dirt. So picture that. A dirt road about as wide as a car.
Passover is over and so everyone is returning home. There would be quite a lot of people on the road. Families, children, small groups of people, and individuals.
Now we get to Cleopas. He is walking along the road in deep conversation with a companion. Picture that unnamed person.
How many of you picture a man?
How many of you picture a woman?
There is no reason why this could not be Cleopas and his wife walking home. After all don’t they live in the same house where they invited Jesus in? Ultimately we will not know who it was until we get to heaven.
What we do know is that they both have an invested interest in all that has been happening.
Some of our women … went to the tomb.
Some of our companions went to the tomb.
They are part of the discipleship group. Those who, at some point, have been following Jesus and were connected to him. But not anymore. The fact that they have gotten out of Jerusalem pretty much as soon as they could is a testimony to the reality that the fellowship which the disciples experienced is already beginning to collapse. I the place of fellowship there is bitter disappointment, grief and confusion.
Cleopas and his companion are in an intense conversation when a third person comes and joins them. We know it is Jesus, because Luke tells us, they don’t know it is Jesus.
To them he is just another pilgrim walking home.
Actually to them he is a pilgrim with his head in the sand.
How can you have been in Jerusalem these past few days and have no idea about what has been going on? Basically that is what Cleopas says. As his says this his face says so much more.
They stood still, their faces downcast.
The word only appears one other time in the New Testament
When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting.
Perhaps you have heard the saying, “It is written all over their face”. This downcast-ness and sombre mood is all there.
Not as some hypocritical action to call attention to yourself. But a deep-seated heart-brokenness that just cannot be contained.
Why do they feel like this?
They were expecting something different.
I can relate … can you?
I didn’t expect to be unemployed.
I didn’t expect to have cancer.
I didn’t expect the money to run out.
I didn’t expect my relationship to break.
I didn’t expect the miscarriage.
I didn’t expect to fail my exams.
I didn’t expect the betrayal.
I didn’t expect to stumble in my own sin.
I didn’t expect the temptation to grab hold.
I didn’t expect to feel so guilty.
I didn’t expect …
That is what causes us to be downcast and sombre.
As Cleopas and his companion wrestle with the unexpected Jesus steps in and says, “Tell me what is going on.”
Isn’t that a powerful image? This is the Resurrection Sunday. There were heaps of places Jesus could have been. Yet Jesus knows there is this couple walking along and he takes the time for them.