Summary: What now after the resurrection.
‘It ain’t over till its over.’ That was one saying of a baseball player called Yogi Berra. He was famous for other statements on air. ‘Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.’ ‘This is like déjà vu all over again.’ ‘You can observe a lot by watching.’ ‘I didn’t really say everything I said.’ There are many more. Yogi Berra seemed to have a gift for saying things which sounded okay but which were in fact confusing. Confusion seemed to reign when he was speaking to the media. It is easy to get confused. It really can be a confusing world at times. But there is nothing new in that. Turn with me to Luke 24 and we will see two followers of Jesus who experienced confusion as they walked home together.
Let me set the context of this passage for you. Luke is the only one of the four gospel writers to include this incident. It is typical of Luke to include such a story as it reflects his compassion as a doctor for people. At the beginning of the chapter Luke tells us about the resurrection of Jesus. He tells us that the women had gone to anoint the body of Christ but when they come to the tomb it is empty. The women are encountered by angels who tell them that Christ is risen form the dead. The women run and tell the disciples and Peter goes and sees for himself. That takes us to verse 12. Then beginning in verse 13 Luke relates to us what must be one of the most wonderful and significant walks in history.
THE HEART BREAKING EXPERIENCE.
Two of the followers of Christ, one named Cleopas (verse 18) are walking the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Luke tells us that as they walked along the road to Emmaus they were discussing with one another all the events of the past few days. As they walk along the road they are joined by Jesus (v15), but for some divinely appointed reason they are prevented from recognising who He is (v16). Here they are walking along the road discussing Christ and the events surrounding His death and the news carried by the women and Peter that His body is no longer in the tomb and they are joined by the one they are talking about. Jesus knew exactly where they would be and He joins them. He knew where they were going and what they would be discussing and He joins them. He then takes the initiative in the conversation – verse 17. ‘What are you talking about?’ Christ knew what they were talking about but he wants to know their hearts. What did they believe about Him? What were they truly experiencing and feeling in their hearts at this moment? He wanted to know their hearts in their words?
Look at the end of verse 17 – read last sentence. What a picture is painted here of these two followers hearts. They stop walking. Their heads downcast. Disappointment, disillusionment, despair, defeat, doubt – it is all there in that simple sentence from Luke. Listen to Cleopas as he answers the question of Christ. First he is surprised that Christ does not know what had happened in Jerusalem on the Friday past. But then listen to his answer to the next question of Jesus. Read verses 19-24. Verses 19-24 are a clear and neat summary of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the gospel according to Cleopas. Cleopas speaks of the facts about Jesus. There is the ministry of Jesus in word and deed. The crucifixion which completed his ministry and the hope of redemption which filled it with meaning. There is the conquered grave and the apostolic witness to it. But, do you notice anything about the words of Cleopas? They are all in the past tense. Do you see that?
‘He was a prophet…we had hoped.’ Their hopes have been shattered – isn’t that the meaning of verse 21 ‘we had hoped he would redeem Israel.’ We at one stage had dreamed the dream with him but we don’t expect it now to be fulfilled. At one time we did hope but not now. Human hope is so fragile and it is easily destroyed. It’s been three days since he died on the cross and their hope is shattered. It is gone and they are downcast. The cross for them had been the end. The tomb was empty – it is not that they did not believe the women or Peter. It is just they had not seen the risen Lord Jesus. Everything is there in their testimony concerning Jesus except a personal encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. They needed a personal encounter with the risen Christ to make the facts live. Mere knowledge of the facts was not, and is not, enough for them, or us. They needed that personal revelation of the risen Lord Jesus to waken their hearts.