Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hope Restored

Hope Restored Ministries exist to bring the message of hope to those affected by disaster. Byron and Susan Spinney have been called to care for people and families whose lives have been turned upside down by disaster. Traveling the country, following disasters to care for people has been a dream for many years. On October 1, 2011 the dream became reality. Hope Restored Ministries include disaster relief, disaster rebuild, and neighborhood relief.1 This lesson will study the walk and talk of two disciples as they journeyed from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Their Master had been crucified contrary to their expectation, their hopes were dashed, and they were sad as they talked of the things which had happened in Jerusalem. They seem to have given up all for lost, and to have come to the conclusion that Jesus was not the Messiah, though they were confused and unable to explain it. In this lesson we see how their hope is restored by the risen Messiah. It is the second lesson of a six-part study under Unit II, Resurrection Hope, for the Easter season. The text is recorded at Luke 24:13-21, 28-35. The devotional reading is recorded at Luke 24:22-26.

‘And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.’ Luke 24:13-15 On the third day following the crucifixion, the women found Christ’s body to be missing from the tomb. This was the ‘same day’ of the journey of His followers from Jerusalem to Emmaus. These two disciples were not part of the eleven apostles, (Judas was now dead), but had become close followers of Jesus. See vs. 33 Perhaps Emmaus was their native village and they were returning after observing the required Jewish Passover festivities in Jerusalem. They had not expected their Messiah, who had come to observe the Passover ordinance, to be so cruelly treated and crucified. He was innocent! They had fled because anyone associated with Him was called a threat to the Roman government. They were confused, feeling like fugitives in a rebellion that had been led by Jesus, and were unable to talk while they were in Jerusalem. They had questions that needed an answer based on the failures of previous “false messiahs” who had been put down. Emmaus was a seven mile walk from Jerusalem. As they walked they felt safe to reason their feelings and actions amongst each other while Jesus drew near and began to travel with them.

‘But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?’ Luke 24:16-18 It does not appear as if anything supernatural had occurred to the vision of these two disciples. They simply did not recognize their Master. In Mark 16:12 it states, ‘After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.’ Not only was He in ‘another form’, but the two disciples were not expecting to ever see Him. Jesus had to join the conversation in order that there would be a teachable moment. He inquired of the subject matter that was causing them such sadness as they journeyed. They were unable to believe He had questioned them as such. All strangers journeying to Jerusalem knew of the tragic events of these past few days of the Passover. One of the disciples, whose name was Cleopas, was identified in the text. He asked Jesus if He was the only stranger in Jerusalem who did not know what was going on during that space of time.

‘And he said unto them, “What things?” And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.’ Luke 24:19-21 Jesus ignored Cleopas’ question, posing one that stirred up the interest that was deep in both of their hearts and minds. The two disciples told their traveling companion of Jesus of Nazareth who had been a prophet. They did not call Him Messiah at this point, because His death had led them to be in doubt. But His teachings still allowed them to call Him a prophet. Further, they told this stranger that the prophet was mighty in working miracles, raising the dead, healing the sick, and teaching the Word before God and all people. Then they communicated how the chief priests and rulers/elders delivered Him to the Roman authorities to be crucified, despite the fact that He was dear to God and the people. See Matt 26:59-66 But they had trusted and expected that He was the long-awaited Promised Messiah, the ancient hope for redeeming/restoring the power and political prominence to Israel. Even further, they communicated that the date of their journey was the third day since Christ had been turned over to the Roman governor Pilate by the chief priests and rulers/elders, crucified, and buried in a borrowed grave. This was significant, because the Jewish people believed that the soul hovered around the body for three days. After that, death was assured. The two disciples felt confused and hopeless.

The two disciples acknowledged there were women who had gone to pay their respect at the gravesite and found the body missing. The women reported having seen a vision of angels which said that He was alive. They also acknowledged that some of the apostles went to the gravesite to see for themselves that the body was missing. However, Jesus had not appeared to anyone to their knowledge. What expectations did they have that He had risen? Luke 24:22-24

‘Then he said unto them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.’ Luke 24:25-27 The beginning of the teachable moment had arrived. Jesus reproved the grieving disciples for their lack of thought and weakness of faith. They knew Scripture but were so overwhelmed with what they had seen and heard, they could not reason. The events had caused them to be weak in their faith regarding all they knew as to what the prophets had spoken respecting the character of the Messiah and His sufferings. The sufferings of Christ were their stumbling block, but this was the pathway to glory. Beginning at Genesis and continuing through all the books of the prophets, Jesus preached the Scriptures to the grieving disciples which referred to Himself. See Isa 53

‘And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.’ Luke 24:28-29 The seven-mile walk from Jerusalem was coming to a close. The two disciples had yet to recognize Jesus. Yet, He was a welcome stranger who had warmed their heart preaching the Old Testament Scriptures as he accompanied them in their journey homeward. Now they had reached Emmaus and Jesus pretended he would have journeyed further. He was not rude to invite himself upon the hospitality of the disciples even though it was becoming dark and dangerous for a person to travel alone. The two men were perked to hear more from the preacher and extended good Near Eastern hospitality by urging Jesus to stay for the evening. Jesus accepted their invitation. He promised ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’ Rev 3:20 To dine with Him requires a voluntary, willing heart. It is not mandatory.

‘And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?’ Luke 24:30-32 This ordinary meal was the turning point. All of a sudden the hospitality of the two disciples had changed the preacher from a stranger to a companion. From the Latin, the word companion means “with bread”. A companion is one with whom one shares bread. The two disciples and their companion sat at the table to eat. However, the companion took over the office as the host. He began to serve the two disciples, as He had done on so many other occasions. When He sought a blessing over the bread and broke it to be served to each of them, they recognized Him. Jesus immediately vanished. The Scripture does not state He walked out of the room. He disappeared. The two disciples were now reviewing the redemption theology He had preached during the journey. The Sermon had given them such joy, but it was the action of Jesus seeking a blessing over the food from the Almighty God that had opened their eyes to Him as the risen Lord and the Scriptures.

‘And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.’ Luke 24:33-35 Excitement and hope had ignited the two disciples. They did not complete their meal. The darkness of the hour did not matter. They had to share their newfound experience with those in Jerusalem who might yet be grieving. It was necessary to return to Jerusalem immediately (in that very same hour). Upon arrival they found the remaining eleven apostles gathered together as well as others that were with them. Before they were able to give their testimony as to walking and talking with the resurrected Jesus, they find them discussing the matter. Simon Peter had already told them about the Resurrection. Mar 16:7; 1 Cor 15:5 Although the two disciples did not have the privilege to be able to say they saw the risen Savior first, they were able to share their experience as evidence of His Resurrection. They spoke of the journey to Emmaus as He preached a powerful, redemptive Sermon concerning himself through the Scriptures and His service as host in the blessing and breaking of bread in their home. It was during the blessing and breaking of bread that they had recognized Him as the risen Lord.

‘Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.’ Heb 10:23 Christ is Risen!


Written by Deborah C Davis

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