Jesus Plus Nothing Bible Studies
Jesus Encounters: Hope restored on the road to Emmaus!
by I Gordon
Luke chapter 24 contains one of the great short stories in the Bible. It is
one of two disciples whose hope had been dashed. They had placed all their
hope and trust in Jesus Christ to be who He said He was - the long-awaited
Messiah, the Son of God. Yet now, following His crucifixion and death, those
hopes had been crushed and ripped apart. Yet, as the clouds of despondency
settle over the heads, a stranger appears. And, as we shall see, this
'stranger' will radically change their outlook, understanding and entire
life! Let's have a look.
And you thought your week was tough?!?
Luke 24:13-14 Now that same day two of them were going to a village
called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. (14) They were talking with
each other about everything that had happened.
So we start with two men walking to a small village. This is the only
mention of this village, called Emmaus, in the Bible. The word itself means
'people despised or obscure.' So they are not exactly travelling to the 'big
smoke' here! But there was a lot to talk about on this trip. Do you know
what day it was that these two were travelling? It was Sunday and they had
just had one crazy week! The week started with Jesus riding into Jerusalem
on a donkey while the crowds yelled 'Hosanna to the son of David!' What
would you be thinking if you saw and heard that? You would have been
thinking what everyone, including these two men here, were thinking - 'The
kingdom is coming! The Messiah is here! Everything is going to change! We'll
be delivered, we'll be free... the days of peace and prosperity are here.' And
then you watch the week unfold as the events come fast and furious, before
totally spinning out of control. First there is the confrontation with the
religious leaders. You can see their hatred of Jesus. Then there is the
betrayal - by one of Jesus' inner circle of men! This is quickly followed by
corrupt trials before both Jews and Romans... and neither go well. As you
struggle to process all that is happening, suddenly Jesus is being flogged
and, unbelievably, crucified! But this was the Messiah? The hope of Israel!
How could it all end this way? This wasn't meant to happen!
Talk about going from the greatest anticipated highs to the lowest of lows.
If you think about how much we look forward to the Lord's return and the
setting up of His kingdom on earth with the peace, justice and glory that
that will bring, how would you feel if you were convinced that was about to
happen and then have it all snatched from your grasp? How would you feel if
some event occurred that threw everything you thought you knew about Jesus
into question? That is something of what these two on the road to Emmaus
experienced in the space of a few days. Crushed.
Queue the unexpected stranger from stage left...
Luke 24:15-18 As they talked and discussed these things with each other,
Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; (16) but they were kept
from recognizing him. (17) He asked them, "What are you discussing together
as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast. (18) One of
them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do
not know the things that have happened there in these days?"
With their hope lost, Jesus Himself joins in the walk and conversation on
the road to Emmaus! But they are prevented from recognizing Him. God can
supernaturally do this. We see this in the Bible with other individuals
following the resurrection such as Mary in John 20:14 and Jesus' disciples
in John 21:4. But God can also do this on a wider scale. We read in Romans
that the nation of Israel has been 'blinded in part' during this age (Rom
11:25) until the full number of Gentiles come in. And then, as Paul shows
us, God will again remember the promises made to the nation of Israel and
'all Israel will be saved'. God has His purposes if He has to blind an
individual or group from seeing Jesus for a season.
For the two on the road to Emmaus, this 'stranger' in their midst is not
only a stranger to them... He must be a stranger to Israel in general for he
doesn't even seem to know what has been going on. This seems odd. The events
of the last week were the
talk of the town. Everyone was speaking of these things. There were people
from many nations for the Passover and everyone was talking about what had
happened to Jesus. Yet, here was a 'stranger' who didn't seem to be aware of
what had happened. This probably made the Lord secretly smile a bit! He had
a pretty good understanding of what had happened, more than any of them, but
for now it was necessary to first hear it from these two.
When hopes hang by a thread...
Luke 24:19-24 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. (20) The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be
sentenced to death, and they crucified him; (21) 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. (22) In addition, some of our women
amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning (23) but didn't find his
body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said
he was alive. (24) Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it
just as the women had said, but him they did not see."
We see that Jesus plays a little 'dumb' here - like He doesn't know what has
happened! Why is this? He wanted them to express their hope and heart. And
that is what they did saying 'we had hoped that He was the one.' They knew
him as a prophet only it seems with the hope of him being the redeemer - the
Messiah. Now there was only confusion... But a little ray of hope remained.
It was now the third day since these things had occurred and they had
heard some talk of what was meant to occur on the third day. On top of that,
there was talk of an empty tomb and a message from angels that Jesus was
alive! Oh what to think?
Let's just briefly discuss this thought of crushed hopes. No one likes to
have their hopes come to naught. How can we have our hopes dashed? Those in
the world place their hope in fame, fortune, career success, relationships...
all of which will ultimately fail and let you down. A true hope in Jesus
will not let you down. But a misplaced one can. Those in the name it and
claim it crowd who think Jesus is there to fulfill our every desire will be
let down. Those that think that God will make all the problems go away or
that we won't suffer in this life will have their hopes shattered. This is
not biblical hope but wishful thinking. These two had a biblical hope - but
got the timing wrong. Those that think that things will get better before
Jesus returns are not trusting in a biblical hope. Things will get better,
but only after Jesus returns. But Christians also have hope for this life
when they trust in the faithfulness of God to do what is right for His
children according to His will and plans.
Now here is a Bible study I would love to have heard!
Luke 24:25-27 He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of
heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! (26) Did not the Christ
have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" (27) And beginning
with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all
the Scriptures concerning himself.
is no playing dumb now for Jesus! The two on the road to Emmaus were the
dumb ones! According to Jesus they should have known what was to occur
because it was all foretold beforehand in the word of God. The Jews had the
scriptures - they just had to read them! These two, while genuine, didn't
have a good or right foundation. They had believed what was commonly held -
and couldn't see past it. We can be like that. We need the right foundation
as Christians. We cannot build on anything else. 1Cor 3:11 'For no man
can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus
Christ.' Jesus couldn't explain the spiritual truth of the resurrection
without having the right foundation laid. So that is what He did... He went
back to the beginning and taught them through all the scriptures about
Now this would have been the best Bible study ever! 'And beginning with
Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the
Scriptures concerning himself.' Jesus would have gone right back from
the first chapters of Genesis and explained how He is foretold in prophecies
and types throughout all scripture! He would have spoken of the prophecy
concerning the 'seed of a woman' in Genesis 3:15. He would have shown how
the offering of Isaac as the only son of his father pointed to His death. He
would have mentioned how Joseph being rejected by his brothers and then
exalted to the right hand of Pharaoh spoke of His rejection and then
exaltation. He would have spoken of the Passover lamb, the Manna from
Heaven, the Rock that was struck in the wilderness. Isaiah said he would be
despised and rejected. Daniel said He would be cut off. Zechariah said He
would be pierced. Oh how much we haven't even seen yet! What an amazing
Bible study that would have been! It is awesome when God shows us Jesus in
the Old Testament. All things were planned in advance and it is our pleasure
to seek these things out. And God is still opening up the scriptures
concerning Jesus through the Holy Spirit, our teacher, today.
The God who wants to be wanted
Luke 24:28 As they approached the village to which they were going,
Jesus acted as if he were going farther.
Here we see that Jesus wants to be wanted. After giving these two the
greatest study ever, He 'acted' like He was carrying on past the village. He
will test our desire to be with Him and learn from Him too. If he wets our
appetite by showing us something, do we desire more? Do we seek more? Or
are we just content with a little? He does sometimes act like he is going to
go on by. One other example comes when the disciples are struggling in the
boat and Jesus comes, but looks like He is going to pass them by too!
Mark 6:48 NKJV Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was
against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them,
walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.
How many times have we missed out on things by not bothering to seek
the Lord on something? Even with the nation of Israel, the Lord will not
return until they ask for Him. H.A Ironside put it like this: 'The Lord
Jesus never presses Himself upon anybody; He always waits for an invitation.
He will pass on if we allow Him to do so. If He is not invited to come in we
will be left without the spiritual help that we might have experienced.'
Jacob had to wrestle with the angel and not let go until he was blessed. We
too need to press on and lay hold of that which the Lord has for us.
Our need - the opening of our eyes
Luke 24:29-31 But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is
nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.
(30) When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke
it and began to give it to them. (31) Then their eyes were opened and they
recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
two disciples had tasted of the Lord's goodness and wanted more! They were
not going to let Him go and so 'urged Him strongly' to stay. But what would
they had missed out on had they not done this? Had they not urged Jesus to
stay with them they would not have had their eyes open to see who He truly
was. How instructive that is for us! We need our eyes opened - even as
Christians. What things do you think Christians need to have their eyes
opened to see? Paul prayed about this in Eph 1:15-19.
Ephesians 1:15-19 NIV For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith
in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, (16) I have not stopped
giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (17) I keep asking
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the
Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (18) I
pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you
may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious
inheritance in the saints, (19) and his incomparably great power for us who
The first mention of having our eyes opened in scripture is with Adam and
Eve - they saw that they were naked - their eyes were opened to their
condition after the fall. But Paul prays that we will have our eyes open to
who we are in Christ. He wants us to know the Lord better and in doing so we
will know the hope that we have, the glorious inheritance and the great
power available to those who believe. These are things worth seeking and
Luke 24:32-33 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within
us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
(33) They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem..
Having now recognized who this 'stranger' actually was, they finally put two
and two together. Now it makes sense why their hearts were burning as Jesus
unfolded the scriptures to them. So they did a quick U-turn and take another
7 mile hike back to Jerusalem that same night. They must have been buzzing!
Had they not taken the extra time with Him they would not have known that
Jesus is risen. They wouldn't have known the Lord as the resurrected and
living One. Many Christian's still don't unfortunately. They have come to
the cross and know the Lord as the One crucified for them to have their sins
forgiven. That is a blessed truth! But it is not all. We need to press on
and go further, as the men on the road to Emmaus did, and see Him as the
risen living Lord. Notice also that their eyes were opened in the breaking
of bread. Here is a further clue for how our eyes are opened. The breaking
of bread is communion. Not just the act of taking communion at church but
the communion and fellowship that we have with the Lord each day. It is
through this that our eyes are opened. May you be blessed too as you desire
and spend more time with Him!