• Tony Birkhead

Hope Restored



Hope is Restored when we Recognize Jesus!

INTRODUCTION

Jesus’ resurrection secures our hope and gives us confidence that God is with us in all that we do.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Luke 24:13-35

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 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 the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “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 they did not see Jesus.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah 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. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 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. 32 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. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read Luke 24:13-27.


How were these disciples confused about Jesus? What were the disciples’ expectations of Jesus (vv. 20-21)?


What about Jesus gave the disciples this hope?


Clearly these men knew who Jesus was. Why didn’t they know He was raised? Why wouldn’t they expect that He would be raised?

The men described Jesus as “a Prophet powerful in action and speech” (v. 19). However, they had expected more from Him; they thought He was the Messiah, the powerful ruler who God promised to send to rescue Israel from their oppression. When Jesus died on the cross, so did their hope in Him and in their deliverance. The disciples found themselves in an uncertain situation. They had witnessed the death of their teacher, but they also heard rumors of an empty grave.


How did Jesus combat their confusion?


What Old Testament passages might Jesus have used to teach about Himself? Read Genesis 3:15; Psalm 22:15-31; Isaiah 53; Zechariah 12:10; and Matthew 17:22-23 for a few examples.


The Bible said that Jesus taught through all the Scriptures the truth about Himself. The Bible tells one story, and Jesus is its main character. Throughout every book runs a thread pointing to Jesus and His work to redeem God’s people, drawing them back to Him.


Jesus might have started in Genesis and explained the parallel between the first sacrificial Lamb and the work He had come to do. He could have told of baby Moses hidden in the river, who would grow up to rescue his people. He could have reminded them of David, the king of God’s people and the man after God’s heart who defeated the giant who threatened destruction. David and other prophets explicitly foretold that a Messiah would arrive, and die, and come back to life. All through the pages of the Old Testament the stage had been set for Jesus to do exactly what He had just done.


Have a volunteer Read Luke 24:28-31.


What significant realizations would the disciples have come to after their eyes were opened to who Jesus was?


The shift in the thought processes of these two would have been dramatic. After hours of confusion and despair, the revelation of Jesus in their midst meant that He really had risen from the dead, that He really was the long-awaited Messiah, and that somehow He really was establishing His kingdom. They had heard it prophesied and hoped the time was near, but now that hope became reality.


What is significant about the two disciples’ response to their experience with Jesus and their recognition of His resurrection?


After their doubt was replaced with confirmation and their despair was replaced with joy, the disciples had the irresistible urge to share their joy with others. They immediately went back to Jerusalem, shared their experience, and heard other testimonies from their fellow believers (Luke 24:33-35).


Like the disciples, a day will come when the hope we have in Jesus’ return will become reality. Read 2 Peter 3:8-13. Why has God delayed in sending Jesus back to earth?


Based on these verses, what characterizes the life of a person living with hope for Jesus’ return?


What should our lives be dedicated to, in light of this passage?


Christ will return in accordance with the divine timetable, not ours. The Lord has not yet returned, says Peter, because He is patient with us, not wanting any to perish without having a saving relationship with Him. Every day that goes by without Jesus’ return is a reminder to us that we are to be about the work of spreading the gospel and helping more people come to know Him.

MOVING FORWARD

  • What are some practical things that you can do to remind yourself on a daily basis that you are waiting for Jesus’ to return?

  • Is there someone on your heart right now who needs to know the hope Christ gives? How can you create the opportunity to share it with them this week?

PRAY TOGETHER

Pray that your group would reflect on who Jesus is and all that He has done for them and be motivated to share that truth with others.

COMMENTARY

Luke 24:13-35

24:13-14. Perhaps still on the first day of the week, two disciples were going home to Emmaus after having been with the disciple band in Jerusalem. Modern scholars have no consensus about the precise location of Emmaus, although several sites have been suggested. The two disciples had one topic of conversation—the events of the day.

24:15-16. Their conversation was interrupted by a new traveler. Jesus joined the pair on the way to Emmaus. As He walked quietly with them, they did not recognize Him. But walking with strangers along the roads of Jerusalem must not have been unusual. Their lack of recognition did not come from His being a stranger. It came because God kept them from recognizing Him until God was ready for the Son to be known.

24:17. For one entering into the middle of a conversation, Jesus asked the natural question: What are you talking about? His question halted their progress. Their immediate response came from their faces, not their mouths. Sadness and grief were inscribed all over their faces.

24:18. Finally, we learn the name of one of the disciples—Cleopas. We know nothing more about either person. Luke’s church certainly knew Cleopas, but we do not share their information. Cleopas was amazed that someone could have been in Jerusalem during the last couple of days and not heard the news. This must be a visitor, new in town today, he thought. Everyone knows about the crucifixion and rumors of angels and an empty tomb.

24:19. Jesus continued His probing, noticing how the disciples were reacting. They identified the central figure of their conversation: Jesus of Nazareth. They described Him as a prophet whose words and actions showed He possessed unusual power. Jesus’ actions were not hidden. He performed miracles and issued authoritative teaching in the open where both God and the people could witness. The implication is that both God and people saw, heard, and approved Jesus’ words and actions.

24:20. Cleopas placed all the blame on the Jewish leaders for Jesus’ death. They took the initiative to arrest and accuse Him. They took Him to the Roman authorities. The Romans shared guilt in that they carried out the crucifixion that the Jews demanded. Here is another strong piece of evidence for the death of the Messiah. His death was not in secret, hidden from the public. His death came at the hands of the leaders, very much in the public eye, who would later try to disprove His resurrection.

24:21. Christ’s death ended apostolic hopes. Here Cleopas in a very important passage summarized the hopes of Jesus’ disciples before Jesus’ death. They thought Jesus would redeem Israel. This Greek verb for redeem (“lutroo”) appears only here and in Titus 2:14 and 1 Peter 1:18 in the New Testament. It has a strong Old Testament background, appearing 90 times in the Septuagint, usually as a translation of Hebrew “gal’al”, “to set free, redeem.” It is rooted in the Exodus story of God redeeming Israel from Egyptian slavery (see Exod. 6:6). Luke used a related noun as Zechariah prophesied the work of his son John. God is coming to redeem His people. Anna explained the significance of the child Jesus to those who waited for the “redemption of Jerusalem” (2:38).

The term is often used in the process of paying a ransom or price to gain the freedom of a slave. Luke sees Israel in captivity just as they had been in the time of the Exodus. In sending John and Jesus, God had repeated the miracle of the Exodus. He had paid the ransom price and freed His people from slavery. But the freedom was not through military victory as in Egypt but through the work on the cross, paying the price for the slavery to sin. Paul used a related verb to confess that by Christ’s death we are set free, redeemed, ransomed from our slavery to sin and death. Christ is the one who sets us free, that is, redeems us (Acts 7:35). He came to give His life as a means of liberating or redeeming us (Matt. 20:26).

The disciples saw in Jesus the one who would bring a new Exodus and free the nation from its Roman captors. Instead Jesus proved to be something much more—the Redeemer who freed them from sin and death. But at this point the two on the road to Emmaus had no idea of this. The third day was important in many ways for the disciples in this context. By the third day the body would start to decay (cf. the four days of John 11:39). Three days should have given the news about Jesus time to circulate for all people to know about it. And three days was the time Jesus set for His being raised from the dead (Luke 9:22).

24:22-24. The disciples had not believed the women, but looking back on their story, they admitted their amazement at what the women said. They said Jesus was alive. Still, the disciples did not go out looking for Jesus. They did not stay together waiting for the risen Jesus to come to them. The disciples simply left Jerusalem for the safety and familiarity of Emmaus. Telling the story of resurrection did not elicit faith immediately from the disciples. It simply brought astonishment. The women’s story was verified (v. 24). Some of the men went to check it out. This would probably include Peter’s experience. The tomb was empty as the women said, but no Jesus. Stories of resurrection but no resurrection sightings. What did one do? What could one think? Could one believe?

24:25-27. Jesus had heard enough. He called the disciples foolish just as Paul referred to his Galatian readers (Gal. 3:1,3). The evidence stood before them, and they would not believe. They had not even placed this evidence over against the greatest source of knowledge they had. Scriptures pointed to Messiah’s suffering before entering His glory. The disciples had it all reversed. They wanted Messiah to establish the glory of David’s kingdom on earth before He died, His death probably marking the beginning of a new Davidic dynasty in Jerusalem. Jesus read Scripture in an entirely different way. He started with Isaiah 53 and saw suffering as the first necessity for Messiah. Only after suffering and death would glory be achieved, and this would be a glory entered after death, not a glory established on earth.

Then these two disciples received what each of us would give anything to have: Jesus’ own interpretation of Scripture. Jesus showed just how the intention and wording of the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures perfectly prepared the way for Jesus to come, minister, teach, heal, exorcise, be betrayed, suffer, die, and enter glory. What happened to Jesus was nothing new and unexpected. God had been preparing Israel for this all along. Scripture was full of Jesus. Any educated Israelite should be able to read Scripture and see Jesus.

24:28-29. Jesus started to leave the two disciples just as the conversation got interesting. He would let them go on home, and He would continue His journey. The disciples would have none of that. They had a good excuse. Evening was falling. He could not go farther. He needed a place to stay. They had one. Still, they did not recognize Him or realize that His interpretation of Scripture pointed to no one but Himself.

24:30-31. A major component of any meal was bread. Jesus acted as host, broke the loaf of bread, and distributed it to His disciples, just as He had often done, and especially just as He had done during the Last Supper. He said a prayer of thanks over the bread. The way He did it caught their attention. Now they focused on Him. Recognition came. It was Jesus. Immediately, He was gone, disappeared into thin air. This He could do in the resurrection body. He was now different from the way he had been before the crucifixion and resurrection.

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