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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC Easter Sunrise Service, 2001-04-15

Text: Luke 24:13-35

We are gathered here early this Sunday morning to remember the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! The reason for this is that the Resurrection of Jesus is the central truth of Christianity. Everything that we believe in stands or falls with it. The Apostle Paul said that if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then our faith is empty, we are still in our sins, and those who have died, believing in Him, are all perished! (cf. 1 Cor 15:12) 

But there is no doubt that Jesus is risen, since the Bible records that hundreds of people saw Him and heard Him in the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension up to heaven. The Lord made at least 10 appearances within those 40 days. Half of those 10 appearances were on Easter Sunday itself. The first to see Jesus Christ alive from the dead were a group of women on their way home from the empty tomb. The second appearance came shortly after that - to Mary Magdalene who had returned to the tomb to weep.

This morning we are going to look at the Lord's third appearance. This is actually the longest record of an appearance of Christ on Easter Sunday. And it was quite unique among all His appearances. It is unique because in this appearance He was walking and talking together with two disciples a distance of about 11 km. This journey would have taken at least 3 hours without any rest. This journey and what happened after it, reveal some amazing features about Christ's resurrected state: 

Firstly, there were no signs of weakness or tiredness in Him at all! Despite the extreme suffering that He had gone through on the cross for 6 hours, and the confinement in the cold garden tomb for two nights without food and water, our resurrected Lord was physically fit to walk 11 km. He was even able to deliver an in-depth Bible lesson all along the way. And when they reached Emmaus, the Lord did not feel tired or want to take a rest. He was still able to go further and would have done so, if He had not been persuaded by the two disciples to stop and eat with them. 

Now, when the eyes of the disciples were opened another amazing thing 'He vanished out of their sight�' Then later a third amazing thing happened. This took place after the Emmaus disciples rushed back to Jerusalem to tell the rest the good news. As they were relating their story, the Lord suddenly appeared in their midst! (v.36). 

All these things demonstrate how glorious the resurrected body of Jesus was - A body that needed no medicine, and no rest, and yet is strong, and has good stamina; a body that defies the principles of physiology. What a contrast this is to the time when Jesus sat to rest at a well in Samaria, tired, hungry and thirsty from a long journey. In addition to that, the resurrected body of our Lord can vanish and appear again at His own will, defying the natural laws of physics! One very comforting thought that this brings to us who are saved (and especially for those of us who are physically weak) is that we will one day have a body like that. Praise God for giving us this little preview of our future resurrected state! 

Now that we have been introduced to this account, let us proceed to study it in detail. First, let us look at the two 'Emmaus' disciples. They did not belong to the group of 12 disciples that were close to Jesus, but to the larger group of other disciples that followed Jesus. Like all the other disciples of Jesus their spirits were high with joy with Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. 

But in just five days they were dismayed to see Him crucified. Their dismay is expressed in v.21 'But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel' After that great disappointment on Friday, the only thing left for them was to return back home to their village to sort out all their troubled thoughts, and shattered hopes. Making their journey on Saturday would break the Law, so they waited until Sunday. On Sunday morning they might have spent some time with the other disciples. Then in the early afternoon, they bade the rest farewell, and began their long journey back to Emmaus. It was during that unforgettable journey that they were joined by an eloquent stranger, who turned out later to be their Lord! 

The whole experience of the two disciples can be divided into four stages: The first stage is the stage of: 

I. Despondent Spirits (vv.13-24) 

At this stage, they were downhearted because they did not know that Jesus was alive. Their hearts were filled with perplexing questions and mysteries - Why did Jesus have to die? Had His promising ministry come to an untimely end? Why did the chief priests and scribes hate Him so much as to deliver Him up to be crucified? Why was His body now missing? Did somebody steal it? Why did the women claim to have seen a vision of angels? And perhaps the most pressing question to them was - What were they going to do now? Should they return to their old ways, and give up the teachings they had heard from Jesus? 

Questions and more questions - but no answers! This is a picture of many people who live today - People who are living in the gloom of disappointment, the misery of worry and fear, puzzled by the injustices of life, and filled with plenty of unanswered questions - All because they have not yet met the risen Lord! Perhaps there may be someone here today who is like that. You have come here with a troubled heart, with many questions, but no answers. Dear friend, take heart, for the same Lord Jesus that brought light and hope into the lives of these two disciples can do the same for you. May your eyes be opened to see Him as we continue to study this passage! 

The next section of the passage tells us how the stranger who joined the two disciples took over the platform of the conversation, and then joined them for an evening meal. The brought the disciples out of the stage of despondent spirits and into the stage of: 

II. Burning Hearts (vv25-29) 

In v.32 they testified about this stage when they said, 'Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?' There was no more gloom nor darkness now, but a flame burning bright! As verse after verse was opened to them by the Lord for three captivating hours, the light shone brighter and brighter. At last, they understood why Christ had to die - It was not a failed political deliverance, but a grand redemption plan of God, executed to the very last detail. At last they understood why the tomb was empty - No one had stolen His body, but Christ had risen from the dead! 

The Emmaus disciples probably realised how shallow their knowledge of scripture had been, when they suddenly saw all its wonderful treasures unearthed for them by the Lord! After that event, their study of the Scriptures would never be the same again. How thankful they must have been to receive such teaching from Someone who knew the Scriptures so well. 

How greatly we need such teaching today - Bible-based teaching and preaching that will cause our hearts to be 'strangely warmed'! Dearly beloved as you hear these words this Easter morning, does your heart also burn within you? Do you let the Word of God dwell in your heart richly, and fill you with renewed hope, renewed joy and renewed strength? 

It is my hope that God may use this message to achieve at least one thing in us this Easter: To renew our love for His Word, and give us a desire to dig deeper into it. Let us not find ourselves deserving of the rebuke given by Jesus in v.25 'O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken'. Let us not live in despondency and darkness from an inadequate understanding of the Scriptures. Let us repent of being satisfied with a superficial knowledge of this precious Book. There are treasures in it that are just waiting to warm our hearts! We now proceed to the third stage in the experience of the two disciples. This is the stage of: 

III. Opened Eyes (vv.30-32) 

It is interesting to note that the disciples were unable to recognise the Lord Jesus Christ until the climax of their encounter. For three hours He had walked with them and talked with them, and they did not know that he was their Master! The best way to explain this phenomenon is that God had supernaturally caused the disciples to see a different form when they looked at Him. It was as if there was a filter in front of their eyes that modified the appearance of Jesus to them. This explanation is based on v.16 - 'But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him.' This goes together with v.31 - 'And their eyes were opened, and they knew him.' 

So God had deliberately kept them from knowing who He was. The question arises: Why did He not let them know who He really was from the beginning? Why did He keep up this strange masquerade? The reason may be found by looking at the context of this passage. Earlier in the same chapter the women who went to the tomb had told the disciples that they had seen the Lord alive. But according to v.11, 'their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.' Therefore, one possible reason why the Emmaus disciples were not allowed to recognise Jesus, was that they had been guilty of the same unbelief. This is why Jesus rebuked them so strongly in v.25 - 'O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken' The Emmaus disciples had heard the testimony of the women with the rest, but they had doubted it. If they had only believed it and rejoiced in it, perhaps they would have been given the wonderful privilege of recognising the Lord much earlier in their journey. This may have been the Lord's way of teaching them the necessity of faith, and since they did not have faith, they were denied the privilege of recognising Him.

The Emmaus disciples could be thankful that in their case, this inability to recognise the Lord was not permanent. Their eyes were opened when Jesus took bread, blessed it, brake it and gave to them. There is something very significant about the sequence of actions that Jesus used here - He had done this same sequence of actions before, on at least two occasions! (Luke 9:16 and 22:19) And now Jesus repeated the same actions before them - He took bread, blessed it, brake it and gave to them. Then their eyes were opened! 

Could it be that this repetition of breaking bread by the Lord was done deliberately to jolt their memories and their faith? Could it be that their eyes were opened only at the moment when they believed that the stranger who was with them was truly the Lord Jesus, and that all the reports of His appearances were true? 

Dearly beloved, I think we can learn lesson here about the importance of faith. Thomas was not the only doubter among the disciples of Christ. Actually all of them were 'Doubting Thomases.' And today we must ask ourselves if we too are like them � Do we doubt that He who is with us and dwells in our hearts is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself? If we do not doubt this, then why do we often feel so troubled by fears and worries that assail us? Are these not signs that we doubt Christ's presence with us? If the Lord is with us, who or what can be against us? Let this message stir our hearts to have more faith in the Lord who is with us. There is one more lesson we must learn from the Emmaus disciples. This lesson comes from the last stage of their experience, the stage of: 

IV. Rushing Feet (vv.33-35) 

Here we see how excited the disciples were. It was already evening, but what they wanted to do now could not wait until the following day. The news that they had was just too wonderful to keep to themselves! They did not mind making the 11 km journey back to Jerusalem even though it would have been dark by then and not a good time to travel. And as they rushed back they might have been all the time wondering at the words Jesus had spoken to them on that same road earlier that day. They could not wait to relate everything that happened, to the rest of the disciples of Christ, who were still in despondent spirits because they had not yet seen the resurrected Lord. 

The lesson we can learn from the Emmaus disciples now, is about how eagerly we should be willing to share the Good news of Christ with others. Let us be just as excited about sharing the gospel with others, as these two disciples were. If you have been saved, and you have experienced the wonderful grace of God in delivering you from your sins, can you keep this to yourself? Can you delay to tell others about it? They need to hear the news of the Risen Saviour, because this alone can deliver them from their darkness. 

Dearly beloved, this would be a good time for us to rededicate our lives to the cause of proclaiming our Risen Lord. Let us dedicate ourselves anew to serve Him, to tell others about Him, to study His Word diligently and to live by faith in Him. And may the grace of the Risen Lord help us to do these things until we see Him face to face.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25