2012-09-16 Recognizing Jesus as the Christ | Luke 24:25-27, 30-31, 44-48
Luke 24:25-27, 30-31, 44-48
–On the road to Emmaus…
25And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 30When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.
–In the upper room
44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things.
As we seek for the next ten weeks to see Jesus in Genesis, we begin today at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Luke 24 gives us Luke’s perspective on what happened on the day of Jesus’ resurrection. We are going to focus on two appearances of Jesus that have striking similarities. The first appearance occurs to two men who are leaving Jerusalem on their way to Emmaus, a seven mile trip, like walking from Perrysburg to Waterville. The second appearance occurs later that day to a group gathered back in Jerusalem.
These two appearances have at least three things in common –
-Jesus’ interpretation of what the OT foretells about the Christ,
-Jesus’ claim that he is the fulfillment of that foretelling, and
-the disciples’ seeing, or recognizing or understanding by faith how the two fit together.
First, let’s look at the foretelling of the Christ
How many of you have ever tried to summarize the OT in one sentence? It’s a collection of what seem like a bunch of disjointed histories, laws, poems, prophecies and more. Who can make sense of it all? And to sum it up in one sentence? Who among us could do that? But that’s exactly what Jesus did in each of these accounts. Listen to vv 26 and 46.
To the men on the road to Emmaus he said,
26) Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
And to the disciples in the upper room he said,
46) it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
Jesus’ interpretation of the main point of the OT is that the Christ would experience first suffering, including death, then he would experience glory, including rising from the dead on the third day. Peter later made the same conclusion about the OT later when he wrote – as we read earlier today – “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” (1 Pet 1:8-13). Wouldn’t it be great if Jesus was right about this? That the main point of the OT is the sufferings and glory of the Christ? If it is true, we might actually be able to make sense of it all. After all it is the larger of the two portions of the Bible.
The second thing these two accounts have in common is Jesus’ claim that he is the fulfillment of that foretelling. That he is the Christ about which the OT speaks. That he is the Christ who suffered and is entering into his glory. Listen to vv 27 and 44.
On the road to Emmaus it says,
27) And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Later in the upper room he said,
44) everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
To suggest that thousands of years of written history, law, poetry and prophecy point to oneself is a bold and extravagant claim! It’s like something out of a science fiction novel like Dune or Stranger in a Strange Land, or like something one of the modern day cult leaders like David Koresh, Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, Stewart Traill, or Sun Myung Moon – might say of himself.
Yet that’s exactly what Jesus said. He claimed he himself was the Christ who was foretold in the pages of Scripture. His sufferings were the sufferings of the Christ of which it speaks. His resurrection from the dead was the first stage of the glories of the Christ of which it is written. Jesus claimed to be the Christ of the OT, the fulfillment of all its promises.
The third thing these two accounts have in common is the faith of the disciples. In both accounts the disciples believe what Jesus is telling them about the Christ and about himself. You might say they are enabled to put two and two together and get four. Listen to vv 31 and 45.
In the first case it says,
31) And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
In the second it says,
45) Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures
In both accounts, Jesus’ words opened something in the disciples that had previously been closed.
In the first, their metaphorical eyes were opened and they were enabled to recognize him. They recognized him for who he really was. His words penetrated their hearts in such a way that they saw him not merely as Jesus of Nazareth, but also as the promised Messiah of the Scriptures, the Redeemer of Israel. The one for whom they and their fathers and their fathers’ fathers had watched and waited their whole lives.
Have you ever been separated from a friend or relative for so long that when you first see them again you don’t recognize them? Perhaps they have changed in such a way that you can’t find the old face in the new face. That’s what happened to me at my 40th HS reunion. Some people had changed so much that at first I couldn’t recognize them. But after studying them awhile finally I could see the 18 year old face in the 58 year old face.
That’s similar to what happened to Mary when she saw Jesus near the tomb after his resurrection. At first she thought he was the gardener. But when she heard his voice she recognized him.
But I don’t think this was merely a natural thing with Mary or with the disciples that day. It was a matter of seeing with eyes of faith. They were enabled to recognize Jesus because they were given the gift of faith by God’s grace. The verb is passive. It doesn’t say they opened their eyes. It says their eyes were opened to recognize him. They were enabled to respond in faith to Jesus’ words.
In the second account, it says the disciples’ metaphorical minds were opened to understand the Scriptures. As Jesus explained how he had fulfilled the Scriptures, they were enabled to understand, to believe what he said about himself. They were enabled to understand with spiritual understanding that his sufferings were the sufferings of the Christ of the OT, and that his resurrection was the first stage of the glories promised to Israel.
Again, they were given the gift of faith to understand. The verb again is passive. It doesn’t say they opened their minds. It says their minds were opened to understand the Scriptures. They were enabled by the work of the Holy Spirit that day to put two and two together. They were enabled to understand that the Scriptures were pointing to Jesus himself. Messiah was standing among them at that moment. Jesus was Messiah.
At age 20 after moving to NC, I had heard the gospel preached for a number of months in the Chapel Hill Bible Church, and I was attending an InterVarsity fall conference near Greensboro. The speaker that day said, “If Jesus really did rise again, that would make all the difference in the world.” Suddenly, it all made sense to me. Like the disciples, it all came together in my heart and mind. If Jesus did rise from the dead, that would make him different from any other human being.
I “recognized,” with spiritual eyes, Jesus for who he really was. I “understood” with spiritual understanding the Scriptures that spoke of him. He was not just another man, or a myth or a distant someone in a Bible story book. He was alive and he was God, and I could trust him with my life. I was given the gift of faith to recognize him and to understand the Scriptures about him that day just as the disciples had been so many years ago.
What about you? Have you seen with spiritual eyes who Jesus really is? Have you understood with your spiritual mind that the Scriptures speak of him? Perhaps today is the day that you will be enabled to see him as he really is, and to understand what the Scriptures say about him. I encourage you to respond in faith, to receive in your heart the gift you are being offered…
That is what we are seeking to do in this series. For some perhaps it will help you to recognize Jesus and understand the Scriptures for the first time. For others it may be a matter of clearly “seeing” Jesus, the Messiah in the OT for the first time, of understanding the purpose of God as he progressively revealed the sufferings and glories of the Christ through the personalities, the situations, the enslavements, the deliverances, the temptations, the wanderings, the prophecies and promises of the OT and their fulfillment in the life, death, resurrection, reign and return of Jesus.
Why bother? Why take the time to understand the OT beginning with Genesis? Why should we invest ourselves in studying the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, and the characters of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and the other sons of Jacob? Because our purpose – God’s purpose in us and through us is not simply to recognize Jesus and to understand the Scriptures, it is also to proclaim him to all nations as his witnesses. Listen to vv 47-48,
“and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
We are called, just as the first disciples were called, to be his witnesses, to proclaim him to the nations. A witness is one who testifies of something he or she knows to be true. We are seeking in this series to see Jesus more clearly and to better understand the Scriptures that speak of him so that we might proclaim him wherever we go, telling others what we have found to be true in our own lives, in the lives of those around us and in the lives of those who have gone before us surrounding us like an invisible cloud. As the writer of Hebrews said,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2 ESV)