Rejection and Consequences

31 The Walk to Emmaus

by Hubert F. Sturges,, December 2013

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 24:17, 18

Jesus confirmed the everlasting covenant. The redemption of humankind was an accomplished fact. Jesus had finished the work He came to do. The sacrifice on the cross established for eternity the government of the universe upon love, persuasion, and freedom. Eden would be restored. The image of God would be placed again in people’s heart, and sin and sinners would be no more. All would see that God is “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).

In the meantime, Jesus must build and encourage His church. Yet, His disciples were crestfallen and in hiding.

The Walk to Emmaus

It had been two days since the crucifixion, and two friends stood talking together. “Shall we go, Cleopas? It is not safe for us to be in Jerusalem. Come with me to my village.”

“Yes, Jonas, you are right. Who knows what that serpent, Caiaphas, will do next!”

With these words, the two men, silent and sad, walked rapidly away from the city, taking the northwest road. The crucifixion had shattered their lives. It seemed now that nothing mattered. They had seen their beloved Master crucified just two days before, and, with Him, all their hopes and aspirations had died. Many people crowded the road, as it was the Passover. But the two men kept their heads down, avoided eye-contact in the crowd, and spoke quietly to one another when by themselves.

“Cleopas, it was time for the Messiah. He came just at the time prophesied by Daniel the prophet.”

“That’s right, Jonas, and He came from Bethlehem just as Micah had prophesied.”

“All Israel loved Him, except those wicked men who call themselves our leaders.”

“Jonas, I have no love for the Romans, but Pilate tried to save Him. If only he had more backbone! And even that centurion, he confessed that Jesus was the Son of God.”

“Right, and He was a friend of publicans and sinners. That gave me hope too.”

“It is all over now. May God bring justice to those who did this evil deed.”

As they continued walking, a Fellow Traveler caught up beside them. He seemed pleasant and earnest. “What are you talking about, and why are you so sad?”

Jonas turned his shoulder, looked at Cleopas, and kept walking. The Stranger failed to take the hint and continued walking beside them. Finally, Jonas turned to Him and, with a little irritation, said, “Were you not here for the Passover? Have you not heard about the crucifixion?”

The Stranger rejoined with, “What are you talking about?”

They said, “About Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet who said and did many powerful things before God and all the people. Our leaders and the leading priests handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him. We were hoping that He would free Israel. Besides that, today is now the third day since these things happened” (Luke 24:19-21). Even worse, the grave is empty. Next thing you know, they will send soldiers for us, His disciples.”

The Stranger looked thoughtful, then said with some authority, “How slow you are to believe what the prophets predicted. They prophesied that the Messiah would need to suffer these things before He is taken into glory” (Luke 24:25-27). Then Jesus showed them from the books of Moses and the prophets what had been predicted about Him.

What the Stranger Said

Do not you remember that, after Adam and Eve sinned, God did not abandon them? He was still their God. He put within every human being a desire to do right, an enmity against sin, a conscience. Humans are not to be helpless before the evil one. God paid the price for this Himself. Through His suffering, He will destroy sin and evil and reconcile His people to Him. In His own words, He said, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).

Then “by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain” (Heb. 11:4). How was the sacrifice of Abel “more excellent”? From Genesis 3:15 we know that the promised Redeemer would have to suffer. The sacrifice shows that He would give His life, for “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).

Later, God called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only son. On the surface, this demand made impossible God’s promise in the covenant of making Abraham a great nation through Isaac--unless God performed a miracle and raised Isaac from the dead. Abraham wrestled with God and his own thoughts for hours over this matter. However, he had learned to trust God, and, in the end, he knew that blessing comes only by implicit obedience to God.

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. (Heb. 11:17-19)

To Isaac’s question about where the sacrifice was, Abraham responded with this truth, “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:8). Not knowing that God had a different plan in mind than he was thinking, Abraham proceeded with the sacrifice. By faith, Isaac willingly cooperated. At the last moment, the “angel of the Lord” stopped the proceeding. Abraham and Isaac found a ram caught in a thicket and offered a sacrifice. In the first part of this dramatized parable, Isaac represented Jesus, the Lamb of God. In the second part, God showed in a beautiful way that He would provide the sacrifice. Isaac was “a figure” of Jesus-the only begotten Son who became the sacrifice for every child of God.

In the Passover, each family was to slay a lamb and sprinkle its blood on the doorposts and the lintel. It was the blood of the lamb that saved the firstborn from death. Why did a lamb have to die? A lamb cannot save a person from the consequences of sin. Yet, its death must still mean something. It pointed forward to a Redeemer who would suffer and die for the sins of humankind.

Isaiah 53 showed what the death of the lamb accomplished. The Redeemer would not just die, but He would experience physical suffering, opposition, and rejection.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”| He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (Isa. 53:7, 11)

“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). Through His suffering, He learned what it is to obey to the greatest degree. Through His suffering, He paid the price for the sins of humankind. His sacrifice qualifies Him to intercede with the Father for all people (Heb. 4:15, 16).

Daniel prophesied the exact time He would come (Dan. 9:24-27). He came and died as prophesied to the day! The sacrifice and oblation had now met their fulfillment. Making this sacrifice was the will of God and the purpose of His life.

God told Joseph, husband of Mary, to “call his name JESUS, for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). He was not just to teach nor just to forgive, He was to save His people from their sins.

Returning to the Story

By now, the three had walked the five miles and arrived at Jonas’ house. “Come in and have some refreshment,” Jonas invited. “I have learned much from your words, and I would like to hear more.”

“Thanks, but I need to be moving on.”

“Sir, please, if you do not need to come in for your own sake, please do so for ours. Please come in!” By this time, Cleopas and Jonas had each taken one arm of their new friend and nudged Him to the door. He willingly went with them.

Jonas hurried to get cold water and some bread. As he placed these on the table, the Stranger “took bread, blessed it, and brake, and gave to them” (Luke 24:30).

“Jonas, it is He!”

“My Lord and my God!”

They both jumped up and ran to bow at His feet. But He had vanished. With great excitement, they forgot the cold water and uneaten bread. They even forgot the soldiers swarming Jerusalem as they ran out the door and hurried back down the road to Jerusalem. Panting as he spoke, Cleopas said, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures” (Luke 24:32)?

Now their eyes were bright with hope. There was no more sadness as they talked rapidly to each other as they stumbled excitedly on their way. They repeated the words over and over again, “He’s alive!” Travelers on the road looked on and wondered. Their Unseen Companion smiled as the two men quickly found their way to the disciples and gave them the news.

Over the course of several days and weeks, Jesus made His presence known to the disciples, proving to all that He had indeed conquered death. Then they watched Him return in the clouds to His Father, with the hope of His soon return.

A New Message

The resurrection made effective all that had gone before: Jesus’ sinless life, His sacrificial death on the cross, and the promise of His coming again. For the first time, the disciples began to see the purpose of Jesus’ coming. Their new understanding energized them with a new message. In emphasizing the commandments, Jesus had emphasized the agape love that was to motivate all that they did and taught. “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” was the message to go to the world. People’s lives and the direction of nations would now be changed. Jesus Christ was alive and in heaven, ministering the blood of the covenant and preparing to return again soon!

Was this message new? Moses gave a message of love in Deuteronomy. David wrote of the love of God in the Psalms. Love is a frequent subject in the Bible (Deut. 6:5; 7:8, 10; 10:19; Lev. 19:18; Isa. 43:4; 63:9; Jer. 31:3; Hosea 14:4; Matt. 19:19). However, the Jews forgot these things in the stresses of time, war, and the cares of this life. Rather than submitting to the sweet influences of a God of love, they chose the “easy way” and tried to earn their way to salvation. It became a heavy burden.

Christians put all these things aside for the love of Him who died for us. Religion became something for everybody and every nation, not for just one people or one nation. All were welcome, and people from all backgrounds began to join the new church. The grace of God began to conquer the world!

Emmanuel: God With Us

Christians must learn that prophecies are not always clear ahead of time. Yet, the prophecies always contain details that make it possible to recognize their fulfillment and strengthen the believer’s faith when they are fulfilled. Jesus said, “And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe” (John 14:29).

When Jesus gave Himself to join the human race, He did not take the gift back. He is still a human being and will continue to be for all eternity. In doing this, He laid aside some of the attributes of divinity. He is even now physically limited to one place at a time. He is in heaven, but He is coming back again! The angels told the disciples, as they strained their eyes to catch one more glimpse of the Master:

Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11).

Yet, His humanity is glorified as ours shall be.

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

The scars in His hands are an eternal reminder of the cost of redemption. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. (Hab. 3:4, NIV)

And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. (Zech. 13:6)

“This same Jesus” is human, eternally human. “We shall be like Him,” who is eternally a member of the human race. His commitment to us is: “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Heb. 8:10).

 The everlasting covenant is now eternal-God is one with the human family. We have His promise: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev. 21:3).

Even the Disciples did not Understand

The Jews did not recognize personal sin in their lives. Most based their assurance of salvation on their lineage from Abraham and their meticulous observance of the ceremonies and sacrifices written in the book of Moses (Deut. 31:24-26). It was a new experience for the Jews to be called to repentance as John the Baptist was doing. Jesus’ forgiveness of sins when He healed the sick was likewise new. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called for a change of heart, not a mere repetition of forms and ceremonies. Even a strict keeping of the moral law falls short if a person does not have a change of heart. The kingdom of grace must be established before the kingdom of glory can come.

Before the crucifixion, not even the disciples understood that Jesus came, not only to live among humans but also to die for them. After Peter’s confession, “thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” in recognition of who Jesus was, Peter still misunderstood Jesus’ mission:

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matt. 16:21-23)

The misunderstanding was also reflected in the competition among the disciples for the highest place in the kingdom that they expected Jesus to establish. They were expecting the restoration of the throne of David and the past glories of Israel. “And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest” (Luke 22:24).

The story of the walk to Emmaus illustrates the feelings of the disciples immediately after the crucifixion. Jesus’ crucifixion had devastated the disciples and had destroyed their expectations of a glorious earthly kingdom. The disciples felt that they had lost everything and that Jesus had failed as the Messiah. The two walking to Emmaus said:

“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 24:21). On that famous walk, Jesus explained these things to the grieving disciples.

For forty days, Jesus appeared to the disciples before He ascended to heaven. It was only after another ten days of intense and united prayer, followed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, that the disciples finally began to understand the purpose of Jesus’ life on earth. The culmination and purpose of the entire sacrificial system was Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Jesus’ power to heal and His grace to forgive were dependent upon His death and resurrection. The crucifixion was not a failure; rather, it was Jesus the Messiah’s supreme victory over Satan. In statements on Pentecost and shortly thereafter, Peter demonstrated that he understood that the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ fulfilled prophecy.

But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. (Acts 3:18)

Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. (Acts 3:24)

For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. (Acts 4:27, 28)

Stephen, in his last sermon before the Sanhedrin, began to touch on the fact that the ceremonial system and even the Temple itself were a type and not the reality. The Sanhedrin cut his sermon short when he quoted Isaiah 66:1, 2: “Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things” (Acts 7:49, 50)?

Why did it take so long for the disciples to understand? Why did Jesus not tell them these things before they happened? The truth is, Jesus did tell them of His impending death at least four times before it happened. They simply could not grasp what He was saying. Until they believed that He came to die, they would not have understood if He tried to tell them why it needed to occur. In speaking of the gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now” (John 16:12).