When things don’t go like you think they should, do you get discouraged? Disappointments can cause us to ask many questions. That’s what happened with those who had followed Jesus and believed He was the Messiah. Jesus had done much good for people, He preached Good News, and He stood up against the Pharisees. The disciples knew Jesus was special, and they were sure He would be the one who would redeem Israel, a nation that had suffered much persecution and oppression. Many believed that Jesus would stop the Roman occupation of the land God had given to Abraham and his seed forever. Actually, Jesus came to accomplish a much greater mission.
By His shed blood, Jesus would make the only way for all people of the world to find eternal life through faith in Him. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
Those were the words Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, a Pharisee who was seeking truth. Jesus didn’t limit salvation to Israel but to anyone who believes in Him. It only takes faith to find salvation through Christ.
While Jesus walked this earth, He preached to all who would listen, He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and cast out demons. People followed Him, but there were 12 who were His chosen disciples. These men were given special teachings but didn’t fully understand all that Jesus taught. These men followed Jewish Law, but they weren’t scholars. Nevertheless, they followed Jesus and listened to what He taught.
Then, their hopes and dreams were shattered. Jesus was crucified. They watched Him carry His cross, they saw the blood dripping from gaping wounds which exposed His bones, and they saw the crown of thorns that had been forced upon His head in mockery. Their hopes that Jesus was the longed-for Messiah were shattered as the nails were driven into His hands and feet. Then it was over. Jesus was dead, and his body was taken from the cross and placed in a tomb. A large stone was rolled over the entrance, and it was securely sealed. Roman soldiers were stationed there to make sure nobody stole the body. There was nothing left for the disciples to do but to grieve and worry about their own safety. Because they had followed Jesus, they could also be arrested and put to death.
Jesus had spoken of these events clearly, but the disciples didn’t understand the bigger picture of what Jesus was to accomplish.
“And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry” (Matthew 17:22-23).
They heard the words but didn’t want to believe Jesus meant what He said. Jesus also made reference to prophecy seen in Jonah. “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39-40).
Jonah (Jonas) was a prophet, and his plight with the whale was a prophecy of the Messiah’s death, burial, and resurrection. It’s important to study prophecy.
After Jesus was taken from the cross and hurriedly buried, the disciples had a lot to think about. Had they paid more attention to prophecy, they would have looked forward with expectation to what was about to happen.
As soon as the Law permitted, some of the women arrived at the tomb early. “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus” (Luke 24:1-3).
Their tears of grief turned to confusion and fear. Jesus’ body was gone, but two men were there. “And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:5-7).
The disciples wouldn’t have been confused about what was happening if they had studied prophecy. They also should have believed what Jesus taught rather than believing what they thought He meant. Like them, we read the words but try to tweak them to say something that we can wrap our minds around. Nobody had ever left an empty tomb before, so the disciples hadn’t understood that Jesus meant exactly what He said. How often do you read Scripture but tweak it to justify a sin you hold on to or interpret prophecy based on human understanding rather than God’s greater knowledge?
After hearing the women’s news, Peter and John raced to the tomb and found that the women were right. The body was gone, but the grave clothes were still there. If someone removed Jesus’ body, why would they leave the burial clothes? Something miraculous had happened. Christ conquered death!
After this discovery, two of the disciples departed from Jerusalem to go to a town called Emmaus. “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about three score furlongs” (Luke 24:13). It was about 7.5 miles, and by foot, it would take a while to get there. They had a lot to talk about.
As they walked, they tried to make sense of all that had happened. “And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him” (Luke 24 15:16). There is some speculation as to why they didn’t recognize Jesus, but we’re just told “…their eyes were holden….”
Does Jesus listen in on your conversations? Yes, He does, so be careful of the words you speak and the thoughts you have.
Jesus allowed the disciples to tell Him what they knew. “And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk and are sad?” (Luke 24:17). Jesus knew why they were sad and confused, but He cared enough to listen to what was troubling them. “And 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 24:18). Their words are a little amusing since we know who they were speaking to.
Who better than Jesus knew of the events of the last few days? Remember, when you’re troubled over anything, you can talk to Jesus in prayer. He knows what the answers are but will allow you to lay your burden upon Him, and He will guide you to answers.
The events of the last few days were fresh on the minds of these two men. They were willing to share with the “stranger” what had happened. “And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests had our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him” (Luke 24:19-20).
By allowing them to talk, Jesus allowed them to focus their thoughts. “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). That’s what perplexed them most. They thought Jesus would redeem Israel. They couldn’t see the bigger picture.
Jesus died for all people, not just the Jewish nation. Not only that, but the redemption He offers is eternal. “Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not” (Luke 24:22-23). The two men had poured their hearts out to Jesus and finished by telling of the empty tomb.
Now, it was Jesus’ turn to talk. Jesus listens to us, but it’s important to listen to Him. “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26).
His words must have shocked the men. They probably expected this stranger to feel sorrow over the death of the one that was thought to be the redeemer of Israel. After all the facts they had related, Jesus’ words were to rebuke them for not believing all that the prophets had spoken.
That rebuke is as true today as it was those many centuries ago. Today, we are facing many world events that have struck fear into the hearts of many people. Yet, if we study prophecy, we can see that we live in exciting times. Prophecy is being fulfilled daily, and it’s clear that we’re nearing the end of time. God won’t withhold His judgment much longer. Before His judgments begin, Christians will be called Home in the Rapture. That’s exciting, but if you don’t study prophecy, you’ll just see things through the eyes of the world. That’s a bad way to see things. God breathed the words to the men who wrote Scripture, so if you don’t study prophecy, you’re ignoring much of His word.
Jesus said these men were fools for not believing the prophecies that had been fulfilled in the past days. He then went to Scripture to open their eyes. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).
That must have been a wonderful Bible study. Too many preachers today don’t teach verse by verse through the Bible. Instead, they quote secular sources and false teachers. In so doing, they tickle ears and skip over very important Scriptural teachings. Many preachers don’t take the time to study prophecy, and therefore are ill-equipped to teach it. These men lead the flock astray. If you’re waiting for your pastor to teach prophecy, you’re making a mistake. Study for yourself. There are many knowledgeable prophecy teachers, but don’t forget to study Scripture for yourself. The Bible study which Jesus taught on the road to Emmaus is found in your own Bible.
It was evening when they arrived in Emmaus, so the disciples asked Him to stay and have a meal with them. It was at that meal that the disciples finally knew who had been teaching them. “And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:30-31).
The upset and confusion they had felt was replaced by joy. “And they said one to another, 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). Jesus opened the scriptures to them, and they finally understood the events of the previous few days. They immediately returned to Jerusalem and found Matthew, James, John, and the other disciples and told them what they had experienced. We also need to share the Good News with the doubters of today.
Only Scripture is God’s word. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you, and you’ll find understanding in these trying times by studying prophecy. If the disciples had a deeper understanding of prophecy, they would have understood the times in which they lived. If we study and believe God’s word, from Genesis through Revelation, we will have more peace in these wicked days in which we live.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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