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The Lord Has Risen

March 31, 2024 Speaker: Kit Johnson Series: Miscellaneous Sermons

Topic: Expository Passage: Luke 24:13-35

 

Introduction

Easter is always exciting! It’s springtime, though it doesn’t feel that way today. It’s a fun day to get dressed up, go to church, and sing about Jesus. Hopefully you get to feast on a massive ham and a chocolate bunny. Those things are great.

But sadly, many people will have fun today, enjoy their Easter traditions, and forget about Jesus tomorrow. They think the Easter story is just a myth, or they just don’t care. The resurrection has little to no bearing on the other 364 days of their year.

But what if the resurrection really happened? What if Jesus really rose from the dead? What difference should it make for your life today? What will it mean for your eternity? These are crucial questions because the resurrection happened. Jesus rose from the dead. Today’s passage records a fascinating eyewitness account of the resurrected Christ (read).

This is a great story. In fact, liberal literary scholars say it is so well-written that Luke must have stolen it. But the evidence says they are wrong. This is an accurate account of true events, events that verify Jesus’ resurrection. So, my challenge is twofold. Believe in the resurrection and submit to the lordship of Christ.

Luke tells the story through the eyes of two disciples who enjoy one of the most enviable experiences in Scripture. Can you imagine 2 hours with Jesus on resurrection morning? It’s awesome! So, I’d like to put you in their shoes and highlight 3 stages of their experience. I especially pray you will leave sharing their last stage of absolute confidence and joy. But the first stage is…

I.  Confusion (vv. 13–24)

Luke introduces these men as they begin a 7-mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus. It’s Sunday morning, but it’s not just any Sunday morning; it’s the morning of Jesus resurrection.

Verses 1–12 say that several women had already visited the tomb only to find it empty. Then an angel appeared and declared, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen.” The ladies ran back to the upper room and exclaimed that Jesus was alive!

But the disciples thought it was “nonsense.” They didn’t believe them. Still, Peter ran to tomb and saw the same thing. Jesus’ tomb was really empty. But no one had seen the risen Lord. They hoped Jesus was alive, but maybe someone had stolen his body.

Imagine the chaos in the upper room. But the 2 disciples in our story still head home. Verse 18 tells us that one of the men was named Cleopas. This is the only time he is mentioned by name in the Bible. We don’t know the other man’s name. They weren’t among the 11 apostles, but they must have been fairly committed to have a place in the upper room.

So, they have had a full week. Just 7 days prior, they probably followed Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday thinking he was about to be crowned king. They listened as Jesus taught, they watched him cleanse the temple, and they ate the last supper. Then their hopes were crushed when Jesus was arrested and crucified.

Now they are exhausted, confused, and headed for home in Emmaus. BTW, we don’t know where Emmaus was. That speaks to the authenticity of the account. If someone were making up the story, they would almost certainly insert a well-known city. But the fact that Luke names a small, unknown town indicates this is a true story based on a first-hand account from someone who lived in Judea at the time of Christ.

So, they start out on a 2.5-3-hour walk. They can’t stop talking about everything that has happened with Jesus. They can’t believe he died. Where is his body? Could Jesus possibly be alive? Then lo and behold, “Jesus Himself,” the risen Lord casually walks up and joins the conversation!

What an incredible surprise! Jesus had already appeared to Mary Magdalene when she returned to the tomb, but they are probably the 2nd and 3rd people who got to see the risen Savior. How cool is that! What a moment.

Except they don’t recognize him. God veiled their sight. Jesus is right there, but they don’t see him. Now Luke tells us it’s Jesus. We’re thinking, “Open your eyes! You’re talking to Jesus.” But they are blind. That sounds like so many people today. Jesus is right there in his inspired Word. His glory is everywhere in creation, but they don’t see him for who he is. Do you see Jesus as he really is? Or have you blinded yourself to his true glory?

Well, Jesus just listens for a minute while the men talk about Jesus and everything that has happened. Then he plays dumb and asks, “What are you guys talking about?” The picture at the end of v. 17 is hilarious. Both men stop in their tracks. They look at Jesus with sorrow and confusion.

Cleopas can’t believe what he just heard (v. 18). We’d say, “Is your head in the sand? Everyone is talking about Jesus. He is headline news. How clueless is this guy?” The irony is rich because Cleopas is the one who is blind.

But Jesus simply replies, “What things?” Dumbfounded and sad, they reply with a long explanation that gives a stunning picture into their hearts.

Notice how their dreams were crushed (vv. 19–21). They believed Jesus was “a prophet.” And they really hoped he was the Messiah who would redeem or deliver Israel from the Romans.

Notice what they don’t say. They weren’t hoping Jesus would pay the penalty for their sin on the cross. They didn’t grasp their desperate need to be saved from the wrath of God. Instead, they hoped for a political Savior who would deliver them from Rome. Therefore, their hopes were crushed when Israel’s leaders didn’t embrace him as king. Instead, they sentenced him to death, and Rome crucified him.

Sadly, many people today are still looking for the wrong salvation. They only want a Jesus who will help them live a better life and feel better about themselves. But like Cleopas and his friend, you will also never grasp the Easter story until you understand that you need a far greater salvation.

It’s not what we want to hear, but you have rebelled against your Lord and Creator. Therefore, John 3:18 warns, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” We are all born under God’s judgment. Until you understand your desperate plight, you will remain just as confused as these disciples. Please admit your need of spiritual salvation.

Then they add a fascinating perspective on the disciples’ mood that morning (vv. 21b–24). They were in the upper room when the women reported that Jesus was gone. They were still there when Peter confirmed that Jesus was gone. But they must have left before Mary saw Jesus in the garden. Jesus was gone, but no one had seen him. They had some hope but not enough to stay in Jerusalem. It was third day. Jesus couldn’t be alive.

That attitude is significant, and all the Gospels highlight it. That’s because everywhere the gospel went, people replied, “You’re making that up. People do not rise from the dead.” But Luke answers, “No, the apostles didn’t make up the resurrection because they weren’t looking for it. They were just as surprised as you are.” You see that so clearly in this text. These men are devastated and confused. They are headed home because their hopes have been crushed. But Jesus comes alongside them and transforms their perspective. I’m going to call the 2nd stage for their experience…

II.  Heart Burn (vv. 25–27)

This is where I get envious. It probably took these men 2.5-3 hours to walk 7 miles. So, imagine having Jesus to yourself for 2 hours on resurrection day. Imagine listening as he explains the cross and resurrection from the OT. What an incredible experience!

I really wish Jesus had left a record of what he said. Every pastor and theologian would love to buy A Christ-Centered Biblical Theology of the OT by Jesus. But he didn’t leave us a recording, though, it’s all there in the OT.

But Luke does tell us the essence of what Jesus said. Specifically, these men should have known the crucifixion was coming because God clearly foretold it. For example, Israel’s sacrificial system illustrated the fact that God is our Lord, and we have all sinned against his will. You can never be good enough to earn a relationship with God. You need a blood sacrifice. But no animal could ever be enough. We can’t save ourselves.

But God promised to send a perfect sacrifice someday in the person of his Son. This is especially clear in Isaiah 53. Looking ahead some 700 years, notice what Isaiah prophecies in vv. 5–6. God was very clear that Messiah would die as a sacrifice for our sin. But Messiah’s death will not be the end of the story. No, he will satisfy God’s justice, and Messiah will rise from the dead (vv. 10–12).

It’s all right there, some 700 years before it happened. God said that you need a Savior, and he promised that Jesus would pay your penalty on the cross and rise in victory. Therefore, it was no accident that Jesus died on the cross. It was God’s plan from before creation. The disciples shouldn’t have been surprised. It’s kind of funny how Jesus is not exactly gentle in v. 25. They should have known this was coming, not been consumed with political deliverance.

And you must believe also. People who just dismiss the crucifixion as a fanciful tale or the biblical record of its significance are not dealing honestly with the facts. The crucifixion is based on thousands of years of recorded prophecy. Hundreds if not thousands of people saw these events. The Gospels have all the marks of reliable records. No one would doubt Luke’s record if they weren’t biased against the miraculous.

Jesus really died for your sins, and he rose again. He died because you cannot save yourself. He died to bear your sin so that you can be saved by simply believing on him. Please receive Christ today and be saved.

And if you are saved, I hope you will respond to Jesus like these men (v. 32). I hope your heart will burn with these disciples as you consider that Jesus took your sin out of the way. You are safe from the wrath of God. Someday, you will rise like Jesus and spend all eternity in God’s presence. Praise God!

Well, these guys are getting fired up as Jesus teaches, but they still don’t realize who is speaking to them. But all that changes with the 3rd stage of their experience, which I’m going to call…

III.  Elation (vv. 28–35)

Invitation (vv. 28-29): Finally, the men approach their home, probably in the early to mid-afternoon (The Jews considered the entire afternoon to be approaching evening, especially for a traveler). They have absolutely enjoyed their conversation with Jesus. They want to talk more. And ancient etiquette demanded that they offer him a place to spend the night. They urge Jesus to come to their home, and Jesus agrees.

Revelation (vv. 30-32): Then, after a long walk, they recline at the table to eat a meal. It’s interesting that they apparently invited their guest to pray and break bread. Maybe he was simply older. But they probably could tell this was a special guest, though they didn’t yet realize how special.

Regardless, Jesus prays, he breaks the bread, and he begins pass it around. Maybe Jesus and the men took a few bites. But as the meal begins, God lifts the veil from their eyes. They recognize Jesus, and their jaws hit the floor.

Remember that their last intimate experience with Jesus had been 3 days prior at the Last Supper. Now, the same man Jesus had broken the bread that night and was then brutally executed is sitting across from them doing the exact same thing. They knew this man. They could see the nail prints in his hands. This was Jesus. He was alive! Jesus rose from the dead! They can’t believe it.

Then just as quickly as they understood, Jesus suddenly “vanished.” They are left in stunned silence. They can’t believe what they just experienced. Jesus just spent a couple hours on the day of his resurrection teaching them the Scriptures. I love their reflection in v. 32.

That’s why Jesus veiled his identity. Had they known this was Jesus, they wouldn’t have paid attention, and they would have made a huge scene on the road. But Jesus loved these men. He wanted to comfort and teach them without distraction. And only after that, prove his resurrection.

Now they understood why Jesus came and why he had to die. And now they believe in the resurrection. They’re overwhelmed, stunned, and excited.

Proclamation (vv. 33-35): And they’ve got to tell the other disciples that they have seen the risen Lord. When they left Jerusalem, no one had seen the risen Lord, but now they have. Everyone needs to know.

So, they take off. They didn’t care that they had already walked 7 miles that day, and they didn’t care that the day was passing quickly. They had to get back to Jerusalem and to the upper room where Jesus’ closest disciples were gathered.

The order of the conversation once they arrive is a bit confusing because v. 34 says, “The Lord…” 1 Corinthians 15:5 also says that Jesus appeared to Peter before he appeared to the other apostles. I’d love to know more details about that conversation, because it had to be a powerful moment considering Peter’s denial on Thursday night. But the Bible doesn’t say.

Rather, it seems that as soon as Cleopas and his friend burst through the door, the other disciples were so excited that they didn’t even let them tell their story. Rather, they immediately shared Peter’s experience.

Once they finished, Cleopas and his friend proclaim, “The Lord…” This is the most important statement in the entire story. They believed in the resurrection because they had seen the resurrected Christ. They were eyewitnesses to the fact that it really happened.

Then the story concludes with them describing their amazing experience, though v. 36 says that before they were even done, Jesus appeared again though this time to all the disciples, except Thomas. They all saw the risen Lord, and they all believed, “The Lord has really risen.”

IV.  Conclusion

Believe in the resurrection. And God wants you to also believe in the resurrection. Sure, I don’t have pictures of the risen the Christ or DNA evidence that he came to life. But don’t dismiss the biblical record as a fanciful myth or legend.

As I said earlier, the Gospels have all the marks of a credible historical record. And they don’t tell us about secret events that happened in a corner like Muhammed’s supposed experience with Allah or Joseph Smith’s private visions in a forest. No, Jesus died at the hands of a world power in the middle of a massive festival. All of this happened in the open. Furthermore, consider how the resurrection transformed a man like Peter, and how God used Peter to transform the world. Jesus rose from the dead. So, believe in the resurrection.

Submit to the lordship of Christ. But that leads to an important question with which I began. If Jesus rose from the dead, what does it mean for your life today? Romans 1:4 answers, “(He) was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.” The resurrection declared that Jesus is Lord. He has all power and authority even over you.

And you must not ignore his lordship. Rather, Acts 17:30–31 say, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” I know it’s not our favorite subject, but the risen Lord will judge your life someday, and the Scriptures are clear that you will not survive on your own merit. Therefore, God commands you to repent.

So, bow before your Lord. Admit that he is Lord and that you have sinned against him. Ask him to forgive your sin. He promises that he will. Jesus is not just the Lord; he is the only Savior. He paid for your sin on the cross, and he can save your soul. So, right now, bow your heart before him. Cry out to him for salvation. Receive Christ as your only Lord and Savior.

Then live for him every day of your life. The resurrection is not just a great story to remember once a year; rather, the risen Lord must transform every day of your life. He is a powerful Savior, but he is also a good Savior. So, trust him, obey him, worship him, and serve him. Believe in the resurrection and submit to the lordship of Christ.

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