In verse 13, Luke shifts the scene to two followers of Jesus on the road to Emmaus. They too have seen Jesus die; they too have heard the report from the women concerning the empty tomb. They discuss all this on the two-to-three hour walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Jesus approaches them, hears their conversation, and asks them about it.
One of the two, Cleopas, is amazed that this stranger doesn’t know about the talk of the town:
Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Luke 24:18
Jesus simply says, “What things”
Cleopas answers with words that are quite revealing. As I read these, ask yourself: What is the state of mind of Cleopas and all the disciples?
“Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” Luke 24:19-24
Do you hear the lost hope, the despair? “Jesus was a great man – the great man, so we thought – the one we have all been waiting for, the one who would redeem the nation! Yet our very leaders rejected Him, and handed him over to be killed. There’s this report that He is alive. And the tomb is indeed empty. But if He is alive – surely He would show Himself to His disciples! None of the disciples has seen Him. How can He be alive?“
What does Jesus say?
“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:25-27
Let me pause here for a while in the telling of the story. Up to this point in Luke’s account, there has been no report of anyone seeing the risen Jesus. (Cleopas and his friend have seen Him, but they don’t know it.) They do not believe that Jesus is alive. They act just like us in our hard times: wallowing in despair, not believing.
Ask yourself: Why should the disciples believe that Jesus has risen?
Luke has given three pieces of evidence so far. We have this evidence too. So let us learn from their disbelief, so that we might believe in our hard times.
The first type of evidence is the Scriptures. As we noted, Jesus said in verse 25 that they were, “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” Then from Moses – that is, the first five books of the Old Testament – and from the prophets, He helped them understand “in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” He specifically said in verse 26 that the Scriptures show that the Christ must suffer and enter into glory.
Which Scriptures is He talking about?
We can point to specific texts that promise the coming King, and can point to others that tell us of the suffering and death of God’s righteous servant. For example:
- Psalm 2:7-8 The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
- Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
But Jesus is saying much more than “there are a few texts that refer specifically to me.” He is saying all the Scriptures point to Him. The entire storyline of the Bible, God’s plan of redemption, points to Him. From God’s statement to the serpent in the garden that a descendant of Eve would crush Satan’s head, to God rescuing Noah and his family from destruction through the ark, to God’s promise to Abraham that all the families of the nations would be blessed through his descendant, to the picture on Mount Moriah of Abraham about to sacrifice his one and only son, to God’s bringing His people out of Egypt, to the sacrificial system, to the cleanliness code, to the annual cycle of feasts and festivals – the Passover, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles – the entire history of redemption, the entire historic picture of God calling His rebellious people, the Israelites, disciplining them, keeping a faithful remnant – all of this story points to Jesus.
The entire Old Testament is the story of God’s plan to magnify His glory through His plan of redemption. And the death and resurrection of Jesus is the very heart of that story.
So certainly we can point to key Scriptures that contain specific prophecies about Messiah coming, suffering, and reigning. Such Scriptures speak directly of Jesus. But much more importantly, the entire storyline of the Old Testament points to Jesus, His death and resurrection. All the Scriptures point to Jesus.
So Cleopas and the other disciple were foolish not to believe that the Messiah must suffer, die, and be resurrected. For they had the Scriptures. They should have known.
What about us? We are foolish not to believe in our day of despair.
- Not to believe that we have a role in fulfilling that very storyline
- Not to believe that God will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
In what sense are we foolish? Because God is intent on filling the earth with the knowledge of His glory as the waters cover the sea. He is working out His good purposes, always. And He tells us throughout His Word that He uses His people to accomplish His plan.
So this is the first type of evidence for the resurrection: The Scriptures – specifically, understanding the story line of the Bible. Such evidence was important for the disciples in their difficult days, and is similarly important for us.