… 25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself…
Even in the midst of all the bad weather, you know that the month of May is a beautiful time of year. The lawns are greening up. The flowers and trees are just beginning to bud. The renewal that is the season of spring is in the air!
People of all times and all places have looked for renewal—either outwardly or inwardly. There are times when we feel worn out and used up by all the ups and downs of life. But you don’t need to go out into nature to find renewal for yourselves and for your faith. You have Jesus who does all the renewing for you.
Today we go back in time again, back to the first Easter day—the day of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. We go back to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They find the renewal that they needed—not in themselves, but in the Risen Savior. How? The Risen Savior Points to God’s Promises.
- To overcome confused disappointment.
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were a bundle of confused disappointment. They had had high hopes. They had hoped that Jesus of Nazareth—the Prophet who was mighty in deed and word before God and all the people—was going to redeem Israel. They had hoped that Jesus would have been the one to ascend the throne of David and bring Israel back to her former glory, that Jesus was going to save their nation.
But now their hopes were dashed. Jesus was condemned to death by the chief priests and Jewish authorities, and handed over to be crucified. And that wasn’t the worst of it. Now, on the third day, they had found out that Jesus’ tomb was empty! The women had gone there in the morning and came back spouting off about visions of angels and that Jesus had risen. Peter and John had gone down to the tomb to see and sure enough it was empty. But there was no risen Jesus to be found.
Yet why were these two so disappointed? Why was it that they couldn’t make sense of their situation? John explains in his own gospel account: “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead” (John 20:9). The last few days had left them disappointed because they had only chosen to believe the parts of the Bible that met up with their preconceived notions about what the Messiah was supposed to do.
Our own preconceived ideas can leave us feeling disappointed and confused too. Sometimes we are disappointed because we only have it in our heads that God is about sunshine and happiness, glory and success. And everything that God has to say about suffering we just put out of our minds. Think about it: which are the Psalms that we like, that we enjoy reading and listening to? Psalm 69? Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, Where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, Where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; My throat is dry; My eyes fail while I wait for my God. we don’t want to hear about that! We’d rather hear the soothing words of Psalm 23, right? The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
So it is that in His words to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus is rebuking us too: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (v. 25). Slow to believe in all the words and teachings of Scripture; slow to believe in everything that God’s Word has to say. And so we wind up disappointed and confused when things don’t go the way we expect.
Yet we have a risen Savior who overcomes our confused disappointment by pointing us to God’s promises. He points us to all of God’s promises—not just the ones that are easy; not just the ones we want to hear. From the book of Genesis onward Jesus walked those two through the entire Bible—the entire Old Testament—“expounding to them the things concerning Himself” (v. 27).
He pointed out to them the fact that the Christ had to suffer and die. He pointed them to Adam and Eve and their failure to live in perfect holiness before God. He pointed them to the constant refrain of the book of Genesis: “And he died.” He pointed them to the Psalms that express the depth of human guilt and sorrow over sin. He pointed them to their need for a Savior.
And then He pointed them to what the Bible said about what that Savior would do. He would crush the serpent’s head. He would be like the Passover Lamb—without blemish or defect, sacrificing Himself to spare God’s people from death. He would be the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52-53—who would be pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities… by whose stripes we are healed. He showed them how Jesus had fulfilled all those prophecies, taking our place with His life of perfect obedience and His innocent death on the cross.
And He pointed to the fact that the Christ—after first suffering and dying—would indeed rise from the dead. That the tomb was empty because Jesus was, in fact, alive. That Job was right to have said so many years before it happened, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end, He will stand upon the earth.”
So it is with us, that the Risen Savior points us to the promises of His Word. He tells us that this life is a life under the cross for those who follow Him: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). And yet in the end—the very end, when this world is long gone—that is when we find our glory in Christ: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev 2:10).
That’s a powerful promise that God has given us—a powerful promise among many powerful promises. Promises that have the power to not only tear down our false notions, but to build us up in the truth. The Risen Savior overcomes our disappointment by pointing us to God’s promises
- To renew lasting hope and joy.
By the time they reach the village of Emmaus, the change in the two disciples is obvious. Though their traveling companion would rather continue on, they happily urge Him to stick around, to abide with them since it is evening. And when Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread—when He finally opened their eyes to see who He was—joy filled their hearts in the assurance that it was the risen Lord who had opened the Scriptures to them on the way. Leaving their supper behind, they hurried back to Jerusalem—all seven miles of the trip—to share the good news with the Eleven! Their hearts were filled with hope—the hope of the risen Savior!
They had hope because Jesus had opened the Scriptures to them on the way. They had hope because the Risen Savior had pointed them to God’s promises—so that when they finally saw Him, everything fell into place. “Oh, it’s you, Jesus! You’ve been there the entire time!”
People are constantly talking about using renewable energy sources: ethanol, bio-diesel, wind-power, solar energy. And yet with all the talk of renewable energy these days, we recognize that we have the ultimate renewable energy for our souls. The devil, the world, our flesh—they do all they can to snuff out our faith, to lead us to think that everything is pointless and hopeless. Yet we have the Word of God by which Jesus stokes the fires of our faith. Through the Law which cuts us to the heart and strips away all our illusions about ourselves and our world. Through the good news of God’s grace and forgiveness in the resurrected Jesus. Disappointment and despair is replaced with hope and joy!
Not that we’re never unhappy, never disappointed in life. Sometimes we just wish Jesus would jump out and give us all the answers Himself. And yet, really, hasn’t Jesus done just that by His Word? Maybe you’re feeling alone in your life right now. Maybe you’re facing a big challenge in your life that seems insurmountable. Maybe you’re just plain dealing with disappointment—things didn’t go the way you thought they would. Seek Jesus out where He has promised you He’ll be: in the pages of your Bible. Look at what He has done for you. Listen to what He has to say. Realize that—like those two Emmaus disciples—the living Jesus is right there with you all the way.
And sure, things in life maybe didn’t go the way you thought they would. But really, in the end, nothing will go the way we think it should—it’s going to be way better, even beyond our imaginations!
When we feel like we can’t go on, His words give us the strength and endurance to walk without wearying and to run without growing faint. His words are the words of everlasting life. Seek Him out in His Word. Come to His table and receive His blessings. There He will renew your faith, your heart—your very life—with His love. Amen.