I decided to return to Emmaus. Luke went with me, and as we walked, we rehearsed all the things that had happened. As we walked, a man came up to us asking what we were talking about, and why we were so sad. Why I did not recognize Him at first, I still don’t really know. But we said, “Where are you from? Don’t you know all the things that have happened in Jerusalem over the past three days?” “What things?” He asked. “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet might in word and in deed–who was crucified. We were hoping all along that He was going to redeem Israel, but now… Now today, some of our women went to the tomb and found it empty, and said they saw angels who told them He was alive again. But when two of the men went to investigate, they found the tomb empty alright, but they didn’t see Jesus. We frankly don’t know what has happened to Him.”
Then do you know what He said to us? “You fools. Have you never read your Bible!” And within minutes, He set our hearts to pounding as He opened the Scriptures for us as we had never before seen. We had no copies of the Scriptures with us, but this man didn’t need it–its whole significance in the saving plan of God was firmly fixed in His mind. And that significance He explained to us in detail. And it was not just Moses’ law only–but the whole of the Scriptures–in its larger picture and in its details–He saw it all as pointing forward and having direct bearing–indeed, final fulfillment–in Jesus.
The smoldering embers of my faith began to flicker as He took me back to the very beginning and showed us that in the very Garden of Eden, God had promised deliverance from the Tempter thru the bruising of the deliverer! He reminded us of the Passover in Exodus–which we had just gone in Jerusalem to commemorate. And He reminded us how God delivered our fathers from the Death Angel in Egypt through the sacrifice of a spotless lamb!
He reminded us of the Guilt Offering and Day of Atonement and the whole sacrificial system. “What was God intending to teach us in all that?” He asked. What of the innocent victim, the slain lamb? What of the transferring of guilt to its head and then its death? What is all that designed to teach? Was there not in all that the clear indication that it was necessary to have an innocent substitute to die for the sinner if the sinner was to go free?
And what of the priest himself–did He not work in a representative capacity, bringing the people into the presence of God through the sacrifice that he offered?
And why, he asked, did the sacrifices need to be repeated? Why was it necessary for the priest to make atonement every year? If the sacrifice made atonement, then why does it need to be offered again and again? Or was it designed to point forward to a Greater Sacrifice?
And the He quoted the prophet Isaiah who said of the Messiah, Jehovah’s Servant, that “God will make Him a guilt offering for the sins of His people. He said that God would bruise His servant and by His stripes effect the salvation of all of His people!” There it was–I had heard it read in the Synagogue, but never really understood its significance.
But is was not just Moses and the prophets. He took us also to the Writings–the Psalms and so on. There He quoted the words of the Psalmist who said in prophecy, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” I had heard those words myself only 3 days ago–Jesus quoted them while He hung there dying! He quoted parts of Psalm 16 in which David expressed such confidence that God would not allow him to rot in the grave–but he did decay in a tomb, this man reminded us. David, being a prophet, spoke of someone else–He spoke of Messiah!
And on and on He went through the Scriptures. In Jesus, He showed us, a whole stream of ancient anticipations found their answer and fulfillment. Jesus was that prophet like unto Moses. But He was also the deliverer Joshua. And He was Aaron the priest who offered sacrifice. Indeed, He was innocent Isaac who was offered by Father Abraham in sacrifice. He was the sacrificial lambs, which for centuries had been offered in hopes of atonement. He was David the King. He was Noah by whom deliverance was brought to those who went with him in the ark. He was Jonah who was–mark it–three days in the fish’s belly. In Jesus a whole stream of ancient anticipations met their fulfillment.
I tell you, things were finally taking shape, and I thought my heart would pound right out of my chest with each new passage of Scripture He cited. Jesus’ death was no accident! God had not allowed things to get out of hand. God had given His Son in death–a death which was in place of all of His elect people. He–the only righteous one ever to live–died under the awful judgment of God so that sinners would go free. O, my heart did burn and began to swell and my faith began to revive. In the death of Jesus my own salvation had been secured.
When we arrived in Emmaus, this stranger seemed intent on going further, but we weren’t about to let Him go. And finally prevailed on Him and convinced Him to come and eat dinner with us. And when we sat at the table, I was the host–but He took the bread, and blessed it, and broke it and gave it to us to eat. And then, all of a sudden, we looked at Him as if for the first time all day–it was Jesus! He was alive! There He was, at my table. No wonder this stranger knew so well the whole plan of God–it was a plan of His own making and doing!
But just as soon as we recognized Him, He was gone– He just vanished out of our sight. We looked at each other with both fear and amazement! Our faith in Jesus was vindicated–He was alive! I believed–but I couldn’t believe it! We had seen Him ourselves–we talked with Him! He was alive again!
All of a sudden we didn’t need to eat–for the 4th time that day I walked that 7-mile road between Emmaus and Jerusalem and found the eleven and those with them–they were gathered together in a room at John Mark’s house. We burst in to give them all the news–but before we could say a word they all shouted–“Jesus is alive! He appeared to Peter!” As it turned out, we were not the only ones Jesus spoke with. There were also women. Mary Magdalene. But we told them of how He had come to us and how He had opened the Scriptures and set our hearts aflame.
Now mind you, we were behind locked doors–we still were not sure what the authorities might do. But as I told them of Jesus’ appearance to us and His teaching and His breaking of bread–there He was again, standing there in the room with us. Most of us thought it was a ghost–so would you! You must remember that the strong image of His dead and mangled body was fresh and firm in our minds. We were terrified. Funny, as I look back–He asked, “What are you afraid of? Look at my hands, my feet–you can see that it is I Myself. Touch me and see–you ever hear of a ghost with flesh and bone?” And then He took food, and began to eat in front of us. It became clear–it really was Jesus.
The realization of what was going on gradually settled on us, and He proceeded again to teach us from the Scriptures how it was necessary for Him–the Messiah–to die and to rise from the dead the 3rd day, and that as a result, repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
This was not the last we saw of Him. During the following days and weeks, He showed Himself on many occasions–once to over 500 of us at once. And yes, I was there in Bethany when He ascended into Heaven.
Well, that is my story. What is important is not that I was Jesus’ uncle. And no, it is not important at all that you remember me–except in that you remember me as one who can affirm first-hand that Jesus is alive. I saw Him…I touched Him…I talked with Him and ate with Him. He is risen–just as He said.
Listen, the faith that is proclaimed here in the Blog is a well-founded one. The Great Object of our faith is not a good man who spoke well and did nice things–and who died. The great Object of our faith is the Lord from Heaven who came, lived among us, died for us, and lives again as our faithful and eternal high priest and King.
If the faith you profess for salvation is founded in Jesus, you rest in good hands.