Text: Luke 24:13-45 | Listen to Message
The Heart & Soul of The Whole Bible
It’s such an odd and inexplicable story. How could some of Jesus’ closest friends walk and talk with him for hours and not even recognize that it’s him? I’m referring, of course, to that first Easter Sunday when Jesus joined two of his disciples on the 7-mile road to Emmaus, “but their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16).
There had been an unprecedented whirlwind of activity in Jerusalem that week. It was Passover; so the streets and Temple Mount were crowded with Jewish worshipers and their sacrifices. Furthermore, the Messiah had come to great fanfare, kicked the moneychangers out of the Temple, and set up his own teaching ministry on the religious leaders’ turf. But before the week was over, that very same Messiah had been betrayed, tried, beaten, and crucified. Now it was the third day since his crucifixion, and eyewitness reports were beginning to make their way around Jerusalem that Jesus’ tomb was open . . . and empty!
When the risen Jesus caught up with these two travelers, they were reflecting on all these events. Jesus asked them, “What are you talking about?” They responded by accurately listing the facts, but it was clear to Jesus they had no idea what it all meant. They could see the what but not the why – or the who.
In reality, “their eyes were kept from recognizing him” because they didn’t believe the Old Testament. Jesus tells them so in verse 25. When they read and listened to the Old Testament, they censored out the things about the Messiah that didn’t align with their expectations and longings. They wanted a Deliverer, a mighty Warrior King, who would break the grip of Roman occupation and rule over the Jews as an autonomous people. They didn’t want a King on a Cross. And so they couldn’t recognize him even when he was right in front of their eyes!
So what was Jesus’ solution to their spiritual blindness? Did he simply announce himself: “Guys, open your eyes; it’s me, Jesus”? Did he give them some new revelation – some tidbit that would finally pull it all together? No. Incredibly, what Jesus did is he taught them how to read their Bibles!
Verses 26-27 say it like this: “‘Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Verses 44-45 continue: “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”
What those first disciples missed – and what we need to see – is that the whole Old Testament is ultimately about one central figure: Jesus!
Go back to the Old Testament and reread those familiar stories and listen for how they whisper his name. Notice how all those innocent sacrifices pointed to one final Innocent Sacrifice who would one day take away the sins of his people. Pay attention to that yearning in your heart for a second Adam, a faithful Son, a true Israel, just one Prophet, Priest, or King who would execute his role with justice and mercy. Trace the storyline of God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and ask yourself who could ever make that a reality? Read the prophecies – like Psalm 16 and 22 and Isaiah 53 – about an innocent man forsaken and killed as an offering for sin and see if there’s any person in history who’s ever fulfilled those promises.
Don’t just read the Bible for information. Don’t just look for do’s and don’ts. Don’t even expect it to be all about you. Look for Jesus – the holy, crucified, risen Jesus. And you’ll find him. And in knowing him, you’ll experience everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).