In Luke 24 we find two companions walking on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. It is a journey of about seven miles or a couple hours walk. They are discussing the events of the last week.
We can assume Cleopas and his companion had witnessed the crucifixion, and they had heard the testimony of the woman who reported to the disciples that Jesus had risen from the grave. They had heard the report of Peter and John that the grave was empty.
But they are despondent and sad. Their hopes seemed to have been dashed. They cannot see the victory of Jesus rising from the dead. Jesus comes up to them and walks with them. They are kept from recognizing Him.
Jesus asks the two companions what it is that they are talking about. We can see their sadness and despondency when they reply with downcast faces. They are surprised that this traveler is not aware of the happenings in Jerusalem of the past week. They describe what happened to Jesus and then show the nature of their disappointment and despondency with their concluding words:
“. . .but we had hoped that He was the One who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24: 21)
But we had hoped. Notice the past tense here. Had hoped. The Jewish people had drilled into them this hope of a coming Messiah, who would free them from the tyranny of their oppressors. This Son of David was to sit on David’s throne and restore the illustrious history of David’s reign and kingdom upon them.
Even after Jesus is resurrected and up until just before His ascension to heaven His disciples still expect that Jesus is going to restore the worldly reign of King David as the Messiah. This is confirmed in Acts just before Jesus disappears into the clouds after teaching His disciples for about 40 days after His resurrection.
“So when they met together, they (the disciples) asked Him, ‘Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’” (Acts 1: 6)
So the disciples continued to visualize the Messiah as a worldly king leading a worldly Jewish nation as King David did, even after His resurrection.
But these two traveling companions had no faith Jesus had risen from the dead, despite the reports. Their vision of this much prophesied and anticipated restored kingdom had been destroyed. Their hopes had vanished and their despondency was obvious in their downcast faces and their words “we had hoped”.
Then Jesus speaks to them, “He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24: 25-27)
Jesus’ discourse has a dramatic effect on these despondent traveling companions.
“They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24: 32)
The text does not reveal the content of what Jesus told Cleopas and his friend, but we can speculate. A look at Deuteronomy 18: 15, Isaiah 53, and Psalm 22 are just a few. If you take the time to look at those Scriptures you can see that the accuracy is amazing!
And there are many, many more Messianic prophecies that Jesus may have shared with his two traveling companions on the road to Emmaus. The accuracy of the Old Testament concerning the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is amazing. Cleopas and his friend declared, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
A look at the few Scriptures from the Old Testament I have mentioned upon should make our hearts burn also. Prophecy from Scripture can be trusted. These Scriptures show it to be accurate beyond any reasonable doubt.
Now there are many prophecies in the New Testament that deal with the end times, the return of Christ, and what happens to us Christians at the end of the age. Can we trust these prophecies? The return of Christ is called the “blessed hope” of all Christians. You can see a few of these blessed hope prophecies in Matthew 24: 30-31, Matthew 25: 31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13=17.
The New Testament prophecies concerning our future as Christians are certainly awesome. The apostle Paul summarises our future with Christ by repeating one of Isaiah’s prophecies:
“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.’” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
We certainly have a great future prophesied for us!
And like the Old Testament prophecies mentioned, the blessed hope prophecies are very accurate and reliable. We can have every confidence in the prophecies about our blessed hope – the return of Jesus at the end of the age, our resurrection from the dead, and life eternal in a perfected human body in the New Heaven and New Earth. The same confidence that Cleopas and his companion received when Jesus opened their hearts to what the Old Testament had to say about the Messiah’s first coming.
If you take the time to read them, your hearts should be burning also.
Rev. Terry Goerz, Redeemer Lutheran Church.