Preparing for Christmas (Part 3)…
Let’s continue to prepare for Christmas by slowly and prayerfully reading through Luke 24:13-47.
Hopefully you are thinking, “Hmm. Why are we reading a Bible passage that occurred right after Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead? Does this guy think it’s Easter?” 🙂
- As we have been preparing for Christmas over the last three weeks, we have been looking at the ways that Christmas is directly connected to Good Friday (when Jesus was crucified) and Easter (when Jesus rose again from the dead). To get the full, Biblical perspective on Christmas, we have to remind ourselves of this connection, and this passage in Luke reminds us of this, that Jesus was born in order to die…
- But this passage in Luke also highlights something else—how Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection were planned by God the Father since the beginning of the Bible (and before!) and how the entire Old Testament points to the fact that eventually, in God’s perfect timing, God would send His Son to earth to be born as a full human (though without sin) while remaining fully God in order to die in our place, the death that we deserve. Christmas, Good Friday and Easter are the hub/center around which the entire Bible rotates, the center toward which all the spokes of the Bible point. Christmas, Good Friday and Easter are not just three events among many in the Bible; they are the foundational and central events of the Bible, the main attraction!
Luke 24:13-47 (NIV)
(Scripture passage in italics, my thoughts in regular font)
On the Road to Emmaus
“13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
[Jesus shows up in our Bible studies, though we might not realize it!
Let’s meet regularly with other Christians to dig into the Word & discuss Who Jesus is & all He has done!]
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.
[We had hoped…we thought Jesus would do things our way…we thought He would make OUR dreams come true…that hasn’t happened, and so we are sad, discouraged, lost, uncertain, hurting, and confused. We are ready to give up…
We had hoped since following Jesus that He would heal our marriage, or bless us to GET married! But that hasn’t happened…and it has been so many days since I began following Jesus.
We had hoped that Jesus would provide us with a child, but He hasn’t…
We had hoped that Jesus would increase our finances but the bills keep piling up…
We had hoped that Jesus would heal our loved ones, but they are getting worse or have already died.
We had hoped that Jesus would make life easier, but it seems to only be getting more difficult…
We had hoped…
Loved ones, my heart weeps and breaks for all of our unrealized hopes…truly…
But by the grace and strength of God, let us bow down at the nail-scarred feet of Jesus with no agenda other than knowing Him, chasing no dreams other than His dreams, with no expectation other than His will being done, receiving Him as our Savior on His terms, not ours, according to His purposes and promises not our cares and conditions, according to His method not ours. Let us bow down by faith and worship Jesus as the wise men did, offering Him not our gold but our guilt, not our frankincense but our failure, not our myrrh but our mess…]
22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
[Jesus lovingly but firmly diagnoses correctly the root of the men’s discouragement: their lack of faith in all that God has revealed in His Word!
But Jesus doesn’t just leave them feeling guilty, He doesn’t just walk away from them shaking His head at their lack of faith…He stays with them and patiently/lovingly/Truthfully shows them in the Bible, from the beginning to the end, how all of the Bible points to Him! Deep, verse-by-verse, comprehensive Bible study with Jesus is the Doctor’s cure for the men’s lack of faith and thus the cure for their confusion, sadness, discouragement, hopelessness, etc. Why do we think Jesus would prescribe a difference cure for us in the 21st century?
“But I don’t have time,” you might be thinking. You do, you just might not realize it yet. Jesus taught the men as they were traveling, as they were going to their houses/village/families. They didn’t retreat from the world for five years to a monastery to study the Bible, Jesus taught them as they learned to focus on Him as they were living their lives! Now of course this means that they probably bypassed some of the exit ramps and attractions and marketplaces along the road they were traveling—and we will have to learn also to turn down the volume of the culture in order to hear the voice of Christ. They couldn’t do ALL of their normal activities AND listen to Jesus! But they had time in an era without ANY of the time-saving conveniences of modern life. They had LESS time than we do but still time for what mattered most! Cut out t.v. and movies and social media for seven days and watch how much time you have to listen to Jesus…and listen to what He says to you!]
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
[When they arrived to their earthly destination they didn’t thank Jesus and politely ask Him to now leave them alone! They continued on with their life but with new priorities, with new purpose, and under the direct control of Jesus! They rearranged their schedules and way of life by asking Jesus to stay with them, to keep teaching them, to befriend them and eat with them and live with them, not just to visit them but to STAY!]
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 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?”
[Oh loved ones, we often don’t give the Holy Spirit a chance to dry out the wet wood of our hearts and light a fire within us through God’s Word! I’m not saying that every time you read the Bible your heart will blaze and burn with the power and love and Truth of Jesus—let’s not chase a feeling or experience from Jesus. But isn’t it worth reading the Bible deeply and regularly and prayerfully over our lives because of the distinct possibility of Jesus setting our cold hearts on fire!? We work so hard to lose a few pounds or win our fantasy football league…why not transfer that energy to work hard with the Holy Spirit so He can ignite a fire in our hearts for Christ!]
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
[Digging deeply into Scripture with Jesus birthed faith in these men—they now believed that the resurrection was true! Do you read the Bible trying to disprove it or allowing Jesus to prove it to you? Are you waiting to read the Bible until you have faith or are you reading it asking Jesus to use it to give you faith?]
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
[Many say, “I would believe in Jesus if He would just appear to me so that I could see Him with my eyes!” Well, He did appear to people in these verses and they still doubted, they still had trouble believing! Most of the people who physically saw Jesus and His miracles did not believe, at least not in a sense of being forgive, saved, surrendered, re-born (John 6:53-71, esp. verse 66). Remember, the demons BELIEVE, but they shudder (James 2:19). Even if you could see Jesus, you would still need to surrender, submit, agree with Him that you need Him to forgive you, re-birth you, and adopt you, you still would need to tap-out and allow Jesus to be victorious over you so that you could be victorious through Him. This is so difficult for us prideful humans—myself included!—whether we see Jesus physically or not.]
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
[Oh loved ones, the entire Bible points to Jesus—to Christmas, to Good Friday, and to Easter! ASK HIM, urge Him strongly as the two men did, beg Him to open your minds so that you can see the Truth of all that the Bible says, plead with Him to give you faith to agree with Him of your sinfulness and of your need for Him to be Savior, receive His gift of forgiveness and adoption and new life. Give Him all you have—the out-of-tune drum of your soul and life and allow Him to play His song through you…]