Unbelief, Must Be Fought with Truth

Luke 24:13-27

Introduction

This is one of those passages that speak volumes to believers.  It’s very similar to last week’s account, in that like the women who failed to believe the Word of God when Jesus told them that He would be abused, killed and that He would rise again, so too, these two followers of Christ failed to grasp the biblical meaning of Jesus’ death.  They too were aware of the details but did not believe enough to make the vital connection between Jesus’ Words and the reality they saw right before their eyes.

Notice with me that Jesus opens the Scriptures up to them before He revealed who He was.  They had a more dire need to understand and believe the Bible than to see Jesus face to face.  Also notice, that unbelief produces two things, blindness and sadness.  Then finally, notice the two different perspectives on the recent current events, man’s perspective and then God’s.

Primary Claim of the Text

Jesus Christ is what Moses and all the Prophets wrote about, He is the hero of every Prophecy, Narrative, Psalm, Proverb, and Vision. 

Human Condition Met By the Text

We too have a vital need today to really and truly believe the Bible and all it’s wonderful doctrines.  Most today say things like I’m not really interested in doctrine, just give me Jesus.  The fact is, we must understand who Jesus is and what He did and how that He was the One Moses and all the Prophets spoke of.  That is the foundation to seeing Jesus.

Do you believe God’s Word?  The truth is that we can answer yes to that question if, in fact, we are obeying what it tells us.  If it has changed our worldview and the way we conduct our lives then we can say we believe it.

The disciples had to see that all the OT passages that they had been taught all their lives were about Jesus.

Luke 24:13-27 (ESV)
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.
18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.
22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,
23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.
24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

1.  Unbelief Produces Blindness

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

These two followers of Jesus were among those who discredited the account the women gave as deluded babblers.  Remember they all felt as if they were suffering hallucinations…

Luke 24:11 (ESV)
11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
The women believed after they saw for themselves that Jesus was no longer there in the tomb and after the angel explained things to them.  Remember also, the angel quoting Scripture to them, the very Words Jesus spoke on a number of occasions.

Luke relays to us that this trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus took place the same day…the first day of the week.  Immediately after hearing the story from the women and discrediting it as a hoax, these two disciples begin a sad grievous walk back to Emmaus, probably where their homes were.
Luke tells us that these disciples were discussing the events of the last few days.  They were no doubt reviewing all that had taken place and they were extremely sad.  So distraught that when they meet this other traveller, they stop out of pure sadness.

Because they did not believe Jesus’ previous Words, namely…
Luke 9:22 (ESV)
22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Luke 18:31-33 (ESV)
31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.
32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.
33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”

In every case, the followers of Jesus would not listen nor understand what He told them.  Here in this section we see that…
16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
This is no mystical blindness but a lack of faith.  Luke often employs this type of language.  They saw the Man standing with them and heard Him speak but because the idea that this was Jesus was so far from their mind they did not recognize Him.  As far as they were concerned, Jesus was still dead, still buried and all their hopes and dreams dead and buried as well.  The Light of the world was shinning but they were still in darkness and despair.

Luke 11:33-34 (ESV)
33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.
34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.

How will Jesus take away the darkness from their eyes?
2.  Unbelief Produces Sadness

17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.

Their wrong understanding or wrong perspective of these events, namely the crucifixion and everything surrounding it produced deep sadness within their very souls.  The reality here is that without Christ, the events in our lives have no explanation and basically no meaning.  We need outside information or outside truth.

Why were they sad?  Did they need to sad?  This sadness is a dark gloom of a downcast countenance.  We may call it deep depression.  What brought this on?  They were basing all their perspective on human understanding.  They saw Jesus dead and buried and did not believe His Word.  Their sadness was the result of unbelief.

For us the same thing happens.  We endure trials and challenges in this life.  Perhaps you may be sitting here today thinking about some dark burden you’re carrying.  Always remember sadness or a lack of joy is a sign of unbelief.  As believers when we find ourselves, as the Bible calls it, downcast there is something wrong with our belief system.  Either we do not believe God’s Word or perhaps we don’t believe it fully.  Or there is something in our belief system that is fallacious.  Something somewhere is off concerning what we believe about God.

Here they did not believe the Word of God when Jesus explained to them what was about to happen.

They thought everything was finished.  When Jesus died they felt that all their dreams and hopes were dead with Him.  “If Jesus is dead, we may as well go home.”  If He were still dead that would be very logical.  That’s basically what Paul tells us…

1 Corinthians 15:17-20 (ESV)
17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

They needed to believe the Word God.
Listen to what Martin Lloyd-Jones tells us from his book Spiritual Depression its Causes and Cures…

The ultimate cause of all spiritual depression is unbelief. For if it were not for unbelief even the devil could do nothing. It is because we listen to the devil instead of listening to God that we go down before him and fall before his attacks. That is why this psalmist keeps on saying to himself: “Hope thou in God for I shall yet praise Him…” He reminds himself of God. Why? Because he was depressed and had forgotten God, so that his faith and his unbelief in God and in God’s power, and in his relationship to God, were not what they ought to be. We can indeed sum it all up by saying that the final and ultimate cause is just sheer unbelief.[1]

3.  Man’s Perspective on These Things
18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.
22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,
23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.
24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
Notice how completely sure Cleopas was that he had it right and this Stranger was out of touch for not knowing what had taken place…“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
Can you see the irony in these remarks?  Jesus is actually the only One who does know what’s going on!

Notice, these disciples had all the events correct.  They were good reporters as to what took place.  In other words, they relayed the account very accurately.  But they did not have a clue as to what really took place, did they?

They had Jesus right, didn’t they?  Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
They could explain who Jesus was but there was still a disconnect here.  If Jesus was a prophet mighty in deed and word then why didn’t they believe this Mighty Prophet?  It’s one thing to know some fact about Jesus but it’s another thing all together to believe them enough to live by them.  If Jesus was this Mighty Prophet then they should have believed what He prophesied about…He would rise on the third day.

I hope this account is showing us just how important it is to understand and completely believe the Word of God.  Without a fixed conviction that God’s Word is true we will always live lives of inconsistency and unbelief leading to sadness and despair.  Christians, we don’t need anti-depressants we need belief!

4.  God’s Perspective on These Things

25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Here, Jesus opens up the Scriptures and opens up their eyes.

He doesn’t just remind them of the things He said…Luke 9 and 18 but takes them through the entire Old Testament and explains all that Moses and the Prophets taught concerning Jesus Christ.  This must have been the greatest Bible study ever.

What they learned that day was why Jesus was crucified.  They learned it all from the OT!  Once they learned these remarkable saving truths, we’ll see next week, their eyes were opened.  What they need is not physical sight but spiritual sight.  They don’t need to see Jesus they need to understand Jesus.  They need to realize that from Genesis to Malachi it is all about Jesus.

How shall we explain these words? In what way did our Lord show “things concerning himself,” in every part of the Old Testament field? The answer to these questions is short and simple. Christ was the substance of every Old Testament sacrifice, ordained in the law of Moses. Christ was the true Deliverer and King, of whom all the judges and deliverers in Jewish history were types. Christ was the coming Prophet greater than Moses, whose glorious advent filled the pages of prophets. Christ was the true seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent’s head–the true seed in whom all nations were to be blessed–the true Shiloh to whom the people were to be gathered, the true scape-goat–the true bronze serpent–the true Lamb to which every daily offering pointed–the true High Priest of whom every descendant of Aaron was a figure. These things, or something like them, we need not doubt, were some of the things which our Lord expounded in the way to Emmaus.[2]

Jesus is the key to understanding all the Scripture OT and NT.

Primary Claim of the Text

Jesus Christ is what Moses and all the Prophets wrote about, He is the hero of every Prophecy, Narrative, Psalm, Proverb, and Vision. 

We learn from this passage that Jesus keeps His Word.  All of the Scripture is verified because it’s all about Him.
I pray today that we don’t allow the Word of God to fall on deaf ears.  I pray that once we understand it that we believe it to the degree that it creates obedience in us.

There might be an area in your life where you have yet to be fully obedient.  What is it that you are not believing about God that keeps you from obeying Him?

Perhaps you have struggled for obedience for years only to come up empty.  Perhaps you feel that obedience is next to impossible.

Remember the impossible things are what Jesus specializes in, things like the resurrection.

Horatius Bonar preached a sermon 150 years age where he explained this concept.  The sermon is called, Believe Just Know.  He looks intently at the issue of belief and obedience and how they are inner connected…

I find that the apostles shut up their hearers to immediate faith and repentance, bringing them face to face with the great object of faith, and commanding them in the name of the living God to believe, just as Jesus commanded the man with the withered arm to stretch out his hand. The man was thoroughly helpless, yet he is, on the spot, commanded to do the very thing which he could least of all do, the thing which Jesus only could enable him to do. [3]

Brothers and sisters, what is it today that you need to believe about God in order to be obedient to His commands?  Perhaps what you need to believe is that God is completely able to work in you to achieve the very thing He commands.  In what areas of your life do you simply need to stretch out your arm?  Believe Him enough to do the impossible…He is the God of the resurrection.  He will empower you to do what He commands all you need to do is exercise faith…stretch out your arm and see what happens.

 

 

 

 


[1] Martyn Lloyd-Jones Spiritual Depression – Its Causes and its Cures, 1965, p. 20,

 

[2] J C Ryle Commentary on Luke  Banner of Truth pg 373

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