A Reversal of Hopelessness
Preached at Main Street Church on September 2nd, 2018
After Jesus’ crucifixion on Friday he was laid in a tomb. Normally a dead body would be shown honor by being wrapped and preserved, but since it was a Saturday, which was the Sabbath, Jesus’ followers waited until the next day, the first day of the week: a Sunday morning. So that morning several women went to his tomb with their spices to embalm his body, but he wasn’t there, and two angels told them that he has risen from the dead; he was alive. So they went back to tell the disciples, but they don’t believe it; to them it was “an idle tale.”
- Jesus Has Actually Risen (V. 13-15) Our Hope Is Real
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
- Leaving Jerusalem, heading back home, hopes crushed
- Emmaus was such a small village scholars have three theories of precisely where it was, but aren’t sure
- A little less than walking from here to Creve Coeur Lake
14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
- These things had happened publicly (def. take place, come to pass, occur); not a dream
- Luke 1:4, Luke’s purpose in recording these events is “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”
15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. Jesus himself;
- He was going to walk 7 miles.
- The fact that there is so much historical evidence that Jesus was alive and appeared after his resurrection has led some to pose a theory that he actually never died, that he was just in some sort of coma after his suffering, and that he woke up from it.
- The problem is: everyone knew he was dead;
- The government knew, they put their seal on his grave and guarded it
- Contemporary historians recorded it
- The public all knew it, they saw him die; the Roman soldiers knew it
- The chief priests knew it, which is why they fabricated the story that his disciples stole his body
- The man Jesus, who actually died, actually came back to life, and was now walking with these two people for seven miles
- Jesus has actually risen
- Not an apparition, not a dream, not a cute idea or a nice notion; Jesus has actually risen, and this is the good news of Jesus Christ.
- If you don’t believe that the Bible records actual events that actually happened, then you don’t believe the gospel, because the gospel is the news of the events that you deny
- What does this mean? It means our hope is real.
- The fact that Jesus has actually risen means that we will actually be resurrected
1 Peter 1:3 “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”
Illustration: Ice cream at the top of the mountain
- When I was young we went on a hike with a large group of our extended family
- As we hiked up this hot, dry, dusty trail, all of us kids wanted to just turn around and go home; we didn’t see the point
- One of our uncles heard us grumbling and said, “We’re going to get ice cream. There’s ice cream at the top.”
- That seemed pretty unbelievable considering how primitive the area was; no power lines going up the mountain, no roads leading there, but perhaps we just didn’t know
- As we went we began voicing our doubts, but my uncle continually assured us that the most delicious ice cream waited for us at the top of this mountain. So we kept going, in the hope of ice cream
- We finally got to the top and there was nothing there.
- We were indignant that our uncle would lie to us so blatantly, and when we interrogated him as to why he said, “I just wanted to give you hope so you would keep going.”
- The resurrection of Jesus is not merely an empty hope to motivate us to keep going
- Our hope is a real hope, a fleshy hope, a touch the scars in his hands kind of hope
- Since Jesus has actually risen our hope is real.
- And since our hope is real, it actually affects our life
- Because our hope is real it affects us in real, tangible ways. It causes us to:
- Sacrificially give to those in need
- Love people who hate us
- Deny the lustful urges of our flesh
- Think and act differently than the society around us
- Since Jesus has actually risen from the dead, if you put your hope in him you have a real hope that changes absolutely everything about your life
- Jesus has actually risen, so our hope is real.
- Do you struggle to actually live out your faith? What you need to do is fix your gaze on the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
- Real resurrection means real hope which means real power in our lives.
- Romans 8:11 says “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
- Romans 6:5 “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
- Jesus Has Actually Redeemed (V. 16-27) Our Hope is Here
16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
- God kept them from recognizing him; why? We will find the answer later in the text.
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.
- This verse, along with verse 16 raise the question: why didn’t Jesus just walk up to them and say, “Look, I’m alive!”?
- Because there is a lot more to the good news of Jesus then the fact that he is alive.
- Consider this: these disciples are very clearly hopeless.
- They are leaving Jerusalem—the place they had hoped Jesus would do something amazing in their lives—but instead he gets publically slaughtered
- They had hoped that maybe this Jesus would rescue the nation of Israel from the power of the Roman government, but instead their religious leaders and the Roman government conspire together to murder him
- They had hoped that Jesus would redeem Israel, but instead they are leaving Jerusalem behind to go back to their hopeless lives in Emmaus
- Have you ever felt this way?
- You ask God for something or you expect him to do something in your life, you’re praying for it, hoping for it, anticipating it, and it looks to you, based on your limited perspective that he has failed. That is the cross.
- Look at what they say:
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?”
- There’s that phrase again: have happened; everyone knows what has happened
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.
- We need to see something here. Instead of just showing up and saying, “Look, I’m alive!” Jesus enters into their sorrow with them. He asks them why they are sad; he asks them what has happened; he gives them opportunity to explain why they feel hopeless.
- Jesus is leading them to something; watch what he does next. Cleopas continues:
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.
- Here is Jesus’s process: he doesn’t just gloss over their despair and their hopelessness by jumping directly to the fact that he has risen and that he is alive. He shows them how he accomplished redemption.
- In verses 20 and 21 they say, “We had hoped he would be the one to redeem Israel, but instead he was crucified! Instead of bringing redemption he suffered and died!”
- So in verse 25 Jesus says, “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?”
- They totally missed the point of the cross! They totally missed the point of the suffering of Jesus! They totally misunderstood redemption!
- This is why in verse 16 God kept them from recognizing him; this is why Jesus asked them to recount the events of his suffering that had happened in Jerusalem: because you can’t understand the resurrection if you don’t understand the cross.
- They thought that Jesus was crucified before he had a chance to redeem, when the truth is that Jesus couldn’t have redeemed without being crucified
- Jesus has actually redeemed, and he actually redeemed by actually dying on an actual cross.
Illustration: Definition of the Word ‘Redeem’ – Hosea and Gomer
- The concept of the word ‘redeem’ is from an OT idea regarding the payment of a ransom, particularly regarding slavery.
- The only way for a slave to be set free from their bondage was for another to redeem them, to pay the price for them, to ransom them.
- Verse 27 says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
- One such prophet Jesus would have explained to them on that hot and dusty Emmaus road was the prophet Hosea.
- In Hosea chapter 3 verse 1 God commands Hosea to go again and look for his wife, who was formerly a prostitute, had entered back into a life of prostitution, and now was committing adultery. God tells Hosea, go search for her, and love her.
- And in the same verse it says, “even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and oven cakes of raisins.”
- In other words, “God loves his people even though they get enamored with stuff, and chase after fleeting things in the culture.”
- So Hosea’s love for his wife, even though she’s given herself willingly over to the sex trade, even though she’s given herself back to sex slavery, is a picture of God’s love for his people even though we willingly gave ourselves over to sin and the fleeting pleasures that our culture offers us.
- And God tells Hosea, go look for her, and find her, and redeem her from that life of prostituting herself to other men that don’t really love her. Go ransom your wife, and the mother of your three children from the other men who would use her and abuse her.
- And in verse 2 Hosea says, “So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and some barley.”
- I want you to picture this? Hosea enters into the dark alleys of the city where the prostitutes are with their handlers, and there he finds his wife, who he married, who he entered into covenant with to love and cherish, the bride he had committed to love, the mother of his children,
- And even though she is his wife, because she deserted him, chasing other lovers, in order for him to get her back, in order for him to redeem her, there is a price that has to be paid.
- So Hosea pays the price to redeem his wife from her slavery, and from her sin, and from chasing after other lovers
- And I can picture Jesus on that Emmaus road saying to those two disciples, “You are the adulteress wife! And a price had to be paid to redeem you from your life of slavery! And when Jesus went to the cross, his suffering was the price, his blood was the fifteen shekels of silver! Even though he created you, even though you were his, even though you had committed to him in a covenant, a price had to be paid, and no one could pay it except the Messiah.
- How can you say, “We had hoped that he would redeem Israel but instead he was crucified”? Don’t you see? It was in his crucifixion that he redeemed you.
- Friends, the good news is not just that Jesus is risen, but that the crucified Jesus is risen.
- Jesus actually redeemed, he actually paid a price for us, he actually ransomed us with his blood, so our hope is here. It is not distant, it is not ethereal, it is not imaginary, our hope is here.
- 1 Corinthians 6 and 7 say, “You were bought with a price.”
Ephesians 2:12-13 “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
- Because Jesus has actually redeemed, our hope is here. His blood has brought us near. We used to have no hope, but now our hope is here. Jesus has actually redeemed.
Application: this means that we are free from the sin in our lives.
- Since Jesus redeemed us, we are free from the life of spiritual prostitution that we used to live when we gave ourselves to the highest bidder at every turn.
- Once Hosea ransomed his wife from her sex slavery, she no longer had to give herself to any man that came by. She was free because she had been redeemed.
- She was redeemed for fifteen pieces of silver and some barley—but we have been redeemed by the blood of a crucified king.
- We are free from a love of money, free from a love of self, free from foolish ambition and pride, Free from lust. We’re no longer taken by what they promise in exchange.
- Because Christ has actually redeemed us—by paying our ransom on the cross—we don’t go back to our old life, our price has been paid; Christ has actually redeemed us in the cross
- Romans 6:6 says, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” Verse 11, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
- Are you struggling with sin in your life? Are you in the grip of slavery to a particular sin?
- What will you do, friend? Will you live in condemnation? Will you keep it in the dark where it can fester and grow? Will you just try to fix yourself by trying harder? Will you run from God in shame?
- Friend, listen to me, stop running from the love of God! Stop heading down that road toward Emmaus in disappointment and disillusionment and turn back towards Jerusalem. Fix your gaze on the crucified one who nailed your sin to the cross so that you would no longer bear it.
- Run to your Hosea who searched in the darkest places to find you and said, “What’s the price? I will pay it to redeem the one I love.”
- Jesus has actually redeemed, so our hope is here.
- Jesus Will Actually Return (V. 28-35) Our Hope Is Him
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther,
29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.
- They finally realized that they had been in the presence of God.
- They had been speaking with the crucified one who had risen from the dead.
32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
- Jesus opened their minds to the knowledge of who he was, and we all need an experience like they had, which is why in Ephesians 1:18, Paul tells the church that his prayer for them is that God might give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.”
33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem.
- They did what they urged Jesus not to do, which was travel in the dark, and they walked 7 miles through the night back to Jerusalem to tell the others that Jesus had actually risen and had actually redeemed.
And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread
- The reason Jesus appearance to them is so exciting is not only does it mean that Jesus has actually risen, and that he has actually redeemed, but it means that he has unfinished business, so he will actually return.
- Those disciples went to Emmaus hopeless, but they returned to Jerusalem hopeful
- And what was their hope? Their hope was Him. Their hope was Jesus
- Their hope was that the God who rose, and the God who redeemed, was a God who would return to bring his work to completion.
- And we have get this straight: our hope for the return of Jesus is not primarily about what he will do, but about who he is.
- So our hope is not primarily for something, but in someone
- Our hope is not for a product, but in a person
- 1 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
- 1 Timothy 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,”
- 1 Peter 1:13 “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
- Titus 2:13 “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
- 1 Peter 1:20-21 “He was…made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
- Our hope is him. Our hope is Jesus Christ, and we long for his return.
- The excitement that these disciples felt that compelled them to recklessly tell others the good news should be the same excitement that we feel, that since Jesus has actually risen, and since he has actually redeemed, we can be confident that he will actually return just as he promised, and it is in Him that we hope.
- In Revelation 22:20 Jesus says, “Surely I am coming soon.” And we the church respond to him by saying, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus!”
Conclusion: A song of hope based on the fact that Jesus has actually risen, has actually redeemed, and will actually return. Our hope is real, our hope is here, and our hope is Him.
“Be Still, My Soul”
by Catharina von Schlegel, 1697-?
Translated by Jane Borthwick, 1813-1897
- Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
- Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
- Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.
- Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.