The road to Emmaus is a wonderful passage that has a profound impact on the entire story of God. This is because it’s a type of interpretive key, meaning this passage, gives us insight to the OT more than most other passages. Let’s open it up and dig in:
To get caught up in the story up to this point, Easter has already happened, Jesus has conquered the grip and tragedy of death, and now, three days after His resurrection, He is showing Himself to His disciples and many others (1 Cor. 15:6). It’s here that He catches up with two disciples (Cleopas and one unnamed) who are discouraged, while they’re walking northwest to Emmaus.
The disciples had hoped that Jesus would redeem Israel (Luke 24:21)… their way, the victorious way, by coming into town on a white war horse and crush the big mouth (Rome). Have you ever had an expectation that fell far short of what you were expecting? It’s a human emotion.
The gap between what you expected (your dreams, your desires, your plan) and reality (what actually happened), represents loss, disappointment, grief, whether real or perceived. Their expectations allowed them to see the glory of God’s kingdom (Jesus’ life), but they failed to understand the suffering (His necessary death).
Read Luke 24:13-14:
I can imagine their conversation going all over the OT, quoting various passages, wondering what that meant if Jesus isn’t the Messiah, yet did all that He did? What about the prophecies of old, of the Messiah restoring Israel, crushing the serpent (Rome, who was Satan of course)? How does this all make sense?
I would’ve loved to hear this conversation. It’s the type of conversation we all would say, “I give anything to be a fly on the wall for that conversation”, and since Jesus is the sovereign king, He can make those crazy wished a reality. So He pops into their conversation, but He doesn’t allow them to recognize Him.
Read Luke 24:15-19a:
In Christ-like humor, Jesus engages these men, and desires to look into their hearts, which looks like them opening their hearts to Him. Sometimes we think, God knows everything, and He does, but all throughout Scripture God, who knows everything, ask questions to invite the person into intimacy with Him; a conversation.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. Psalm 62:8
This is prayer. Talking to God. Jesus longs for us to share with him our deepest desires, our letdowns, disappointments, pain, etc. He’ll even act ignorant about things to get us to open up! I imagine the brief conversation sounding something like this:
Jesus: What are you guys talking about?
Disciples: Jesus of Nazareth’s death. Where’ve you been? Everyone knows this.
Jesus: Who’s this Jesus of Nazareth and what happened to him?
I love it. We could imagine more of this conversation, but that’s for another day. So the disciples begin telling ‘Jesus’ all about what happened to ‘Jesus’ in Jerusalem.
Read Luke 24:19b-24:
Who else in the universe could brag that they preached the gospel to God in the flesh?! Well… half of it at least. They retell the story of events to Jesus, maybe in tears, but definitely with passion and sadness. At the end of it all, Jesus is dead and now His body is missing. Could it be that Jesus was cursed? After all, He dies on a tree (cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree), and now His body was dug up and stolen (a body that was crucified and didn’t have a proper burial was considered double cursed):
22 “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 21:22-23
An unburied body was a defilement to the land and would represent a curse to the body (Ezekiel 37 – valley of dry, unburied bones representing cursed Israel for their disobedience). It is at this point that Jesus has heard their hearts, has compassion on them, and begins to let them in on the “BIG SECRET” of the OT.
Are you ready for the big secret to be revealed? It’s Jesus! Jesus is the interpretive key to all of Scripture and all of Scripture was always pointing to Him. Telling the story of Israel, yes, but only because it was through Israel that all the other families of the earth will be grafted into to God’s family and be blessed. It was never about Israel. It was and is all about Jesus being the way for all.
Let me indulge with you for a moment as we reflect on the OT, and my desire in doing this is in hopes of your reading for yourself later, and being able to see Christ, or at least “echoes” and “shadows” of Christ. Maybe you will even see those who “represent” a type of Christ, a savior. The OT is filled with types, shadows, and echoes of Jesus being the Christ, our savior:
Adam was given all he needed for life and godliness, walked with God in perfect fellowship, and still wanted more… Jesus entered into life on the other side of human history, full of pain and trial, was in the wilderness with nothing he humanly needed, and was satisfied in God.
Adam was given garments of skin to cover up the shame of his nakedness… Jesus became the slain creature who covered up the shame of our nakedness.
Adam represents the old man, sin, and death, the old mode of existence, living in the past… Jesus represents the new man, righteousness and life, the new mode of existence, living in the future.
Abel was innocently slain by a jealous brother who’s blood is crying out for justice… Jesus was innocently slain by all of our rebellion, and his blood is the justice that now cries out on our behalf, not our condemnation, even though we were the jealous brother who murdered the innocent (Hebrews 12:24).
Noah built an ark out of trees and got on it, to save his family and the animal kingdom from judgement and certain death… Jesus had a cross built out of trees and got on it, to save not just one family, but all the families of the earth, indeed all of creation.
Noah represents one family’s trek to salvation… Jesus represents everyone’s trek to salvation.
Abraham obeyed God, left his family, his land, and all that was comfortable and familiar to be a new people of God in a new nation… Jesus answered the call of God to leave all the comfortableness of divine worship and go out into the void of broken humanity to create a new people of God, and establish a new nation, a new family, a new way to be human.
Abraham was declared righteous through His faith… Jesus is the righteous One in whom Abraham placed His faith.
Abraham was circumcised to represent a new family that is pure and fertile and would circumcise all the males of Israel from that day forward… Jesus was also circumcised outwardly, but died and rose again to circumcise hearts so that all may be transformed from the inside out.
Abraham trusted God for a different sacrifice when his son Isaac was on the alter about to be slain… Jesus became the sacrifice that preserved Isaac’s life, and desires that all lives may be preserved.
Jacob wrestled with God and was struck in the hip to be reminded the God is with him… Jesus wrestled with God in Gethsemane and was struck on the heel, so we, like Jacob, would only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us, not destroy us.
Joseph was exalted to the right hand of Pharaoh and saved the nations from famine… Jesus is at the right hand of God the Father who forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power make new hearts.
Moses stood in the gap between the people and God as a mediator for a generation… Jesus eternally stands in the gap as the One who cuts a new covenant for people to come to/experience God (Hebrews 3).
Job suffered innocently so God could show forth His power and redeeming grace even though he was condemned by his foolish friends… Jesus was the truly innocent sufferer, who is the power of God to redeem foolish friends (Job 42).
David fought the battle against Goliath because Israel was too scared and lacked faith in God… Jesus, who is the true and better David, allowed the Goliath of sin that we have created, to kill and consume Him so we wouldn’t be killed and consumed (the story of David and Goliath isn’t a story telling us that if only we had enough faith then we could slay the giant like David did; David represents Christ, Israel represents us)
Esther risked her life and the comfort of a palace to save her people from a wicked edict… Jesus willingly gave up his life and the comforts of heaven to make the evil edict take His life so that His people would be set free.
Jonah was cast into the storm to save the sailors… Jesus was cast into the storm to save the nations.
Hosea married a whore to represent God’s love and pursuit of His people… Jesus married the church who continually cheats on Him and acts as if He doesn’t really exist sometimes, yet he loves, pursues and ultimately redeems her back to Himself over and over again.
Jesus is the Rock of Moses.
Jesus is the Bread from Heaven
Jesus is the Water of Life.
Jesus is the Light of the World.
Jesus is the eternal Passover Lamb of God.
Jesus is the true Temple where worship happens in Spirit and Truth.
Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for fallen creation.
Jesus is the divine gladiator.
Jesus is the true prophet, priest, and king.
Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.
Jesus is the Lord who heals.
Jesus is the Great I AM.
Jesus is the All-Powerful One.
Jesus is the God who sees.
Jesus is God with us.
Jesus is the Lord of all creation.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Jesus is the Lord of Righteousness.
Jesus is the King of kings.
Jesus is the Lord of lords.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace
Jesus is the power of God unto salvation.
All of Scripture testifies to Christ!
He loves us! He is pursuing us! He’s present right now. He’s in our story today more than we could ever imagine. He is there in the pain and loss. He is there in the earthquakes and storms. He is there in the famine and death. He is there in the daily grind of living paycheck to paycheck. He is there in the celebrations and joys. He is here, right now, beckoning our hearts to worship Him, as one people of God, acknowledging Him as the rightful king of the universe, and inviting us to trust Him afresh today, so that the world might see and experience life.