April 28, 2019
Minoh International Church
Pastor Joseph Ricohermoso
Text: Luke 24:13~32
In their book, On Grief and Grieving, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler introduced the Five Stages of Grief. The five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance
are a part of the framework to help people learn to live or better equipped to cope with life and loss. I imagine the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ went through some, if not all, of these stages too.
Cleopas and his companion were two disappointed men; for in the death of Jesus, all their hopes for Israel had been dashed (note Luke 24:21 & 1:68; 2:30-32, 38; 21:28, 31). Just like the other followers of Jesus, these two disciples were still grieving and despairing for the things that had happened in Jerusalem.
Emmaus was about eleven (11) kilometers northwest of Jerusalem, and they were returning home to decide what to do next. As they walked, they talked about the recent events and discussed what they might mean. They did the best they could with the limited knowledge they had, but they lacked the key that would unlock the prophetic Scriptures: the Messiah must suffer and die before He could enter into His glory. It was this key that Jesus provided as He walked and taught them on the road.
In their experience, what can we learn about how the resurrected Jesus guided them in processing and overcoming their grief?
- Remember that Christ is near even in times of grief and despair
It is natural to be overwhelmed with emotions in the face of tragedy. It is possible that our judgment is clouded and our faith is shaken. Questions are raised and yet answers are either not available or unsatisfactory. It’s a place where you feel trapped and nowhere to go. What do we do in such situations? It’s definitely easy to feel disoriented and hopeless. Grief and despair block understanding of the truth. Verse 16 says, “their eyes were restrained.”
When you hit “rock-bottom” there’s no other way but up. Look up to God. Remember that He is near. His nearness means He cares.
For the disciples, Jesus came to them. He didn’t only get near them; He talked to them. He noticed that they “are sad” (v.17).
- Let God’s Word validate our experience
- Cleopas asserted that what happened to Jesus was common knowledge (v.18)
- Jesus allowed them to retell what they already know about Him (v.19~24). What things? (v.19) In saying this, Jesus skillfully played along with the conversation, encouraging the men to reveal their hearts. Even though He knew their hearts, there was value in them saying it to Jesus.
- Jesus of Nazareth – a powerful Prophet (v.19)
- The rulers and the religious leaders conspired to condemn and kill Him (v.20)
- They were hoping that He would deliver Israel [from Roman control] (v.21)
- The third day since His death and burial and are aware that His body was missing, but women testified that angels said He was resurrected. (v.22~24)
- Jesus had to correct their misunderstanding and also redirect their attention to what God had already told them in His word.
The lesson is: We must seek God and His truth. Our experience shouldn’t be the final judge of what we should believe in.
- Pray and hold on to God
He indicated that He would have gone farther (v.28): Jesus acted as if He might continue on farther, but did not want to force His company on these disciples. But they constrained Him shows that even though they didn’t know this was Jesus in their midst, they knew they wanted to spend as much time as they could with this man.
C.H. Spurgeon: “It is a very strong word that, ‘they constrained him’; it is akin to the one which Jesus used when he said, ‘The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence.’ They not only invited him, but they held him, they grasped his hand, they tugged at his skirts, they said he should not go.”
Jesus may be right in front of you, walking with you and sitting down with you at every meal – and your eyes could be restrained from seeing Him. We therefore should pray that God would open our eyes to see Jesus as He is, as being with us all the time.
Did not our heart burn within us while He talked: Even when they didn’t know it was Jesus, even when they didn’t believe He was risen from the dead, their heart still burned because of the ministry of God’s Word and of Jesus, the Living Word of God.
God’s word can have this same effect on our heart, even when we don’t know that it is Jesus doing that work.
Jesus pointed out that these two men were “slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken” (v. 25). They believed the promises about Messiah’s glory, but they could not accept the prophecies about His suffering (1 Peter 1:8-12). Jesus opened their eyes and hearts to understand all the Scriptures, and this brought a warmth to their hearts (v. 32). They saw Messiah in the Word, but they did not realize He was walking with them! It was not until He blessed their simple meal that Jesus revealed Himself to them personally. What a revelation! It transformed them from discouraged travelers into enthusiastic witnesses!