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“Then They Recognized Him”

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
April 6, 2021 4:00 am

“Then They Recognized Him”

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 6, 2021 4:00 am

Caught up in our circumstances, we often miss the big picture. That’s what happened on the road to Emmaus: the disciples failed to recognize the risen Savior, though He walked right beside them! Hear more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Sometimes we can be right in the middle of a situation and still miss the big picture. That's exactly what happened as two of Jesus' disciples met Jesus on the road to Emmaus. When the risen Savior was walking alongside them, their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

Today, Alistair Begg brings this fascinating account into focus. We're in Luke chapter 24. Jesus had been explaining to these folks the big picture—all the things in the Scriptures concerning himself. And now as they approach the village, it's possible that their very arrival at their destination was going to be the cause of Jesus stopping the systematic Bible study that he's been providing for them.

Certainly, they want him to stay. It may be as well that with the oncoming darkness and with the nature of the climate in which they lived, they thought it simply best that Jesus might join them for the night rather than go on from there. Certainly, they had been warming to him. His initial encounter with them had been strange, to say the least. He'd all of a sudden appeared, he began to ask questions.

When he volunteered information, he suggested to them that they were a little bit dull, slow on the uptake. But as he had gone through this record of the Bible, their hearts had been stirred. And as he explained to them the big picture, they were concerned that he wouldn't leave them. And so what they do, as Luke tells us here, is that they issue an invitation. By this time—Kenneth Taylor paraphrases—by this time they were nearing a mace in the end of their journey, and Jesus would have gone on, but they begged him strongly not to. Jesus would have discontinued, but they urged him not to. In other words, without the invitation, Jesus would have kept going. That's the point that Luke is making. And if Jesus had kept going, then they would have missed the wonderful privilege of realizing, recognizing that their teacher on the road, who to this point they have not recognized, was none other than the risen Lord himself.

Actually, invitation, which is the word we're using, is not a strong enough word. The phraseology in verse 29 makes that point for us, doesn't it? But they urged him strongly. He would have kept right on walking if they had not prevailed upon him to stay with them.

Geldenhois comments on this. How often does Jesus address us also on life's way? And he still desires to enter where he is invited. If they had not invited him to stay, he would not have stayed.

If you have not invited him to be your Savior, he is not your Savior. And for those of you—and I hope it is not an increasingly growing number—who find, in this kind of thing, agitation in relationship to the preordination or foreordination of God—"Oh, but wait a minute! After all, it had to happen this way, therefore somehow," and so on, and you have these discussions laid into the night. May I remind you of what we have discovered when we have considered this subject together—namely, that the foreordination of God does not eliminate contingency, nor does it eliminate human freedom. And God foreordains our actions. But he foreordains them as free actions, as things that we do by our own personal volition.

I hope you get that, because it is very, very important. Jesus stayed on because he was invited. Using this little New Testament made me think of this on a number of levels. This New Testament I bought in 1972 in Leeds in Yorkshire. And this little testament is in some measure a symbol to me of the keeping power of God. And it is in some measure a testimony to me of the fact that God hears the earnest, simple prayers of the meek and of the child. And that somehow or another, in his providence and in his mercy, when I, along with other children, would sing in Sunday school, Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart, Lord Jesus.

Come into day, and come into stay, come into my heart, Lord Jesus. That along the journey of life, he still responds to those invitations. The invitation gave way to recognition.

Having urged him to stay and his agreement to it, they did what is perfectly natural after a seven-mile walk. They said, Well, let's have something to eat. And they honored this stranger by asking him to perform the function of a host. Sometimes when you have a guest in your home that you know very well, especially if they have some kind of status within the family of faith, you may say to them, I wonder if you would be good enough to say grace for us. We would like for you to give thanks before we eat.

It's quite an interesting thing to do that with a stranger. Of course, the stranger had endeared himself to them by a dint of the Bible study that he had provided, but nevertheless, it is quite striking. And essentially, what they're doing is they're saying, We would like you to say grace. Would you say grace for us? I wonder, would you break bread for us? Now, you need to understand that this was the normal beginning of a Jewish meal—with the blessing and thanking of God and with the breaking of bread. This ought to help us steer away from the idea that what we have in Luke chapter 24 is a communion service.

Because clearly we don't. Any temptation to see the Lord's Supper here should probably be tempered by a number of things—one, by the absence of any mention of wine. Also, by the awareness of the fact that as soon as Jesus has done what he's asked, he vanishes. The thing would be completely truncated. It would be a strange communion service, a strange Lord's Supper, where he broke the bread and then he was gone.

And I don't think there is any real reason for us to find in this anything other than the routine of normal family life. And furthermore, these two individuals were not present at the Last Supper. Because at the Last Supper, we only had the twelve. You know that from what the Gospel writers have already told us. It's stated clearly in Mark chapter 14 verse 17. So there is no way that this great recognition that takes place is tied to the fact that they said, Oho! He's doing what he just did at the Last Supper, because they weren't at the Last Supper.

So what, then? Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. It doesn't say, Then they opened their eyes. It said, Then their eyes were opened.

You remember this morning, it wasn't that they didn't recognize him, it was that they were kept from recognizing him. It is not now that they see him, but it is now that they are made to see him—that the wonder of this strange mystery that takes place, takes place—that God chose at this moment to make clear that this was his Son and that they were in the presence of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. And as soon as Jesus had accomplished that objective, as soon as they recognized him, he disappeared from their sight. Verse 32, they asked each other.

It's interesting, isn't it? Were not our hearts burning within us? What made them burn when he talked to us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us? Opened the Scriptures to us.

Opened the Scriptures to us. Do you know how much I long? I personally long. When I sit under the preaching of somebody else, I long. I long.

I'm telling you it's the truth. I long to have my heart stirred within me. I long to burn with enthusiasm for the Bible.

I long for that. I don't want to evaluate sermons. I don't want to hear jokes.

I don't want to know if the guy was good, bad, or indifferent. I long for my heart to burn when the Scriptures are open to me. I have known it. I do not always know it. But since I knew it, I long for it.

And anything less is less than I desire. And I have discovered something too, that when I come to the listening of the Bible with that kind of expectation, it is amazing how my heart is stirred. But when I come as an adjudicator, when I come as a casual observer, when I come as an indifferent bystander, when I come as some come to sleep on the front row, then there is little chance of a burning heart.

Now, my friends, look at this and look at it carefully. Oh, you say, but it was Jesus. Yes, of course it was Jesus, the best teacher ever.

But the thing that caused the burning was the opening of the Scriptures. Now, if you will pray sincerely for everyone who mounts these stairs and stands behind this box, then I can guarantee you that the selfsame sermons will come home with far deeper conviction, and your heart will be out and on in a way that you've never known. This little phrase, Where not our hearts burning within us?, make me think now, as I'm speaking to you, of a young man that came here with Babcock and Wilcox. He showed up wearing a leather jacket one night back in the chapel on Fairmount Boulevard. First of all, I noticed his leather jacket.

I thought, That's a pretty nice jacket. And then I heard his voice, and he had a very Scottish accent as it turned out. And in the course of conversation, I realized that he was here on a business trip from Glasgow, and I sat down with him.

I said, Come. It had been so long since I'd had anyone from Glasgow. And we got together, and we talked, and I said, Tell me your story. And he told me this wonderful story of how he had left his home in the Highlands, and he had gone down to work in Glasgow for Babcock and Wilcox. In the course of leaving his home and running away from a very strong and influential family of the faith, he had got into Bypath Meadow. He'd begun to go out and hang around and go places to meet people. And in the course of that, he met a very pretty girl. And as the time went by, they formed an affection for one another, and it became apparent that they really loved each other.

But they had multiple problems. First of all, his own conscience wouldn't let him alone. He knew that he was not only far from his father's house—physically his earthly dad—but he was far from his father's house too. And suddenly he discovered that this girl was a Roman Catholic, and he came from a bastion of Reformed Presbyterianism in the Highlands of Scotland. And neither of their families could cope with it. He thought that he understood.

She knew she didn't. In trying to work some kind of middle course, they began to go to the Roman Catholic Church in the morning and St. George's Tron and listen to Eric Alexander, who's preached here from this pulpit. On one evening, as they sat and listened to him preach, he preached from the phrase, Almost you persuade me. And he dealt with the whole notion of being not very far from the kingdom of God.

Interestingly, as a sidebar, Eric Alexander and I, on another occasion, were having coffee across the street from the church. And I asked him about some things that were happening in the church, and he told me, he said, You know, about a few months ago, I was all ready to preach. I was in the vestry and prepared to go, and as I sat looking at my notes, I decided that I couldn't preach on this passage. I said, What did you preach on?

He said, I preached on the phrase, Almost you persuade me, at the drop of a hat. Well, back to the couple. They sit, they listen to the sermon.

Eric Alexander urges upon them the necessity of response. They come out of the church. They walk up the Canon Street. They're heading for a bus stop, at which they're going to part company from one another. They're not living together.

They're going to their own respective apartments. And as they get closer to the bus stop, and they have been in total silence since the benediction, the young man turned to the girl, and he said, There's something I need to tell you. When Mr. Alexander said that those who are not far from the kingdom need to trust in Christ and receive him, I trusted in Christ and received him. And the girl said, And there is something that I need to tell you. I did the exact same. And both of them were soundly converted, and they stood at the bus stop and essentially said, Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked with us and as he opened the Scriptures to us?

See, this is nothing that a man can achieve. I look at the crowds come and go from this church. I stand in my study, and I watch you leave. I said out loud in my study this morning, What chance is there, God, in the whole universe, that any of these people would be converted, apart from the sovereign moving of your spirit?

An invitation, a recognition, and finally, a celebration. Verse 33, they got up and returned at once to Jerusalem, energized by the discovery that they had made. The seven miles journey back apparently isn't even a question. One of the reasons that they might have been urging Jesus to stay was, Jesus, you know, it's dark and it's dangerous out there. You don't want to go out there now, not in this time of night. Why don't you just come and stay with us?

There would be practicality involved in that. And if that was true of Christ, it would certainly be true of them, but apparently no concern for personal safety or anything are able to diminish their zeal. They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. How quickly the lovely feet that bring good news can skip across the surface of the pavement, kicking up dust on the road. This is a day of good news. We need to get back to Jerusalem, we need to get there at once.

Let's go at once and report this. And following through on the resolve, we're told that there they found the eleven. Notice it's capitalized here in the NIV, and purposefully so, because the eleven weren't there. Well, not—they weren't all there.

We know that Thomas wasn't there. So the eleven is a designation. They began to be known as the eleven. They had been the twelve. They're down to eleven now. And they went and they found the eleven.

It points to the fact, I think, that there was a far greater interaction between the core group of the disciples of Jesus and the wider disciples that followed along with them. But anyway, they were able to go, and they were to find them, and they were able to enter their assembly. Now, we're almost through, but at this point, I must admit to feeling a little sorry for this pair. I wonder, do you understand this? It's not really very important, but I can't help but point it out to you. I do feel dreadfully sorry for these two guys.

Because think about it. They had been making a journey to Emmaus. They were dreadfully sad. A fellow had come, interrupted them, began to ask questions. He gave them a Bible study. They then invited him into the house.

He broke the bread. He gave thanks. They realized who he was.

He disappeared. They said, Now we have the phenomenal opportunity to get back to Jerusalem and let the people know that Jesus is alive. And they must have been almost beside themselves with excitement. I can imagine that when they were going down the road, they'd say to one another, Look, who's gonna say what? I mean, are we just gonna burst right in and go, He's alive? Or, do you think what we ought to do is just build up to it slowly, so that we can say, Hey, you know, we had someone over for dinner just earlier this evening. And so they can say, like, Oh, who was that? And then we can say, Hey, Jesus of Nazareth. Or, No, I said, Don't do that.

It'll take too long. Maybe, and so on. That's how I would have done it, myself and a friend. We'd try and figure it out, and I'd want a chance to get my, you know, spoke in early.

There's no surprise in that. And my friend would say, No, no, no, you're not going first. I'm going first. And so it was. But anyway, they're there. They're ready to go. They're here. Come on, there's the door open, the coat, the cloak, the sandals. And before they can say a word, somebody says, It's true, the Lord has risen and has appeared to Peter.

Talk about stealing your thunder. I can imagine looking at one another, momentarily crestfallen. That was our story!

What are you saying? That's our news! Oh, man, you're telling me we came seven miles back down the road, and you already knew?

Well, it would only have lasted for a moment, I hope, wouldn't it? Because the news that Jesus is alive wasn't their news or the Eleven's news. The news that Jesus is alive is not Parkside's news. The news that Jesus is alive belongs to all who are the Lord's.

And no matter what language we speak and what country we visit and what journey we take, we rejoice together in a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. What a night that must have been! Oh, what a time.

I just… fantastic. The women resisting the temptation—or maybe not resisting the temptation to say every so often, Well, we told you so. We were the first to see. We were there.

And the rehearsing of the events this way and that, and the two getting their story in. Well, excuse me, could we tell you what happened to us now? Yeah, okay, go ahead. Yeah, go on. And how Jesus was recognized by them, and when they broke the bread, and the blissful, heartwarming, soul-stirring light that had shone into their darkness, and the life that had conquered death, and we had hoped that he was, and now we've discovered he is, that life is meaningful, and that meaning is found in Jesus, and this hope is not built on a fancy but on a fact, and all the apostles set out to proclaim the resurrection, because there was nothing else they could do.

The proof was far too compelling. And here we are. Have we extended the invitation and welcomed Christ? Some of us have wandered away. Where is the blessedness that once I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and his Word? The risen Christ comes and stands at the door and knocks.

It's not an evangelistic text. When's the last time that you extended an invitation to Jesus, who knows all about your troubles, all about your pains, all about your difficulties, all about the things that other people can't know and can't fix? Have you extended the invitation? Have you experienced the recognition?

Are you enjoying the celebration? That's really the test of whether we're in Christ or not. Invitation, recognition, celebration. Our relationship with Jesus begins with an invitation. That's from today's message on Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. And as Alistair mentioned, it's impossible for us to recognize Jesus unless he opens our eyes.

That miracle happens through the Word of God. When the Bible is taught, the Spirit opens blind eyes, hardened hearts are softened, and unbelieving people are brought to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That's why at Truth for Life we teach the Bible every day with clarity and relevance.

This is the mission you're supporting as you pray for and as you give to this ministry. And when you donate today, we want to say thank you by inviting you to request a book that supplements Alistair's teaching from Luke's Gospel. The book is titled Alive, How the Resurrection of Christ Changes Everything. This book investigates both the historical and biblical evidence of Jesus' resurrection.

It also exposes the flawed reasoning behind popular theories that challenge the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. You'll find the book Alive to be a great help when you're questioned by people who are skeptical. Request your copy of Alive when you make a generous one-time donation to Truth for Life today. Online giving is quick and easy when you visit truthforlife.org slash donate, and don't forget to request your copy of the book Alive. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks so much for listening. Hope you can join us again tomorrow as we continue our series in the Gospel of Luke, learning how Jesus continues to bring peace to his followers down to this very day. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-06 11:42:47 / 2023-12-06 11:51:26 / 9

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