Easter Sunday - Hope 103.2

Easter Sunday

By Simon ManchesterSunday 20 Apr 2014Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


St Thomas’ Anglican Church
North Sydney

Easter Sunday

Well,it’s great to be with you.  We are going to pray a short prayer,that God would help us,as we think together for a few minutes on the Scriptures,so let’s bow our heads and pray.  Our Gracious God,we pray on this special day that You would help us,as we read and think about Your Word for these few minutes.  We pray that You would prepare our minds and hearts,and despite all the things which are going on,You would help us to be good receivers,and we ask that the Word that we read would be made plain and helpful to us.  And we pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

We’re going to spend our time this Easter looking at Jesus’ effect on the two men on the road to Emmaus in Luke Chapter 24.  I don’t know whether it was exactly two men.  It just says ‘two of them’,but I am going to assume that it’s two men.  These men begin hugely disappointed with God.  And by the end of the verses,they are hugely appreciative of Jesus Christ,and I want to show you this morning how they moved from this great disappointment to this great appreciation,and I hope that everybody here will do the same.  It is very easy to be disappointed.  I suspect everybody here today,in some way,is greatly disappointed,either because somebody has let you down,you yourself have let yourself down,God has let you down.  And sometimes it’s because we have expectations which are just wrong.  And sometimes,the person,or we ourselves,or God Himself,has done something which is actually very worthwhile,and we need to change our expectations,and that’s what this Chapter reveals.

Are you a disappointed person this morning?  Has God not lived up to your expectations?  Well,Luke 24 has some very profound things to say to you,if you are willing to change your thinking.

We are going to look at it under two headings.  It’s on page 1047.  I’d really be grateful if you had it open.  We don’t trust any preachers in this Church; everything has to be checked by the text. And on page 1047 (2 mins 22 secs – delete)   Luke 24,Verses 13-35.  We are going to look at it under two headings.  First,Verses 13-24:  the road to disappointment.  And then,25-35:  the road to Christ.

First of all,the road to disappointment.  Why did these men walk the road of disappointment?  Well I will show you.  It’s very clearly set-out for us in a number of steps or stages.  First,the first reason,the first step on their road to disappointment is that they were bad listeners.  I want to explain what I mean by this.  Luke had picked three stories in Luke Chapter 24,to tell us about the resurrection.  We know from the rest of the New Testament that Luke knew that Jesus was alive for forty days:  from leaving the tomb,to leaving the world,He was around for forty days.   And of all the many,many things that Luke could have told us,he tells us three stories of the resurrection day.  One in the morning,when the women went to the tomb.  One in the afternoon,when two men walked the road.  And one in the evening,when Jesus met with the eleven.

Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by

Those are the three stories he considered sufficient for us to know,and all three stories are about people who did not listen.  When the women went to the tomb,and they found that it was empty,they were completely confused.  The angels of the tomb said to them,in Verse 6:  Jesus told you He must be crucified; on the third day,raised again.  And the women went off,and they spoke to the disciples,and some other followers,and they told the disciples and the followers exactly what they had experience,and what the angels had reminded them of,and the disciples and the other followers failed to listen.  And they said,in Verse 11,their words (the words of the women) seemed to them like nonsense. 

Now when we get to Verse 13,and these two walking the road,it’s two of those people.  See it says,in Verse 13,two of them.  The ones who have got multiple information,but had not listened.  Two people walked the road,who had the Old Testament Scriptures,telling them the Messiah must die and rise.  Jesus Himself had told them He must die and rise.  The angels and now the women had told them that Jesus must die and rise.  And they walked the road not listening.

Well,we get very sentimental at Easter about the people on resurrection day.  We sort of feel sorry for them,as if they should be completely shocked that the tomb was empty.  But I think that’s to miss the point completely.  When the people go down to the empty tomb,they are not meant to be shocked by an empty tomb.  They are meant to go down and say,’Exactly as He said!  He told us He would die and rise on the third day.  It’s the third day,we expect the tomb to be empty.  In fact,we would be shocked if He was still in the tomb.  That would be a shock to us.’

When a mother says to a child,’Tomorrow,you start coming home on the school bus… it’s a big,exciting day for you.’  Do we pity the child when it comes out of the classroom,and finds no mother with the car?

When a husband says to the wife,’I have to work through till 9 or 10 tomorrow night; I won’t be home for dinner.’  Do we pity the wife when she sits at the table,with the dinner made,at 7pm?

When a wife says to a husband,’I have put your socks on the bed.’  And the husband goes looking everywhere… do we pity the husband for looking everywhere?  Yes we do… because husbands can’t be expected to do two things at once!

But you understand the point that I am making… the point that I am making is this:  told… why be surprised,when Jesus told His disciples,’I will leave the tomb.’  

And these men,these two on the road,are typical of bad listeners.  Mind you,they are not bad talkers.  They’ve got lots of things to say.  They are talking,talking,talking,and when Jesus comes up to them,in Verse 17,He says,’What are you discussing?’ (literally,He says in the original language,’What words are these?).  But God’s words have not been listened to. 

Now I wish I had more time to apply this to us this morning.  Our world is absolutely jam-packed with words.  We have clever words coming at us,funny words,wise words,rhyming words,forceful words,catchy words.  But if you don’t get God’s words,you cannot expect to be anything but on the road to disappointment.

Why is it at Easter,and especially in the newspapers,they bring out some Professor ‘big head’ who will tell us why the resurrection didn’t happen?  He wasn’t there.  He wasn’t one of the eye-witnesses.  The papers are not interested,it seems,in the people who were there,and saw what happened and grappled with what happened,and eventually were persuaded,and whose testimony has helped so many people.  Why is it they are not interested in them? 

You may have noticed that a well-known journalist is now looking for Jesus’ DNA.  I had lunch with this man a number of years ago,when he owned the hotel across the road and he had just made a film,which was about searching the globe,to look for miracles,to prove that God was real.  And I asked him the question across the lunch-table:  I said,’Do you think that God has more trouble communicating than we do?  Do you think that God doesn’t really know how to speak to us?  Is it possible that He could speak to us,in black and white words,available to everybody?’  And it may be that there are some people here today – and you’ve got millions of words that are pouring through your head,from the television and from the radio,and from various gurus and textbooks… and yet the Word of God,the Scriptures,are gathering dust on your shelf.

Bad listening:  that’s the first reason why these people are on the road to disappointment.  It may be,actually,a disappointment why you are on the road to disappointment as well. 

The second stage is that they have faulty interpretation.  Once they miss the explanation of God for Jesus,then they bring in their own explanation,and that of course is bound to fail.  And you see what one of them says,in Verse 21,’We had hoped that Jesus was the One who was going to redeem Israel.’  We had pinned our hopes on Jesus.  We know,they say,He was from Nazareth.  He was a Prophet.  He was powerful,in word and deed.  He was sentenced.  He was crucified.  It’s now three days since it all took place,and even the tomb seems to have been plundered. 

And so they have set Jesus an agenda.  They have set Jesus an agenda of their own,which is that He is to redeem Israel.  He is to get Israel out of the grip of the Romans.  He is to do something political.  He is to do something economic.  They have set Him an agenda.  He has failed to keep their agenda. 

Well,faulty interpretation is the second stage on the road to disappointment. 

Now the third stage is that their hopes are dashed.  A very,very painful thing,isn’t it.  Is it not a very painful thing,when what you expect of God does not come through.  That’s why the process of bad listening to the Word of God,which then brings a faulty expectation,or interpretation,and then leads to dashed hopes,is such a painful thing. 

What do we say to a man,who stands up to his country and says,’I want you to listen to me,thousands and thousands of people… Jesus will bring political and economic liberation to us.’  Well He has never promised it.  What do we say to a man today,who stands up in front of thousands of people and says,’Jesus will make you absolutely healthy,absolutely happy’… when He’s never promised it.  What do we say about that little voice in our head,which says,every now and again,’If God were real and God loved me,I would have a better life than I do.’ 

See,what did Jesus come into the world to do?  We need to know,don’t we.  We invent a new agenda for Him so easily.  We stop listening to His agenda.  We pick up some other new agenda.  We consciously,or unconsciously tell Him what He ought to do,and then when He fails to deliver,a number of things happen.  We either dishonestly pretend that He has done what we said that He must do,but of course He hasn’t done.  Or,we secretly despair.  Or,we disown Him and go off somewhere else.  And that is the real road to a disappointment way beyond what we can imagine.

What is Jesus going to do for these two people on this terrible disappointing sad road?  And I think this is one of the great proofs that Jesus Christ is really wonderful.  Here is this risen Lord Jesus.  He doesn’t owe these men anything.  They haven’t listened to Him.  They have gone off with their own agenda.  And yet,He deliberately goes after them,like a risen Saviour,like a risen Shepherd.  He crosses their path,then begins to change their thinking.  He brings them back,and eventually,He brings them into the joy of salvation.  That’s a wonderful Saviour.  That’s a risen Saviour. 

And so the second of the two points this morning is the road to Christ – Verses 25-35.  I saw an interview with Glenn Robbins recently,and he was asked about what’s beyond this world (Glenn Robbins,the comedian).  And he said this,’Not sure.  All I know is that there is more to it than this.  The question I won’t have an answer to,till I move on,and so I don’t give it too much thought…’  Now just look at what Jesus would say to that sort of thinking,in Verse 25.  He looks at these two men,who are walking the road with their own sadness,and He says,’How foolish you are.  How unthinking.  How unsenseless.  How mindless.  And then,how slow of heart.  How unwilling you are.  How lazy your thinking.  How unworthy.’  And the first step on the road to Christ,the first thing He does,to bring them back to Himself (you will see it in Verse 5) is He takes them back to the Word of God.

He could have said to them,’What do you think of the empty tomb?’  The empty tomb is an exciting thought,isn’t it?  But of course,the empty tomb,very significant as it is,needs explanation.  All miracles need explanation,and what Jesus does here,in Verse 25,for these two men who are on the road to disappointment,is He takes them back to when God speaks most clearly,and that is His Words.

Now I must say,I had to wrestle with this,as I was preparing,because I wonder whether I can really say to fellow Australians,’Come back to the Scriptures.’  Can I really say to fellow Australians,’Check your Bibles.’  Is that an eccentric thing to say?  Imagine yourself walking out into the normal streets of this city,and saying to somebody,’Oh,I have just been at an Easter service… have you checked your Bible lately?’  Seems almost ridiculous,doesn’t it.  Is it asking too much to expect Australian people to take seriously the Scriptures?  Reading the Scriptures – isn’t that something that is done by a small percentage of church people,who are a small percentage of Australian people?  Now the answer to that question is that it depends on what road you want to walk.  If you want to walk on the road of bad listening,and then interpreting the world in a faulty way,and ending up more disappointed as you go,and eventually terrible disappointment,then of course,that’s the natural way people will go.  But if a person wants to be able to understand what this world is really about,they will have to go back to the One who made it.

Now recently,I was walking across the bridge,over the Gore Hill freeway,and down below were all the tractors,all the heavy equipment,all the machinery of the Lane Cove tunnel building,and it was all abandoned.  There wasn’t a single person anywhere to be seen.  And it was a Friday.  Why was there nobody to be seen,near any of the equipment,on a Friday?  And the answer?  It was Good Friday,two days ago.  All the equipment left,nobody working… a public holiday?  Why is it a public holiday?  Because it’s Good Friday.  Why is it called Good Friday?  Will someone please explain to me why we are having this day called Good Friday?  Why are we having Friday,Saturday,Sunday,Monday off?  What’s the explanation?  Who will tell me?

Well now,the clearest explanation will be to go back to the Word of God.  It won’t be possible to work it out,by just looking in the shops,or watching the television,or even reading the papers.  The way to work out what this weekend is all about will be to go back to the original detail.  And that,of course,is the Scripture.  Is it possible that Jesus would say to the Australians today,’How foolish.  How slow of heart,not to read where God has spoken most plainly,something which has obviously impacted the whole nation.’  The problem,you see,for Australians is not lack of information; it’s lack of inclination.  Is it possible that many will get to the last day,having their best excuse,and be told ‘How foolish!’  What a terrible moment that would be.

I don’t want you to think Jesus dislikes these men,and He just sort of catches up to them and abuses them.  He wants them to realise that they are on a foolish path,and they must come back onto a wise path,and that needs plain speech.

The second thing He does,to help them back on the road to Christ,is He interprets what the weekend has been all about.  These men had assumed that the crucifixion was a tragedy,and that the empty tomb was a mystery.  And now Jesus explains,Verse 26,that the weekend was a triumph,’Did not the Christ have to suffer and enter His glory?’  For these two men on the road,the death and the resurrection was outside their agenda for Jesus.  For Jesus,the death and the resurrection was absolutely His agenda.

And so,Verse 27,beginning with Moses and all the prophets,Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.  He rightly interpreted Good Friday and Easter.

Now I wonder how He did it?  Wouldn’t you loved to have been there at that seminar?  Christians,for years and years have said,’Wouldn’t that have been a wonderful walk to be on!  Wouldn’t you not have loved to have been taught by Jesus?’  And I wonder whether He took them back to Genesis,and He showed that He was the One who would bruise the devil’s head.  I wonder whether He took them back to the law,and all the sacrifices,and said to them,’Do you realise that I am the fulfilment of all of this.’  I wonder whether He took them to the Prophets and Isaiah,Chapter 53,and He showed them the suffering servant,pierced for our transgressions:  by His wounds,we are healed.  Cut off from the land of the living,but it was the Lord’s Will to bruise him,and may well be justified.  We will never know.  We will never know what Jesus actually taught them,as He walked with them on the road.

But listen to their comment,in Verse 32:  they loved it.  ‘Were not our hearts burning within us…’,they said,while He talked with them on the road ‘… and opened the Scriptures to us’.

Friends,do you know that the opening of the Scriptures is the heart burning experience,for so many Christians?

I bet if I was to ask Christians here today,who come and here the Scriptures explained (as I hear the Scriptures explained) how many times have our hearts been warmed,or burned,within us,as God,the God of the universe,has spoken to us through this Book through this expounded Scripture.  And of course,you don’t expect your heart to be burned every time you come.  There are some times when you come,and nothing seems to affect you very much,but every Christian will have their heart burn some time.  And if you are a Christian,and your heart never burns within you at the opening of the Scriptures,do examine yourself.  Something is wrong.  Do you know that there are some Sundays where you come,and your heart is unaffected by the sermon completely.  It’s utterly foreign to you,but there are other people sitting in the very seats around you whose hearts are burning within them because of the contents that are being unpacked.

Well that’s what Jesus does for these two.  They are on the road… they are on the road back to Him.  He brings them back to the Scriptures.  He tells them what they mean.

I wonder if there is anyone here this morning who doesn’t know what the Scriptures are about.  You will see your answer in Verse 27:  the Scriptures are all about Jesus Christ.  The whole Book of the Bible points like a dartboard into the bulls-eye of Jesus Christ.  Every single verse finds its way eventually back to Jesus Christ.  And central to the Bible is that the Messiah must suffer,and die,and rise.  And so,the reason He suffers and dies is that every person in this world who knows they had no hope before God…and who knows they had no hope before God – every clear-thinking person knows they have no hope before God.  And they will find their hope in the Messiah,who suffered and died:  took away their sin,took away the barrier,so they might stand before God with no barrier,and one day,stand before God with no barrier. 

The crucifixion that we remembered two days ago,on Good Friday,is the key that unlocks the door into God’s family.  The resurrection that we remember today is the proof that the door is open.

Good Friday – unlocks the door.  Easter day – the door stands open.

If you want Jesus,however,to be your fitness coach.  If you want Him to be your path to riches.  If you want Him to be your instant doctor.  If you want Him to be your happy pill.  You have set an agenda for Him which He has never promised… and He will not fulfil.  But His agenda is,if you want to know your Maker,if you want to stand in the family of God forever.  If you want to be,as the Bible says,able to stand before Him now and forever,without fault and with great joy… go back to His agenda,which is to come and to die for you,and to rise again,to give you that absolute assurance.

I want to finish by asking you to notice something very interesting about this story of these two on the road:  and that is,that when the teaching seminar is over,they do not seem to know who Jesus is.  They are affected,but they don’t seem to be converted.  The best Teacher in the universe has given them the best seminar in the universe,and they are not Christians.  Gee I find that comforting.  I’m a very ordinary teacher,and I am giving you a very ordinary message this morning.  It’s just about the best I can do.  But I can’t make anybody a Christian.

Jesus once gave bread to Judas.  You’d think if you got your communion for Jesus,you would be really blessed,wouldn’t you.  But Judas never became a Christian.  Jesus taught these two men on the road.  You’d think if you’d been taught by Jesus,you’d really be a Christian.  But these two men were taught on the road,but they were not yet Christian.  Because you see,Christianity is a two-way process,and these men,you will see in Verses 28-29,want more than teaching. 

And I think that’s the purpose of 28 and 29.  They begged Jesus to,as it were,come in.  I think this is a description of people who are wanting information and fellowship,and if you are here this morning,and you want the information of Easter,and you want fellowship of the risen Christ,you are really on the right road.

I don’t exactly know what the lesson of these inviting Jesus into their home is meant to teach us,but let’s be absolutely clear:  they are spiritually blind when Jesus walks into their house.  And then,suddenly,they see,and they begin to realise who He is.  And a miracle (in Verse 31) takes place.

And therefore,learn from this story that it’s possible to know the facts of Jesus.  It’s possible to know about the empty tomb.  It’s possible to hear sermons… and never become a Christian,because you need to ask Him for something brand new in you.  And if you are person here this morning,and you know that you have the information of Easter,but you do not have eternal life,you do not have a fellowship with Him,ask Him and ask Him and ask Him,until you have the truth and the life.  And if you are a person this morning,and you know that you have the information of Christ and eternal life,thank Him and thank Him and thank Him,because you will never die.

That I think is the Emmaus road Easter Day story.  Two men on the path of disappointment.  Bad listeners.  Faulty interpreters.  Devastated in their hopes.  This wonderful Lord Jesus crosses their path,just as today,He may be arresting your path through this sermon,and He may be bringing you back to the Scriptures,where you must begin,and He may be changing your thinking about what He has come to do,for you,which is not to make your life perfect,but to die for you and to rise again for you… and He draws you back to Himself.  And you must make the step of saying to Him,’I want You.’ 

And when these two men are finished,that day… far from disappointed,they run all the way back,to tell other people such good news.