The Return of the King (Luke 24:13-35)
Last week we considered the triumphal entry of Jesus as he rode upon a donkey into Jerusalem with a large crowd shouting “Hosanna in the highest!” They were ready to crown him as their king. They viewed him as the Messiah, the promised Savior. But they limited his reign to a physical throne, and his salvation to political freedom.
Jesus came to accomplish so much more. The entrance of the King was merely set up for a swift departure. Jesus did indeed triumph, but it was through his death upon a cross. As our King, Jesus defeats all his and our enemies, the greatest of which is our own sin and misery. In order to be forgiven, satisfaction for the penalty of sin had to be made. Jesus was the perfect Lamb whose sacrifice was satisfactory once and for all. There would be no more bloodshed for the forgiveness of sins. The temple curtain that separated the Most Holy place from the inner court was torn from top to bottom. Now, anyone could have free access to God through faith in Jesus.
But that was not all. In order to prove his redemptive power and to show that indeed sin and death had been defeated, the King had to return. And that’s what he did. Jesus rose again from the dead. This morning we will read about the event of the resurrection, but I want to focus most of our time upon a particular encounter that a couple of disciples had with the Risen King.
Pray and Read Luke 24:1-35
The last chapter of the gospel of Luke is one of the most important passages of the New Testament. It is here that Jesus confirms the ultimate purpose of the Old Testament (v.27). If the Old Testament does not in some way point to Christ, then we have read it wrong.
These disciples had read their bibles wrong. They, like most of Jesus’ disciples, were confused about the Savior who was to come and rescue them. It wasn’t until Jesus accurately taught them the Scriptures that their eyes were opened and they were able to rightly see Him.
All of us begin with that same problem. We need eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe. Without them we cannot know Christ. Apart from a right understanding of Christ, we cannot know God. And if we do not know God, then we have no hope beyond this brief life. But the returning King taught everyone with eyes to see, where He could always be found.
Before we can hear the solution, we must begin with the…
The Problem of Unbelief (13-24)
These two disciples had a distorted view of the person, purpose, and power of Jesus Christ.
A distorted view of the person of Christ (16) – They didn’t recognize Jesus. In fact, they were kept from recognizing him. Of all people, these two disciples would not have been apprehensive to believe. The reason they don’t is because God had not given them this ability. This wasn’t because Jesus looked different. The text specifically tells us that they were kept from recognizing him. God had not given them eyes to see Him for who He was.
A distorted view of the purpose of Christ (21) – They anticipated a temporal, physical redemption rather than the eternal, spiritual redemption Christ brought. They fully expected the Messiah to overthrow the Roman authorities, to take over Caesar’s throne, and to establish an earthly reign right then and there. They didn’t realize that Christ’s purpose was much greater. He hadn’t come to merely rescue a small nation in a particular part of the world. He had come to rescue people from every nation–no tribe, people, or language would be overlooked.
A distorted view of the power of Christ (22-24) – They didn’t believe the reports of the resurrection. If they had, instead of leaving Jerusalem, they would have been waiting for his return.
Since the fall, when Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, our vision has been distorted. What we see is no longer accurate or true. Everywhere we look it’s as if we are peering through fog. We are blinded by the fog. All of us are born spiritually blind.
In all likelihood, these disciples had heard a lot of bible stories. They grew up hearing them every Sabbath. It isn’t enough to simply read the bible. You must read it with eyes that have been opened by God to see its truth.
All of us begin with a distorted view of God. Unless the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to see the truth, we will not understand the Bible. We will be just like the disciples here, unable to recognize Christ and appreciate the significance of his life and death.
The problem of unbelief is that it distorts our view of Christ. Our only hope is to rightly understand…
The Solution of Christ (25-27)
Involves Criticism (25) – Jesus calls these two disciples “foolish” and “slow of heart to believe”. Now, I’m not saying Jesus angrily shouted “YOU FOOLS!!!” But neither was he speaking to them in a light and frivolous tone. This was a serious mistake that Jesus criticized.
Involves Correction (26) – Jesus corrects his disciples with a question. They thought Jesus was going to overthrow the political system and sit upon an earthly throne. They expected Jesus to confront the Roman authorities, not the Jewish authorities.
Involves Christ (27) – How marvelous it would have been to hear that sermon! Considering the journey was just over seven miles, he was probably preaching for a couple hours. What did he tell them? What passages did he refer to? How did he point them to himself? The fact that the words of this sermon were not recorded compels us to search for Christ every time we open our bible.
Ryle “Christ was the substance of every Old Testament sacrifice, ordained in the law of Moses. Christ was the true Deliverer and King, of whom all the judges and deliverers in Jewish history were types. Christ was the coming Prophet greater than Moses, whose glorious advent filled the pages of the prophets. Christ was the true seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent’s head,–the true seed in whom all nations were to be blessed,–the true Shiloh to whom the people were to be gathered,–the true Lamb to which every daily offering pointed,–the true High Priest of whom every descendant of Aaron was a figure.”1
Christ’s preaching in this passage stands in stark contrast to some of the most prominent preachers on television today. Joel Osteen characterizes himself as a motivational speaker more than a pastor. You will not hear him talk about sin, or the wrath of God, or judgement. He avoids anything negative.
Where there is no criticism, where there is no correction, there can be no CHRIST!
Scripture, on the other hand, changes our faulty view of ourselves. Your biggest problem isn’t your circumstances. Your biggest problem isn’t someone else. Your biggest problem is – YOU! Your desires, thoughts, and actions are filled with impurities.
Scripture is not full of uplifting sayings that you repeat to yourself like Stuart Smalley. Scripture doesn’t teach how to have “your best life now”! If your bible doesn’t give you a critical assessment of human nature, you aren’t reading it correctly. If you read your bible to be cheered on, you will be frequently disappointed.
Scripture reshapes our view of reality. Just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus had to view their world in a new light, we too must undergo a paradigm shift in our worldview. When we read the Bible we should anticipate correction.
All Scripture points us to Christ. Scripture is not rightly interpreted if it does not teach us something about Christ. Each time you read the Bible—in Spirit and truth—you are drawing near to a person. You are learning more about your Savior. Sometimes you will learn about who He is. Other times you will learn about what He did. But you should always come away with a better understanding of Christ. He’s the solution, and he’s always found in His Word!
That leads us to our final point…
The Response of Faith (28-35)
After hearing Scipture rightly taught their eyes were opened (31). Salvation is the work of a sovereign God. You do not choose God unless He opens your eyes. He must give you the ability to believe the truth of His Word, or you will go on rejecting it every time you hear it.
Faith is Experiential – Their hearts burned within them (32).
Faith is Communal – They returned to the disciples and shared their testimony (33-35). This becomes even more significant when we recognize that they returned “that same hour” which would have been after it was already dark. They would have met back up with the disciples in Jerusalem very late into the night. You can sense the excitement and urgency to rejoice with the other disciples.
Hellen Keller was born healthy, but at 19 months she became ill (possibly scarlet fever) and lost the ability to see and hear. She began to communicate with her family using about 50 signs. At the age of 6 the family hired Anne Sullivan, also visually impaired, to be Keller’s instructor.
The first thing she taught her was how to spell words. She gave her a doll spelling “d-o-l-l” into the palm of Keller’s hand. Keller didn’t realize that a different word was used to identify each object. After a month of frustration, Keller had a breakthrough. Sullivan held Keller’s hand under running water while spelling “w-a-t-e-r” and it finally made sense to Keller. She immediately ran from object to object so she could learn the spelling. She now began to understand her world in an entirely new way.
Now, I don’t know how that worked in her mind. One moment she was confused and frustrated; the next moment it all made sense. That’s what faith looks like. Once you have really seen Christ, there is an earnest desire for more of Him. Show me Christ from every angle imaginable. When our distorted vision is repaired, we can’t help but become enamored with the things that delight God. We seek to know him and see him more clearly. And Christ’s beauty is infinite. We will never come to the end of our growth in Christ–even into eternity!
Have you experienced faith? Have you ever felt like a preacher was speaking to you the exact words you needed to hear? It’s almost like you are the only one in the room and nothing else matters but what you are hearing. Distractions vanish. Daydreaming ceases. You are engaged like never before. When the Holy Spirit grabs your attention, everything else fades away.
These disciples wanted nothing else. Their hearts burned for more of Christ. They begged Him to remain with them (v.29). Have you ever felt that way? Or maybe I should ask it this way: Do you still feel that way? Can you remember the last time the Word of God was a delight to your soul? Jesus is ready to receive you. The Holy Spirit can lead you to him when you open his word in faith.
Does your faith lead you into fellowship or isolation? Church is frustrating for many people. They have been burned too many times by the pastor or the people. And I’ll be the first to admit that the church is full of sinners who can be judgmental and negative. You will never find the perfect church.
The Church has always struggled to be faithful. But she is the bride of Christ. As often as she turns away from Him, He will never abandon her. And so, neither can we. Church is necessary to your spiritual growth. To the degree that you decide to isolate yourself from the Christian community is the degree that you will stunt your growth in Christ. You can’t have one without the other.
- . Ryle, J.C. Expository Thoughts: Vol. 2 Luke, p.501. ↩︎