On the Road to Emmaus, These Disciples Connected the Dots. Have You?

Shortly after Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, some disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus with a Rabbi who obviously knew the Old Testament pretty well… They didn’t seem to know this Rabbi, but he was bold enough to be somewhat sharp with them: “He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27 NIV)

A Turn of Events

After the death of Jesus, several disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus, discussing the recent events. They were downcast because their hopes that Jesus might have been the Messiah had been shattered by the crucifixion. Gamaliel said as much to the Sanhedrin in Acts 5. Would-be messiah figures and self-proclaimed deliverers apparently came along fairly often in occupied Judea. This downcast group of travelers seemed ready to accept the bad news and move along.

This whole Messiah thing had not turned out the way they expected– no victory over Rome, no Messianic kingdom… The strange Rabbi joined their conversation along the way. (He happened to be Jesus, but they did not recognize him.) He used the Prophets and the Scriptures to give them a more comprehensive view of the Messiah’s purpose and mission. Luke doesn’t tell us exactly what he said, but apparently it opened their eyes to some new possibilities about life and truth.

What the Scriptures Said

Perhaps he quoted Isaiah 53 and talked about the suffering servant. Maybe he directed them to Zechariah 12:10. (“They will look on him whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son”). He might have referred to Psalm 22 and its graphic depiction of a crucifixion. He could have quoted Isaiah 40:3 to remind them that John’s mission was to prepare the way of the Lord…

Walking along the road, Jesus pointed out that the Old Testament was full of references to him and his work. It was something the disciples had not noticed and did not understand. The disciples had to see the larger context. They needed to lay aside their own preconceived notions about Jesus to see who he really was. As John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you already know it all that counts.”

Question: what preconceived notions do you have about Jesus that keep you from seeing who he really is? How well do you know what the prophets and the Old Testament Scriptures said about him? If the Bible is a tapestry, then the Old Testament contains dozens of threads woven into its fabric of law, genealogy, history, poetry, and prophecy that point to a coming Messiah, and which find fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. The disciples on the road to Emmaus knew the Scriptures, but until they compared them to the person of Jesus, they failed to connect the dots. Upon realizing the connection, they said, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us when he talked with us on the road, and opened the Scriptures to us?”

If God Speaks and No One is Listening, Can They Still Hear Him?

As Hebrews 1:1 points out, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” It was ABOUT His Son that the Old Testament foretold. It is THROUGH His Son that God speaks today. What road are you on? Are you listening? And don’t just listen; while you are at it, connect the dots.

The Mysterious Traveling Companion

The road was long and weary; the disciples wondered why
Their hopes of liberty, along with Jesus, had to die...
A Rabbi joined their group and said, "This is no mystery!
The Scriptures all foretold exactly how this came to be!"
From Moses through the Prophets, he expounded as they walked,
Revealing truth about Messiah's mission as they talked.
At dinner, they reflected on the things that he had said,
And he revealed himself to them as they were breaking bread.
When he was gone, they went to tell their brothers what to do,
And how their hearts were burning as he told them what he knew.
You can hear the Scriptures too, and listen lots and lots;
But hear the word of God through Jesus: then, connect the dots.

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