Jesus Himself Stood Among Them

Bible Book: Luke  24 : 13-36
Subject: Resurrection; Jesus, Presence of
Introduction

At the southernmost point of South Africa is a cape where the storms rage most of the time. For a thousand years no one knew what lay beyond that cape because no ship had ever returned to tell the tale. The cape was called the Cape of Storms. In the sixteenth century a Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, successfully sailed around the cape and found beyond it a great calm sea and eventually he discovered the shores of India. So the name of the cape was changed to the Cape of Good Hope.

Until that first Easter morning, death had been the cape of storms for everyone. No one knew what lay beyond the grave. But now, in the light of Easter, the Christian knows death as the cape of good hope. He leads us through death. Thus, all of us who know Him come to the Easter Season gratitude in our hearts and praise on our lips for the risen Savior. So it is exciting to preach God’s Word today and to proclaim the ever-living Son of God, Jesus Christ.

If I could give this sermon a subtitle it would be, What A Difference A Day Makes. On Thursday evening when Jesus was arrested, the disciples were frightened. On Friday, when Jesus was crucified, they were confused. On Saturday, when He lay in the tomb, they were sorrowful and defeated. But, then came Sunday! Yes, then came Sunday and everything changed. They went from sorrow to shouting, from worrying to witnessing, from tears to triumph in one day. The poet wrote,

Lift up your heads you sorrowing ones,

Lift up your very heart,

For earth’s saddest day and earth’s gladdest day,

Are just one day apart. (William Cowper 1731-1800)

Jesus came forth from the tomb with the keys to death, hell and the grave in His nail-scarred hand and the words King of Kings and Lord of Lords written on His vesture. He left behind a tomb different from all others on earth. The pyramids of Egypt are famous because they once contained the mummified bodies of ancient Egyptian kings. Westminster Abbey in London is renowned because in it rest the bodies of famous people. Mohammed’s tomb is noted for the stone coffin and the bones which it contains. Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D. C., is revered, for it is the honored resting place of many outstanding Americans. But the empty tomb in the Holy Land speaks of the One who overcame death and left the door open for the light of life to shine in!

But acceptance of His resurrection took a few hours to sink in. You just don’t expect to see someone walking the street whom you have seen die right before your eyes.

An amazing story that appeared a few years ago that illustrates this point. A judge in Yugoslavia had an unfortunate accident. He was electrocuted when he reached up to turn on the light while standing in the bathtub. His wife found his body sprawled on the bathroom floor. Help arrived, but the man was pronounced dead. He was taken to the local funeral home and the local radio station told the story of his death for everyone to hear. In the middle of the night, the judge came to. He realized where he was, and rushed over to alert the night watchman, who promptly ran off, terrified. I think you can understand the night watchman at the funeral home running away if a corpse suddenly walks up and begins a conversation with you. The judge quickly got to a phone, called his wife to tell her he was alright. He said, Darling, it's me, and she screamed and fainted. He tried calling a couple of the neighbors but they all thought it was some sort of sick prank. He even went so far as to go to the homes of several friends but they were all sure he was a ghost. Finally, he was able to call a friend in the next town who hadn't heard of his death. This friend was able to convince his family and other friends that he really was alive.

Jesus was alive, but now He had to convince His followers that it was true. Following His resurrection, Jesus walked along a road leading from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a village about 7 miles from the Holy City. Along the road He joined two men who had been followers of His who had witnessed the crucifixion. Our message today comes from the encounter Jesus had with those two men and what transpired as a result of that encounter. Those men would never be the same after seeing the risen Christ. No one can be the same who entertains the living, risen Son of God, believes upon Him and accepts all that He offers. Lets look at six changes that took place in the lives of the Emmaus disciples.

I. Look at their Fervency

They spoke of the fire that had been kindled inside of them as Jesus opened to them the Word and revealed Himself to them in the Old Testament Scriptures. They had been downhearted. They were depressed. They were defeated. But the presence of the living, risen Savior changed all of that.

Jesus opened up to them an understanding and awareness of the Scripture. He pointed out that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer. Why necessary? Because without His sacrifice we would all be lost - lost forever.

Jesus spoke to the disciples to instruct and inspire them. He did this resulting in two important divine manifestations. How wonderful His voice must have been, and how powerful is was, as He shared with them out of the Word of God.

He speaks and the sound of His voice,

Is so sweet the birds hush their singing.

And the melody that He gives to me,

Within my heart is ringing.

And He walks with me and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own:

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

None other has ever known.

So Jesus spoke to them. He pointed out to them that all of the Old Testament was about the Messiah. He revealed that the prophecy of the Old Testament clearly revealed that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer.

Perhaps Jesus reminded them of the bruised heel passage of Genesis 3:15, where Messiah was to crush the Serpent's head and in return He was to suffer injury Himself as well.

Perhaps He explained to them that day about Moses lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness and how that was Messiah becoming a representation of sin on their behalf.

He probably showed then how Abraham's offering of Isaac, his only son was a type of God the Father offering the life of His only Son.

He must have mentioned the typology of the Passover lamb suffering on behalf of the sins or the people.

Maybe he showed them David's description of the crucifixion in Psalm 22 (written a thousand years in advance) and the beautiful picture of the suffering Savior in Isaiah 53.

He must have mentioned Daniel's predicting the time of the coming of Messiah and His cutting off in Daniel 9.

Perhaps He spoke of Zechariah's pierced victim and the Shepherd that was stricken down and the sheep scattered.

And there must have been more because Luke tells us that He explained to them all the things concerning Himself in all the scriptures.

He built a fire within them as He opened to them the Scriptures. There are over 300 prophetic passages in the Old Testament that point specifically to the life of Jesus in the New Testament. As Jesus shared them, a fire began to burn within them. They were set on fire. The cold heart of doubt was changed to the flaming heart of faith!

How desperately we need a new generation to be set on fire with the illumination of the Word of God. Only Jesus can do that. It is not cold, hard facts that change us, but the fire of His presence making the Scripture come alive.

II. Look at their Energy

The disciples had been in Jerusalem for the Passover and had witnessed the death of Jesus. They remained in Jerusalem throughout the Sabbath, which was all day Saturday, and then returned to Emmaus the next day. As they made their way along the road home, they talked. The picture given to us concerning them is one that is gloomy and somber. Their heads were sagging and their hearts were sorrowing. Even though the seven mile trip from Jerusalem was mostly downhill, they could hardly make it.

Then Jesus joined them. At first they did not recognize Him. When they did come to see who He was, they were suddenly transformed. Enthusiasm filled them. You know, do you not, that the word enthusiasm comes from two Greek words meaning "God in you!" God was with them and they were suddenly energized!

The two discouraged disciples became the two dynamic disciples. They leaped to their feet and agreed at once to head back to Jerusalem to tell the others. They almost floated all the way to Jerusalem.

When they were going downhill from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they could hardly make it. but now they almost ran uphill all the way to the city. Realizing that you are in the presence of the King of Kings does something to you. You show me a person who needs new energy and I will show you a person who needs the presence of Christ. He will put a spring in your step!

III. Look at their Ecstasy

Before seeing the risen Christ, they were downcast. Once they had seen Him, they were lifted up in ecstasy and joy. They must have laughed all the way back to Jerusalem.

The songwriter penned:

I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart,

Down in my heart, down in my heart,

I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart,

Down in my heart to stay.

The Emmaus disciples had joy, real joy, down in their hearts. It was enough that they had seen the risen Christ. Just think about, they forgot every other worldly issue. None of life’s troubles could discourage or defeat them now! They had an ecstasy which only comes from Jesus.

IV. Look at their Bravery

Then, look at their bravery. They had left Jerusalem, even though other disciples had remained there. Perhaps they were frightened by the thought of all that could happen to them following the crucifixion. That lost all that fear once they saw the risen Christ. Now they raced back to the city they once feared. They are brave because they no longer fear death.

They are also brave enough now that they have seen the risen Christ to speak up for Him. Surely they knew that the other disciples would think they had lost their minds. But they did not care what others thought. They knew what they knew, and they knew that they knew it!!! We cannot help but speak the things which we have seen and heard. I rejoice in the bravery which the risen Christ can give to His people.

V. Look at their Company

When they stood among the disciples taking their stand for the risen Christ, the risen Christ stood with them. They were not alone. Neither are any of the people who truly stand for Jesus, even when you are standing among an unbelieving crowd. They were in the company of Jesus.

Also, note that they were not aware at every moment that He was present. They stood for Him without seeing Him. They simply knew He was alive. They knew He would never really be far from them. They spoke up for Him because they had seen alive, victorious! Stand up for Jesus and He will stand up for you. He did that for these disciples, He did that for Stephen, He will do that for you.

VI. Look at their Eternity

Though it is not mentioned here, I cannot help but think about their eternity. Life is so short. Whatever they had to do for Jesus was soon over. But their work for and with Jesus is still going on to this day! When they lives ended here, they simply went from have Christ with them to being with Him. The living, risen Savior said that all those who believe on Him will live.

Does the thought of death place a dark cloud over your head? Are you facing experiences in life which seem like dark storms gathering around you? Remember what the poet wrote:

"Ye Fearful saints fresh courage take,

The clouds ye so much dread,

Are big with mercy and shall break

With blessings on your head."

Conclusion:

They disciples went from Worry to Wonder, from Wonder to Worship, from Worship to Witness. They progressed along a line of ascending virtues based on their relationship with the risen Savior.

Do you know Him? Has He taken the fear out of death for you? He can do that. He can forgive your sins and grant you His peace? He is alive. He is here today. He will accept you, if you will come to Him. You need not fear life or death.

Winston Churchill was a believer in the resurrection. I cannot tell you how he carried out the responsibilities of that belief, but I do know that he arranged his own funeral. At the end of the service, Churchill had an unusual event planned. When they said the benediction, a bugler high in the dome of the Cathedral on one side played Taps, the universal signal that the day is over. There was a long pause. Then a bugler on the other side played Reveille, the military wake up call.

It was Churchill's way of communicating that while we say "Good night" here, it's "Good morning" up there. That is the significance of the resurrection to you and me.

Do you know Him? Is the thought of death down here just a wake up call from heaven. up there? It can be and it will be if you will turn to Him and trust Him by faith to be your Lord and Savior.

"As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev's widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev's wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband's chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband." Gary Thomas, in (Christianity Today, October 3, 1994, p. 26)

Friend, Jesus is alive. Let this fact create in all those who know Him, a Fervency, Energy, Bravery, and bright eternity, all united with the fact that in Christ we are in great Company forevermore!

(Invitation)