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Along the Road!
Luke 24:13-35; Mark 16:12,13
"Jesus... having loved His own who were in the world,
Loved them to the end" (John 13:1).
We have illustrated in this manifestation the work
of the Lord Jesus as the believer's High Priest. The two disciples
referred to here were on the verge of giving up the faith, and it
was only the timely help ministered to them by the risen Lord that
prevented this. They still had a hope that the report of the women
might prove true, but it was very dim. They believed the testimony
of Peter and John that the body of the Lord had disappeared from the
tomb, but they had not the faith of His resurrection yet.
The Lord does not manifest Himself to their sight nor
to their touch, in order to establish their faith in Him as the risen
One, but by presenting to them the Word of God. This is the one and
sufficient resource for faith in every circumstance. "Faith sets to
its seal that God is true" (John 3: 33). It was what He said to them
that revived their flagging faith, and filled their hearts with the
joy of a risen, triumphant Saviour.
Hitherto they had not believed all that the
prophets had spoken. They believed them when they spoke of the power
and glory of Messiah; but when the prophets spoke of shame and weakness
and spitting, of His rejection and death, these disciples felt like
Peter, when he said, "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not
be unto Thee" (Matt 16:22). But this was not the fruit of faith,
but of Satan. The enemy would always have us discredit the Word of
God; and he has often succeeded. But the Word of God is of the greatest
importance; not some of it, but all of it, from Moses to Revelation.
Alas how slow we are in our day to believe all that
the prophets have spoken. The Lord believed all, and beginning at
"Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all
the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."
Do we wonder that their hearts burned within them?
It would have been blessed to have heard this exposition of the Scriptures
from the lips of the Prince of expositors! Is this what we say? Brethren,
we have it all, written by the pen of the blessed Spirit, in the Old
and New Testaments. And He is still ministering these "things concerning
Himself," and how it makes our hearts burn within us! This is the
subject of all true ministry, and this is its effect.
Little or nothing is mentioned of these two disciples
in Scripture. They have been called unknown, obscure disciples, because
of this. But is this true? If it is, let me be obscure and unknown
too, if it is to such the Lord Jesus draws near and ministers the
things concerning Himself. Obscure and unknown though they may be,
they are known to Him, and the subjects of His love and ministry.
What would an apostleship be without this? The love of Christ to me
is the greatest thing in the world. Who can measure the importance
and blessedness of He "loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:
20). Beloved, if this does not awaken responsive affection in our
hearts and make us devoted to Him, nothing will.
But there is a blessed reason for leaving these two
disciples in such obscurity. It would not have been the same to me
at all if He had singled out John the beloved and someone else of
note among the apostles, to draw near to and comfort on this occasion.
We could not think of putting ourselves in John's class; and I would
not think that such deep interest in him was so remarkable.
But if He treats the unknown and obscure in this way, we belong to
this company and have a share in His love and ministry
--attentive, not only when we are happy and prosperous
spiritually, but also when clouds have come in to obscure His face,
and when our hearts have wandered and our affection grown cold. Yes,
we are assured of His love and service even if we have, through coldness
of heart, drifted into the hands of Satan, dishonored the Lord, and
brought reproach upon His name, as in the case of Peter. "Having loved
His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end"--loved
them through all their coldness and wandering of heart and sin. It
is easy for the believer to realize he is the object of the love and
service of his Saviour when he is obedient, but not so when wandering;
yet is he still the object of His love and care. He holds not Himself
aloof, nor is hardness in His tone.
These two Emmaus disciples did not go as far as Peter
in their failure. They were sad and perplexed, harassed by the darkness
of their unbelieving minds, and assailed by Satan. Jesus is touched
with their infirmities and draws near and ministers comfort and cheer
to their hearts.
As a Man on earth, Scripture was an all-sufficient
defense for our Lord: "By the words of Thy lips I have kept Me from
the paths of the destroyer." "It is written" warded off every blow
the enemy directed at Him. He makes that same Word their defense here,
dispelling their doubts and. driving away the enemy and the darkness.
But the great thing for us is, He does this still,
not only to those of note, but to the weakest and least esteemed among
all His own. Whether we are considered important or essential does
not touch the fact that we are essential to Him. "His own!" What a
perfect heaven of joy there is in those words to the believer's soul.
"He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied."
We will now look at the Scripture which gives us this
fourth appearing. First, in Mark's account, we notice that the Lord
appeared to the Emmaus disciples in another form. He hides His natural
form, so familiar to them, and to carry out His own end of loving
ministry, He assumes a form under which they did not recognize Him.
Luke tells us another reason for their not recognizing the Lord: "their
eyes were holden." Both are true and belong to each other. They do
not recognize the Speaker, but they do the truth He ministers. This
is an illustration of the truth of what the Lord had said to the unbelieving
Jews, who boasted in their faith in Moses, while they rejected Him.
"Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of
Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words"
(John 5:46,47). Many in our day, who have grave doubts about Moses'
writings, but profess to believe the words of the Lord Jesus, would
do well to consider these words. The written ministry of Moses led
these two disciples to Christ. They could not do otherwise, for he
wrote of Christ, and they believed Moses.
Mark also tells us they "went into the country." They
were going away from Jerusalem; there was nothing in the city or its
surroundings to interest them now. He, whom they believed to be Israel's
Redeemer, had been mocked and crucified there, and, as they thought,
lay buried just outside its walls. His grave was the grave of all
their hopes. Why should they abide in Jerusalem? They evidently lived
in Emmaus, seven and a half miles away, and they had set out to walk
home with heavy hearts, and almost consumed with disappointment and
grief. It is Luke who tells us the name of the town, Emmaus means,"
in earnest longing." How significant! The meaning of the name indicates
the deep, earnest desire of their hearts. They were longing for that
loved One they had lost. Nothing remained for them, apparently, but
to talk over and over again those heart-breaking events which had
just transpired. The mighty One, "mighty in deed and word before God
and all the people," had been slain? Was He only another prophet to
be killed as all the rest had been in Jerusalem, the slaughter-house
of the prophets?
"They talked together of all these things which had
happened" (Luke 24:14). What should rivet our attention and comfort
our hearts is, that though they were going in the wrong direction,
"Jesus Himself drew near and went with them," and restored their flagging
faith, and bound their hearts to Himself, as they never had been before.
His drawing near is the fulfillment of what He had said to His own
before the cross: "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to
you" (John 14: 18). And again: "Ye now therefore have sorrow: but
I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice,
and your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16: 22).
They had had their hearts filled to overflowing with
sorrow over the loss of Him; they are now to have them overflow with
joy. That Great Shepherd of the sheep, brought again from the dead,
through the blood of the everlasting covenant, is at His work. The
God of Peace brought Him back, in order that He might minister a peace
and joy to His people, in the very midst of the sorrows of their way,
that nothing could rob them of (Heb. 13:20).
But, brethren, this--as all Scripture--was written
for our learning; because it is an illustration of how our High Priest
will continue to minister to all His own as long as they journey through
this world. "Jesus Himself drew near and went with them." How often
we find this fulfilled in our experience! He still draws near and
ministers to His tried and perplexed people, and comforts them in
the midst of their sorrows and disappointments. And it is not always
the enemy from without that harasses us. Often it is the one within
us, that evil heart of unbelief. But for Him, how often we would settle
down to this! It is at such times that He still draws near to us and
instructs and comforts us by the ministry of His Word; sometimes directly
and sometimes through the Word ministered by one of His own. In all
our journeys He journeys with us.
"Nothing save Him, in all our ways,
Giving the theme of ceaseless praise;
Our whole resource along the road,
Nothing but Christ--the Christ of God."
He has said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee"
(Heb. 13:5). And again, "In all their afflictions He was afflicted."
How perfect is His sympathy and how all-sufficient is His help! "The
Lord is at hand . . . Be careful for nothing" (Phil. 4); "Am I a God
at hand . . . and not a God afar off?" (Jer. 23:23).
"And they drew nigh unto the village whither they went:
and He made as though He would have gone further. But they constrained
Him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day
is far spent. And He went in to tarry with them" (vers. 28, 29). They
did not yet know their companion. They only saw in Him one who knew
the truth of God and who could speak about the One they loved best,
so as to make their hearts sing with joy. How closely this ministry
binds hearts together! But He will not go in without an invitation;
and they not only invite Him, but constrain Him to come in and stay
with them. His ministry had spoken to their hearts. It constrained
them, and now they constrained Him (2 Cor. 5:14).
He had opened the Scriptures to them and had expounded
unto them the things concerning Himself. They wished to hear more;
they had not heard enough; and who ever does hear enough? This kind
of ministry is never dull and tiresome; on the contrary, it revives
and refreshes the souls of His own. "And it came to pass as He sat
at meat with them, that He took bread and blessed it, and brake, and
gave to them, and their eyes were opened and they knew Him" (vers.
30,31). His ministry of the truth had had a tremendous effect on them;
and now, when the Lord proceeds (not as a guest, but as the Master
of the house, as was His well-known custom with His own), to break
the bread and pass it to them; and when, it may be, they saw those
wounds in His hands, their eyes were opened and they knew Him.
This twenty-fourth chapter of Luke begins with an opened
grave (ver. 2) and ends with an opened heaven (ver.
51). Between these two wonderful events, and founded on the opened
grave and the power of the One who had come out of it, the holden
eyes of the disciples are opened (ver. 31); the Scriptures
are opened (ver. 27) and shown to be full of the things concerning
Christ; and lastly, their understanding is opened so that the
Scriptures could be understood (ver. 45).
The frequency of the occurrence of the word "Himself"
is also full of sweet significance. It was Jesus Himself who
drew near and went with them, and showed them that the Scriptures
were full of the things concerning Himself. Again, it was Jesus
Himself who stood in their midst, and drew so near that they
could handle Him and see that it was indeed He Himself. Thus
one great object of the Christophanies is that He demonstrates to
His own that He is the same patient, tender, loving Jesus they had
known before the cross. And, brethren, it is that we may know
it too. Would we not have thought Him different, clothed in His glorified
body--a little further removed from us it may be, or not so really
a Man as He was before the cross? He could not be less divine. The
great object of the resurrection history of our Lord as well as of
all Scripture is that we may "know that the Son of God is come, and
hath given unto us an understanding, that we may know Him that is
true; and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ.
This is the true God, and eternal life. Children, keep yourselves
from idols" (1 John 5: 20, 21). If we have any other conception of
what the true God is other than as revealed in this risen, patient,
powerful, loving Man, we have an idol!
Thus, all through the journey here we have Him for
a Companion, Guide and Deliverer, who cares for us all along the way
and shields us from every enemy. Finally, the heavens are opened,
where our Object is, for us to look in and see Him crowned with glory
while we wait for Him to come and take us into the Father's house.
We have another interesting thing here in the oft-repeated
words, "He said unto them." They occur five times. When we remember
that this number in Scripture is stamped with the meaning, "the weak
with the strong, man with God," how significant it is! Besides, what
a wonderful witness it is to the value of all Scripture! Its importance
is in the fact that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God."
"And He vanished out of their sight." His object in
appearing to these two Emmaus disciples is accomplished; their darkness
has been dispelled, their doubts removed and their hopes restored.
They have Him again and their hearts are satisfied. So now He goes
to minister to others of His own in Jerusalem, who are gathered in
the upper room. But the two "said one to another, Did not our hearts
burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while
He opened to us the Scriptures? " (ver. 32). This is what made their
hearts burn. How blessed that that day is not over; for He still talks
to us through His written Word, and always with the same effect. If
we are His, this will make our hearts burn, and fill us with joy.
"And they rose up the same hour and returned to Jerusalem,
and found the eleven gathered together and them that were with them"
(ver. 33). This was evidently a large company. They had said to the
Lord that the day was too far spent for Him to go farther. But it
is not too far spent for them to walk the seven miles and a half back
to Jerusalem. His ministry has refreshed and rested them. They leave
the supper on the table, for they have a feast of fat things now,
and they must share it with their brethren. They know of other hearts
bowed down as theirs had been with a heavy weight of sorrow, and they
go to comfort them with the comfort they have been comforted with.
They find fresh joy in Jerusalem, for Simon is there, and they learn
that he too has seen the Lord. They are greeted on entering the room
by some who have, like themselves, the joy of the risen Saviour filling