Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? Luke 24:25-26

Jesus Christ rose from the dead, just as He said.

It is remarkable that although the truth of the resurrection was plain to see, all of the disciples doubted it. Mary Magdalene, to whom Jesus first ap­peared, thought in her grief that someone had stolen her Master’s body. The apostles, including Peter and John, thinking the women were speaking idle tales, did not believe them at first. Thomas refused to believe unless he could see the nail prints in Jesus’ hands. They were “fools and slow of heart to believe.” Not fools in the sense of someone who rejects God (cf. Ps. 14:1), but fools in the sense of being dull-witted and lacking understanding.

Such was the case also for the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Nor can we blame them, since, having the same weakness of the flesh, we would have doubted too.

By God’s grace, however, the disciples came to believe, including the two disciples on the road to Em­maus. So too, by God’s grace, we believe the resurrec­tion of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The day being far spent, Cleopas and another disciple, probably his wife, were on the road home to Emmaus, some seven miles from Jerusalem. On the way, they had plenty of time to talk about everything that had transpired that day and the previous days. No doubt the only topic of conversation was Jesus Christ. However, they were not talking about His resurrection; rather, they spoke of His death and their own disap­pointment.

Their sad words corresponded to the dark and sul­len look on their faces. When Jesus approached them, He asked them about their words as well as their looks: “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk and are sad?” (Luke 24:17).

They were sad because they were talking about the events of the past few days, including that resurrection morn. Rumors about the resurrection had already spread. They had learned about the women finding the tomb empty. They had heard about the angel’s announcement that Jesus was alive. They had received news that others who visited the tomb found it was empty. The disciples on the road to Emmaus should have rejoiced in the wonderful truth of the resurrec­tion. If only they had understood all the events of that day, they would have been ecstatic.

But now they were sad. Perhaps they had also heard that the soldiers who guarded the tomb were reporting that Jesus’ body was stolen while they slept.

As they made their way home, the disciples tried to make sense out of everything that had happened. It’s not as if they rejected Jesus; they simply could not grasp the significance of everything that had occurred and of the reports they were hearing. Often we are like these disciples: without all the pieces to the puzzle, we fail to understand important doctrines; or we do not understand why God would send this or that trial in our lives. No matter how much we talk, we do not see the big picture. We too are “fools and slow of heart to believe.”

As the disciples tried to make sense of all the events, Jesus approached them and asked about their perplex­ity. He did this, even though He knew exactly what they were talking about. Surprised that someone might not know about the earthshaking events of the last few days, Cleopas responds, “Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?” (Luke 24:18). To which Jesus replies, “What things?”

What is it that made these disciples so sad on this resurrection day, the most glorious day in earth’s his­tory?

The chief priests and rulers of the Jews had delivered Jesus of Nazareth to be condemned and crucified. As a result of this great injustice, their hopes had been dashed. They had “trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel . . .” (Luke 24:21). The fact that Jesus had been killed—by the most horrible death of the cross, of all things—made it appear that their future King had been defeated.

But the real problem was their lack of understanding of the Scriptures. They were reasoning and commun­ing, trying to make sense of all the events; but they were not using (or they were lacking) key truths of Scripture. They did not understand that Christ would come into His kingdom through suffering. Nor did they appreci­ate the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom. As long as they did not consider the truth of Scripture, their thoughts were a jumbled mess.

Does that not describe us when we fail to frame our circumstances according to the truth of Scripture? Instead of rejoicing in the great truth that we belong to our faithful Savior, our thoughts become jumbled. Instead of seeing every circumstance as part of God’s glorious plan to save His church, we become perplexed, missing the forest for all of the trees. Like the disciples on the Emmaus road, we need to be instructed from Scripture.

Having heard the disciples’ story, Jesus took aim at the heart of the problem, i.e., the problem of their hearts: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24:25).

The problem was that they were dull-witted as regards the truth of Scripture. Although the truth was there, they did not understand it properly. They believed some of what the prophets had spoken; but they were slow to believe all of it. They believed that the Messiah would come; but they did not understand that He must enter His kingdom by way of humilia­tion. Like these disciples, it’s easy for us to form wrong views when we pick and choose particular passages of Scripture to the exclusion of others. The solution is to study, humbly listen to, and then submit to the whole of God’s Word.

In the face of their misunderstanding, Jesus asks, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26). Notice, when He answers the question, Jesus does not use mere human reasoning; rather, He argues out of the Scriptures. Jesus well understood the power of God’s Word to convince, when that Word is applied by the Holy Spirit.

Thus, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, Je­sus taught the disciples about Himself. Beginning at the mother promise in Genesis 3:15, Jesus could have shown that crushing the serpent’s head involved the bruising of the Messiah’s heel. Likely He pointed to the typical sacrifices in the book of Leviticus. Maybe He made explicit reference to the suffering servant of Jehovah in Isaiah 53. Perhaps He referred to the suf­fering expressed in Psalm 22 and Psalm 69. These are explicit references pointing to Jesus’ suffering. But Jesus under­stood that every page of Scripture has meaning only as it relates to Him.

The disciples had assumed that Jesus of Nazareth could not be the Messiah because He had suffered and died. But the overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that the Messiah must suffer: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things?” Was it not in this way that our sins would be atoned for? Was it not in this way that He would enter into His glory?

Jesus’ words certainly did not fall on deaf ears. As the disciples listened intently and were instructed, their hearts burned within them. Things were begin­ning to make sense. When they arrived home, in what must have seemed like a very short time, Jesus “made as though he would have gone further. But, they con­strained him, saying, Abide with us . . .” (Luke 24:28, 29).

When Jesus sat down to eat with them, He took the bread and brake it and gave it to them. Just then their eyes were opened so that they recognized Jesus. But as soon as they recognized Him, Jesus disappeared from their midst.

Jesus graciously revealed the truth and Himself to His disciples. Once they recognized Him, the puzzle pieces fell into place. Finally they believed His words concerning His suffering and glorification. Yes, Jesus must suffer; but now He is risen!

Such wonderful news the disciples could not keep to themselves: “And they rose up the same hour and returned to Jerusalem . . .” (Luke 24:33). They urgently want to share the good news with the disciples back in Jerusalem. Even before they arrive, the disciples there had become convinced of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hearing the testimony, “The Lord is risen in­deed, and hath appeared to Simon,” the two Emmaus disciples added their own words to the growing chorus of eyewitness accounts.

Is that the case with us? By grace the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection has been revealed to us. Do our hearts burn as we rehearse this glorious truth? Do we desire to confess the truth together as the body of Christ? Knowing and understanding the truth of the gospel, do we desire to share it with others?

Christ had to suffer and die. But, wonderfully, He is risen and has entered His glory. From there He gra­ciously reveals Himself to us, who by nature are fools and slow of heart to believe.

The Savior did not leave us in our ignorance. Nor will He leave us to ourselves in the byways of this world. Rather, by His Holy Spirit, He will instruct us along the way and convince us of that which we need to know. And, finally, He will bring us into His glory.

Blessed be His glorious name as we confess the glori­ous news of Christ’s resurrection!