“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? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Then said He unto them…
The risen Lord about to expound the Scriptures!
And to an audience which is berated by Him as fools, and slow of heart to believe all tha the prophets have spoken; an audience whose eyes were holden that they should not know Him, and who therefore considered Him a stranger not only because they could not recognize Him, but also because He impressed them as one who was entirely unaware of the events as they had transpired in and out of Jerusalem in the last days.
It was an audience that consisted of only two men, the name of the one is mentioned as Cleopas. Shall we conjecture that the name of the other was Luke, the physician? And that on the ground that he is the only one of the gospel narrators who mentions this incident; and who, like John, would be reluctant to mention his name?
Not a prominent place did they occupy in the disciple group, such as did Peter, James, and John; but disciples none the less who loved the Lord, though they had great difficulty in understanding Him. Who believed in Him, though they could not always present a clear dogmatic system of what they believed. Who followed Jesus, not for the bread that perishes, but for the words which He spoke, though they were not always competent to comprehend all that He had revealed unto them.
And they were troubled! . . .
Events had happened all too swiftly for them. Though they most likely had not been present at the scene of the crucifixion, they nevertheless had been thoroughly informed of the fact. And their hearts were filled with questionings. How could it be that the One on Whom they had set their hope that He would redeem Israel, . . . how could it be that He gave Himself so submissively over to the will of His enemies? How could this be reconciled with His undoubted pretensions as a prophet, mighty in word and in deeds? If He was truly the Messiah as He so often led them to believe, how is it then that He had to die? This was, indeed, the heart of their problem!
But there is more. On this very day they had heard that He was risen from the dead. Certain women of their company had reported to them that they had gone to the tomb and found it empty. Also they had said that angels had revealed to them that He was alive. That the grave was empty, they had no difficulty in believing, because others of their company had gone to the grave and reported that it was even as the women had said. But Him they had not seen! And so long as they themselves had not seen Him, what were they to believe?
Such were the troubles that filled their aching hearts, and that brought sadness to their faces. This was the subject of their conversation as they were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and. as they argued in the way.
It was at this point that the Stranger met them! Hardly had they noticed that He was walking with them, so deeply were they involved in their argumentation. It was He Who interrupts their line of reasoning with the question:
What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk and are sad?
Almost instantaneously Cleopas retorts with a faint rebuke: Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
Then the Lord, knowing precisely the subject of their conversation; and Pedagogue that He is, Who, knowing that the best way for them to resolve their problem was to state it clearly, asked them: What things?
They reply: the things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, . . . how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel . . . How could it be that the Messiah must die in order to redeem us, and through this way to enter into His glory?
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?
How is it that you do not yet understand?
Indeed, a stupid audience!
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Most capable Expositor!
By no means was He the stranger they had thought Him to be!
O, it is true that their eyes still were holden that they should not know really who He was. Presently their eyes would be opened, and they would know Him when just as wonderfully as He has appeared unto them He would also vanish from their sight. And so long as they remained the fools and slow of heart to believe, so long also would their eyes be holden, not only to behold the risen Lord, but even more importantly their hearts would be unable to understand the things concerning Himself. When, on the other hand, their eyes would be opened to behold Him, then also would they be able to say, as they did say, “Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us in the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”
The Expositor is, of course, none other than the risen Lord Himself!
He Who was the subject of their conversation, the very One Whose work they could not understand, Whose death proved to be the enigma—the stumbling question, the puzzle question, that did not seem to fit anywhere in the general lay-out as they were trying to piece it together. He is about to point them to that puzzle-piece that will make the whole picture to become beautifully complete and reveal to them at the same time the whole of the counsel of God concerning their redemption.
And beautiful method of exposition He uses; for He begins by asking them their own question. “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” As soon as that question is asked, you must revert back to God from Whom all necessity must proceed. Simply because nothing has any right of existence without Him, and all things proceed out of His eternal will and decree. No less is this true with respect to Christ’s suffering and death. In one word, it was God’s eternal purpose to glorify Himself, and to do this precisely through the way of sin and grace, the fall and redemption of His people: through the suffering and death of Christ to lead His people to glory.
A burning exposition!
He expounds unto them in all the scriptures!
Beginning with Moses!
Surely they must remember how this secondary author of Scripture in the very first book of his Pentateuch, and in the opening chapters of that book, spoke of the so-called Mother Promise, how God would set enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, which would climax in the crushing of the serpent’s head and the bruising of the heel of the seed of the woman. Never should they forget how this same Moses gave the dispensation of the law which magnified our sin and guilt, and which compelled us to flee to Christ Who was to come and become a curse for us. Mindful they should also be how that in ceremony and sacrifice, in altar and tabernacle that prophet of God was showing to them, as it were in pictures, precisely how the. Lord was going to save His people—not by the blood of bulls and goats—but by the blood of the Lamb which taketh away the sin of the world.
And all the prophets! . . .
As a golden thread, what Moses said, was woven into all that was spoken and written by all the seers God raised up. Undoubtedly the Lord reminded His audience of especially the Psalms of David which etched in various shades and hues the portrait of the dying, rising, and ascending Saviour. And because the Word so minutely described the suffering, dying, and exalted Redeemer, He more than likely recited for them most of Isaiah 53. He must have reflected on the night visions of Daniel, who beheld the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven in His glory, crowned with dominion and glory only after He had first deeply humbled Himself. And we can almost hear Him repeating the words of Micah—”But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be ruler, deliverer of Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Jesus—Jehovah Who saves His people from their sins.
In answer to the question: Ought not the Christ to have suffered and thus to enter into His glory? He step by step leads them through the Scriptures, which from beginning to end reveal that divine necessity for Christ coming into our world to suffer and die for the salvation of His people. And that He could rise again and go to glory only after He had first laid down His life for His own.
Why must He die? . . .
Because it was necessary, in the first place, from the point of view of God’s counsel and purpose. Secondly, the historical necessity was our sin and guilt, for which atonement could be made in no other way than the death of the Son of God in the flesh.
Indeed, a burning exposition!
Here was no appeal to their sentimental and emotional feelings, though no doubt they were at the moment emotionally beside themselves—for their faces were sad. Here was no display of human philosophy with its mere play on their human reasoning faculties.
Rather, it was a clear, authoritative setting forth of the Word of God, which alone has appeal to faith which had been implanted in their hearts.
The things concerning Himself! . . .
O, how well He knew them! For it was precisely this Divine plan as set forth in the Scriptures which He had followed to the minutest detail. Always He was deeply conscious of His calling to fulfill the Scriptures. And therefore no one better than He could expound to them that which concerned Himself.
And now He does it as the risen Lord! Because the Scriptures were fulfilled, and all that He had accomplished met the requirement of the Word of God, He could rise again and minister that Word unto those for whom He died.
When the slow of heart to believe hear such exposition of the Word of God, their hearts must burn within them.
Then their foolishness turns to true wisdom, which is that grace of God in us that is able to see the divine purpose in all of its wonderful implications.
By the grace of the risen Lord!