Will you read with me a familiar portion of the Word of God in the 24th chapter of the gospel by Luke. The gospel by Luke, chapter 24, verses 13 to 31: "And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was threescore furlongs from Jerusalem. And they communed with each other of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, while they communed and questioned together, that Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him. And He said unto them, What communications are these that ye have one with another, as ye walk? And they stood still, looking sad. And one of them, named Cleopas, answering said unto Him, Dost thou alone sojourn in Jerusalem and not know the things which are come to pass there in these days? And He said unto them, What things? And they said unto Him, The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we hoped that it was He which should redeem Israel. Yea and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things came to pass. Moreover certain women of our company amazed us, having been early at the tomb; and when they found not His body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that He was alive. And certain of them that were with us went to the tomb, and found it even so as the women had said: but Him they saw not. And He said unto them, O foolish men, slow of heart to believe after all that the prophets have spoken! Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they were going: and He made as though He would go further. And they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. And He went in to abide with them. And it came to pass, when He had sat down with them to meat, He took the loaf and blessed it; and break it and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Was not our heart burning within us, while He spake to us in the way, while He opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up that very hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon."
I've added one or two verses to what I stipulated, but I think they were a necessary addition. Now, we have proceeded much too far in our present meditation to retrace our steps. And all that we can say at this point is that we are occupied in these days, or so far, with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus as having been made the horizon of a new creation order. We have founded this term by the definite scripture in Romans 1:4 which says He was horizoned, the Son of God, with power by the resurrection from the dead. And within that horizon of resurrection we have been noting some of the features and characteristics of this new order which the resurrection has inaugurated and established.
This afternoon we began to look at some of the significant interviews or occurrences of the appearances of the Lord Jesus with people. And we took the first one in the order of resurrection appearances and saw something of the tremendous significance of Mary Magdalene being the first one to whom He appeared. We did not exhaust it and one is certainly very strongly tempted to return to say more, but I think we must leave it at this time and go on to this next occasion of which we have read in Luke 24: the event on the road to Emmaus.
The story of the Emmaus Road could very rightly and easily be described as the story of how seven and a half miles of ordinary country road were transformed into the road to heaven. For that is exactly what it amounted to. And that, by reason of a touch by a risen Lord. A touch by the risen Lord can change anything from the ordinary to the extraordinary, and from that commonplace to what is certainly not commonplace: the glory of heaven.
Now, these two, they seem to be two of those referred to earlier in the chapter, verse 9, and they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. And out of that "all the rest", these two emerged and two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus. Probably that is where they lived, their home was in Emmaus. At some time in their history, somewhere, they had come into disciple relationship with the Lord Jesus. Exactly how that came about we are not told, but we can assume that there was a day when they left the home in Emmaus and took that journey seven and a half miles to Jerusalem. And probably it was there, or it may have been further afield, that they came into touch with Him, under His voice and influence.
It was an eventful first journey on the Emmaus road when they left home at that time. Probably they never knew where that journey was going to lead in their lives. Then there followed the period of companying with Him, and their growing estimate of Him and hopes centred in Him, growing toward this final conclusion which comes out here: "a prophet mighty in deed and in word before God and all the people". That conclusion had been growing upon them and with it, a hope had been growing in them, "and we hope that it had been He that should redeem Israel". That had developed in them through their time companying with Him.
Then the day arrived when the first shadow crept up on their horizon, followed by darker clouds accumulating and foretelling a coming storm. Those dark clouds gathered now over their heads and the rumblings of the storm became more and more audible. And then it broke, broke upon Him and He was carried off; crucified. It broke upon them and desolated their hearts, crushed their hope, shook their faith to it's very roots so that the cloud came into their souls. It was a day of eclipse, bewilderment, confusion, paralyzed, numb. For two days, perhaps hidden in Jerusalem, speaking only in a silent way with muffled voices to one another.
The third day broke; strange rumours about women who have reported they have been to the tomb, seen a vision of angels who'd said Jesus was alive. But apparently, while this had caused some disturbance in them, not really been helpful, perhaps with others of whom it was said "they believed Him not" - it sounded to them as idle tales, they said, "Well, these dear women and friends of ours have been under a terrible strain, and they're seeing things, they're imagining things. You can't build substantially upon rumours of that kind; everything is far too uncertain, unsubstantial. Let's go home, let's put seven miles between all this and ourselves; get away and see if we can reconstruct life out of the ruins in some way." And so they turned their backs on Jerusalem, their faces toward the little home in Emmaus. They started on their journey and then they went, so obsessed with it all, they could not help talking; just had to go over and over it again, pick up this point and that point. And so sadly, in a spirit of melancholy and despair, they walked and they talked.
And then a stranger caught up with them, drew alongside and said, "My friends, you seem to be very unhappy. Your voices sound very sad, you look like men who have been through some great trouble. What is it all about? Why are you so sad and why do you talk in this unhappy way?"
And they stood still, and then, looking at Him they said, "Are you only a visitor to these parts? Are you not aware of all that has been happening in Jerusalem these days?"
And He said, "What things? What things?"
And they said, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and in word before God and all the people. We had hoped that it had been He that should redeem Israel! Our rulers, our rulers the chief priests delivered Him up; condemned Him to death and crucified Him."
"Is that all?"
"Well, there's this bit more, that some of our women folk who had been early at the tomb, had found and said they'd seen a vision of angels. These angels had said that He was alive."
"Hmm, hmm," and He looked at them with sympathy and yet with something very akin to rebuke or reproach and He said, "Oh you foolish men, how slow of heart you are to believe! After all that the prophets have spoken!" And turning back to the first five books of the Bible He worked His way through them. And then having got through that He went into all the prophets and went through that. "And in all the scriptures," that is, the Old Testament, "He showed them the things concerning Himself and how the Christ, the Christ ought to have suffered and enter into His glory."
He said, "Let's go on, I'm going your way," and He continued His unfolding of the scriptures. And the light began to come back into their eyes, the shadow off their faces, the heaviness from their hearts, till they arrived at their home in Emmaus. And they said, "Here, don't go on, today's fast past, come in and spend the night with us." And they went in. And you know the rest, what happened.
Their way of describing it was, "Did not our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the way and opened unto us the scriptures?" Those embers that had well nigh died out were rekindled, flame revived, a heart of hope raised. They had a rent heaven. A rent heaven.
Now there are, of course, a lot of incidentally helpful things here in this story, such as the risen Lord knows just where we are. The risen Lord knows just how we are. The risen Lord knows exactly what we need. And the risen Lord Himself is the answer to it all. The risen Lord means new life for the darkened soul. New hope for the despairing. New motive for living. New energy to go on the way, and a new testament. All that. You can make as much of that as you like, but when we have said all that, dear friends, we have not touched the heart of this event.
Now note: these men knew the scriptures. That, of course, is assumed; what would have been the point of Him referring to Moses (which is a comprehensive term for all that came from the pen of Moses, all those books which comprise what we call the Pentateuch) what would have been the point in His referring to all that if they didn't know anything about it? And they knew the prophets; that's assumed. They knew the Bible which existed at that time. Yes, they knew the scriptures. Further, these men had a knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth, and a fairly high estimate of Him. They had that. They had heard His teaching. Much of it, if not all of it. They'd heard His teaching. And they had seen His works; many if not all of them. They had had that kind of association and relationship with Him. And this represented very much a great fulness, but when the day of crisis arrived, it was of no value to them whatever. It did not stand in stead, they collapsed in the day of the ordeal with all that background. That's a terrible thing to say, but it's true! They just went to pieces when they were put to it, although they had all that behind them. It just did not stand them in stead in the day of the ordeal.
Now, there's a very solemn message in that fact. We are not exaggerating. We're not imagining, in this matter at any rate, if we have been a little poetic in describing the journey, there's nothing poetic about this. This is real drama or tragedy, that it is possible to have the Bible and know it, to have a knowledge of Jesus, His teaching, and His works, and even to have seen something of what He is doing in the world. It is possible to have all that, and to have had a kind of association with Him over a more or less extended period of time and then when actually put to it, to go to pieces. A terrible possibility. We should all lay it to heart. That, of course, is not the end of the story, but we must look at that because it is true.
Now then, why was it, how is it that it is possible for things to be like that? For they, these two, are not peculiar in this matter. This is only a sample of what has happened again and again and is happening today and will happen yet many times amongst such people who have the Bible and more or less know it, and have all these things. How is it that this is possible? Well, of course, as we were saying this afternoon, they were straitened in themselves and He was straitened in them.
Do you remember He had said earlier to His disciples, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them yet, ye cannot bear them yet!" And in the consciousness of how much He had to give and could not give, He cried, "I have a baptism to be baptised with, and how am I pent up until it be accomplished, oh, that it all were already accomplished!" On the Emmaus Road that pent-up-ness was released and the things that He had said, "I want to say to you but cannot," He was saying. He was now saying them all. Now you know, if you've ever asked: what was it that Jesus wanted to say and said He couldn't say? "I have many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now..." and you have said "I wonder what it was?" Well, here it is. It's all this: all the scriptures concerning Himself, concerning His passion, concerning His resurrection. He's out now, He's released! But why? Why? And here is the heart of the message, dear friends.
Because of this all-governing truth in the matter of coming into a position where everything is alive, where everything is under an open heaven, where everything is released from its straitness, and escapes its limitation. To come into that, there's an all-governing law. And what is it? Before you can come there, you have got to go into such a deep experience of travail and anguish, that what is there is to you a matter of life or death. They before listened and saw and perhaps said, "Isn't it wonderful? Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it grand?" and all of that language and phraseology, but it didn't get beyond that. A natural appreciation of it all and of Him, and then the tragedy. But now they've been plunged into His baptism of passion, plunged into these deep, dark waters of a heart distressed. And they had come to the place where their cry from their heart was, "Oh, I must have a new knowledge of Him or I die; or I die! Alright, it's the end of everything if I don't know Him in a new way."
And dear friends, believe me, that is the only way to true knowledge of Christ. You may have the Bible and have Bible teaching for years. You may know all about it, of Jesus of Nazareth and had an association with Him. You may have had any amount of teaching. You may have seen something of what God is doing and then when you're really put to it, you go to pieces. You can't stand it. What is the way of salvation from such a calamity? Well, this very fact: that you are baptised into a situation, a state of things where you go down before God and say, "Oh Lord, unless You do a new thing that has never been done before, unless You give me a new revelation of Yourself that I've never had before, unless I am brought into a new position I've never been in before, I'm finished! I die." And that's the kind of cry that draws the risen Saviour alongside, it's there in the heart. And He's the answer to that kind of cry.
You know, we take all our teaching too cheaply. We have all our knowledge too easily. We take so much for granted. Indeed dear friends, indeed, the grievous thing is that so many can just take it or leave it, be or not be on the spot; "It doesn't matter. Well, if the Lord is there, and if the Lord's word is there, it doesn't matter, we need not bother ourselves or take the trouble to be there."
Our Christianity has become far too cheap and the Lord is not going to have that sort of thing. And if we are going to be saved from this inevitable crash, the crash of our whole Christianity, the only thing is to be put through the dark deep waters of suffering, of trial, of adversity; yes, of disappointment, of disillusionment - anything you like - until we cry, "Oh God! I'll die unless You do some new thing in my life." It's people who've been that way, you know, who come into the open heaven, who come into the fullnesses that are in Christ risen. It's like that. That's what's here in this story. They said, "Let's get away from it all. Let's go from this scene. Everything is a disappointment. Everything has broken down. Everything has failed. But God knows. God knows the sorrow of our hearts over this."
They walked, they talked and it says they were sad. Sad! And it seems necessary for the Lord to bring us there, to a state of utter sadness over a situation, before He can do anything. A people who really do travail over things in disappointment - in disappointment, in anguish, in real sorrow - because of the state of things: a people who can just take it or leave it, be there or not be there, seeming to be all together, but unwilling to share the travail of those who are travailing. All right, all right, their day will come, their day will come, but our point is this: these two men were not taking it like that. They were not taking it cheaply. They walked and were sad about it all. But the Lord knew, as I have said, how they were. He knew how they were.
He knew their hearts. And for such He took the journey to Emmaus and joined and transformed the ordinary country road into the heavenly way. It is not enough to possess objective knowledge, by ear or eye, it is not enough even to have some pain because our ideas and ambitions have suffered a setback and reverse. What we must have is an experience, on the one side, of despair unless the Lord does anew, and on the other side, the experience of the reality of His resurrection in our own life. That's what we must have. We must, we just must have an open heaven, which means we must have the Lord in a new way.
I was going to say, in keeping with this account, we must have a new Lord, for quite evidently they got a new Lord. It was a new Lord that came to them through the scriptures. And then when their eyes were opened and they, they knew Him, this was a new Lord for them! We must have a new Lord in that sense.
We must have a new Bible so that this Bible thrills and throbs with new meaning. We must have a new anointing of the Spirit and we must have a new commission for life. These are the things that came to them; we must have these.
Dear friends, if I were to use the phrase: "identification with Christ in death and burial and resurrection" you people here, for the most part, would say, "We've heard that a thousand times. We know all about it. There's nothing in that for [musing on] now, that's, for us, the old teaching...". God have mercy upon us, because whether you use that phraseology or not, the meaning of union with Christ in resurrection is something of immense consequence to us now and in every hour of crisis. For you and I are going to have crisis upon crisis if we live here long enough and they will be crises in which [we say], "My Lord I must know You as I've never known You before! I must know Your risen Life as I've never known it before. I must know the power of Your resurrection as I have never known it before!" It's going to be like that to the end - to the end. And only as it is like that shall we get through to the end and triumph at last.
But when I've said it all, you see I have emphasised the necessity, the demand, the challenge, the terrible possibilities. But let's come back to this: He did come to them when they were in that need. He did draw alongside in that dark and cloudy day. He did join Himself with them in the hour of their despair. He did, and He will, and He does! He will continue to do that if we, as they, take this whole matter seriously enough, and before Him say with real meaning, with real meaning (and God knows our hearts, He sees us through and through like an open book) He knows whether our despondency and misery and all that, is just because we have been put back and upset, disappointed, or whether it is because our hearts are focused upon Him and pre-eminently concerned for His glory, for His honour and our disappointment is disappointment because, because of all that we had set our hearts upon for Him, for Him. He knows the nature of our troubles. But if it's true, genuine, spiritual sorrow, He'll come alongside and do the great thing.
Now, I have not just given you teaching, dear friends. I have not, believe me. This is true to spiritual experience. Some of you know it in measure, some of us know this way, but oh, may I say to you, may I say to you: beware of regarding your great inheritance or heritage more lightly than you should. I mean, all that the Lord has made available to you, set before you, not here, but in His Son - all that Christ in resurrection means, is meant to mean to us. It's a tremendous heritage. Do not regard it lightly, for you are going to need it in a day of crisis, a day of ordeal. Take it seriously - nothing willy-nilly, take it or leave it, it doesn't matter - God forbid.
This story has a heart to it and you will begin to see that these are not, as we said this afternoon, just stories of people whom Christ met after His resurrection and they're gathered up into a storybook of different persons. No, no, there's a heart to every one, and the heart of an eternal secret of spiritual life, spiritual victory. The Lord open to our hearts His secret and make us people like this.
We are in very solemn days, in very solemn days, and as we have said before, there's a great fear creeping over this world. We've been across the United States recently, and my word, there's an atmosphere of tension and fear. Go to a perfectly fabulous city like Los Angeles and as we journeyed along those marvelous highways out into the suburbs, the thing that impressed us, me particularly, was the number of houses for sale. House after house. And I said to the brother who was driving, "What does this mean in a place like this?" Well, fabulous wealth and everything that a state like California can give, and vacant houses. Vacant houses! "People are moving right away for fear of what's coming; they're getting right out, as far away as they can get because they're afraid to stay." All right, maybe it's wrong, and I don't want to be a scaremonger by any means, but dear friends, we are living in very critical days in the history of this world. And whether it comes from the outside or whether it is of a spiritual nature alone, we are all going to be very much put to it as to what we've got to carry us through to the end; just really what we have got and how much what we have got is of the kind that is going to sustain us in the day of the ordeal. That's the big question that arises tonight for us all.
And if I sound serious, or solemn, well, this is a solemn matter, but I keep in mind the other side. "Ought not the Christ to have suffered?" Yes, but He entered into His glory. The other side: through the suffering, to the glory. It will be that for us if what we have got has come to us in its real and essential value and worth, and not as something cheap which we take for granted.