Theme: When Hope Died
From these lessons we see that the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ were necessary in order for us to have the one true Redeemer who would deliver His people from their sins.
Scripture: Luke 24:26
Here’s a couple who knew about these things, and Jesus appeared to them. It’s really extraordinary what they experienced and what they said. First of all, let’s remember that Mary, Cleopas’ wife, was at the cross. Probably Cleopas was there, too, but it doesn’t say so. Mary stood there watching this horrible form of execution. She saw the nails driven. She watched the cross erected. She saw Jesus as He hung there. She heard His cries. She saw the spear as it was thrust into His side. She heard that final cry at His finish, as He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. She saw the blood and the suffering. She heard the taunts. There was no doubt in Mary’s mind that He was dead.
When He died, her faith died. Everything was over. Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet, the one they had faith in, is gone. So they sat there over the Sabbath, first of all, the Passover Sabbath, and then the regular Sabbath, because they weren’t able to travel on those days. They were despondent as they mulled over all the things that had been and might yet have been but now would not be because Jesus was dead.
Then Sunday morning came, and they began to go home to Emmaus. There wasn’t any reason to stay in Jerusalem any longer. They’d only come up for the Passover, after all. They had to go back, so they began to get their things ready. I don’t know how many belongings they had, but they tarried enough in the morning to receive an interesting report from the women.
The women had gone to the tomb. They were going to anoint the body. They didn’t think there was a resurrection. All they were going to do was care for the dead, but they saw angels and came back and they reported to Cleopas and Mary that they had seen angels, and the angels had said, “He’s not here. He is risen, as he said. Go tell his disciples that he goes before you into Galilee.” What did the couple do? Did they say, “Hallelujah! Christ is risen!” Not at all. Did they say, “That’s hard to believe, but we’ll check it out. I’m going to go out to the tomb and see for myself?” Not at all. What did they do? They went right on packing because they knew that dead men don’t rise. They didn’t believe in the resurrection. Mary saw him die. It was all a fanciful story, but it didn’t mean anything at all when you’d been through the kind of experience they’d been through.
While they were packing, Peter came back. Peter had been there with John. John had believed and Peter had seen the grave clothes. Probably he reported something of what he had seen. They didn’t say, “Well, the women we can’t believe, but the men we can believe.” Nothing of the sort. They said, “That’s just foolishness. Don’t bother us. We’re going home.” So they did.
That’s exactly what they said when Christ came to them. Here’s their own report in addition: “Some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning, but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive, and some of our companions [that is, Peter and John] went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” You see, they were not expecting the resurrection.
I don’t know why it is that secular people today, that really haven’t had firsthand experience of these things, or studied the accounts, are so willing to believe that it simply was a hallucination on the part of people who were very anxious to believe that Christ was risen. I don’t find in any of these stories any suggestion whatsoever that they even had an understanding, let alone an intimation, of the fact that He might be risen, or any hope that He might rise. They weren’t any more gullible than you and I are. They hoped that He might be the Messiah. They hoped that He might drive out the Romans. But as far as a resurrection was concerned, even if it were possible, what difference would it make? They weren’t interested in that. They weren’t thinking along those lines. So they went home.
When the two from Emmaus initially heard the report from both the women and Peter and John about the empty tomb, what was their reaction to the news, and what accounts for it?
Why is it incorrect for unbelievers to charge that the resurrection was a fictitious event arising from a hallucination on the part of Jesus’ followers?
Reflection: What reasons do people give today for rejecting Jesus’ resurrection? Why do they hold to them, and how would you answer them?