Theme: Jesus’ Resurrection Sermon
This week’s lessons teach us about the wide variety of ways in which the whole Old Testament points to Jesus.
Scripture: Luke 24:17-37
One of the great accounts of the appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ to his disciples following the resurrection is his appearance to the two Emmaus disciples recorded in Luke 24. It is an interesting story for a number of reasons, and one is that Jesus preached a sermon on that occasion. It is referred to in verse 27: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
It is interesting simply that he preached to them. If we could have written this story according to our ways of thinking, we might have had Jesus presenting himself to them dramatically. Wouldn’t it have been natural for Jesus to have said, “Hey, guys, look! It’s me. Look at the nail prints in my hands. See, I’m Jesus, and I’ve been raised from the dead!”? Jesus did not do that, according to Luke’s account. Instead, he preached a sermon using the entire Old Testament as his text.
For that is what the words “Moses and all the Prophets” and “in all the Scriptures” refer to. The Jews saw the Old Testament as having three parts, which they called the Law (that is, the law of Moses), the Prophets, and the Writings (here called the Scriptures). They called it the Tanach, each of the three consonants of the Hebrew word standing for one of these three sections of the Bible. “T” stood for the Torah, “N” for the Nevi’im (the prophets), and the “K” for the Ketuvim, (the writings). So when Jesus is said to have preached from Moses and the Prophets and the Writings, it is a way of saying that he preached through the entire Old Testament in that sermon.
Haven’t you ever wondered what verses he used in this first Easter sermon? I know I have. Every time I read Luke 24, I wonder what the texts were that he referred to. They would make a marvelous sermon series, wouldn’t they? Or even a book about “the Lord’s own handling of the Old Testament.” It would be wonderful to take all these verses, study them, explain them, and apply them to our day.
Luke doesn’t tell us what these passages were. He says only that Jesus preached from the Old Testament. Yet I hate to give up on a question like this, and I find myself coming back to it again and again, saying that surely there must be some way to have at least a rough idea what those texts were. I think there is a way to come up with some answers, even though they have to be tentative. It is to suppose, rightly I think, that the sermons the first apostles preached after the resurrection would have been along these same lines. That is, the sermons recorded in the book of Acts and the later reflection on those sermons that we find in other portions of the New Testament were probably based on Jesus’ teaching at this time.
That would be so of the sermon Peter preached at Pentecost, for example, because his message was delivered impromptu, without a great deal of study or preparation, and shortly after the resurrection. Where did Peter get his outline for that sermon? The obvious answer is from the teaching that Jesus had himself been giving. That is particularly true because it was the nature of rabbinical teaching that what the master said, the disciples memorized. So if Peter and the others who were present when Jesus began to explain these things, as we are told later in Luke 24 they were, they would have remembered the texts. They would have said to themselves, “So that’s what those verses mean!” And when they had an opportunity to explain the gospel themselves it would have been these texts that inevitably and most naturally came to mind.
Why is Jesus’ appearance interesting?
The Jews considered the Old Testament as comprising what three parts?
How do these parts relate to Jesus’ sermon?
What is meant when it is said Jesus preached from Moses and the prophets?
Reflection: Have there been key opportunities in your day that would have allowed an impromptu teaching of the gospel?
Application: Choose a text from this week’s study and memorize it. Pray for opportunities to discuss the text.