A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. I remember as a boy, I had a voracious appetite to read books. I grew up without a television and so reading was for me the primary source of entertainment. Everything I became interested in, I first of all went to the library and checked out every book I could find on the subject. And that was all fine and dandy until one day I decided I wanted to learn Karate. There were no Karate schools around, and if there were I would not have been allowed to attend them anyway. So I found a couple of books on the subject and started trying to learn it on my own. I put on a bathrobe which kind of looked like a Karate outfit and talked my little brother into joining me and began trying to do the things I saw them do in the books. But it wasn’t long before we found out that a little knowledge was a dangerous thing. We seriously hurt one another trying to do stuff that we had not been fully trained to do. Eventually, we decided we better quit before we killed each other.
That same principle is true in Christianity. It’s possible to come to a certain understanding of the gospel, to make a certain amount of progress in your faith, to set sail so to speak in your journey, but because there is not sufficient knowledge of scripture or doctrine to go off course and encounter shipwreck. In Hosea 4:6 God says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
But as we live in what is sometimes called the information age, the age of the internet, we must make a distinction between information and true knowledge. There is a lot of false information being bandied about out there. In fact, I would suggest that there has never been a time in history when so much information has been available.
We have yet to see what the result will be of what unmitigated access to information in this computer age will have on society. To some extent, we are conducting a massive social experiment. The general public’s access to the internet has only been going on about 20 years now. And this generation is being shaped by the internet in ways that have yet to be fully realized. In times past, a person had to have some sort of credentials in order to be published. Today, however, anyone with a computer can become an instant expert and throw his opinion out there on the internet. Truth has become practically indistinguishable from folly in the internet age.
So there is a lot of information out there, but I am here to tell you today that there is only one source of truth. Jesus told us in John 8:31, ““If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” God’s word is truth. Jesus was the manifestation of that eternal truth, which existed in the heavens before the world began, and became flesh and dwelt among us. So that Jesus might say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except by Me.”
So the truth of God is contained in scripture. And as Paul told Timothy, knowledge of the scriptures is necessary to lead you to salvation. 2Tim. 3:15, “from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” But as we see in this account of the encounter on the Emmaus road by two of Jesus’ disciples, it is possible to know the God of the scriptures, to know some scripture, but to have a limited understanding of scripture. To lack the wisdom of applying scripture. And that is a dangerous thing.
There was obviously a limited view of theology that had been taught to most Jews at the time of Christ. And this viewpoint, especially as it pertained to the Messiah was flawed enough to keep people from recognizing Jesus as the manifestation of the Messiah. The whole nation had a limited, flawed theology of the Messiah because they camped out on some doctrines and dismissed others that did not mesh with their chosen theology.
Listen, we face the same dilemma today in modern Christianity. There is no lack of teaching, of books, of Bibles, available in every language, there is no lack of churches, of Bible schools, of preaching on the radio or on television and even on the internet. And yet our people are perishing for lack of knowledge. We have failed to do as Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15, “study to show yourself approved unto God as a workman that does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
Instead, the vast majority of people today that call themselves Christians have developed and bought into a limited version of theology. Many people today have a one dimensional view of God, they have denied the Lordship of Jesus Christ, they have denied the essential doctrine of sanctification without which the Hebrews 12:4 says no one will see the Lord, they have even gone so far as to deny that they have any sin, even though 1John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
It’s important for you to understand something in this day and age of instant experts and slick television evangelists and proliferating false doctrines, the Bible is God’s word from cover to cover. From Genesis to Revelation. Jesus is the Word of God in Genesis that spoke the word and created the universe, and Jesus is the Word of God in Revelation that will destroy His enemies by the two edged sword of His mouth. Heb. 13:8 affirms that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” A correct theology must incorporate all of what the Bible teaches into a comprehensive theology, without ignoring parts that don’t seem to meet with your template, but comparing scripture with scripture, the whole counsel of the word of God.
Having a scripturally centered theology is illustrated in this passage we are looking at today. There are some lessons presented here on the road to Emmaus that will help us to understand the principle of “sola scriptura,” the sufficiency of scripture which serves as the foundation for our sound doctrine.
Now there were two men, one of which was named Cleopas, who had been followers of Jesus. Yet in spite of following Him, in spite of hoping in Him, they now found themselves in spiritual shipwreck. They were like a ship without an anchor. They had just witnessed the crucifixion and it completely destroyed their theology. They had hoped that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah. But when He was crucified it destroyed that hope, because they had been taught that the Messiah would bring about a political, social and spiritual change that would result in Him overturning Roman rule and taking the throne of David in Jerusalem. This was what they had been taught in the synagogues and by the priests, and they had plenty of scriptures to back up their theology. The only problem was that they did not consider the whole counsel of God’s word.
So Jesus suddenly appears to these two men as they are walking to Emmaus from Jerusalem. They are sad. They are down hearted over what has happened. And their faith is seriously in jeopardy. But as they are walking, Jesus comes up behind them and appears to them to be just another person on the road leaving Jerusalem after the Passover. Vs. 16 says that their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
Now I can’t read that without wondering why? Why couldn’t they recognize Jesus? I don’t believe that it was because His form was changed. Notice it says THEIR eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. I believe that Jesus veiled their eyes so that they could not recognize Him. They saw Him, they saw a normal person, but they didn’t recognize Him as Christ.
But why would Jesus do that? Was He just being mischievous? Was He playing a trick on them or trying to deceive them? No, I think He was making a point, illustrating an important principle which would be in operation now that the resurrection had taken place. His disciples would be entering a new phase of His ministry, which is where we walk by faith and not by sight. As Jesus would say to Thomas later in John 20:29, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
Jesus is illustrating an important principle; that the person of Jesus Christ is revealed in scripture. Truth is revealed in scripture, and Jesus is the manifestation of that truth, the word of God. So when they saw the truth of scripture, they would see God. There eyes were closed until they believed in the word of God. This is why we put such an emphasis on the authority of scripture. This is why we preach the scriptures word by word, verse by verse. This is why it is so important. This is why we say that the scriptures are the inerrant, God breathed words of God. Heb. 4:12 says that “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword…” It’s alive, it’s active, it’s the Spirit of God contained in the word of God.
But I want you to notice something here. Jesus is walking along within earshot, incognito, listening to the disciples converse. I wonder how long Jesus walked near them, listening to their conversation? I wonder how often Christ is in our midst, even today, incognito, sitting in the back seat listening to us talk as we drive home from church in the car. Listening to us at work. Listening to our conversations with our friends. I think if we realized that He is always nearby then we would have a different way of talking.
So Jesus eventually comes alongside these guys and says, “what are you guys talking about? Why are you so sad?” And they stopped dead in their tracks and looked at Him in despair, “Are you the only person visiting Jerusalem who hasn’t heard of what has happened?” And Jesus said, “What things?”
Now understand something, Jesus asks these leading questions, not to be duplicitous, but to get them to declare their theology, and then having heard it, he will use that as a means to teach them.
So they answer Him saying; “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.”
So the key to their bad theology is this; they knew Jesus was a great prophet, but they had hoped He was the Messiah. However, the crucifixion of Christ had destroyed that hope, because their theology called for a living, physical king to take the throne and overturn their enemies. They were good on the glory part of their theology. But they had no understanding of the suffering part of the Messiah. They hadn’t been taught that in synagogue.
I find that analogous with a lot of Christian theology today. The television evangelists are really good on the glory part. They are all about having your best life now. They are really good on the parts about freedom in Christ, and blessings in Christ. But they have failed to comprehend the suffering parts. The forsaking of the world. The crucifixion of the flesh. The denial of the lusts and passions of the flesh so that we might live a God pleasing life. That part is not being preached today. They fail to understand the same thing these two on the road to Emmaus failed to understand; that the path to glory is on the road to suffering. The Messiah’s suffering was to come before His glorification. And Jesus said the disciple is not above His master, ladies and gentlemen. We must join the fellowship of His suffering in the present world if we expect to be glorified with Him in the next. Paul said in Rom. 8:17 that we are the children of God and fellow heirs with Christ “if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
So Jesus uses their bad theology as a jumping off place to preach a sermon. I love it. I also like what it says about how He preached a sermon. I like how the KJV says He expounded the scriptures to them. I do expository preaching here not because I can’t think of a good topical message. But because I think the power is in the word of God, and so we expound it, explain it to bring out the truth that is inherent in the word. You know, I can prove almost anything by finding a verse somewhere that seems to say something confirming what I am trying to assert. But expositional preaching is taking in consideration the full counsel of the word, from Genesis to Revelation as you explain a passage of scripture in context. The parameters of the context both in the immediate passage and then to all of scripture helps us to stay centered on the truth.
Jesus says in vs. 24, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
What scriptures is Jesus referring to? Well, the NT scriptures have not been written yet. So Jesus is preaching NT theology from OT scriptures. I want to be sure you get that today. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. The OT is still the inspired, eternal word of God. Jesus said He didn’t come to annul the law, but to fulfill it. So Jesus started with Moses, that means He started with Genesis and worked through the Pentateuch, which was called the Law, then through the Psalms, and through the minor prophets, showing them how they taught that the Messiah must suffer before He enters His glory.
Now we don’t have His message recorded for us here, but we do have His source material. We have the OT scriptures and we know what they say about Christ’s suffering. So we might surmise that the scriptures that the Lord taught from may have been such as these; He may have started with the promise to Eve in Genesis 3:15 that He would be the bruised seed which would crush the head of the serpent; He might have reminded them of the promise to Abraham in Genesis 22 that God would provide the lamb for the offering; I’m sure He pointed out that He was the Passover Lamb that was prescribed to deliver them from death in Exodus 12; that He was the scapegoat of Leviticus 16 that was offered for the atonement of the people; that He was the brazen serpent that was lifted up on a standard in Numbers 21; that He was the smitten rock in the wilderness from which came forth living waters according to Numbers 20; He was the suffering servant in Isaiah 50 that gave His back to those who strike Him and His beard to those who would pluck it; He was the One who bore our griefs in Isaiah 53, who was crushed for our iniquities, and the chastisement for our sins was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed; He was the Soul not abandoned to Sheol in Psalms 16; that He was the reproach of men in Psalm 22 whose bones are all pulled out of joint; that He was the One betrayed by His friend in Psalm 55; He was the weeping prophet of Jeremiah; He was the pierced son of David in Zechariah 12; and He was the smitten Shepherd in Zechariah 13. All of these and perhaps so many more would have been the subject of His message concerning His suffering.
Well, I don’t know how long of a message that was, but it probably took a while. Long enough that they were at the village where they were staying. And Jesus acted as if He was going to go on further. But they implored Him to stay with them. Once again, Jesus isn’t trying to deceive them. If they had not asked Him to stay with them then He would have gone on further. And that is instructive for us as well. Jesus is not going to force Himself on you. His desire is that you desire Him. The reason He created us was not to produce a bunch of robots who have to choose only one way or respond in only one way. He designed us for love, for a relationship, for communion, for fellowship. That is what He desires; a people who will choose to obey Him because they love Him and not because they have no choice.
When they listened to His words they said that their hearts burned with them. That is the way love feels. I ask you folks here today; does your heart burn at the reading of God’s word? Is that what the preaching of God’s word produces in you? It should if you are a true child of God. If you love God you will love His word. If you were separated from your wife or husband or girlfriend or boyfriend, would you find yourself bored with the reading of their letters? Or would your heart burn within you as you read their words? If you love them, you will love to read their words. It won’t be a chore. It’s an act of love.
And so that brings us to the last lesson to be learned on the road to Emmaus. The word of God brings us into communion with God. Jesus turned aside to go in with them and have dinner with them. And Luke says that “when He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.”
What is the significance of all of that? Why did Jesus vanish as soon as they recognized Him? I think it was because He was continuing to teach them the principle of the sufficiency of scripture. By the word of Christ their souls were fed. By the word of God their hearts were warmed. By the word of God their doubts were erased. By the word of God their doctrine was established. By the word of God their faith was strengthened. By the word of God they were given hope. By the word of God they saw God.
I hear people today say that if only they could see God then they would believe in Him. But that is not how God has designed it. He says the just shall live by faith. Heb. 11:1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” But it’s not as though God has asked us for blind faith. He has revealed Himself in His word. I believe that was what Jesus was teaching that day. He expounded the scriptures to teach them about Himself. And when they saw Him as the Word of God, in the word of God, then they truly saw God.
Listen, the picture presented here is Christ breaking the bread and blessing it and passing it to His disciples. It’s a picture of communion, which means fellowship. We can have fellowship with God through His word. We don’t need to seek extra biblical visions or experiences to have fellowship and communion with God. We find fellowship with God in communion with His word. And when these men saw Jesus in the word, then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him as sitting across from them. And when their eyes were opened, He vanished from their sight. They didn’t need to see Him anymore. Like Jesus told Thomas, “how much more blessed are those who don’t see Me and yet believe in Me.”
Listen, these men took advantage of the opportunity presented by the visitation of the Word. They begged Jesus to stay with them so that they could hear more of what He was teaching them. They had a hunger for truth. But they could have let Him leave when He made as if He was going to go further. There are times when we may come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and though we recognize it, we may not always act upon it. We may allow the moment to pass, and in so doing, we have let go an important opportunity to know Christ more fully. These men seized the opportunity of Christ’s availability, and they received a blessing. Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” If the Lord is speaking to you today, don’t let the opportunity pass to respond to Him. You may not get that chance again. Today is the acceptable day of salvation. The word of the Lord has been preached. The truth of the gospel has been revealed through the word of God. How will you respond?
Jesus said in Rev. 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” You want to have communion with God, fellowship with the Son? Then open the door and invite Him in. He will not force His way in. But know this, that He loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son that if you believe in Him, you will not perish but have eternal life. He came so that you might know the truth and that the truth shall make you free. The choice is yours. The Lord has come near to you today. I hope you will invite Him to stay with you.