Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘God’s Plan Revealed through Jesus’
© April 7, 2013, by Steve Mickelson
(Easter’s passed but don’t head off too soon! Journey Emmaus Road this Sunday at BLCF Luke 24: 13-35)
Let us pray…
Good morning. What a week that has passed – Holy Week! So we begin the message today with two of Jesus’ disciples leaving the city of Jerusalem on the third day after Christ’s Crucifixion and burial. And Jesus, now resurrected from the grave, is traveling incognito or disguised at least to the two travelers. The Lord, being fully aware of the conversation, asks what it was they were talking about. And they replied as we see starting with Luke 24, verse 18 (see bolded below):
Luke 24:13-35 (ESV) On the Road to Emmaus
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. We hear that having seen and heard Jesus, the expectation was that Jesus was not only a prophet but the expected Messiah, as we read in verse 21:
21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women in our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
It is interesting that the two disciples have not put the two events together, preferring not to believe the women’s testimony that they saw Jesus and angels at the empty tomb. Instead, they accept the account of an empty tomb, but not of Jesus, because the other disciples did not see the Lord.
But what had happened was a fulfillment of the scriptures. And Jesus chastises the disciples for their lack of understanding that what had occurred was part of God’s plan of salvation and redemption not just for Israel, but for all people see Luke 24:
25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
It is interesting that the resurrected Christ first revealed himself to the women and next to what might be referred to as minor disciples, not to the original eleven. This is a reflection of the new order of God’s Plan, the first shall come last and the last first. Also, interesting was the fact that Jesus revealed himself after the breaking of bread, as we read again Luke 24:
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Footnotes: a. Luke 24:13 Greek sixty stadia; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters
Here we see in Luke 24, verse 34, the statement “The Lord has risen indeed”, which we commonly use as a reply to the statement made on Easter Sunday “The Lord has risen!” So let us review what was it that Jesus has done to complete the scriptures of the Prophets? I will now refer to the notes on the inside of today’s bulletin, which outline the sequence of events that occurred during the Holy Week of Easter. We read of the prophet’s foretelling of how a chosen servant will bring forth justice in the earth in Isaiah 41, especially on verse 4:
Isaiah 42:1-9 (ESV) The LORD’s Chosen Servant
42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged[a]
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.
5 Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
Jesus was bruised but not broken in that while he suffered on the cross for our behalf, to the point of death. He rose from the grave, a proof that Jesus is the Lord foretold in the Scriptures by the Prophets, and that our Lord has provided a light for all nations in verses 6 and 7 of the same Isaiah 42, we read:
6 “I am the LORD; I have called you[b] in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
7 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8 I am the LORD; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”
Footnotes: a. Isaiah 42:4 Or bruised b. Isaiah 42:6 The Hebrew for you is singular; four times in this verse
Next, we see another example of God’s plan on Palm Sunday, where Jesus entered Jerusalem riding not on a horse, but a donkey colt in verse 15 of John 12:12-18:
John 12:12-18 (ESV) The Triumphal Entry
12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.
This time the disciples, initially, did not understand the reasons for requesting a colt and later realized that it was a fulfillment of the prophecy in the scriptures. This was a very similar situation as was found with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, with respect to the scriptures. The lesson behind Jesus’ humble entry into Jerusalem was reinforced when the Lord washed the feet of the disciples. A task normally performed by servants, as we see in verse 18 of John 13:12-18:
John 13:12-18 (ESV)
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[a] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[b] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’
Footnotes: a. John 13:16 Greek bondservant b. John 13:18 Greek But in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled
The washing of the disciples’ feet was done to demonstrate that in teaching the Gospel, we should not forget our place with respect to God. The one who ate bread, and lifted his heel against Jesus was Judas who betrayed the Lord after taking the bread at the Passover which was the Last Supper of our Lord before His crucifixion. This was another fulfillment of the prophecy.
And speaking of the crucifixion and God’s plan, as prophesized in the Scriptures, we see this in verses 36 – 37 of John 19:31-37:
John 19:31-37 (ESV) Jesus’ Side Is Pierced
31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”
With the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus, we could insert into our timeline of events the Emmaus Road encounter with Jesus. This brings us to the prophecy found in Christ’s resurrection, as found in verse 9 of John 20:1-10:
John 20:1-10 (ESV) The Resurrection
20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus'[a] head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.
Footnotes: a. John 20:7 Greek his
But the Lord had not only planned to make available to all the people, the gift of forgiveness and redemption through the cross, but He has also provided the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who believe in and decide to follow Him. Following the infusion of the Holy Spirit upon all those believers in the Upper Room on the day referred to as Pentecost, Peter delivered a sermon, which addressed the appearance of the disciples, described by some unbelievers, as being drunk with wine. Let us read from the Book of Acts, Chapter 2, verses 14-24, paying attention to verses 17-21:
Acts 2:14-24 (ESV) Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[a] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants[b] and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
And in same Acts 2, we see a revelation of God’s Plan in verses 23 – 24:
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[c] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
Footnotes: a. Acts 2:15 That is, 9 a.m. b. Acts 2:18 Greek bondservants; twice in this verse c. Acts 2:23 Greek this one
This ‘Pentecost Event’, whereby the Holy Spirit alighted upon all believers is felt by most Biblical scholars to be the point whereby the Christian Church had its start, Not on Palm Sunday or Good Friday or even Easter Sunday, as these events were all elements of God’s Plan to Salvation and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth. If we continue with Peter’s Sermon in Acts 2, we see the criteria for salvation to fulfill God’s plan in verses 38-40:
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
Now to recap, we see that God had planned a series of events that lead to forgiveness and reconciliation with God to all who repent of their sins and believe and trust in Jesus. To those who believe in God’s covenant or promise of salvation, resurrection, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Part of our faith covenant with the Lord, is the observation and practice of Holy Communion, to remember Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, until His return. Interesting, how the breaking of bread is an important part of today’s message, starting with the communion served at the Passover or Last supper, continuing with the breaking of bread with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and later to the eleven in Jerusalem. So it is quite fitting and appropriate that we observe communion in today‘s service.
Let us Pray…
Communion – Responsive Reading 626 (Mark 14)
Benediction: Philippians 4:7:
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.