Words of Hope from Luke 24:1-32
The world is reeling under a pandemic. Over a million people worldwide have the virus, and thousands have died. Thousands of Americans have died. Almost 17 million people have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks. An economy that was at its best in thirty years, has come to a screeching halt. The picture is a rather bleak picture. That there is a lot of anxiety in the world today, would be an understatement. There is a sense of despair and even panic. However, that is not the last word today. The Scripture has something to say to us that I pray will encourage us and give us hope.
On the day we call Good Friday, Jesus was put to death. It was a crushing blow to the hope of his followers then. This was made evident in verse 21 of Luke 24. In the words of one of the disciples on the road to Emmaus: “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel…” Let’s take a closer look at the events in the morning and the events in the afternoon.
We see the women and the angels in the events of the morning (vv.1-12). “But on the first day of the week….” I was taught in grammar school that ‘but’ was a disjunctive conjunction. It is disjunctive, but it is also conjunctive. Whenever we find a ‘but,’ we know that the thing we are about to read is linked to something already read, and yet we are going into something new. This is a glorious disjunctive conjunction indeed. The body of Jesus was in Joseph’s tomb, the women had taken their final look on Friday.
The women brought spices as ministry of love (vv. 1-3). The women were engaged in a great ministry of love, but a ministry all filled with sorrow and hopelessness. They brought their spices to show their love for a dead master. Their love for him had not faded; love is stronger than death. Their faith in him was still strong. But the things they had hoped for had not come to pass; he was dead. To them, he was mastered, beaten, and put to death, but still they loved him, and they came to find his dead body and honor it. Instead of a dead body, they found angels in the tomb.
The angels followed the ministry of Jesus (vv. 4 -7). Luke said, “Two men in dazzling clothes...” Angels had followed the ministry of Jesus. An angel announced his coming. When he arrived, a choir of angels sang about it. They waited on him in the wilderness of temptation. They ministered to him in Gethsemane. Now they have come in the most glorious time of his earthly sojourn. They quoted the words of Jesus to the women in a rather gentle rebuke: “He is not here, but is risen; remember how he spoke unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying that that the Son of man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day be raised up.”
The words of Jesus were words of hope: “ ‘On the third day, be raised again.’ - Then they remembered His words” (vv. 7-8). These are words of hope. What dreams have you buried that you need to hear the resurrection word today?
They were messengers with words of hope. “When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles” (vv. 9-10). However, the disciples did not believe the women (v. 11). John out-ran Peter (v. 12, John 20:3-4). When Peter and John saw the neatly folded cloth without the body of Jesus, they believed.
Now, we come to the events of the afternoon (vv. 13-32) on the Emmaus road where Jesus asked them the two of them what they were talking about? (v. 19) They still believed in him. They still loved him. They told their story about him which revealed that the cross had destroyed their hope (vv. 19b- 24).
They listened to Jesus’s words of hope; he breathed in their ears the secret of the love which lay at the heart of the ancient Mosaic Law (vv. 25-27). They listened to him as he traced his messianic note in the music of the prophets showing that he was David’s king. He showed them that he was Isaiah’s Child-King with a shoulder strong enough to bear the government - that the beauty of the name Emanuel is just as immanent as it ever was. He was Jeremiah’s Branch of Righteousness; he was God’s beloved in Hosea, Daniel’s ancient of Days, Joel’s hope of the people …. and so on, and so forth.
Then they arrived to their home and shared a “blessed communion” (vv. 28-32). Their hearts burned within them. They were given soul food only to have Heartburn!
The events of the morning brought hope to the men and women who had followed Jesus, only to see him put to death and with him, their dreams and hopes. The message of resurrection had not registered in their collective consciousness even though he had said it several times at various places. When the women came back from the tomb with the amazing news that he was alive, they took it with a grain of salt. Either it was too good to be true, or they were still recovering from the heartbreak of the cross and were unable to perceive such a miracle had happened. They did not believe the women.
The events of the afternoon on the journey to Emmaus also revealed the hopelessness that gripped two of his disciples. One of them said, “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” That said it all. Their disappointment could not be concealed as they poured their hearts out to him. Their disappointment, however, will soon turn to joy after Jesus revealed himself to them in what I call, the blessed communion. Hopelessness vanished, death was not the last word, but hope is—He is alive!
You might be anxious today about the pandemic; how close will it get to you? If you get it, can you fight it off? How long will it last? I have a word of hope for you today—He is still Emanuel – God with us. Jesus has conquered death. He is the redeemer of the world. He is your redeemer today. Do not despair - do not panic - lean on Him right now. He is our only hope.
Dr. Joseph R. Warrington, NBC Faculty and Director of the Ministry Preparation Program, and pastor
Filed Under: Communicator Published: 04/13/2020