Jesus loves the Bible. During his earthly life and ministry, Jesus studied the Scriptures, recited the Scriptures, relied upon the Scriptures, and pointed others to the Scriptures. In 2014 I completed a 2 1/2 year preaching series through the gospel of Luke, and it was in the final two sections where Jesus’ love for the Bible stood out to me like never before.
Luke 24 is all about Jesus’ resurrection, post-resurrection interaction with his disciples, and his ascension. On two different occasions Jesus appears to his followers, first to Cleopas and his traveling companion (he must not have had a “Hi, my name is…” sticker on) on the road to Emmaus, and second, “the eleven and those who were with them gathered together” (24:33). These are people who had been with Jesus for three years. They had seen hundreds, maybe thousands of miracles, heard Jesus teach them and others, saw his love and compassion for the weak and wounded, and were witness to his betrayal by their former friend Judas. But now, Jesus had been crucified, and they were scared and confused. Surely the wondered, “What does this mean? Where do we go from here?”
On the Road to Emmaus
When Jesus first appeared to Cleopas and his friend (maybe wife?), they did not recognize him. Jesus walked with them for a while, but eventually turns to them and says, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe…” (24:25). They had shared with him their confusion and heartbrokenness over Jesus’ death, but could not see the big picture. At that point, in my mind, Jesus would say, “Hey, it’s me! You’ve seen all that I’ve done, and you’re still confused? You’ve heard all that I’ve taught, and you still don’t get it?” But instead, he conducts a seven-mile Bible study.
Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Jesus walked them through the Scriptures, likely pointing out all the ways he is spoken of. He probably talked about Genesis 3:15 and God’s promise to raise a seed of woman who would crush the head of the serpent and be the salvation of mankind. He talked about the law and the sacrificial system and its fulfillment in the true lamb who was slain once and for all. He showed them all the types and shadows that he could: the departure from Egypt to the promised land as a picture of the Christian’s departure from slavery to sin and death and a final rest in the eternal promised land prepared beforehand by God; Adam and Moses and the Ark and and David as types of Christ, pointing to the second Adam who would make all things right that have been destroyed by the fall; Surely, he went to Isaiah and talked about the sheep being led to slaughter, being smitten and stricken and afflicted. All along the way, Jesus showed them God’s promise to bring salvation to lost sinners and how it was accomplished in his perfect life, sinners death, and resurrection.
Jesus explained all of the Scriptures, because quite clearly they had missed the point. It was so easy for them to read and not see it’s all about Jesus, even though it shouts from beginning to end to, “Look to Jesus! Trust in Jesus! Rest in Jesus!” So Jesus wanted to make sure Cleopas and his friend understood the Scriptures before he revealed himself to them. He wanted them to know that the Bible is true, and trustworthy, and reliable, and consistent. I think they were divinely kept from recognizing Jesus so they would base their understanding of the resurrection squarely on the witness of Scripture and not on personal experience. A privileged experience such as theirs, if not grounded in the Word, would run the danger of becoming an individualized event that could only be accounted for by Cleopas + 1. But now these two on the road were in no such danger. Their belief in the resurrection wasn’t based on experience, but instead it rested on the Scriptures before they even knew it was Jesus who taught them!
The Eleven & Their Friends
Later in chapter 24, the remaining 11 disciples and their friends were gathered together and, “As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’… ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?'” (24:36, 38). And just as he did on the road to Emmaus, he points his disciples not to experience, but to the Scriptures: “‘Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures” (24:44-45).
Once again, it would have been easy for Jesus to simply say, “Listen guys, it’s me. I’m Jesus, I was raised from the dead, so let’s move on with this thing.” But instead, he takes the time to lead them back to the Scriptures so they could see what they had missed before.
The emphasis Jesus placed on understanding the Scriptures and their intended meaning should highlight for Christians the absolute importance and sufficiency of Scripture. We need to know the Bible, and not just what it says, but what it points to, what it commands, and as Jesus was very concerned with, seeing that it’s all about him! If it was important for the disciples who were interacting physically with the resurrected Christ to know and understand the Scriptures, surely it’s important for us. We need not seek our assurance in experience, because just as he did with his disciples in the flesh, Jesus calls his people today to look to His trustworthy and sufficient word. Do you know the Bible? Do you see Christ in the text? He’s there!
(By: Nick Kennicott)