In the well known story of the disciples on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-35) Jesus listened to their disappointed account of the last few days, and then called them “foolish and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (24:25) . Why would he say that?
I love the fact that Jesus’ words are always perfect and reliable, no throw-aways or silence-fillers. So why on earth would he say such a thing to these grieving friends? Weren’t they just being honest and real?
The story of the two disciples occurs just two days after Jesus’ crucifixion, and it’s both heart-warming and sad. It’s heart-warming because Jesus graciously gave them the world’s most awesome OT Survey class explaining his presence throughout the Old Testament, and their hearts “burned within” (24:32). It’s sad because when the two disciples expressed their sorrow and disappointment they were revealing their own poor faith. Honestly, most of us can relate to that, but none-the-less they were “foolish and slow of heart to believe …” (24:25)
The reasons for the disciples’ telling-off from Jesus are challenges we all face. I find four clear reasons in the text, so over the next few weeks let’s tackle one at a time. Why? because growing spiritually involves learning from others’ mistakes and, hopefully, choosing to live a little better.
- The disciples reduced Jesus to “a prophet.”
In verse 19 the disciples betray a diminished and weakened view of Christ with the words “He was a prophet…” After all that they had seen and heard of Jesus, they let the circumstances of his suffering and death reduce his divine status in their hearts. For three years Jesus had been identified by God’s voice from heaven, by Jesus own words and actions, by the High Priests, and even Pontius Pilate, as “Messiah,” “The Christ of God,” “Son of Man,” “Son of the Most High God,” and “Son of God.” And yet when they couldn’t find him or see him even though he said he was going away and coming back, they could only refer to him as “a prophet”!
The Old Testament prophecies, his own miracles, and his own unprecedented and unique life demonstrated that Jesus IS the Messiah, the Christ of God, the Son of Man, the Son of the Most High God, and Son of God. His resurrection proved it. An empty tomb and numerous appearances before his ascension leaves the world with all the evidence necessary to choose wisely. To be fair these two disciples had not seen living proof of the resurrection (even though he was standing in front of them!), but they did have testimony from reliable friends that the tomb was empty. That’s the same evidence the rest of us have. How to avoid being foolish and slow? Trust the evidence. Trust Jesus.
May we experience Jesus as increasingly significant and wonderful and turn to him constantly in faith. May we never turn back, nor reduce him in our minds because he doesn’t perform as we expect.
May you and I, our FEBC broadcasters, our partners and listeners, be increasingly convinced that Jesus Christ is Lord and God. Pray that listeners, just getting to know Jesus, will see him as greater and greater, and not reduce him when circumstances seem bad.
Even when things are going badly in life and Jesus seems far off, let’s trust deeply in the promises of his word and our experience of him before. Pray for wisdom and quick hearts to believe all that the prophets have spoken.
More next time. Take courage,