A Deeper Look at Easter
Our story begins today with two men walking along a road toward a town about seven miles northwest of Jerusalem called Emmaus. These two men had been followers of Christ. They had heard Him speak, they had watched Him heal…they had seen Him die. They had heard reports from the women that the tomb was empty but they did not believe them. They had hoped that Jesus would free their people from Roman oppression but their hopes had been shattered. We get the impression that these men were disappointed and discouraged because God did not do what they wanted him to do. Their dream of freedom and victory seemed to die with Christ. They were blind; blind to the truth about Christ, blind to the meaning of the cross and blind to the reality of the resurrection. You see, the concept of the resurrection lies at the heart of Christianity. If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed. The resurrection of Jesus Christ affirms to us that He is indeed the Son of God, just as He claimed to be and it proves that we can experience that same power through a personal relationship with God. Sadly, I think a lot people today allow many different things to blind them to the truth about Christ. As we take a deeper look at Easter, my hope is that our vision will not be clouded and our line of sight will not be obstructed to one of the most important aspects of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Christ. Let’s take a moment to determine why these two men were blinded to the truth of the resurrection.
1. They were blinded by their emotions: 13-17
There’s no doubt that the past couple of days in these men’s lives had been extremely emotional. These men were followers of Christ. They were devoted to His teachings and plans and as far as they were concerned they had seen their hopes dashed and their plans destroyed with Christ’s death. Here they are on the road to Emmaus ”talking with each other about all the things that had taken place” (14). In fact, we know this was an emotional conversation because verse 17 tells us that they were ”exchanging” words with one another. In other words, they were having an ”animated heated conversation” about what had taken place. While they are talking and discussing Christ ”approached them and began traveling with them.” (15) Now, get the picture in your mind. Here they are having this emotionally charged discussion about the events surrounding the life and death of Christ; did He really rise again, etc. And Christ Himself comes to walk with them. But the Bible says ”their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.” (16) In other words, they were blinded to who He really was. Here He is, right next to them, and they didn’t even know it. *You know, I think often about how our emotions play a role in our faith. It’s true that emotions and feelings are important, but we are not to build our life, or our faith, upon our feelings. There seems to be this struggle sometimes within us between faith and facts and feelings. I’m here to tell you that feelings and emotions aren’t bad…God gave them to you for a reason. But we are not intended to place our faith in our feelings, we place our faith in the facts.* How do you let your emotions blind you to the things of Christ? Some of us allow our feelings to affect our faith negatively. We can’t possibly believe in someone being raised from the dead…what would others think? We couldn’t place our faith in something unseen…it just doesn’t ”feel” right. Much like these two men, we’re blinded to the truth by our emotions. Christ could be right next to us, walking beside us along the road, and we wouldn’t even know it.
2. They were blinded by their circumstances: 18-24
Sadly, these guys couldn’t see the purpose of God behind the events that were unfolding. As they begin to talk with Christ, they ask, ”Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened these days?” (18) It’s kind of funny to see Christ’s response here, ”What things?” (19). They were so immersed in their circumstances that they were unable to see the God behind their circumstances. You see, it’s clear that they don’t quite get it. They describe Christ as ”a prophet mighty in deed and word…” (19) and they say ”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.” (21) In other words, they allowed their circumstances to dictate their understanding of who Christ was and what He had done. They couldn’t see the victory of the cross because they were blinded by its injustice. They couldn’t see the power of the resurrection because they were blinded by their experience. They had seen Christ paraded before the High Priest and rulers. They had seen Him condemned and crucified. They saw Him die. Who would think that the same person who suffered and died three days before was now walking and talking with them on the road to Emmaus? Their circumstances would not allow them to see who Christ really was. *We encounter the same obstacle. Our life situation can leave us in a place where we are blinded to Christ. Who knows, maybe it’s a situation where you think you have it all. Your circumstances have worked out rather well for you and you’re living a comfortable life. You’ve got everything you could ever want in life; nice car, nice home, nice family. And you can’t see your need for God. Or, maybe your circumstances are somewhat different. Maybe your struggling to make ends meet and each day seems to bring a new challenge and disappointment. As a result, you blame God for your situation. You see, in both cases, your circumstances have blinded you from seeing your need for God. Your situation has formed a barrier that clouds your view of God and distorts your idea of God.*
3. They were blinded by their unbelief: 24-27
They couldn’t imagine someone actually being raised from the dead. This wasn’t a concept that was familiar to them. It’s easy for us to think about it; we’ve heard it for years. But this was a new concept for them. They had heard the teachings of Christ that He would be resurrected but they were blinded by their unbelief. Their real problem was not in their heads but in their hearts. Christ said they were ”slow to believe in all that he prophets have spoken!” What was their basic problem? They did not believe the promises about Christ written in the Old Testament. They needed a fresh understanding of the Word of God, and Jesus gave them that understanding. The Bible says that Christ began to explain to them all things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (27) *One of the things that hinders us from seeing Christ is our unbelief. We can’t believe that He would love us; we can’t believe that He wants a relationship with us; we don’t believe that He honors a life of faith. Maybe we believe in the resurrection but do we believe that we can experience that power on a daily basis?* These guys were blinded by their unbelief. That makes me wonder how often we miss the blessing of God because we choose not to see the truth. Ultimately, they got it; they understood. The Bible says that Christ opened their eyes and allowed them to see who He really was. (31). Then, ”He vanished from their sight.” (32) And when they found out who this man was they ran to Jerusalem and found the followers of Christ and said, ”the Lord has risen from the dead…” (34) Why do we allow our unbelief to blind us to the truth? *The world is flat…didn’t stop Columbus; the universe revolves around the earth…didn’t stop Copernicus; you’ll never win…didn’t stop our forefathers from purchasing our freedom.* Don’t allow unbelief and your lack of faith to blind you to the greatest adventure life has to offer.
Why should I believe that Christ rose from the dead?
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, the Christian faith is a foolish fantasy. However, if the resurrection of Christ did occur, it confirms His life, message, and atoning work. It is the basis of our hope of life beyond the grave. Christ is alive, and the evidence is overwhelming. Here are some of the reasons we can be so sure.
a) Jesus predicted His resurrection (Matt 16:21; Mark 9:9-10; John 2:18-22).
b) The Old Testament promised it (Psalm 16:10; compare Acts 2:25-31; 13:33-37).
c) The tomb was empty and the grave clothes vacant. If those who opposed Christ wished to silence His disciples, all they had to do was produce a body, but they could not (John 20:3-9).
d) Many people saw the resurrected Christ. They looked on His face, touched Him, heard His voice, and saw Him eat (Matt. 28:16-20; Luke 24:13-39; John 20:11-29; John 21:1-9; Acts 1:6-11; 1 Cor. 15:3-8).
e) The lives of the disciples were revolutionized. Though they fled and even denied Christ at the time of His arrest, they later feared no one in their proclamation of the risen Christ (Matt 26:56, 69-75).6. The resurrection was the central message of the early church. The church grew with an unwavering conviction that Christ had risen and was the Lord of the church (Acts 4:33; 5:30-32; Rom. 5:24). Will Muslims die for their faith? Yes…people will die for their religious beliefs if they sincerely believe they’re true, but people wont’ die for their religious beliefs if they know their beliefs to be false. What one event could explain the start of the Christian Church? There’s no question that hit began shortly after the death of Jesus and spread so rapidly that within a period of maybe twenty years it had even reached Caesar’s palace in Rome. Not only that, but this movement triumphed over a number of competing ideologies and eventually overwhelmed the entire Roman Empire.
f) Personal experience: Men and women today testify that the power of the risen Christ has transformed their lives. We know that Jesus is alive not only because of the historical and biblical evidence but also because He has miraculously touched our lives. One piece of evidence that no one can dispute is the ongoing encounter with the resurrected Christ that happens all over the world, in every culture, to people from all kinds of backgrounds and personalities-well educated and not, rich and poor, thinkers and feelers, mean and woman. They all will testify that more than any single thing in their lives, Jesus Christ has changed them. To me, this provides the final evidence-not the only evidence-that the message of Jesus can open the door to a direct encounter with the risen Christ.
Don’t be blinded by your emotions, your circumstances or your unbelief. Open your eyes to the truth of Christ. *God emptied Heaven to fill the manger; He emptied the manger to fill the cross; He emptied the cross to fill the tomb; and He emptied the tomb to fill your heart!*
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