Sundays | 9am & 10:30am | The Woodlands, TX

In Fact: Luke 24:13-35

Part 3 of 4: Good Friday / The Road to Emmaus
Chad Melton

Parts 3 and 4 of our IN FACT series come in rapid succession as the Good Friday and Easter Sunday sermons. These notes for the Good Friday worship service will be followed by the notes for our Easter service tomorrow. Group leaders might decide to discuss these in a single Group gathering, but they would be more effectively handled separately in two meetings.

Most churches see an uptick in attendance for Easter, and some members of the Group might have brought family or friends with them to church. If so, they should also be encouraged to bring them to the Group meeting where they could receive warm hospitality and enjoy a discussion about their experience at Faith Bible Church. Allow plenty of time for Group members to talk about Easter weekend.

Ask the Group to talk about their earliest remembrances of Easter Sunday. Did they get dressed up for church? Perhaps the day included some warm family tradition like a big meal afterward. There might be people in attendance who were not raised in a Christian home and did not share similar experiences. Ask them to talk about that and how they put it into perspective now.

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles 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. 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 of 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.” 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. 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 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.—Luke 24:13–35 (ESV)

Sermon Summary
Good Friday is the day we recall Jesus’ death on the cross. Our sermon, drawn from Luke chapter 23, places us back in time with the followers of Jesus whose hopes must have been shattered following his arrest and execution. After the crucifixion, two of these folks were joined by the resurrected Jesus (whom they didn’t recognize) while walking to the village of Emmaus. They certainly weren’t expecting that!

After a brief exchange of greeting, Jesus explained, quite methodically, how the Old Testament spoke of him from the books of Moses right through the prophets. After they arrived at their destination, they shared a meal with Jesus and recognized him in the course of it. As soon as that happened, he vanished, to their astonishment. They later found the apostles and learned that Jesus had risen from the dead and that it was indeed he who they met.

Pastor Chad used this story to discuss life’s disappointments and specifically, how we handle them. The disciples were downcast because they thought hope was lost, but the resurrected Jesus changed everything. They couldn’t see the Messiah standing right in front of them because he wasn’t the Messiah they were hoping for. We, too, are often downcast by disappointment and hopelessness. It is common to each of us. Our challenge is to change our perspective from ourselves to God. With the disciples, the cross of Christ was not the loss of hope but the basis for hope.

Group Discussion Questions
  1. Read John 19:25. Cleopas is named as a traveler to Emmaus with one other – perhaps his wife, Mary? They are discouraged on their journey. What do you think they were saying to each other before encountering the stranger? Imagine the conversation out loud in the Group.
  2. Cleopas’ comments indicate that he (like others) was expecting God to redeem Israel from suffering, but in fact, God was redeeming them through suffering. What’s the difference?
  3. Why do you think they couldn’t recognize Jesus?
  4. Read Genesis 3:6-7. How does the eating of the first meal in the Bible compare with the one in Emmaus? See verse 31. What is significant about eyes that have been opened?
  5. We celebrated the Lord’s Supper during our church service. How is the breaking of bread in Emmaus similar? Read Acts 2:42. Why is the breaking of bread so important?
  6. We all have bad days. By any human reasoning, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion was the worst. Why is it called Good Friday? How does that help our very bad days to also be good?
  7. Have someone in the Group read the Dig Deeper section below by Russell Moore. Allow everyone time to react to the piece and then ask “How does Good Friday teach us how to live our everyday lives?”

Take time this week to text or call the members of your Group. Ask them how things are going for them and how you can pray for them. As always, if you think they need to be contacted by a pastor, let me know.

Dig Deeper: Good Friday and Culture Wars
New Testament scholar Richard Hays once noted that after his resurrection, Jesus did not appear to Pilate or Caesar, or Herod. To do so would have been to vindicate himself—to win an argument rather than save the world.

Instead, as Luke puts it, Jesus “presented himself alive” (Acts 1:3, ESV) to those he had chosen as witnesses. That’s because Jesus’ kingdom would advance not through resentment and grievance but through those who would bear witness to him with sincerity and truth, even to the loss of their own lives. Conquering like that—through “the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11)—is what winning looks like, especially when one sees who the Enemy is.

Experts expect the next few years to be worse than the previous ones. Those who seek to make a name for themselves by exploiting fear and outrage will continue to get better at it. And they will not lack an audience of those who believe the only thing standing between them and destruction is the requisite amount of theatrical anger.

Culture wars and outrage cycles might fuel ratings, clicks, and fundraising appeals, but they cannot reconcile sinners with a holy God. They cannot reunite a fragmented people. They cannot even make us less afraid in the long run.

Good Friday should remind us that, as Christians, adding more outrage and anger to a culture already exhausted by its own is not how God defines his wisdom and power. Babel building can’t help us—only cross-carrying can.

Russell Moore leads the Public Theology Project at Christianity Today.
Posted in