Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Emmaus Experience

Luke 24:13-32
13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him.
17He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?"
19"What things?" he asked.
"About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."
25He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.
30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Have you ever felt like you were walking blind? I have read this story many times before, but I have never felt more affinity with these guys than I do now. I have related here how I have been studying the Jewish roots of Christianity lately. I have been doing intensive study in the festivals in particular and it is amazing to me how Christ has been opened up in a way I had never known before. One of the men, whose studies I have been listening to, calls the Feasts of the Jewish calendar rehearsals. As I hear and understand what they have done for centuries (millenia, actually) it is as if the blinders are removed for the first time. Verse 27 is amazing to me: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Jesus took the Hebrew Scriptures and told them everything that it said about Him. We can know what God was trying to say about Christ before we even get into the New Testament. The New Testament is important of course, but so much of the time we make it the end all be all of faith or we insist on filtering the Old Testament through it.
God didn't change. He has never changed. A few months ago in one of my classes online for school I discussed with another student who thought that the God of the Old Testament was vengeful and would kill people at the drop of a hat so to speak and that the God revealed in the New Testament was more loving and patient. I told him then that this was bad thinking, as God has never changed His attitude toward sin. He has always been patient and longsuffering. There are plenty of OT passages that point this out. And there are times in the NT that God acted swiftly to judge. Just look at Acts 5.
Let me ask a much bigger question. I was taught and heard growing up about the age of Law and the age of Grace. It was a very dispensational thing. But I think from looking over Scripture that it was a very unScriptural thing to say. Paul talks about the Law repeatedly but many misunderstand what is being said. The so called Age of Law was a fallacy and still is. God has always operated by grace and only grace. The children of Israel were not saved by their sacrifices or their circumcision. The were saved by trust in the grace of God. Look at Romans 3:21-31:
21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Look at verse 21. A righteousness from God, apart(beside, independent of) from law(God's commands), has been made known(plainly recognised, thoroughly understood) to which the Law and the Prophets testify(see the relation to Emmaus here?). Paul is making it plain(look at chapter 4 if you don't understand yet) in Romans that God has never justified anyone by the basis of the Law in any manner shape or form. The Law had one BIG purpose: to show us God's perfection. This way, when Jesus kept the Law perfectly, we would be able to recognize Who He was and what He had done. Look at Romans 10:4-5
4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. 5 Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them."

The word end in verse four would be better understood as goal or aim. Verse 5 is talking about Christ. He did all of those things and lived. God raised Him from the dead. It happened so we could know He is who He said He is. I am sitting here trying to understand why it is that we have taken what was laid out so that we could plainly understand and then obscured it all over again.
I have a lot more to say, but I am going to take a break and ponder and pray some more.

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