The hours crept by as Nathaniel and Cleopas headed home. As they walked, they quietly discussed all that had happened over the past few days. In the late afternoon, a man resting on the side of the path and asked to walk with them. It was a common courtesy to provide safety in numbers to a stranger.
The new man fell in step with them and asked, “I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. If you don’t mind my asking, what was it about?”
Cleopas answered, “Oh. We were just talking about the horrible weekend we had in Jerusalem.”
“Horrible? What happened?” the new man asked.
Nathaniel was irritated. “What do you mean, ‘what happened?’ You are headed the same way on the road as us. You, too, just left Jerusalem. Surely you saw all the things that took place during Passover week.”
“What things?” The man asked.
Nathaniel grunted, “What things? Where have you been, hiding under a rock?”
Cleopas interrupted, trying to quiet his friend, “The sun went dark for three hours. The temple veil ripped from top to bottom. Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. He was a prophet and very impressive in all he said and did. The chief priests handed him over to be killed. We had hoped he was the Messiah and would set Israel free from Roman oppression. We followed this man for the last three years and now we have no purpose. It is the third day since he died and we are still without direction. So, we are heading home.”
Nathaniel had regained his composure, “And this morning, some of the women shocked us by fabricating a ridiculous story about Him coming back from death! One of the ladies claims an angel met her at the empty tomb and told Her Jesus is alive. Somebody has obviously stolen his body. Poor women—they loved Him so much and now that he is dead they’ve gone mad.”
The new man spoke, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Didn’t the Christ have to suffer these things so that he could be glorified? Don’t you remember the story told of Moses when he lifted the serpent for all the bitten people to look upon. The Christ had to be lifted up on the cross so that all who wanted to be saved from that old Serpent the Devil could look at the perfect Son of God on the cross and be saved.”
The two men looked at each other, shocked at this new teaching.
The man continued, “The prophets are full of proof that Jesus was the Messiah: Isaiah predicted His simple birth in a manger and that His mother would be a virgin. Micah said the birth place would be in Bethlehem. And concerning his death: Isaiah said He would be whipped. The psalms say His hands and feet would be pierced. Zechariah said His side would be pierced. Even the act of the soldiers who cast lots for His clothing was foretold!”
There was silence for a few steps, and then Cleopas said, “That’s amazing! It really is. Why have none of us seen this?”
The man smiled, “That’s not all! His burial in a wealthy man’s tomb was foretold by Isaiah. You say the women who saw the Christ this morning were mistaken? Didn’t the prophet Malachi say the Son of Righteousness would rise with healing in His wings? From His birth, to His death—nearly all of his life fulfills prophecy. Jesus Christ is the Messiah. A little knowledge of the prophets will convict the strongest skeptic of this!”
The two men stopped in front of a small house, “Thank you for your words. You have given us much to consider. Please stay and eat with us.”
A few minutes later the three men sat at a table with Cleopas’ family. The table was loaded with bread, water and hot food.
“Sir, would you do us the honor and bless the meal,” Cleopas asked.
“Certainly,” the man answered, taking one of the round loaves of flatbread in his hands. He lifted the bread high in front of him and prayed.
Everyone sat staring at him as he prayed. Their eyes darted from person to person and back to the praying man. As he said, “Amen” he broke the bread in half and handed the halves to Cleopas and Nathaniel on his right and left.
“I knew it!” both men shouted as one. They looked at the joy in the faces around the table. Tears streamed down every face. Then they turned to Jesus, but He was gone!
Why did it take so long for them to recognise Jesus? What misconceptions did they have to overcome before they could accept who He was?
If you had been sitting at that table and recognised Jesus, what would you have done next? Who would you have told? What would you have said?
Seeing something from a completely new perspective is very difficult. Jesus was willing to go through numerous changes to accomplish His mission—our Salvation. In the passage below, underline the changes Jesus accepted, endured, embraced and received. How can we apply this to our lives?
Philippians 2:6-11 ~ Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection give hope to all who accept the gift of eternal life He offers. What do the following texts reveal about the amazing impact Jesus has made on us and our world?
John 3:16 ~ For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 1:4 ~ He was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 4:25 ~ He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
1 John 2:2 ~ He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
The results of Jesus’ ministry during His life on earth provide one of the greatest reasons for being committed to God and His will. What do the following verses reveal about the character of God and the commitments He calls us to make in our character?
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ~ Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
1 Peter 2:21-22 ~ For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22 ~ Just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.
Jesus’ life and death give us both purpose and meaning in this life and a hope beyond death. What do these verses tell us about the hope God has for every human living on earth today?
2 Corinthians 5:19-21 ~ For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Romans 3:23-26 ~ For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
The following statement is the 9th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?
Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ
In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. The resurrection of Christ proclaims God’s triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow.
The story at the beginning of this lesson is based on Luke 24:13-35.
Isaiah 53; Romans 8:3,4; 1 John 4:10; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4