BIBLE INSIGHTS in 500 words
The Promise on the Road to Emmaus
Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.
On the road to Emmaus, we view the faithful conviction of two of Jesus’ disciples as they face heartbreak and the loss of hope. They regarded Jesus as a prophet but they also knew he was more than a prophet. Concerning Jesus,
“they replied. ‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. . . .we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:19, 21).
They had been present to see his miracles and hear his teaching. They came to believe that he was the man of God’s choice, the one who would redeem Israel. For them, as loyal Jews, “redeem Israel” could mean only one thing – the New Exodus told by the prophets (see Isaiah 43:16-21; 51:9-11; 52:11-12). As Israel had been redeemed from slavery in Egypt, they hoped that now Israel would be redeemed for all from pagan domination.
“The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him” (Luke 24:20).
If Jesus had been the one to redeem Israel, he should have defeated the pagans. Yet, he died at the hands of pagans. The pathos in the voice of these disciples is numbing, “we had hoped” (24:21). This expression of hopelessness would soon become a great expression of Christian faith,
- Despair without the resurrection: “they crucified him – and we had hoped he would redeem Israel.”
- Hope because of the resurrection: “they crucified him – and that is how he redeemed the world.”
A New Promise. To grasp the need of the crucifixion and the victory of the resurrection, these disciples needed a new understanding of Scripture. They, along with all faithful Jews at that time, had been reading the Bible in the wrong way.
- They had been reading the Bible as the story of how God would save Israel from suffering.
- Jesus opened the Scriptures and taught them God’s plan is to save the world through suffering.
Jesus did not cobble together a series of disjointed texts that might be interpreted as predictions of his ministry. Jesus explained the whole story of God’s plan to redeem the world, from Genesis to Malachi. This full story is the foundation and foretelling of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
“He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).
The Old Testament is God’s story hungering for a conclusion, for fulfillment, and for a victorious consummation. Jesus is the conclusion, fulfillment, and victory of God’s story of redemption for the world.