September 5, Sunday

REPOSTToday’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on April 4, 2015, is provided by Pastor Shan Gian who leads Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan.  Shan is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“A Surprise Ending?”

Luke 24:13-27

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.

The ending for some movies is predictable, such as Titanic, but not movies like Shawshank Redemption and The Usual Suspects that were produced in the 1990s.  (Sorry, I guess I’m not that young.)  One reason many moviegoers enjoyed them was not only an incredible plot twist, but the surprise ending that brought everything together—everything finally made sense.  

Moving onto a much more serious venue, I would imagine that Cleopas and his friend had a similar experience on the road to Emmaus.  These two disciples of Jesus were walking along the road, confused about what had transpired over the weekend; this was not the ending that they had anticipated.   Instead of redeeming Israel, they had seen Jesus, whom they thought was the Messiah, beaten and finally crucified.  

Why the miscalculation?  Certainly, God had been telling and weaving an intricate story of redemption.  It went from the Creation to the Fall, to Abraham and the time of the patriarchs, and the Exodus to the Exile.  All throughout Israel’s history, there were prophecies of the Messiah who was to come.  But instead of the Prince of Peace, the Israelites, because they had long suffered at the hands of gentile rulers (such as Grecians and Romans) were looking for a triumphant, militant Jesus.  

Once Jesus came, He said very plainly how He had to suffer first, but it didn’t make sense to the Jews who yearned for a political liberator, not a suffering one!

Here, still in disguise, Jesus shows these two disciples how their misunderstanding of the Scripture led to a false expectation.   He starts with “Moses and all the Prophets” and interprets “all the Scriptures” to them.  And suddenly, Cleopas and his friend started to understand the Scriptures, Jesus’ ministry, and the events on Good Friday—all of which pointed to the death and resurrection of the Jesus “that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.” This surprise ending gave them great hope and joy! 

As believers today, we have been completely changed and transformed because we know how the story ended.  Knowing the ending changes everything.  We can read the stories and prophecies of the Old Testament and see how it pointed to the Messiah.  We can see the amazing story of God’s grace and the redemption of His people, including us.  But most of all, we can look at our own lives and see that God has woven a story of grace and redemption within us, and because of what Jesus did for us, we know that the ending to our own stories leads to an eternity with our Lord.

Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my eyes on You and Your gracious work done on the cross. I pray that I will be able to celebrate what You are doing in my daily walk.  Fill me with a greater joy as I experience more of You and Your grace.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 16

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