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A Suffering Messiah - I don't get it.

One of my favorite stories in the NT is the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. Cleopas and his buddy have had their expectations shattered and are saddened by the crucifixion of Jesus and intently debating when Jesus joins them (“but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him”). They “had hoped” that Jesus was the Messiah (24:21), but they concluded they were wrong. After all, He’s dead. Here’s a short summary of their conversation:

  • 24:13-16 Cleopas and his buddy walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus talking about and debating all the things that happened (Trial, crucifixion, resurrection of Jesus)

  • 24:15-16 Jesus joins them

  • 24:17 Jesus: “What are you discussing?”

  • 24:18 Cleopas: “Are you the only one out of touch? Who doesn’t know the things that have happened in Jerusalem recently?”

  • 24:19 Jesus: “What things?”

  • 24:21 Cleopas: “We had hoped Jesus was the Messiah”

  • 24:27 Jesus: Interpreted everything written about Himself in the Pentateuch and Prophets.

So, Jesus joins them and says in effect, Hey, what’s up? What are you guys talking about?

Check out verse Luke 24:19 … 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.

The things Cleopas points to as evidence for his disappointment are the same things that Jesus clearly shared with the disciples in Matthew 20:17.

Matt 20:17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

1. He would be delivered by the chief priests

2. He would be condemned to death

3. He would be crucified

4. Cleopas missed the resurrection part – the need for the expected powerful Messiah to be resurrected from the dead didn’t make sense to him.

When it came to a suffering Messiah, Cleopas (and everyone else) was saying “I don’t get it.” That was not something they expected.

How could the disciples, whom Jesus told multiple times, not understand that 1) He was the Messiah, and 2) that the Messiah must suffer, die, and rise from the dead?

In a word: Expectations.

The Jews expected a military Messiah – one that would come and conquer Rome and set Israel free from foreign domination. They never expected the Messiah to come, be rejected by their religious leaders, condemned to death and crucified. They certainly didn’t expect Him to rise from the dead either. Even when Peter stood in the empty tomb, saw the strips of cloth that once surrounded the body of Jesus, he didn’t get it (Luke 24:12).

What expectations do we have for God today? Are they realistic expectations? Are they expectations that God shares? Or are they our own concoction of culturally shaped values that we’ve assigned to God to perform? Are we ready to have our expectations challenged?

I’ll be preaching on this in greater detail this Sunday😊

Enjoy Walking with the Savior Today, John


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