but we had hoped
3rd Sunday of Easter – A LSB #’s 474, 476, 352:1, 4-6
Text – Luke 24:21a
But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel.
BUT WE HAD HOPED
What if you knew a different Jesus? Most of us here have been children of God for a long time. We are now very accustomed to the Jesus of the NT. We’ve been taught & we have learned so many things about Him that it’s almost impossible for us to think of Jesus in any other way.
Those opening sentences should probably make you nervous. It is good, right & salutary for you to always be leery of any false teaching from your pastor. If you cannot think of Jesus in any other way than the NT teaches, that is a good thing, however, that is not the experience of the two who were traveling on the road to Emmaus. The NT had not been written yet.
They knew Jesus personally, & they knew a different Jesus than do you & I:
“And they said…, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed & word before God & all the people, & how our chief priests & rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, & crucified Him. But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel.’” (Luke 24:19b-21a ESV)
Can you feel their dilemma? Their hopes were crushed because the Jesus they knew had failed to save them. The Jesus they knew was like the Detroit Lions. He’d won just often enough to get their hopes up & when everything was on the line Jesus did not just lose, He suffered a crushing defeat. But we had hoped & now our hopes are destroyed!
What if you knew a different Jesus? How much would that change your life? You don’t have to look far to see. Crushed hopes & dreams are everywhere across our land, not just among fans of the Detroit Lions. Thousands of people’s lives have been shattered by shootings. Inflation has raised prices for everything by 20 to 50% in one year. Almost every industry is short of qualified or competent workers. News coverage is at best completely unbalanced, & at worst it’s fabricated. Our political class has no interest in governing between multiple viewpoints. They only want to exercise power & control, & we keep electing them.
We’ll go through some of God’s commandments. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy – church attendance is falling rapidly in America. Honor your father & mother – respect for authority is seldom being taught in homes or schools. You shall not kill – beginning with abortion, all the shootings & euthanasia being legalized, life has little value in our nation!
Martin Luther explained the 6th commandment like this, “We should fear & love God so that we lead a sexually pure & decent life in what we say & do, & husband & wife honor each other.” The United Nations is now backing recommendations to normalize sex with minors. That is a pretty far stretch from husband & wife love & honor each other.
You shall not steal – that’s God’s version, but in this country it’s no longer stealing if the value of what you take is not significant enough. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor – that would shut down every major news channel & newspaper in this country.
When you take stock of where things are at among the human race, especially in our nation, it is easy to believe that your hopes have been crushed. “But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21a ESV) The two, on the road to Emmaus, knew a different Jesus. If you look at our nation & give up hope, you too know a different Jesus.
I’m not saying that you should find hope in our human government or even in our constitution. I am saying that no matter how corrupt our government & people become there is still hope, the greatest of all hopes, in the real Jesus – the Jesus of the NT. The two on the road to Emmaus had given up hope because Jesus was not who they thought He was. They knew a different Jesus. The people of our nation, as a whole, have given up hope because neither do they know the Jesus of the NT, & we see that loss of hope everywhere. You & I can know how much, believing in a different Jesus, would change our lives simply by looking at the crushed hopes & dreams, & the lawlessness, of our nation’s people.
It should be very clear how different your life would be if you knew a different Jesus. The evidence is all around you. In this reading from St. Luke, Jesus also makes it very clear what the solution is to our crushed hopes & dreams:
“And He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, & slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things & enter into His glory?’ And beginning with Moses & all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
When you understand it correctly, the entire OT points ahead to Jesus, & the entire NT points back to Jesus, showing us how He fulfills the OT. Foolish ones that we are we need the NT to show us who the real Jesus is. Then, what we see going on around us & even in our own families, no longer crushes our Christian hopes & dreams. Rather, it encourages them.
St. Peter, who was well acquainted with trials & suffering, wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice & be glad when His glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV)
Christ’s purpose was to suffer & die. If you believe otherwise, then you know a different Jesus. And if we believe it is not our purpose to suffer fiery trials, then we know a different Jesus. Confirming that, Peter goes on to say, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory & of God rests upon you.” (1 Peter 4:14 ESV) That is knowing the real Jesus, the One who personally paid for your sins on the cross. That is the Jesus who knows you, as we hear in the OT at Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.” (ESV) Jesus adds to that at John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, & they know me.” (NLT)
That we must suffer in this life because of sin causes some to think that God is sadistic, torturing us for His own twisted pleasure. Certainly there are human beings who do that, but that does not apply to our heavenly Father. Mankind brought sin & suffering into the perfect creation that Yahweh had made.
If Jesus had to suffer to save us, why should we be spared suffering since we are not greater than our Master? God’s Word is clear that our Lord is able to bring good even out of suffering. Most any human being can bring good out of pleasant things. It takes the Creator of the universe to bring good out of suffering & trial.
This reading from St. Luke highlights that the two on the road to Emmaus had not yet learned that lesson. It’s written to help us learn it as well, & it is a difficult lesson to learn. When their eyes are finally opened to recognize Jesus, it is then that He instantly disappears.
However, now they still see & know Jesus by faith instead of by sight, & they immediately return to Jerusalem to tell the others. Have you ever been disappointed by events in your life? Absolutely! We cannot live in this world without experiencing disappointment. The disconnect between God’s promises & our own, limited perception can be discouraging.
That’s why God’s Word shares this message of the road to Emmaus to strengthen & encourage us to simply trust our heavenly Father, in all things, in all times. We are still on the road to our heavenly & Jesus is with us on that way, by faith if not by sight. Still today He knows His sheep, & His sheep know Him. Amen.
Who are you who walk in sorrow down Emmaus’ barren road, hearts distraught & hope defeated, bent beneath grief’s crushing load? Nameless mourners, we will join you, we who also mourn our dead; we have stood by graves unyielding, eaten death’s bare, bitter bread. Who is this who joins our journey, walking with us stride by stride? Unknown Stranger, can You fathom depths of grief for one who died? Then the wonder! When we told You how our dreams to dust have turned, then You opened wide the Scriptures till our hearts within us burned. “Alleluia! Alleluia!” Is the Easter hymn we sing! Take our life, our joy, our worship as the gift of love we bring. You have formed us all one people called from every land & race. Make the Church Your servant body, sent to share Your healing grace! Amen. LSB 476:1-2, 5.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet