Jesus Christ: The Promise of Redemption
When I was five years old, my parents went to Hawaii to celebrate their wedding anniversary. My older brother and I stayed with my grandparents, and this was the first time that we’d been away from our parents for this long. So to help with the detachment, my mom wrapped these little, small presents for my brother and me to open at the end of each day if we were good (yeah right… like grandparents are actually going to deny their grand kids). I remember some of those presents. One day it was an old school G.I. Joe action figure. Another day it was a Flintstones plastic place mat. It’s really strange, but I still remember that week from so long ago. It felt like an eternity. I liked all of those little presents, but what I was looking forward to the most was my parents’ return. They promised they’d come back. I honestly can’t tell you if I wanted them back or the presents they’d bring from Hawaii (I was five). But this I know, I was looking forward to my mom and dad coming home. I lived that week with a sense of expectation because my parents promised they were coming home, and I trusted that they would keep their promise.
As I thought about that experience in my life, I realize that as a five year old, I had a very simple faith in my parents’ promise. I simply trusted that they were going to come home because they promised they would. From my vantage point as an adult now, there were some things that were out of their control to fulfill their promise. Their plane could have crashed or a tsunami could have wiped out the Hawaiian islands or any number of things. Nonetheless, I simply trusted. I simply believed in their promise. When I begin thinking about and trusting the promises of God, the likelihood that He is going to deliver on His promises is roughly… 100%. So with those kinds of odds, do I simply trust? Do I simply believe?
Do we live with a continual sense of expectation in the promises of God? Especially when things aren’t quite the way they’re supposed to be, when things are all out of kilter, do we trust God at His word? Do we believe His promises? There are so many things in our world that seem so far beyond our control, and those things often cause us great frustration, sorrow, and even hopelessness. But in the midst of those things, do we live with a sense of expectation that things can and will be made right because God has promised to be present… God has promised to be there with us?
As we continue in The Story of, we’re entering into a new chapter–CHRIST. This is what we have been waiting for. God has made a lot of promises up to this point. All of the other chapters in the Story of God lean expectantly toward this chapter. For the next six installments in the Story of God, we will talk about the person and work of Jesus Christ. And to begin this focus on Christ, we will discover that Jesus Christ is the long-awaited answer to the promise of redemption.
As we look at this reality that Jesus is the long-awaited answer to the promise of redemption, we are going to start in a New Testament passage that captures this big idea – Luke 24:13-35. Then we’ll look back at some Old Testament passages that look forward to Jesus Christ. Finally, we’ll bring it home with the “so what.”
And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. “But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. “Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.
In this great story explaining Jesus as the Promise of Redemption, we see three key themes.
Theme #1: From a broken heart to a burning heart
In this story of broken hearts turning to burning hearts, we see followers of Jesus come to terms with the reality that Jesus Christ truly is the long-awaited answer to all of the hopes and dreams of the people of God and to God’s promise of redemption and rescue.
A Broken Heart (vv. 13-24). The story begins immediately after Jesus’ resurrection. As the Gospels tell us, Jesus’ disciples are distraught. With the death of their beloved leader, their lives, their dreams, and their hopes have come crashing down with a cross and a tomb… and their hearts are broken. Luke strangely enough tells a story of two disciples that we have never heard of–Cleopas and his buddy (how’d you like to be the second guy who didn’t even get a shout out). The reason that I think Luke chooses to tell the story of these two guys that we don’t even know is that they aren’t the superstars of the faith. They’re just like the rest of us, characters who we can relate with.
So Cleopas and his buddy are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a seven-mile trek, and it’ll take them at least 3 hours to get there. So while they’re on the road, they’re talking about what all had happened over the past couple of days with the crucifixion and death of Jesus… the dashing of all of their hopes. And you can feel their countenance. You can feel the anguish… you can feel the weight of their broken hearts.
We get a birds-eye view of this encounter. We know more than Cleopas and his buddy do because Luke immediately lets us know that Jesus comes up to them on the road. But they don’t know or recognize that it’s Jesus, perhaps because of His glorified, resurrected body (which is a still a body… He’s not a big puffball of light or something). He has a resurrected body, but for some reason, they don’t recognize Him.
So Jesus asks them what they’re talking about, and you can hear it in their voices, “What planet are you from? Where have you been for the last couple of days? Haven’t you seen the headlines?” They almost sound annoyed at this guest companion who has intruded on their sorrow.
So they begin to explain the story… their hopes… their dreams.
V. 21 is powerful – “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.” It is very likely that Cleopas and his buddy were Jewish, so they had spent their whole lives, from childhood to now, longing for the Messiah, the Christ to come and save Israel… they were waiting for the promise of redemption.
A Burning Heart (vv. 25-35). Here’s where the turn comes… the pivot point of the story. And be honest, this is what we’re waiting for… for Jesus to reveal Himself. But He continues to wait to show Himself. He wants them to have faith in the promises of God. He wants them to believe that all of their hopes were true hopes… because they were and are hopes in the character and nature of their God who gave them all of these promises… the promise of redemption.
vv. 25-27. And Jesus (and remember they don’t know it’s Jesus) confronts their lack of understanding and their lack of faith. And then He does the most amazing thing… and it’s not what we expect. I want Jesus to stop them right there and turn on the spotlight… “Hey guys, it’s ME!” But that’s not what He does… He takes them back through the entirety of the Old Testament, to the entire Story of God that has been revealed up to this point. And He shows them that it all points to Him… that Jesus is the long awaited answer to the promise of redemption.
vv. 28-35. So the threesome continues toward Emmaus. And Cleopas and his buddy still don’t know it’s Jesus… they just think it’s a really smart guy who knows a lot, and they want to hear more. So they invite Him to stay with them and have dinner. Now the story slows down with much more detail. Jesus reclines at the table with them, takes the bread, blesses it (reminds us of another meal… the night before the cross)… and then the supernatural happens… they recognize Jesus… He is their hope… He is their good news… He is the answer to this long-awaited promise of redemption. And then Jesus vanishes. And they are left to process this moment.
From a broken heart to a burning heart. In v. 32 we read, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining (or opening) the Scriptures to us?” Their broken hearts were transformed into burning hearts, from hope dashed to hope resurrected.
So here’s what they did. They got up and went back to Jerusalem. And I’ll bet it took a lot less than 3 hours on the return journey. I’ll bet they ran back in joy, in excitement, in amazement. Their burning hearts fueled them back to the rest of the disciples. Then they told their story from burning hearts to broken hearts. Jesus is the long-awaited answer to the promise of redemption.
Theme #2: From big hopes to a big God
Remember, all of the OT points forward to the coming of Messiah, the coming of the Christ… the coming of the Savior, the Rescuer, and the Redeemer. That’s what Jesus taught Cleopas and his buddy on the road to Emmaus… He explained and opened the Scriptures to them… and at that time the only Scriptures were the Old Testament Scriptures. And on that road to Emmaus, as those two disciples had big hopes, Jesus showed them a big God. He showed them that He was the long-awaited answer to the promise of redemption. And it is nothing short of the divine, supernatural plan of God… Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of the very story of God… all of the Scriptures fulfilled in One person… it was much more than a mere coincidence.
Imagine the state of Texas (and that’s big state!) covered entirely with silver dollars, two feet thick. One coin is painted red and hidden somewhere among the other coins. Now imagine sending a blindfolded man to search throughout the coins until he thinks he’s found the coin that is marked. What are the odds that he will find the red coin? That seems like an impossible feat, but Jesus Christ fulfilling over 300 prophecies in the OT concerning Himself and His life are greater odds than this. The probability if only 8 of those Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ is 1 in 1017.” Now maybe that seems possible. Not completely unlikely. But for one man to fulfill 48 prophecies, the chances are 1 in 10157
Obviously time doesn’t permit us to go into 300 Old Testament prophecies concerning the person and work of Jesus, but I want to show you three prophecies and promises that reveal that Jesus Christ is that long-awaited One. These three prophecies and promises were key to the people of Israel because they were about the three most important offices in ancient Israel: the prophet, the priest, and the king. And as we’ll see, the One God-Man Jesus Christ perfectly fulfills all three.
Prophet. A prophet was a divinely appointed person with a divine message from God to the people of God. The prophets would call the people of God back into relationship with Him. Throughout the OT, there was a foreshadowing and a long-awaiting expectation for “the super prophet.” The one prophet that God would use to finally and fully bring Israel back to Himself.
Deuteronomy 18:15. This passage begins that prophetic hope… that God would call a unique prophet to bring the people of God back to their God. And this prophet would be used, much like Moses was used in the OT, to bring about redemption and rescue for the people of God.
Acts 3:19-26. This passage is from Peter’s second sermon, and he tells the leadership of Israel that Jesus Christ is the long-awaited prophet from God. Jesus is the Servant… that long-awaited prophet… the One who would bless us with the very words of God to help us turn from death and sin to a place of life. Jesus is the Divine Prophet.
Priest. Now a second long-awaited expectation in the OT was One who would be the ultimate high priest. Remember, a priest is someone who lives in two worlds… someone who goes to God on behalf of people and goes to people on behalf of God. Priests go into the hurt of a broken world with the hope of God. And there was a long-awaited expectation in the hearts of the people of Israel for this priest.
Zechariah 6:12-13. The name of this priest would be “Branch” which literally means “Sprout.” It is an allusion to the root of Jesse… the promise that there would be a king from the line of David who would one day occupy the throne of Israel. After the Babylonian exile, the people of Israel never had a fully functioning high priest or king, and this prophesied one would fill both offices… priest and king (we’ll talk more about the office of king in a moment). Israel was waiting for this day, and in Jesus Christ, it’s here!
Hebrews 8:1-2. The author of Hebrews shows us that Jesus Christ is the long-awaited High Priest… the One who would go to God on behalf of people and go to people on behalf of God. And this High Priest Jesus Christ would sit on the throne of heaven… the throne of the king of heaven.
King. Now the last prophecies that I want to show you this morning concern the long-awaited expectation of the Davidic King to return to the throne. We talked about this when we talked about the covenant that God made with David… that the Lord will firmly and forever establish the dynasty of David by promising and providing a king and a kingdom. And as we talked about in that message, Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of that covenant with David and his descendents.
Micah 5:2-5. This ancient prophecy was about the future great king being born in Bethlehem… but there is something in this prophecy that is much greater than simply another Davidic king… “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” And this King would be our peace… the ultimate restorer of relationship between God and humanity.
Colossians 1:15-20. There are numerous NT passages where we could go to show that Jesus is that long-awaited King… but I think this passage in Colossians captures it like no other… Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
So we see that Jesus Christ is the long-awaited answer to the promise of redemption… the One who would fulfill and fill the divine offices of prophet, priest, and king. He would be the One as a prophet who would call humanity back to God. And He would as a high priest provide the way to God… and then as King, He would be the only One who rules and reigns as the very King of Heaven. He is the only One who takes us from big hopes to a big God.
Theme #3: Jesus is the long-awaited answer to the promise of redemption
I want to go back to our big idea. We have seen in the historical setting of the Bible, both from the Old and New Testament perspectives, that Jesus Christ is the long-awaited answer to the promise of redemption. But I don’t want to leave it simply in the realm of Bible and theology. I want you to grasp what this fully means for the fullness of your life.
The Promise of Redemption. I want you to think about this big idea in reverse… beginning with this promise of redemption. We all long for redemption… we all long for rescue… we all long for freedom… we all long for a way out of the hopelessness that this life and this world around often throw our way. And we want God to keep His promises. This is what the people of Israel felt a significant amount of time as foreign armies continually invaded their lands. This is what those early disciples felt after they saw their friend and their Christ nailed to a cross and buried in a borrowed tomb… hopelessness and broken hearts. This is what you feel when you lose your job. This is what you feel when your marriage starts to drift towards isolation and estrangement. This is what you feel when sin seems to strangle the life and joy out of you. This is what you feel when, for the life of you, you can’t connect with your teenager. This is what you feel when your husband or your wife gets cancer. This is what you feel when your boyfriend or your girlfriend breaks up with you… the feeling of hopelessness, despair… the experience of a broken heart.
Jesus is the Long-Awaited Answer. In the midst of all of this feeling and experience of hopelessness, despair, and broken hearts, Jesus is that long-awaited answer… He is the answer to the promise that God will be present with us through all of the difficulties and challenges of our life. Jesus Christ is that great Prophet who calls us to trust in the promises and the faithfulness of our great God. Jesus Christ is that great Priest who takes to the very throne of heaven… who One carries all of our sorrows and weakness. And Jesus Christ is that great King who leads us to places of overflowing life as we commit to follow Him with all of our hearts. Jesus is that answer… He is the One that we have been longing for… He is the One we have been waiting for.
Now here’s the catch… in some ways, Jesus has already answered those promises… He has rescued us from sin and death and brought us to a place of life and fullness in Him that grows as we continue to press into Him. He is present in us through His Holy Spirit. But in some ways, we still have to wait… there are many experiences in our life when we simply have to wait upon Him… and in that waiting that can sometimes seem so long, we have to trust… we have to believe… we have to have faith. And often in that waiting, if we’re honest, we want to jump the gun… we want to take care of it ourselves… we want to find the way ourselves.
So when you’ve lost your job, wait on Jesus because He is the answer. So when your marriage is teetering on the edge or even falling apart, wait on Jesus because He is the answer. When your teenagers won’t talk to you, wait on Jesus because He is the answer. When your spouse is diagnosed with cancer, wait on Jesus because He is the answer. When your boyfriend or girlfriend breaks your heart, wait on Jesus because He is the answer. He is the answer to hopelessness. He is the answer to despair. He is the answer to a broken heart.
In that waiting, I want you know and live in the reality that the entire Story of God shows that God lives up to His word. All of the Old Testament shows us that God comes through on His grand and great promises. And the entire New Testament points to the supremacy and centrality of Jesus Christ and reveals that He is the answer to those ancient promises. Jesus Christ is the only One who will give you the strength and the joy to say, “Is my heart not burning within me… because He is here… He is good… He is risen… because He is the ultimate answer to the all of the ultimate promises of God”