Dr. Milton Gordon |Big Sandy, Tennessee
Imagine yourself in Jerusalem sometime around AD 33. You and a friend decide to walk to a nearby town about two hours away. This town is a wonderful place to relax and unwind and has some great hot baths. Another man there gives an account of recent events that has you and your friend in wonderment and amazement. It seems a man who lived in Nazareth claimed to be the Messiah and, by all indications, he was the genuine article. He healed the sick of all types of diseases, raised the dead, cast out evil spirits, and taught from the Torah and the Prophets with amazing authority. Yet this man, named Jesus, was tried by the Romans and the Jewish religious leaders and sentenced to horrible treatment and an agonizing crucifixion. Neither of you had ever heard anything like this. Then, there is more to the story! Jesus was buried in a tomb owned by a rich man from Arimathea. A couple of mornings later, some women went early to that tomb to see this Messiah-man and anoint His corpse with spices. Those women came from that place declaring to his eleven disciples and the rest that they had seen him alive. Amazing story.
You and your friend start your journey back home, walking. You seriously discuss what you heard. As you walk and talk, both of you are very troubled about the crucifixion of Jesus. So many had hoped He would be the one to lead Israel out of the bondage of Roman tyranny and save the nation. Both you and your friend wonder if this Messiah was truly the one. Maybe he wasn’t.
As you continue walking and talking with your friend, suddenly a stranger pops up, seemingly from nowhere, and asks what you are discussing. You are surprised and bewildered by his question. Who is this guy? You give your friend an incredulous look and respond with some questions of your own. “What are we discussing? Are you the only person in Jerusalem that doesn’t know what has happened?” “What has happened?” the stranger asks. You continue telling this clueless outsider what has happened to the Messiah called Jesus Christ and how he was tried, crucified, and buried in a borrowed tomb. You inform him some of the women who went to the tomb earlier that day saw two angels who told them the Messiah had risen. Then this stranger said something straightforward and blunt. “How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer?” (Luke 24:25, 26 HCSB). And then he does the strangest thing, He begins with Moses’ writings and moves through the prophet’s writings, revealing the identity of the Messiah. It was amazing to hear this stranger speak so profoundly and familiar of the Scriptures! You and your friend look at each other as if to say again, “Again, who is this guy?”
Let me challenge you to believe in Him even though you have not seen Him and may never see Him in this life. You will see Him one day soon if you believe.
As you continue your journey, you come close to the town you set out for and this stranger was about to go on further. You plead for him to come join you to eat. He agrees. As everyone sits down to eat, the stranger takes bread and breaks it and blesses it. Immediately, your eyes and the eyes of your friend are opened! You know it is the Lord! He is the Messiah, Jesus Christ. But then just as quickly as He had appeared on the road, poof, He disappears. You make your way back to Jerusalem to find the disciples and tell them what happened and who you saw. They don’t believe you! But, then, you remember you had not believed before Jesus appeared. And suddenly, He appears again! Some think He is a spirit. But you know. Even though you had doubted before, you now believe. Jesus Christ was and is the Messiah. You choose to believe (Narrative of Luke 24:11–53).
Did you imagine yourself in this account of the two on the road to Emmaus? Did you see in a new light the other disciples struggling with believing Jesus Christ was the Messiah? Have you found yourself with doubt and disbelief? You and I may not have experienced an appearance of the resurrected Christ, as these, the apostle Paul, and others did but what is vital is that we believe in Him and all that He is and all that He has said and done according to the Scriptures. This is what He said to the two on the road to Emmaus and what He continually said to the apostles and disciples before and after He rose from the tomb. They were to believe all that the Scriptures spoke of Him and prophesied of Him. Their hearts were slow to believe and Jesus rebuked them.
Do we find ourselves in comparable conditions when we read the Scriptures and begin to converse about passages with wonderment and amazement as these two did on the road to Emmaus? They were sad and doubting. Thomas also would not believe until He touched the nail prints in His hands and His sword pierced side (John 20:24, 25). He tells us and everyone who has not seen or touched Him and yet believe that we are blessed (29). It is amazing that the Holy Spirit comes to us to confirm our belief in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. It is amazing that the Holy Spirit teaches us about Him and brings us closer to Him. All true believers will one day behold Him in all His glory. What about it? Are you walking on a journey with questions of doubt and sadness? Are you saying, “I need some tangible evidence of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and then I will believe?” Dear friends, even if someone were to rise from the dead to preach to you or your family, you would not believe unless you chose to believe. We have the Scriptures with the testimony of Jesus Christ (Luke 16:27–31).
If Jesus did choose to appear to you in some form, would He say to you, “You unwise person and slow of heart to believe”? It is your choice to believe in Him or not. He will not force anyone but He proclaims, “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1 CSB). He reveals Himself in the Scriptures and by the Holy Spirit. Do you believe? We have the Scriptures today that testify of Him and correspond with the historical record of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The prophecies of the Scripture are being fulfilled and soon the Messiah will return in the clouds as He left. Yes, He is revealing Himself to people in dreams and even in appearances today and, surely, He can do as He wills.
Let me challenge you to believe in Him even though you have not seen Him and may never see Him in this life. You will see Him one day soon if you believe. Do you believe? C. H. Spurgeon claimed that 98 percent of the people he met, including the criminals he visited in England’s prisons, told him they believed the Bible to be true. But the clear majority had never made a personal, life-changing commitment to Jesus Christ. For them, “believe” was not an active verb (Source: http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/b/belief.htm).
The Holy Spirit is calling and pleading in the inspired written Word, “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31 CSB). The apostle Paul declared, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:8, 9 ESV). He also proclaimed, “For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died” (1 Thessalonians 4:14 NLT).
Do you need a vision, dream, or appearance of Jesus to believe? No! Why wait? Just believe in Him now and be blessed continually. He has risen. He is alive forevermore. He is coming again in the clouds. Believe it! Are you looking for Him to come? He is coming again. Believe in Him! He is the risen Savior and Lord. Scripture proves it. History proves it. Prophetic events prove it. Open your heart, believe, and trust in Him. Tell someone you believe in Him. He was crucified, buried in a borrowed tomb, and rose from that tomb. He did it for you! Choose Him! He is alive!