Call to Worship April 28 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 24:13-35

“Let us mark, in these verses — what encouragement there is to believers to speak to one another about Christ. We are told of two disciples walking together to Emmaus, and talking of their Master’s crucifixion. And then come the remarkable words, ‘As they talked and discussed these things with each other — Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them.’

Conference on spiritual subjects is a most important means of grace. As iron sharpens iron — so does exchange of thoughts with brethren, sharpen a believer’s soul. It brings down a special blessing on all who make a practice of it. The striking words of Malachi were meant for the Church in every age — ‘Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other — and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. ‘They will be Mine,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘in the day when I make up My jewels.’‘ (Malachi 3:16, 17.)

What do we ourselves know of spiritual conversation with other Christians? Perhaps we read our Bibles, and pray in private, and use public means of grace. It is all well, very well. But if we stop short here — then we neglect a great privilege and have yet much to learn. We ought to ‘consider how to provoke one another to love and good works.’ We ought to ‘exhort’ and ‘edify one another.’ (Hebrews 10:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:11.)

Have we no time for spiritual conversation? Let us think again. The quantity of time wasted on frivolous, trifling, and unprofitable talk — is fearfully great. Do we find nothing to say on spiritual subjects? Do we feel tongue-tied and speechless on the things of Christ? Surely if this is the case — then there must be something wrong within. A heart right in the sight of God, will generally find words to speak about eternal realities. ‘Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.’ (Matthew 12:34.)

Let us learn a lesson from the two travelers to Emmaus. Let us speak of Jesus — when we are sitting in our houses, and when we are walking along the way, whenever we can find a disciple to speak to. (Deuteronomy 6:7.) If we believe we are journeying to a Heaven where Christ will be the central object of every mind — let us begin to learn the conduct of Heaven, while we are yet upon earth. So doing, we shall often have One with us whom our eyes will not see, but One who will make our hearts ‘burn within us’ by blessing the conversation.

Let us mark, secondly, in these verses — how weak and imperfect was the knowledge of some of our Lord’s disciples. We are told that the two disciples frankly confessed that their expectations had been disappointed by the crucifixion of Christ. ‘We had hoped,’ said they, ‘that it had been He who would have redeemed Israel.’ A temporal redemption of the Jews by a conqueror — appears to have been the redemption which they looked for. A spiritual redemption by a sacrificial death — was an idea which their minds could not thoroughly take in.

Ignorance like this, at first sight, is truly astounding. We cannot be surprised at the sharp rebuke which fell from our Lord’s lips, ‘how foolish you are, and slow of heart to believe.’

Yet ignorance like this is deeply instructive. It shows us how little cause we have to wonder at the spiritual darkness which obscures the minds of careless Christians. Myriads around us are just as ignorant of the meaning of Christ’s sufferings, as these travelers to Emmaus. As long as the world stands, the cross will seem foolishness to natural man.

Let us bless God that there may be true grace hidden under much intellectual ignorance. Clear and accurate knowledge is a most useful thing — but it is not absolutely needful to salvation, and may even be possessed without grace. A deep sense of sin, a humble willingness to be saved in God’s way, a teachable readiness to give up our own prejudices when a more excellent way is shown — these are the principal things. These things the two disciples possessed, and therefore our Lord ‘went with them’ and guided them into all truth.

Let us mark, thirdly, in these verses — how full of Christ the Old Testament is. We are told that our Lord began ‘with Moses and all the prophets, and expounded in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.’

How shall we explain these words? In what way did our Lord show ‘things concerning Himself,’ in every part of the Old Testament? The answer to these questions is short and simple. Christ was the substance of every Old Testament sacrifice, ordained in the law of Moses. Christ was the true Deliverer and King — of whom all the judges and deliverers in Jewish history were types. Christ was the coming Prophet greater than Moses, whose glorious coming filled the pages of prophets. Christ was the true seed of the woman, who was to bruise the serpent’s head — the true seed in whom all nations were to be blessed — the true Shiloh to whom the people were to be gathered — the true scape-goat — the true bronze serpent — the true Lamb to which every daily offering pointed — the true High Priest of whom every descendant of Aaron was a figure. These things, or something like them, we need not doubt — were some of the things which our Lord expounded in the way to Emmaus.

Let it be a settled principle in our minds, in reading the Bible — that Christ is the central sun of the whole book. So long as we keep Him in view — we shall never greatly err in our search for spiritual knowledge. Once losing sight of Christ — we shall find the whole Bible dark and full of difficulty. The key of Bible knowledge is Jesus Christ.

Let us mark, finally, in these verses — how much Christ loves to be entreated by His people. We are told, that when the disciples drew near to Emmaus, our Lord ‘made as though he would have gone further.’ He desired to see if they were weary of His conversation. But it was not so. ‘They constrained Him, saying, ‘Abide with us — for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ And He went in to tarry with them.’

Cases like this are not uncommon in Scripture. Our Lord sees it good for us to prove our love — by withholding mercies until we ask for them. He does not always force His gifts upon us, unsought and unsolicited. He loves to draw out our desires, and to compel us to exercise our spiritual affections — by waiting for our prayers. He dealt so with Jacob at Peniel. ‘Let me go,’ He said, ‘for the day breaks.’ And then came the noble declaration from Jacob’s lips, ‘I will not let you go — unless you bless me.’ (Genesis 32:26.)

The story of the Canaanite mother, the story of the healing of two blind men at Jericho, the story of the nobleman at Capernaum, the parables of the unjust judge and friend at midnight — are all meant to teach the same lesson. All show that our Lord loves to be entreated, and likes importunity in prayer.

Let us act on this principle in all our prayers, if we know anything of praying. Let us ask much, and ask often, and lose nothing for lack of asking. Let us not be like the Jewish king who smote on the ground three times, and then stopped. (2 Kings 13:18.) Let us rather remember the words of David’s Psalm, ‘Open your mouth wide — and I will fill it.’ (Psalm 81:10.) It is the man who puts a holy constraint on Christ in prayer — who enjoys much of Christ’s manifested presence.”

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