Why Emmaus Church? (10-05-2013)

“Why Emmaus Church?”

When people ask this question, they usually mean one of two things. One, why choose the name Emmaus Church. And two, why start Emmaus Church. The latter is easier to answer than the former. So I will start there.

Why start Emmaus Church? It’s simple really. God is still calling men to proclaim the gospel and shepherd his people and there are still many people who have not heard the gospel and/or are not in a Bible-believing, gospel-centered church. If we are honest, all of us can easily think of a multitude of families, friends, co-workers, and classmates that are in one, or both, of these categories. A cursory glance at the world around us demonstrates the need for churches that are committed to the truth of God’s Word, that preach Christ crucified week in and week out, and do everything for the glory of God. There’s never going to be too many of those! In sum, Emmaus Church exists to proclaim the glories of God as He has revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Why choose the name Emmaus Church? This answer is a bit longer. John Piper once said, “We need to read the Gospels backwards; starting with the cross to understand any commands, pericopes (passages of the text), etc.” I like this statement and would like to expand it just a bit: it is only through a right understanding of who Christ is and what He has done that we can make sense of everything. That may sound hyperbolic but I believe that Scripture bears this out. And it only becomes clear after the resurrection of the Lord.

The final chapter of Luke’s gospel records the event on the “first day of the week”, now two days after the crucifixion. The first story in the narrative recounts the discovery of the empty tomb by a few of the disciples. Verse 12 concludes this narrative with Peter gazing into the tomb, wondering what had happened. It’s important to point out that at this point, Peter, who had followed Jesus from the beginning, could not make sense of what had transpired.

The main portion of chapter 24 involves two disciples on the road to Emmaus, a town of about 7 miles from Jerusalem. They were in Jerusalem for the Passover and were well aware of the events that had taken place surrounding Jesus of Nazareth. Though lengthy, I’d like to share the entire passage.

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” 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, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even 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 as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”” (Luke 24:13–34, ESV)

There is much that can be said here but for our purposes in answering the question, Why choose the name Emmaus, I want to point out just a few:

The disciples on the road knew who Jesus was and even had hopes that He would be the savior of Israel. Their understanding of Jesus and His mission had no place for a suffering and dying messiah. Jesus, in responding to their grief, does not simply reveal who He is, He reveals who He is according to Scripture. In effect, Jesus charges them with the same error that He charges the Jews with in John – they were reading the right Bible but not seeing the right message. To paraphrase, Jesus said, “It’s all about me.”

The implications from this shouldn’t be missed. All that had occurred beforehand, all that was recorded in the Old Testament, was intended to reveal the Son of God, the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Note the effect that this interpretation of Scripture had on the disciples, their hearts “burned” and they immediately get up and run back to Jerusalem (seven miles!) to share the good news. I have always loved this story and the bold claim that it makes – any understanding of Scripture that does not terminate in Jesus Christ is missing the point.

We can take this farther with a syllogism of sorts:

If the tomb is empty, then Christ is who He says He is.

If Christ is who He says He is, then we must understand the Bible according to His interpretation.

If we understand the Bible according to His interpretation, then we must accept the Old Testament as truth and not allegory or fable.

If we understand the Old Testament as truth, then we arrive at the conclusion that our sin is real and it is really an offense to a holy God.

If we understand our sin is real and our judgment is deserved, then we end up back at the beginning of the list. . .

If the tomb is empty, then Jesus Christ is who He said He is!

Because of Jesus, the Bible makes sense. Because of Jesus, the world makes sense. Because of Jesus, we are in a community of believers. Because of Jesus, we spread the good news that Christ has suffered, died, defeated death and rose again.

Why choose the name Emmaus Church? Because of Jesus. I hope you will consider joining us October 27th at our first service, and hear about this Jesus.

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