If you could go back in time to witness firsthand the life and ministry of Jesus, and you had only a few hours to spend with Him, which event in His life would you choose? Tough one, isn’t it? I would choose to be on the Emmaus road with those two disciples with my iPhone in hand to capture all that Jesus said on that seven-mile journey recorded in Luke 24:13–32.
I did the math: It takes approximately 15,000 steps and about two-and-a-half hours to walk seven miles. However, I’m sure the disciples stopped dead in their tracks constantly as they learned how Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies in His First Coming to this earth. The Old Testament constantly points to Him.
Undoing the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ Hypocrisy
Jesus conducted an amazing Bible study for two of His disciples after His resurrection. The apostle Luke wrote, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27, emphasis mine).
Those disciples recognized that Jesus did not teach as the Pharisees and Sadducees did. Jesus, calling them hypocrites (Matthew 15:7), said, “In vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (v. 9). They laid burdens on the people that they themselves could not bear, while Jesus offered a life of freedom to those who walked in the light of His Word. Jesus showed that the Law concerns the inside, not the outside, of the heart through the hypocritical behavior of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus showed that the Law concerns the inside, not the outside, of the heart through the hypocritical behavior of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Four hundred years separated the close of the Old Testament canon and Jesus’ First Coming. The Pharisees and the Sadducees came on the scene during this time. When no prophets were in the land of Israel, the teachings of the Old Testament were perverted into a system of dos and don’ts, with the Pharisees and Sadducees as the arbiters of truth. Their traditions nullified the written commandments of God. In their minds, they determined what God’s will was for those they lorded over.
Jesus must have taught those disciples on the road that the Old Testament Scriptures were fulfilled in Him—that He is the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world. His statements on the Mount of Beatitudes showed a much different take on walking in the light of the Law than that of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
For example, Jesus called the Jews of His day “salt and light.” They were to be the conduit to the world about what godly living looks like in the pursuit of Yahweh. He said that behavior begins in the heart; taught that marriage is sacred and binding; and implored people to love their enemies and go the second mile with them, lay up their treasures in heaven, not be worried or judgmental, and ask the Father by seeking and knocking until He answers in all things. All of these teachings were foreign to the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus distinguished His teaching from that of the Pharisees and Sadducees with a series of statements beginning with “You have heard that it was said to those of old… but I say,” found throughout the Beatitudes. He pointed out how, for so long, the Old Testament teachings that are profitable for life were distorted from what God had authored for the good of His people. On that road to Emmaus, those disciples heard the Word of God, the Old Testament, in its proper context, likely for the first time.
Fulfilling Messianic Prophecy
What no one ever conceived and Jesus brought to light was that the Messiah would appear twice. First, He would come as God’s Suffering Servant who would come not to be served but to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45) to save people from the judgment to come. Second, He would return as the victorious King to gather a people to Himself for eternity. Jesus proclaimed this truth in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth:
The Spirit of the Lord Gᴏᴅ is upon Me, because the Lᴏʀᴅ has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lᴏʀᴅ (Isaiah 61:1, 2).
He taught them that His actions fulfilled this Scripture literally and precisely. However, He left out the second part of verse 2, which mentions “the day of vengeance of our God.”
God’s plan for the ages would have been fully accomplished if He included that portion of verse 2. He would have completed the salvation of His remnant and condemned the rebels. But the day of vengeance of our God is yet to come, so Jesus taught those disciples that He would return at a day and time of the Father’s choosing. Until then, God offers grace for mankind to respond to His offer of salvation through His Son, our Lord Jesus.
The Subject of Scripture From Beginning to End
Jesus is undeniably the dominating subject of the New Testament. But what is so often missed is that He was a product of the Old Testament. Everything that Jesus shared that day with those two disciples was all that the Old Testament taught about His life, ministry, and substitutionary atonement. It had a transformative effect on those two disciples. They experienced “holy heartburn” as the truth of Jesus’ words penetrated and transformed their lives.
Everything that Jesus shared that day with those two disciples was all that the Old Testament taught about His life, ministry, and substitutionary atonement.
All Scripture is inspired by God, both Old and New Testaments, and is profitable for all areas of our lives (2 Timothy 3:16). Both are authoritative, relevant, and reliable for any generation. I just wish I had a nice comfortable pair of walking sandals to have completed that journey to Emmaus with our Lord and those blessed disciples!
The apostle Paul shared an important truth in Romans 15:4 for us to remember as we study God’s Word: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”