The Unknown Guest
September 21st, 1969 @ 7:30 PM
THE UNKNOWN GUEST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-21-69 7:30 p.m.
You are invited to open your Bible and to turn to the last chapter of Luke; Luke chapter 24. We are going to read a long passage tonight; and as you read it, the great French critic Renan said that this is the most beautiful story in human literature. Beginning at verse 13 and reading through verse 32, beginning at 13 reading through 32; the most beautiful story ever written. Now on the radio, with your Bible and with us here in this First Baptist Church in Dallas, and with the pastor leading it, let’s all read it together; verses 13 through verse 32. Now together:
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them.
But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him.
And He said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto Him, Art Thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
And He said unto them, What things? And they said unto Him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him.
But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done.
Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher;
And when they found not His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that He was alive.
And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found it even so as the women had said: but Him they saw not.
Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and He made as though He would have gone further.
But 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.
And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight.
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?
And as the evening services shall continue, we shall follow that story; both in its content itself and in these passages that follow after.
This is the pastor delivering the message, and it concerns this resurrected Lord. Every Sunday night the message concerns Jesus. I am preaching through the life of Christ all these years; every Sunday night will be a message from the life of our Lord. And I’ve been preaching through the Gospel of Luke, and we’re in the last chapter of Luke. And when I get through Luke we’ll start in John. And this is a most precious word from the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, tonight.
Now, it begins with two men who are walking home and are sad. Emmaus is east of Jerusalem, about, it says, sixty furlongs [Luke 24:13]. A furlong is an eighth of a mile; so it was between about, it’s about seven miles, seven and eight miles. And if you have visited Jerusalem they will show you where Emmaus was located; there overlooking the Valley of Ashkelon on the road from Jerusalem down to Joppa. And as the two men walked and were sad, there was a third who joined them [Luke 24:15-17]. Now their sadness lay in a deep spiritual disappointment and hurt in their hearts.
There are many kinds of sadnesses. There is a sadness of an exile who is far away from home. There is a sadness of old age; living in memories of family and friends, all of whom are gone. There is a sadness of an open grave; lowering into the heart of the earth these whom we’ve loved and lost for a while. But there is also a spiritual sadness; and there’s no child of God but that has experienced that hurt in his heart. There are times when prayer seems to rise no higher than our heads; the very heavens turn to brass and God seemingly doesn’t hear. There are times when the Bible loses its freshness. There are times when the services of the church seem to be a weariness. There are times when the spiritual hope in our hearts seem to be drowned. All of us know those spiritual sadnesses in our hearts.
We don’t live on the mountaintop all the time; no one of us does, not one. We know the valleys. And these men were in a dark, dark valley. The reason for their sadness was, every hope they had in Christ had been dashed to the ground; all the dreams they dreamed about Jesus the King, and about the messianic kingdom. They had seen His miracles, they had heard His words, they had looked into His face, they had followed His life. And the hopes they had in Christ were of all things precious, and beautiful, and heavenly, and sublime; and they had seen them dashed to the ground [Luke 24:19-21]. We can enter into the spirit of that disappointment and that disillusionment and despair. They had looked upon the Son of God as they nailed Him to the cross; and they had seen Him as He died [Luke 23:26-]; and they looked upon the sepulcher where He was laid [Luke 23:50-55]. And buried with the Lord, were all the hopes that they had had, both for themselves and for the nation, and for the kingdom of God [Luke 24:21]. So, as they walked along from Jerusalem to Emmaus, their home, they were infinitely sorrowful as they walked, and were sad.
Then, suddenly, there was a third person who caught up with them, and began to walk by their sides. "And it came to pass that as they communed one to another and spoke in their sadness that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them" [Luke 24:15]. Now, you look at that just for a moment. Could you imagine a more signal honor, or a more heavenly visitation than for Jesus Himself, raised from the dead, glorified, immortalized? Could you imagine such a thing? Oh, that God in heaven should walk by your side! How signally honored; how conspicuously elevated, these two disciples.
Well, who are they? They must be somebody great, and at least it must be two of the chiefest apostles who would be thus honored by our Lord. The two must be Simon Peter, and the other must be the beloved disciple, John. Or failing that, it just couldn’t be other than say, Matthew or Nathaniel? Who are these who are so unusually honored, chosen, elevated? Why, bless you, I have no idea who they are. And nobody knows who they are. One is a disciple named Cleopas [Luke 24:18]. Who’s Cleopas? The other is not even named. They are nameless disciples. They are two of the humble, sweet, loving, devoted followers of the Lord.
Well, is that unusual that the Lord should have done that? No, He was that way, in the days of His flesh. What’s the name of that Samaritan woman to whom He preached the great gospel of spiritual worship? [John 4:13-29]. Why, nobody knows her name; she was just a woman of Sychar, a humble and an outcast [John 4:5-9]. What’s the name of that blind man in the ninth chapter of the Book of John [John 9:1], that the Sanhedrin and the Sadducees just so cruelly questioned? [John 9:13-34]. What’s the name of that man who responded so marvelously? Remember his word of testimony, "Whether He is a sinner or no as you say, I am not a theologian, and I am not able to answer; but one thing I know: whereas once I was blind, now I can see" [John 9:25]. What’s the name of that man? Nobody knows; yet the Lord opened his eyes [John 9:2-9]. His ministries in the days of His flesh were so abundantly, lovingly, graciously poured out to people who were just people. Nobody great, nobody known, nobody elevated, just people [Matthew 11:5, 12:15; Luke 4:40].
Well, bless you, the Lord raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-6] has not changed [Luke 24:39]. He is just the same. Isn’t that a remarkable thing? Raised from the dead, to whom is He communing, and whom is He visiting, and whom is He calling, and whom is He blessing? Well, so great the Lord must have time only for the kings, or for the prime ministers, or for the presidents, or for the chief justices, or for the abounding rich, for the famous, for the great; why, it isn’t that way at all. These two, who are so blessed beyond anybody I could know in human story, are two people, one of whom we don’t even know his name, and the other of whom, Cleopas, we do not know anything about him [Luke 24:13-18]. Isn’t that a great thing? That glorified Lord, that the sainted apostle John on the isle of Patmos, glorified and lifted up, He is just as He was in His heart in the days of His flesh. He is just the same [Revelation 1:9-18].
And in the days of His flesh, the humblest found acceptance and welcome in His presence: the woman with an issue of blood, touching the hem of His garment and was healed [Matthew 9:20-22]; the little babies brought to Him that He might take them in His arms and bless them [Mark 10:16]; the common people listening to Him gladly [Mark 12:37]. We’re just the same; and He is just the same. We’re not forgot or outcast or dismissed or rejected because we’re not rich, or because we’re not great, or because we’re not famous. Just however we are, God receives us, and Jesus loves us; and it was so, here in this text, as they walked along and were sad, and the Lord walks by their sides [Luke 24:13-15].
Well, it’s an unusual story. And He asked them, "Why are you sad?" [Luke 24:17]. And they said, "Are You the only man in all this earth that does not know what has happened in these days in Jerusalem?" [Luke 24:18]. And one of them was saying it, Cleopas answered. And the Lord said to him, "What things?" Then the pronoun changes: "And they said unto Him"; the intensity of their answer, they just, their hearts just overflowed. Their words just came out in a torrent. "Oh, the things concerning Jesus" [Luke 24:19], and you can see their elevation and their despair, their hope and their grief as they talked.
One part of the sentence will be one of abounding hope and expectation, and the next part of the sentence is down in despair, "Concerning Jesus, a great Prophet, mighty in deed before God" [Luke 24:19], up; and then down, "And how the chief priests delivered Him and sent Him to death, and crucified Him" [Luke 24:20]. And then up: "We thought it had been He that should have redeemed Israel" [Luke 24:21]; then down, "But we saw Him laid in a tomb three days ago" [Luke 24:21]. And then up: "But certain women were at the tomb who astonished us, when they came back, and saying that, a vision of angels had said He was alive" [Luke 24:22-23]. And then down again: "But they did not see Him, they did not see Him" [Luke 24:24]. Can’t you see that? Oh, the intensity of feeling in their hearts, as in one breath they speak of the glory of the hope of Israel, and then in the next breath, the dashing of every vision, and dream, and hope to the ground, as they saw Jesus crucified and buried.
Then He answers them, this stranger walking by their side, "O foolish ones," and how true that is of us, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken [Luke 24:25]. All of these things God has written here in the Bible. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, Should He not? Should He not?" [Luke 24:26]. You know, we all are kind of like that. We love to think of the messianic glory, and the blessings of God, and the kingdom that is to come, and all of the things that pertain to heaven and to God’s grace and presence; but we have a tendency to leave out that God has in His sovereign will, even for us, sufferings and disciplines. Oh, it was so as they spake and as they dreamed of the coming of the Messiah!
The glories of the messianic kingdom, and how Israel would be exalted to the head of the nations, and how He would justify and vindicate the faith of those who believed in the one true God, and how He would overcome His enemies, the Romans, and how the kingdom of Israel would be made free and sovereign, how He would lead their armies to victory and exalt them in their, ah! the dreams they had. And the apostles had them all, the days of the ministry of our Lord. They had even quarrel about who was going to be prime minister, and who’s going to be chancellor of the exchequer, and who was going to sit on His right hand, and who was going to be next to Him on His left hand; all of their ideas concerned the glories of the messianic kingdom. But isn’t it strange? Apparently there was not one of them, there was not one in Israel, and certainly there was not one of the apostles who had any conception of what God had said about the Messiah dying, suffering, being crucified, and offered as an atoning sacrifice that we might be saved from our sins.
And yet the whole Bible is about that. Yet their eyes were closed, they could not see it; there was a veil over their hearts. And that’s what it means when it says, "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things? [Luke 24:26]. And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets He expounded unto them" [Luke 24:27]. You know that Greek word translated there "expound," He "expounded" unto them, everywhere that’s used in the New Testament it refers to translation. The word means "translation" as you would take the Greek and translate it into Aramaic, or take the Aramaic and translate it into Latin. He, "beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He translated to them out of the Word of God how that the Christ should suffer" [Luke 24:26-27].
And as we look back over the Bible, now that the Lord has opened our eyes to its spiritual truth, we wonder that anybody could have missed it or misunderstood it. In the beginning, in the garden of Eden, when the man and his wife covered their nakedness with fig leaves [Genesis 3:7], God says, "It is not enough"; and He slew an innocent animal in the garden. And somewhere in Eden, the earth, the soil was encrimsoned, was stained red with blood of an innocent victim; and He took the skins of the animals and covered the nakedness of our first parents [Genesis 3:21]. And from that day until the crucifixion of Christ, every typology you will read points toward the saving of our souls in the atoning grace of the Son of God [Romans 15:4]. Abel will bring a lamb, a blood offering, and offer it unto God, the first sacrifice [Genesis 4:4]. The Passover night, God will say:
Sprinkle blood on the lentels and on the doorposts –
in the form of a cross –
above and on either side. And when the angel passes over he will see that blood and death will not visit that home.
[Exodus 12:7, 22-23]
The serpent raised in the wilderness [Numbers 21:8-9]; the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, confessing the sins of the people on the head of one animal, and sending it away into the wilderness, and slaughtering the other animal, and taking its blood and sprinkling it upon the propitiatory, the mercy seat, inside the Holy of Holies [Leviticus 16:1-34]. And every morning and every afternoon, the sacrifice, the daily sacrifice [Exodus 29:39]; what did all that mean? That the blood of bulls, and of goats, and of lambs, could wash away sin out of our lives? No, no! The whole purpose of the typology and the ritual was to point toward the Lamb of God, who alone could take away the sins of the world [John 1:29]. Yet they never saw it. It is a remarkable thing. Not one of them saw it. Why, the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah spelled it out by name, by syllable, by sentence [Isaiah 53:1-12]. You would have thought Isaiah the prophet, seven hundred fifty years before Jesus died, you would have thought he was standing by the side of the cross describing the sacrifice of the Son of God.
The twenty-second chapter of the Psalms – the twenty-second Psalm – such a thing never happened to David, yet David wrote it; and it is a meticulous, minute description of the crucifixion of Christ [Psalm 22:1-18]. But they never saw it. They never saw it. And these disciples, looking for the glories of the messianic kingdom, never realized that Jesus should die [Matthew 16:21-22], that He should be buried [Matthew 27:57-60], and the third day should be raised for our justification [Romans 4:25]:
O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and then to enter into His glory? Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets He expounded unto them.
Took the Bible and word by word showed them what it meant. That’s great preaching, isn’t it? Taking the Bible and telling what God says.
Well, as they walked on, they came to Emmaus, and the stranger "made as though He would walk on" [Luke 24:28]. Being gracious, He wouldn’t impose on their hospitality; made as though He would walk on. And they said to Him:
It is late, the sun is set and twilight is here; come, the day is far spent, the night is at hand, the evening is here. Abide with us. And He went in to tarry with them –
He always does, if you open the door –
And it came to pass, as He sat down at the evening meal, He took bread, and He blessed it, and He brake it, and gave to them –
and they saw the print of the nails in His hands –
And He took bread, and broke it, blessed it, gave to them;
And they saw the print of the nails in His hands, and they listened to that prayer of blessing, and they recognized Him. It was the Lord. "It is the Lord. It is the Lord!" "And they knew Him. And He vanished out of their sight" [Luke 24:31]. Oh, sometimes we have an experience like that! Sometimes the Lord is so near we could just touch Him, just feel His presence. It is the Lord, it is the Lord!
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?
While He opened to us the Scriptures"; God speaks through His Word; God speaks through this blessed Book. When I hold that Book in my hand, stand here in this pulpit and expound in all the Scriptures the things concerning Jesus, I have this assurance: that the Holy Spirit works with me and bears on His wings the message to our hearts. "Preacher, tell us more about Jesus; more, more about Jesus: more of His saving grace; more of His love; more of His forgiveness; more of His divine blessing; more of His ableness to save; more, more about Jesus." Isn’t that a remarkable thing? We never weary of it, nor ever tire of it. "Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?" [Luke 24:32]. Next Sunday night we’re going to start there. We’re going to look at some of those glorious Scriptures that Jesus opened to those two unknown disciples on the way to Emmaus.
Now we must sing our song and while we sing it, if God calls you tonight, answer with your life, "Pastor, here I am, and here I come. This is my wife, these are our children, all of us are coming tonight." Or two of you, or just one of you, while we sing this song, while our people prayerfully wait for you, come down that aisle. If you’re in the balcony round, there’s a stairwell at the front and the back, and on either side. If you’re in this great throng of people on the lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front, come tonight, make it tonight. "I want the Lord to save me, to forgive my sins. I ask Him to come into my heart, and here I am."
Or to put your life with us in this dear church, or to answer God’s call, as the Spirit will speak to your heart, come now, make the decision now. And on the first note of that first stanza come; stand up coming. God will bless you and strengthen you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.
THE UNKNOWN GUEST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. "As ye walk and are sad"
A. Two gloom-covered men, walking sadly
B. They had seen the Lord die
II. "Jesus Himself drew near"
A. Who are these men, so signally chosen?
1. Humble disciples, unknown
B. The Lord ministered to nameless people
1. Samaritan woman (John 4)
C. The Christ John saw on Patmos the same who welcomed the humblest
III. "Why are you sad?"
A. They poured out their hearts to Him
B. We love the glory and leave out the blood
C. He showed them in the Scriptures the necessity of Jesus’ death
2. Passover (Exodus 12)
3. Serpent raised in the wilderness
4. Scriptures spelled it out (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22)
D. God speaks to us through His Word