Searching for Something
Luke 24:1-35 • Pete Johnson •
Christmas has passed, the New year, 2020 is already five days old. A New Year is upon us.
What will this New Year be like?
If you pay attention to the News…
We’d all like a good start to the New Year, and at least have a happy ending to it.
Like the movies we watch
So What are people searching for in 2020? What are you expecting or hoping for in 2020?
For some, a New Year means little more than I have to remember to write 2020 on things and a sad reminder that tax season is quickly approaching.
For some a New Year means an exciting job or travel opportunity, Maybe a financial windfall.
For some, the promise of a new year is symbolic of a fresh start in life.
This seems to be the time of year that people write out their New Year’s resolutions.
I’m going to lose weight, get in shape, do better with my finances, become a better person.
For many, events, significant to their lives, have left them hurting, doubting, and without Hope.
They see nothing in the past year to celebrate and especially see nothing in the future to look forward to.
And I’m talking about believers.
There is this rumor that if you’re a believer life is easy, your always upbeat, you're always full of hope, always feel the comfort of God, always trust in the TRUTH. And when things in your life go south, when things go belly up, you tend to question your comfort or peace with God. You question-what is truth.
And then you tend to search for hope, comfort, and truth in other things.
My Question for you this morning is- what are you searching for?
You’re here this morning, you’re here for something, aren’t you?
Our Text this morning is Luke 24, the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel.
We’re going to look at verses 1-34
We’ve already read vs 1-12 this morning so remembering what we’ve already read and heard we will begin in vs 13.
A very significant event has just occurred. The crucifixion of Jesus. An event that will change things forever.
In Luke’s account, we can see that this event is draining the comfort (peace), truth, and hope from a number of Jesus’ closest followers.
Life events have a way of doing that, like wringing out the water in a dishrag or squeezing the water from a sponge. This was especially difficult for those who have been part of his ministry for the last 3 years.
Jesus, who claimed to be the Messiah, who claimed to be God himself has been murdered and is lying in a borrowed tomb. The City of Jerusalem and the villages around it, where Jesus and His disciples had walked in, preached, taught, healed, gave comfort, shared truth, and inspired hope… is now a most dangerous, depressing place to be, especially for those who followed him so devotedly.
John wrote in his Gospel, chapter 20 that the disciples locked the doors where they were because they were scared for their lives.
The bottom has dropped out.
Everything that they had “believed”, everything that they had given up to follow Jesus, is now in question.
They are on the that thin line, the shadow between belief and unbelief, waiting, wondering, - searching for something.
They have become, believing skeptics.
“How could this have happened?” “It was not supposed to turn out like this.” “How does anything good come from this?”
The one that they had pledged their lives to, found their comfort (peace) in, trusted in, and had hoped in, was gone.
All this snuffed out by this one event ….
Remembering the good times in the past doesn’t help, it just makes them more distraught.
How can they even think about the future, going forward? Is that even an option?
They are Searching for something now, but perhaps with an unclear mind.
They’re not thinking clearly; most people do not when catastrophe hits.
But what they need is:
1.) Comfort (Peace)
They are in need of an anchor. We are in need of an anchor.
Isn’t that what all mankind is searching for?
But where can I find what I’m searching for?
Luke shows us, I believe, three sets of seekers in this chapter and how they went about their search, and where they found their answers.
Three types of searchers:
Comfort seekers, Peace in my Soul seekers: Being free from guilt, having the knowledge that I have peace with God is something that people search for. – It’s comforting
Unfortunately: They look to religion, religious acts, a good cause to support, either financially or actively, surely that will comfort me and bring me peace with God, my good deeds, my acts of piety, my sacrifices, God will surely recognize.
But that kind of religion is a dead, man-made religion- void of real comfort, peace, and even true belief.
Oh sure, there is comfort and satisfaction knowing that I’m doing good things, but it doesn’t bring me deep comfort or peace… and I know that, and that is what makes me, even more, conflicted in my soul.
The good things we do, are not what makes peace with God possible, it is not what gives us comfort of eternal reward. Christ has done that through his death burial and resurrection.
The works that we do, as a Believer, a Christian, are an outworking of our salvation.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
In Luke 24: 1, we see what the women were searching for:
Vs 1: They came searching for a dead body.
They came with good intentions, and I’m sure out of love and sincerity.
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb taking the spices they had prepared.”
They got up early, they got dressed, they had prepared spices to anoint his body to keep it from stinking.
They were performing their religious duties- searching for comfort and peace:
Luke shows us two religious acts that come into play:
The first one is mentioned in the previous chapter
Chapter 23, the end of verse 56:
“On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment”
Remembering that the Gospel of Luke was written to Gentiles, Luke answers the Gentile question.
“Why did they wait till the 1st day of the week to go to the tomb?” Why didn’t they go the very next day?
Religiously speaking, the Sabbath had travel restrictions, so being Jewish, they were limited on how far they could travel. So it must have been that the tomb was far enough away.
They were following the dictates of their religion, the Law. Not fully understanding what Christ had come to do.
The second thing was the spices.
Jewish religious custom required that certain ceremonies be carried out for the dead.
After death, the body was to be prepared with spices. Two people were required to carry the dead body and perform this, males for males, females for a female.
Also, mourning rituals were to take place afterward, usually performed by women.
Interesting note on the religious ceremonial references: John 19:39-40 “Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.
v40 “So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.”
The requirement of two: to carry the body, males to anoint/prepare males.
We see also that the women were not there but at a distance.
These religious customs were more for the mourners than for the dead.
They were following their religious dictates, acts of piety, sincerity in search of comfort and peace.
So they are shocked when they come to the tomb looking to find comfort and peace through their religious activities and instead of a dead body in a cold tomb, which was exactly what they were coming to see, the tomb is empty, no dead body.
Freaked out: there they were: They are on that thin line, the shadow between belief and unbelief, waiting, wondering, - searching for something.
What did the angels say?
5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words,
A rebuke: Why are you even here? This place is empty, void of life.
Remember his words- The words of eternal life, peace, comfort.
They had heard Jesus’ Words, but made no use of them. Now after many days they call them to mind.
The Real comfort they were searching for was in the words of Christ. Jesus was the Word, is the Word – The Bible.
You won’t find comfort and peace in dead religious works, no matter how sincere.
It is well to know Christ’s words, even though we often forget them; because we could not remember them if we had not once known them. Even though our leaky memory lets so much run through, there will be enough remaining in the soul to come back with great sweetness, by-and- by, in sometime of special need. Thus, those holy women, who had often ministered to Christ, “remembered his words,” - Spurgeon
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
They found comfort and peace remembering the words of Jesus- The WORD
And they shared that WORD.
The ladies come back from church to the men who are staying at home, and the ladies are way different than when they left!
They share the good news of the WORD of God—Comfort and peace- He is Risen, just like he said- His WORD is Truth!
However, these future leaders of this sect to be called Christians, are huddled behind locked doors, fearful, sad, without any comfort (Peace) or hope and they are not believing the Truth of God’s WORD
v 11: “But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”
The Greek word used in regard to their unbelief is Aah-pis-teh-O = without Belief
The only answer the apostles had for the ladies was, “NON SENSE!”
The women were excited, worked up, lack of sleep, grieving, too much for any one to stand; Maybe something happened, but not this!
These men had seen, first hand, the miracles that Jesus had performed.
They had attested that Jesus was who he said he was.
In John 6:67-68, Peter himself, after Jesus asked these very men, “Will you also go away?” When droves of people turned back from following him, because they would not accept the TRUTH- they couldn’t not bring themselves to believe.
“Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
The majority said, “I can’t believe it” It’s a fairy tale- This Christianity thing.
I need something more than just WORDS.
Even though I can see that you are excited about what you think is TRUE.
I can see that you are changed because of what you think is TRUE.
But I have to have a little more, actually a lot more- I’ve got to see it to believe it.
“Perhaps we marvel at their unbelief. No doubt it seems at first sight most senseless, most unreasonable, most provoking, most unaccountable. But shall we not do well to look at home? Do we not see around us in the Christian Churches a mass of unbelief far more unreasonable and far more blameworthy than that of the apostles? Do we not see, after eighteen centuries of additional proofs that Christ has risen from the dead, a general want of faith which is truly deplorable? Do we not see myriads of professing Christians who seem not to believe that Jesus died and rose again, and is coming to judge the world? These are painful questions. Strong faith is indeed a rare thing. No wonder that our Lord said, “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8.) - J.C Ryle
This is Peter, he wants to see for himself. Perhaps just as he has seen the miracles, he needs to see this, then he will know it’s TRUE.
v 12: “But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.”
The word marveling stands out from the word believe. Two different words, two distinct meanings. The Greek word is Thou-maude-Zo – to marvel, be amazed at what happened.
Peter was searching for the TRUTH. It was TRUE that the tomb was empty, but his experience seeing the empty tomb wasn’t enough for Peter to fully believe that Jesus had actually risen from the dead.
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
Looking for the TRUTH in an experience.
Lots of people look for TRUTH in experiences or substitute an experience for TRUTH.
But unless that experience matches up with the Word of God, it’s just an experience that will leave you perhaps awestruck, wondering, even excited about what you experienced, but with no more TRUTH than when you came.
Speaking of experiences:
Jesus as he prayed in the garden for his own, knew that this experience that they would go through would require the power of God’s Word- the TRUTH.
“Sanctify them in TRUTH, thy WORD is TRUTH”!
So when did Peter find the Truth he was so desperately seeking?
We have to look further in the text to see
In vs 36-45, Luke gives us the details of Jesus’ encounter with his apostles after his resurrection. They are still having difficulty with the TRUTH, even though they seek for it, their human minds, flawed by the fall (sin), are struggling to believe.
People want to believe, they search for TRUTH, but man’s mind is unfortunately like his heart, corrupted by sin.
A lot of people have their mind made up regarding TRUTH
Some say: TRUTH is relevant to my situation
Some say: TRUTH is what I choose to believe it be
Some say: Your TRUTH is for you, MY TRUTH is for me.
Some say: Science is TRUTH
Some say: There is NO TRUTH- YOUR not even true
Some say: Church dogma, Church tradition is TRUTH
Why is man’s mind so confused about what TRUTH is?
Concussed by the fall
The WORD of GOD says:
-The mindset on the flesh is enmity with God
-A Carnal mind can’t even understand God’s Truth
-Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind
Here in v 44, we see it this play out
“Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”
The TRUTH of God’s word is not mentally comprehended, it’s divinely revealed.
We clearly see that in this 24th Chapter of Luke.
Truth is found in the WORDS of CHRIST (GOD)- THE BIBLE.
Are you searching for TRUTH this morning? Are you running after experiences? And you’re finding out that some may be true while others are not.
Are you standing there, in an empty tomb scratching your head, trying to make sense of it?
You have all these people in your life that are telling you “That empty Tomb thing is a fairy tale, it’s not science, it’s not true! – NON SENSE!
I suggest that you get out of the tomb! Just like the angels told the women because Jesus is not there. You’ll find the TRUTH in God’s Word!
The third and last search that Luke gives us insight to, is the search for Hope.
Vs 13- 34 is the longest section of the text. The Emmaus Road narrative is only mentioned in Mark’s Gospel, 16:12, and only briefly.
I believe the reason why Luke spent a good amount of words here is that hope is the vital link between comfort (peace) and Truth.
On that very day, when the tomb lay open with no Jesus in it...
There were women searching for comfort and peace, attempting to find it in their acts of sincere religious piety and customs.
There was Peter, who was searching for TRUTH, trying to make sense mentally of what he had heard and what he had seen. Desperately wanting to believe, taking what steps he thought would solidify his grasp on the TRUTH.
Now there are two who are searching for HOPE
These two, one named Cleopas were leaving town. Headed down the road toward the village of Emmaus which was about 7 miles from Jerusalem.
The text doesn’t tell us why they were going, perhaps they lived there?
Whether or not they lived there is not really relevant, that they were considered part of the group of disciples and apostles is what is interesting.
They had heard what the women had said about the angels.
They knew that Peter and John had gone to see, and it was TRUE, the tomb was empty.
But, these two, had lost the hope, they like the others were sick, distraught, on fumes if you will.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
v 14 tells us that they were talking, discussing, trying to make sense of what had happened. All the events of the crucifixion and what had happened earlier that morning. Maybe in an attempt to reflame their lost hope, trying to encourage one another.
In v 15 we see an incredible turn of events for those searching for hope,
“Jesus himself drew near and went with them.”
In Deut. and in Hebrews, we are reminded that He will never leave us or forsake us.
It definitely may feel like that at times, but knowing the TRUTH in God’s WORD can give hope.
But as we read further, “their eyes were kept from recognizing him”.
What?? Why??- we will get to that later on down the road!
Jesus says to them: What are you talking about? (paraphrase, v17)
As soon as Jesus asks this question, the walking pair stops in the middle of the road.
An awkward conversation to say the least, or at least an awkward question.
Don’t you know the things that have happened? Where have you been?
Jesus asks them “What things?
Their Lost Hope compelled them to leave their fellow believers
Remember these two were with the others, the women who went to the tomb, Peter and the apostles. But for some reason, they left Jerusalem to search for hope elsewhere.
Perhaps back to familiar things, back to the things they had given up to follow Jesus.
What things have happened in your life that would cause you to search for hope elsewhere, away from your brothers and sisters in Christ, away from Church?
V 21: “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.”
They had lost hope that Jesus was the Messiah
They had lost their hope to believe in his words- “the third day”.
So what does Jesus do to restore their HOPE?
He doesn’t make himself recognizable to them. “He interpreted to them in all the scripture concerning himself.”
He shared His WORD with them.
Then we see after he reveals himself to them, they said this in vs 32-33
32 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?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem.
“This dullness of memory is a common spiritual disease among believers. It prevails as widely now as it did in the days of the first disciples. It is one among many proofs of our fallen and corrupt condition. Even after men have been renewed by the Holy Ghost, their readiness to forget the promises and precepts of the Gospel is continually bringing them into trouble. They hear many things which they ought to store up in their hearts, but seem to forget as fast as they hear. And then, perhaps after many days, affliction brings them up before their recollection, and at once it flashes across their minds that they heard them long ago! They find that they had heard, but heard in vain.”- J.C. Ryle
This morning we’ve seen three types of searches:
- A search for comfort or peace
- A search for Truth
- A Search for Hope
All three of these groups found what they were searching for in the WORD of God.
Whether you’re a believer or you’re not a believer, this morning you are here because you’re searching for something.
With that in mind, where are you searching for what you are looking for?
Are you searching for comfort, peace with God in the things that you do? Instead of God’s Word?
Are you searching for the TRUTH? Where are you looking for TRUTH? Are you searching in God’s Word for TRUTH? Or are you trusting in Man’s truth?
Are you searching for Hope this morning? Where are you searching?
God’s Word is Trustworthy, it opens minds, it melts hearts, and saves souls.
“The soul can do without everything except the word of God, without which none at all of its wants are provided for.” ― Martin Luther
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13