Good evening. If you have your Bible with you, you can turn in it to Luke, chapter 24. If you didn’t bring a Bible with you, there should be a black hardback one underneath the seat in front of you or somewhere nearby. You can grab that one. Luke is the third book in your New Testament, about two-thirds of the way through that Bible.
Welcome, if this is your first time at The Village Church. My name is Adam Griffin. I’m one of the pastors here. If this is your first time to church in a long time or the first time to church ever, this is a good night to be here. I feel like what the Lord has for us tonight is really good for you. Also if you guys come every week I feel like tonight is going to be really good for you. I’m very happy with what the Lord has been doing today at our church and the way the Lord has moved through the Scriptures we’ll be sharing tonight. I pray he would do that in your hearts tonight as well, as he has in the other services today.
Luke 24 takes place in a very interesting time in our history. In fact, some of the most significant events that have ever happened happened right before Luke 24. Right before Luke 24, Jesus Christ is betrayed, Jesus Christ is beaten, Jesus Christ is crucified, and then in the very beginning of Luke, chapter 24, there is a group of women who go to the tomb to put spices on Jesus’ buried body, and when they get there, he’s not there.
They duck into the tomb, and what they see there is a vision of two men in dazzling clothes. John will tell us it’s two angels, each sitting at either end of the tomb with the space where Jesus’ body should have been between them, but he’s not there. The women see the angels, and the angels say to them, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? Did not he himself tell you he would not be here, that he would be raised again on the third day?”
So they go back and tell the rest of the disciples, “Hey, we went to see Jesus, and he wasn’t there. He has risen from the grave. These angels proclaimed he is alive again.” So the disciples, you can see… Pick up in verse 12. Peter runs to the tomb. It says he stoops and looks in, and he saw the linen clothes by themselves, and he went home marveling at what had happened. He looks in and sees only the bloody linen clothes Jesus was wrapped in when he was buried but no body there, and he went home marveling. We pick up in verse 13:
“That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem…” These are two of the followers of Christ. “…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?'”
That’s the passage we’re sitting under tonight: Luke 24. My prayer is that in this place during the reading of these Scriptures when we walk out of here that is the testimony of our hearts. Now I don’t expect us to walk out actually saying, “Did not our hearts burn within us during that sermon?” We don’t really talk like that anymore. That’s okay. “Did not our hearts burn?” No, it’s probably not going to happen.
But this is my prayer, that something in us tonight is stirred by the Scriptures you’ll hear, that something in you tonight goes, “Man, there’s some bit of truth. Maybe I didn’t know that before, and maybe I didn’t hear that before. Maybe God is revealing that to me in a new way and something is stirring in me. God is revealing himself to me.”
What he’s saying here… Jesus calls them foolish, because what he’s saying is, “You knew the Scriptures, you knew these stories, and still you didn’t understand this had to happen.” For a lot of us, some of the Scripture you’ll hear tonight is familiar. You’ll hear stories you’ve heard before. These people heard those same stories, and they didn’t get it.
So my hope is twofold. One of the things I think we really struggle with, particularly in my generation, is claiming Christ and not reading his Word. I could ask in this room, “Are you a Christian?” and a lot of people would say, “Yes, I’m a follower of Christ.” If my next question was, “Have you read the Bible?” many of us would say, “Some of it,” or “On occasion,” or “I’ve read a lot of the New Testament,” things like that.
I would say, “If this is the Word of God, why haven’t you read it?” Why haven’t we been there? These stories that are so familiar… Do you get it? He calls them foolish because they knew the stories, but they didn’t see Christ in the stories. He says, “You’re slow of heart.” So I pray tonight we wouldn’t be slow of heart, that our hearts would burn within us when we see the Scriptures.
Now what Jesus did… I love this. It says he started with Moses and walked them through the Prophets on this road and around the table. I want to start to do the same thing. I don’t know what he said to them, but that’s where I want to start. I don’t think he probably actually started with the story of Moses. They referred to the first five books of the Bible as the books of Moses. These are the books Moses put down: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Then the other books they called the Prophets and the Psalms, the Law and the Prophets, Moses and the Prophets.
Beginning with the books of Moses, I want to walk us through some of the narrative of redemption, and I want to point out Christ to you. I want you to see him from the beginning, that Jesus dying and rising was not some plan he came up with later, but this was the plan from the very beginning. This is what Jesus said. “Did you not know the Messiah had to do these things? This has always been the plan.”
Genesis is the first book of your Bible, and in Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1, it says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” It goes on to explain God created everything. He created the land. He created the water. He created everything that’s alive. He created the stars and the moon. He created everything, and it says on the sixth day he created man, and he breathed life into man, and he named that man Adam.
He said Adam had a very special job. He gave Adam dominion over every living thing on the earth. He said, “You subdue it. You’re in charge of it.” Adam’s job is being in charge of everything, which is a fairly significant job. One day God, looking at Adam, said, “It is not good for this man to be alone,” so he gave him a very specific task. He brought him every animal that walks on land and every bird and said, “Adam, I want you to name all of the creatures in existence. Give them names.”
This job had twofold reasons for it to be going on. First, that Adam would give names to all of the animals, that he would see that which he has authority over, that which he has dominion over, and understand it. Second, that God could demonstrate to Adam there was no suitable partner for him in what was already created, that if he were to look at every living creature, there was no suitable partner for him.
So God brought him all of the animals, and he named them. He named some monkey, and he named some cow, and some parrot, and some hippopotamus and platypus, and some really creative stuff. He named them all, and at the end of it, after looking at every animal, Adam too could see, “There is among the animals no suitable partner, nothing like me for me to be paired with.”
God did a beautiful thing. He knocked out Adam, and he took from Adam a rib and flesh and formed for Adam and for us a woman. When Adam awoke, he saw the woman and gave her the name Eve, saying, “She will be the mother of all people.” Woman means out of man, because Adam says, “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” In Eve he sees, “Yes, this is the suitable partner for me.”
Adam and Eve are married. I love that they’re married before sin. Marriage is not something that came as part of a backup plan. There was marriage in a perfect world, Adam and Eve paired together. They’re placed in a garden, where God said, “Eat of any tree in this garden.” Then he said, “The one tree I do not want you to eat of is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on the day you eat that fruit, you will surely die.” He lays out one rule. “Obey me. Don’t eat of this tree.”
If you know the story a little bit, you know one day there was the Serpent in the tree, the Devil, the Deceiver, Satan, who tempted Eve and said, “Here, come and eat this fruit.” It may seem like an arbitrary law from God, “Hey, don’t eat this fruit,” but it’s a really big deal when you betray and rebel against God, no matter what the law.
For me, I love that law. I have always struggled when somebody tells me not to eat something to not eat it. Like I went to Snuffer’s today, and there’s a lot of stuff I shouldn’t have eaten, and I ate it. This is a law I totally relate with. “Yes, do not eat this.” I’m glad it’s not a more significant law than that, because I can grasp that. I can subdue my self-righteousness that would want to say, “Eve, I wouldn’t have done that.” No, I go, “Yeah, I probably would have done the same thing.” I would have walked in that same sin. “Don’t eat that fruit.”
She’s tempted, and if you know, she takes the fruit and sees that it’s good. The Devil tells her, “You will not surely die. You will be like God.” She takes the fruit and shares it with her husband who’s with her, and he eats it too. Then something really interesting happens. Once they eat the fruit, the first thing that happens is they look at each other and realize, “We’re naked.” That was the first thing.
Have you ever thought about that? Adam and Eve have never had a selfish thought in their entire lives. They have never taken stock of themselves. They’ve never sat back and thought, “What about me?” This was a perfect world. Then sin enters the world, and the first thing that happens is, “What about me?” They see shame and embarrassment and regret and guilt, and they say, “We need to cover this.” So they sew together fig leaves to cover their nakedness, and then they hide from God in the garden.
God comes walking in the garden and says, “Adam, where are you?” and he says, “I hid because I was naked.” God asks Adam, “Who told you you were naked?” and Adam says, “It was the woman’s fault,” and Eve says, “It was the Serpent’s fault,” and then God curses all three of them. “Because of this, Serpent, this will happen. Because of this, man, this will happen. Because of this, woman, this will happen.” As a result, all of creation is cursed.
Then something really interesting happens. Genesis 3:21. It comes right after the curse. It says God made for them garments to cover their nakedness not out of fig leaves, out of skins. I want to think about that for a second. He made them garments out of skins, which means Adam, who was in charge, had dominion over every living creature. Eve who was to subdue the earth with her husband and be in charge of all living things is now wearing the carcass of one of those living things as a result of their sin. The Bible will tell us the wages of sin is death, and now they are covered in the death of something as a result of their sin. Yet Adam and Eve are still alive.
Now I don’t know what Jesus said on the road to Emmaus. I don’t know what he said to his followers, but I can tell you Jesus Christ can say to you today, whatever your shame, whatever your guilt, whatever your burden, whatever your regret, whatever your bitterness, whatever your nakedness, whatever you’ve been afraid to lay bare, God has covered, and not with your death, but his death.
In even Genesis, chapter 3, where it’s promised that one day one singular man will come and crush the head of Satan, it is also shown what we earn with sin is death, and in this case, the death of something other than Adam and Eve covers their shame. In that already we see something setting up, where we go, “Man, the result of sin is death.” That’s a pattern we’ll see over and over again. In fact, Galatians, chapter 3, says those of you who are baptized into Christ Jesus are also clothed with Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus, in your baptism, in your belief, in your salvation, covers over all shame, all guilt.
Adam and Eve have many kids, and their kids have kids, and those kids have kids, and generation after generation comes. There’s a flood, and then there’s a great building of a tower, and then from that building of the tower of Babel, God spreads out nations all across the world and there are nations everywhere.
Then a man comes named Abraham, and God promises him, “Hey, through your family, your descendants, Abraham, will come someone who will bless all of the nations. There will be a great descendant of yours who will bless every nation on earth. In fact, I will make you into a great nation. Your sons will be as numerous as the sand on the shore and the stars in the sky,” which is a beautiful promise, but there was one significant problem. Abraham had no kids whatsoever.
Abraham, who was now advanced in age and getting older, was promised, “No, it will come. You will have more children than the stars in the sky, more children than the sand on the shore.” Yet his wife Sarah, whom the son was promised to come through, was barren and past the age of childbirth, advanced in age. So much so, that when an angel of the Lord came to Abraham and Sarah and said, “You will conceive a son,” she laughed because it was ridiculous.
When they did miraculously conceive a son, they named him Isaac, which means laughter. This was a ridiculous proposition, yet Abraham and Sarah have a son, the son of promise. It’s promised one day all of the nations will be blessed through this guy’s family. Imagine how precious they hold Isaac now. “For years we thought you were impossible, yet you came as a miracle.”
Isaac grows into a young man, and one day God says to Abraham, “I want you to take that son you love onto a mountain that I will show you, and I want you to burn him as a sacrifice to me.” For me, I’m thinking, “Man, that’s ridiculous,” but Hebrews will tell us Abraham had such strong faith now in the promise, he believed in the promise so strongly now, he believed not only could he kill his son, but that God could raise him back to life to make good on his promise. So he said, “Yes, God. I will be faithful in that. I will kill my son.”
So he, not telling Isaac what was going on, leaves with Isaac, leaves with servants and donkeys. They bring wood for a fire, and they bring a knife, and they head off for the mountain God told them to go to. When they see the mountain in the distance, Abraham leaves behind his servants and donkeys. He takes the wood from the donkeys, and it says he puts it on the back of his son Isaac, and they walk together to the mountain.
When they get towards the mountain, Isaac says to his father, “I’ve noticed we have not brought a lamb for the sacrifice. We have everything else we need, but we have no lamb,” and Abraham simply responds, “The Lord will provide.” So they walk up the mountain. Abraham binds his son Isaac, straps him down to the wood, takes his knife, and is about to kill his son.
An angel of the Lord says to him, “Abraham, do not kill your son. You have proved yourself faithful. You would not even withhold your own precious son from me. Set him free.” Then God shows him a ram that was stuck in a thicket nearby and says, “Sacrifice this ram instead.” Isaac gets to live. The ram dies as a sacrifice to the Lord.
Now I don’t know what Jesus said to his followers on the road to Emmaus, but I can tell you that Jesus can say to you today, as much as Abraham loved his precious son Isaac, God the Father loves his Son, Jesus Christ, infinitely more. As much as Abraham was willing to give up Isaac and then was stopped from doing so, God the Father was willing and delighted to sacrifice his Son for you and did not refrain from doing so.
Jesus Christ, a beloved only Son of God, was sacrificed for you. Although Isaac carried the burden of what would be his death on his back in ignorance, Jesus Christ can say to you today, “I carried on my back the cross, the heavy wood of the burden that would be my death, not in ignorance but in delight, saying, ‘I will carry this through to completion for your sake,'” because “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.” He carries that burden willingly, delightedly, for you.
Though on the mountain a ram was provided in place of Isaac, the death you and I have earned day by day by our constant treachery and rebellion against God, that death we deserve, the wages of our sin that is death, was not placed on us. Like Isaac, we live, and a lamb is killed, whom John the Baptist would call Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Not because Jesus is cuddly, not because Jesus will follow us anywhere; no, because Jesus was sacrificed for us, the Lamb of God who’s provided instead of us, who takes the death we deserved.
So Isaac has a son, Jacob, who was also called Israel. Israel has many sons. That’s why we call them the children of Israel, because in Jacob’s (Israel’s) sons we see the beginning of the twelve tribes of Israel and the Levites. He had one son he loved more than the rest of them. He had one son, Joseph, whom he loved immensely. So much so, that he made him a special coat. Your Scripture will say it’s a coat of various, or many, colors. If you’re into musical theater, it’s a “Technicolor dreamcoat.” He gives it to him because he is a precious son, a son he has so much affection for.
Joseph has this gift of God to interpret dreams. He begins to have these dreams, and in his dreams all of his older brothers are bowing down before him. He shares these dreams with his brothers and says, “I’ve had a dream that one day I will be exalted and you will humble yourselves before me.” He shares these dreams on more than one occasion, to the point where his brothers begin a murderous plot against him because they have so much jealousy and bitterness of the way their father loves him.
They see in Joseph these dreams, where they have to be humbled and he is exalted, so they plot to kill their brother Joseph. One day they see him coming at a distance, and they say, “This is our chance. Let’s kill our brother.” So they plot to kill him and tell their father he has been killed by a wild beast, but Reuben, one of his brothers, says, “Let’s not kill him; let’s put him down in a well.” Reuben had a plan to come back and rescue him later, but instead, his brothers come up with another plan.
They say, “Let’s do this.” They see a caravan passing. They say, “We can benefit from this even more. Let’s sell our brother into slavery and split what we’ve earned off that, and then we’ll take his dream coat back to our father, tear it, put blood on it, and tell him a beast has killed our brother. Then we all win. Joseph is gone, and we’ve earned the money from selling him into slavery.” So they did that. They sold their brother Joseph, and they told their father Joseph was dead.
Joseph, sold into slavery, was taken to Egypt, and in Egypt he’s sold to a guy named Potiphar. When Potiphar is away, Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph. She tries to take him into her bed, and he refuses. He’s a man of integrity. He runs out of the house. He runs away. Yet in a false accusation from that wife, he is imprisoned. He goes from being a slave to being a prisoner.
But the favor of the Lord was so great on Joseph, even in prison he began to grow in favor among those in charge of the prison, to the point where he had authority over other prisoners in the prison. He began to interpret dreams for other prisoners, until one day Pharaoh had a dream none of his wise men could interpret correctly. The reputation of Joseph was so big people came and said, “I know a guy who’s in your prison who interprets dreams.”
Pharaoh brought Joseph before him, and he said, “Here is my dream.” Joseph interpreted it to him wisely and correctly and said, “There will be seven good years where we will have plenty to eat, and then seven years of famine. So what we need to do is save up for seven years so we have food to last through the seven years of famine.”
Pharaoh was so impressed with his wisdom, so enthralled with his ability to translate these dreams, he said, “Joseph, nobody in my entire kingdom has this level of wisdom.” He said, “You will have great authority in my kingdom. So much authority, you will be second only to me, the pharaoh.” So Joseph goes from slave to convict to the second most powerful man in the entire country.
One day when the famine had hit the whole land, his brothers, who had run out of food where they lived, came to Egypt hearing there was food there. They literally came into Joseph’s throne room and were bowing before him, not recognizing him as their brother, and thereby fulfilled his dreams that one day he would be exalted and his brothers would be humbled before him.
Joseph, as the ruler, as the authority, could very well have said, “No food for you” and sent his brothers away to starve. They sold him into slavery. They told his father he was dead. He could have sent them off like that. Joseph could have easily, with his power, said, “All of you are going to prison. All of you will be killed.” He had that level of authority. Instead, Joseph revealed himself as their brother and said to them several times, “What you intended for evil, God has used for good to preserve our people and their lives.”
I don’t know what Jesus Christ said to his followers on the road to Emmaus, but I can tell you tonight, as much as Joseph was a beloved son they thought was dead and who turned out to be alive and reigning at the right hand of power… That speaks so much to Jesus Christ who is loved so much more, who sits in so much more power, who, though his disciples did not understand and thought, “He is dead; what will we do now?” is actually sitting at the right hand of power.
Joseph had the right to look at his brothers and go, “No, what you deserve, what you have earned, is prison. What you have earned is death. What you have earned is a slow starvation.” How much more so can Jesus Christ look at us and say, “What you have earned is not grace; what you have earned is punishment. What you have earned is death. The wages of your sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our Jesus, who sits as our reigning King, can look at us and say, “I know what you deserve. Here’s what you will get in Jesus Christ: eternal life, grace, covering over of all your sin.”
Joseph and his brothers had many kids, and they filled the land of Egypt. I mean there were millions of them, so many that a couple of pharaohs later, a pharaoh who did not know Joseph looked at the people of Israel and said, “They are too strong; they are too powerful,” and so had them enslaved by the Egyptians. So though his family had moved to Egypt for safety, eventually the children of Israel were enslaved by the people of Egypt.
Heavy burdens were placed on them. Hard work was placed on them. Still, underneath that hard work, they flourished and kept multiplying and expanding their family, to the point where a pharaoh came and said, “From now on, any male child who is born to the children of Israel will be cast into the Nile River. We have to kill off an entire generation of the Israelite children.”
There came a woman in that time who gave birth to a son and named him Moses. She did not want him killed, so she hid him. After she felt she could hide him no more, she placed him in a basket and floated him down the Nile, with his sister following after the basket. In God’s grace, Pharaoh’s daughter was in the Nile River that day and saw the basket with the baby floating in it. She took mercy on the baby and adopted him and brought Moses into Pharaoh’s household with his own sister as his nursemaid. Moses was raised there.
Moses, many years later, after being raised in Pharaoh’s household, committed a murder, and in great guilt ran away from Egypt and spent time in the wilderness. In that wilderness, God came to him in a burning bush and said, “Moses, you are the one I have chosen to lead the children of Israel out of slavery. I will not have my people slaves any longer. You will go to Pharaoh and tell him to let my people go.”
Moses reluctantly accepts that challenge, goes to Pharaoh, and tells him, “The God of the universe, I Am, who has revealed himself to me, will release these people from under your power. Let these people go.” Scripture tells us Pharaoh’s heart was hardened to that request, that he would not let the people of Israel free from slavery.
God, through Moses, sent a plague on the people of Israel. The Nile River was their lifeblood. It was their god, and God sent a plague where he turned the Nile River into blood so all of the fish in it died and the people of Egypt had no water to drink. Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. He said, “No, I will not let the people of Israel go.”
So eight more plagues came: gnats, frogs, darkness, all of these plagues God sent against the people of Egypt, and still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. “I will not let these people go from slavery.” After nine plagues, God said to Moses, “Pack your bags. Get all of the people of Israel to pack everything they have, to wear their shoes, to be ready to go, to not put leaven in their bread, because you won’t have time to bake it. When the next plague happens, Pharaoh is going to send you away, and send you away quickly.”
“The next plague,” he said, “I’m going to send an angel of the Lord who will kill every firstborn in every family in all of Egypt, from the livestock to the Pharaoh’s house. Every house will be touched by this. Every firstborn will die,” he said, “unless the children of Israel do this.” He said, “Take a lamb in and amongst every household. Take that lamb and kill it and eat it, and take the blood of that lamb and paint it on your doorposts. When the angel of the Lord comes to kill the firstborn and sees the blood on the doorpost, he will pass over that house, and the firstborn son in the children of Israel will live.”
He said, “Make this a day you celebrate every year. Remember the time the angel of the Lord passed over the people of Israel, that the life of the lamb took the place of the life of the firstborn son.” So the people of Israel in obedience painted their doorframes and celebrated the Passover every year, because the angel of the Lord passed them over. Pharaoh woke up. The firstborn all across his kingdom were dead. He told the people of Israel to get out. So they ran from the land of Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea, and God used the Red Sea both to divide it to let Israel through, and to bring it together to destroy their enemies, Pharaoh and his army.
I don’t know what Jesus Christ said to his followers on the road to Emmaus, but I can tell you the Scripture we read tonight says you’ve been set free from slavery to sin, that in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection there is a bondage, a burden, that was on us that has been taken from us and put on him. Like the Lamb of God, the lamb in the Passover story dies so the firstborn son may live.
Jesus Christ’s death pays the penalty for the death you and I have both earned. The lamb dies instead of the firstborn. Jesus Christ takes the death and punishment instead of us. He tells us in Romans 6 the wages of our sin is death (wage being something we’ve earned) but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, meaning Jesus Christ did this not because we’ve earned it, not because we are better, not because we were good enough, but rather as a free gift, that he willingly died for us.
So the people of Israel go into the wilderness, because they did not trust the Lord to take them into the Promised Land. God said, “I will wipe out an entire generation of you. For 40 years you will wander until your whole generation has died off.” In those 40 years in the wilderness, they set up a system and a place with which to carry out that system, where they will kill animals to remind them all the time the wages of their sin is death, that the result of sin is someone has to die.
They would kill lambs for certain things and birds and oxen. The place where they would do that was called the tabernacle. There was an altar there where they were to offer up these animals as sacrifices. Inside that tabernacle there was a holy place, a place where only some people could go, a set-aside place. Inside that there was a holier place, the Holy of Holies, where only a couple of people would go a couple of times.
Inside the Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant. The ark of the covenant between God and his people was a box laden with gold, and inside that box were the Ten Commandments, the laws God had given his people, and a couple of other things. On top of that box was a golden lid, a lid they called the mercy seat, where God would sit in mercy over the Law. On top of that lid were two golden statues of angels, the angels facing each other with their wings outstretched. God said, “This is the place where my presence will physically dwell with my people.”
One day a year they would have a celebration where they would take one lamb for all of the people of Israel and make one lamb the sacrifice for everyone. That’s the day they would enter the Holy of Holies. It was the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. One day a year the high priest would take a bull, which he would sacrifice for his own family to signify his sins had been paid for and, therefore, he could present himself as perfect and righteous.
He would put on perfect clean white linens, presenting himself as perfect and righteous, and he would take one lamb and pray over it all of the sins of the people of Israel and kill this one lamb for all of the people. He would take the blood of that lamb, and he would take it into the Holy of Holies, and he would sprinkle that blood all over the ark of the covenant. Then before he left the tabernacle, he would take off his bloody linens and leave them there and come out and declare to the people, “Your sins have been atoned for. You are covered in the blood of the lamb.”
I don’t know what Jesus Christ said to his followers on the road to Emmaus, but I can tell you Jesus can say to you today we don’t need an altar to sacrifice animals on. We don’t need a tabernacle to make sacrifices at, because Jesus Christ, one sacrifice for all time, is all-sufficient. On the Day of Atonement they would take one sacrifice to signify Jesus Christ one day making one sacrifice for all people in all nations everywhere.
We don’t need a place, a Holy of Holies, where the ark of the covenant sits, because when Jesus Christ died, the very hour Jesus Christ died, the curtain in the temple that separated the ark of the covenant from his people was torn from top to bottom (not from bottom to top, from top to bottom), saying no longer will God dwell in a temple, but now he is in our hearts. The Law that is in the ark of the covenant is written on our hearts.
We no longer need a Holy of Holies, because Jesus Christ’s sacrifice is one for all time. Access to God is given to all of us. We no longer need an ark, a golden box. We no longer need golden statues of angels at either end of a golden box, because when Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead, what the women saw in the tomb was an angel at either end of the tomb and an empty space between them where Jesus Christ’s body should have been and was not, because he was risen from the dead.
We do not need a high priest anymore who wears bloody linens and leaves them behind, because when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he left behind his bloody linens, once for all time, to look in the tomb and see just the bloody linens and know his body is no longer there because Jesus is not dead. He is alive, and he has paid the price for each one of us, for the death we have earned.
The wages of our sin is death, and he paid that price, so the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Hebrews says we walk into the holy place in confidence through the curtain that is the flesh of Jesus Christ, because in the blood of Jesus Christ, then I can stand in confidence before my Lord. Not because I am incredible, but because the blood of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice he made is incredible, because our God is good.
The disciples did not understand this. They read the Scriptures, and they thought the Messiah would come and be a political leader. It doesn’t make sense that he died. It doesn’t make sense that he rose again. Even though Jesus Christ told them himself, “I will rise again in three days,” they did not believe it. So at the end of Luke, chapter 24, in verse 45, he’s sitting with his disciples in a room. This is after the road to Emmaus. He appears to them. In verse 45 it says:
“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'”
He says, “Proclaim it to all nations that in Jesus Christ’s name there is forgiveness of sin.” All of us are messed up. All of us mess up. I believe that wholeheartedly. I am far from perfect. In Jesus Christ’s name there is forgiveness. There is repentance. I can stand before you and the Lord and say, “There was a way that seemed right to me, and in the end it led to death. I trust not in my name; I trust in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.” I can call each and every one of us to repentance, because I know in each one of us there’s a way we walked in that is not God’s way, and he said there is forgiveness in that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. Pray with me.
God, have mercy on us. We have so often taken for granted the weightiness, the reality of the sacrifice you’ve made for us. God, so much of what you’ve done for us I’ve been ignorant of. I haven’t taken note of what you’ve done for me, God. So much of my sin I’ve walked in openly, at times even loving my sin, not repenting. God, I pray for us tonight that we would be a people of God who turn from those things that are not of you and lean heavily into you. God, our Father, who did not spare your own Son Jesus Christ…
I pray I would be delighted to know that fact, God, that I could preach the gospel to myself, God, that we in this room would have a fire in us to read the Scriptures and to see you there, to find you there, to not be foolish like you say to the people on the road to Emmaus, God, but to see this was your plan from the beginning. God, have mercy on me. Have mercy on us. Demonstrate your grace to us in this, that you would reveal yourself to us. We pray these things not to make much of us, God, but to make much of you. In Jesus Christ’s name and for his sake, amen.