The Story | Ch. 1 - All About Jesus
Topic: Gospel Passage: Luke 24:13–24:35
Introduction | What’s your Story?
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission. Today we being our new series, The Story looking at the narrative of the Bible taking us from now until after Easter. What’s your Story?
Story | How we understand our world
Each of us has a story, a way of explaining what the plot of our lives is and how we fit into the greater plot of what we see happening in the world around us both near and far. Who we believe we are in the story often determines how we interact with the other “characters” and how we act our “part”. We seek education, choose careers, pursue hobbies, form relationships, and find our identity all around the story we believe we are in. When we see ourselves as the main character then everyone else is relegated to a supporting role. All events are seen in relation to how they impact us. When we face adversity and overcome or achieve a victory we’re the hero and we bask in our glory (or at least post on social media). All too common in our culture, when something happens to us we judge as unjust (or don’t like) we become the victim. Then there are the times we know we are the villain and we wonder if we’re condemned to defeat or if we can ever be redeemed. Some of us aren’t prideful enough to believe we are the main character. But we have had the pendulum swing to believe we are less than significant or that the role we play in the story is of no real value or purpose. As a result, the story we see in the world is one were everything happens too or around us, our reaction is meaningless and we are resigned to be a spectator.
We take our individual stores and make them the lens through which we see history and world events. We get quickly frustrated as we recognize our individual stories are too “small” to explain everything. We search, or are served, bigger stories to be a part of to give us meaning, identity, and purpose. We know some are silly like becoming fans of sports teams, bands, movies, or genres of popular culture. Others we take very seriously, work, family lineage, racial identification, nation of origin, political affiliation, patriotic pride, etc. Various religions - Buddhist, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Mormons, Scientologist, Pagans - provide a story to understand the world through spirituality. Naturalistic scientists, atheists, environmentalist, and secular humanists also have various stories to explain the world based solely on what is observable. Each of these stories has heroes, villains, journeys to pursue, trials to face, and endeavors to engage with leading to defeats to mourn and victories to celebrate. Yet, each of these stories are insufficient to fully understand what is happening in the world. They are told from the perspective of a few, they account for too little or try to account for too much, and their plots are often thin or have big holes. Their answers to our questions are too weak to sooth our worst pain, lead to our individual and collective flourishing, satisfy our deepest desires, or provide ultimate hope.
In our pluralistic world, it is popular to assert that there are many stories and that each (our individual story or collective stories) is equally valid to understand our world. Some stories can have overlapping themes, characters, and occasionally intersect, but when every story has a different starting point and distinct plot it is impossible for every story to be equally true and conflicting worldviews are developed. Our answer to this conflict has been to pretend it doesn’t exist and for every individual to select their own story and own “truth” leaving us all more fractured and frustrated when our stories constantly don’t line up with others.
It is the deepest conviction and assertion of the Christian Gospel (Good News) that there are not many stories, but there is THE Story that is big and sufficient enough to adequately answer our questions, root our identity, explain suffering, cultivate flourishing, and provide real present and lasting hope. In this, the Christian world view is a “Metanarrative”; meaning a big story overarching in providing a comprehensive explanation for every other “little story”. The Story can seem both overly complicated and strikingly simple, strange yet familiar, and challenging yet comforting. We find this metanarrative in the ancient and active narrative of the Bible where we see both a story big enough to make sense of everything in history, now, and forever, and yet personal enough to find ourselves as we are truly intended to be.
The Christian worldview is seen through the lens of the Bible so we are to take what is says seriously, and many Christians and churches do. Various verse are memorized, sermons from the Bible are preached, reading plans are followed (sometimes). Many, even those with years of church background, do not have a proper understanding of what the Bible is. Some, even with good intentions and a high view of scripture as God’s Word to His people, will think too little of the Bible believing it’s really about them. They might describe it as an “instructional manual for life”, “Love letter from God” or use it as a collection of moral stories with many heroes (slay your giants like David, be strong like Sampson…neither would be qualified to serve in our kids ministry), find rules to live by (don’t steal, be kind), or try to find “God’s wonderful plan for my life.” Others with a low view of scripture will say the Bible includes many myths (basically anything that’s miraculous) full of errors (usually anything they don’t personally agree with), should be read as an allegory (story with a hidden meaning) to be interpreted through the lens of our culture today. Both views are insufficient and rarely lead to real transformation as they are nearly exclusively concerned with personal affirmation. The Bible is more than individual episodes and instructions. Every part of these ancient, Holy Spirit-inspired, writings from 40 human authors across three continents, over 1,500 years are links forming one solid chain of God’s Story of redemption of His people. For us to fully understand, enjoy, and apply each part of the Bible we need to see how it fits into the greater narrative of the Bible. The storyline of the Bible (and THE metanarrative of history) in its simplest form can be understood through the four words: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration.
Creation | Good - There is a God who has made everything both seen and unseen and made them “Good”. Everything is made for God’s glory and God is the source of all life and joy. Humanity is God’s crowning achievement because they reflect the Creator’s image. Humanity is called to partner with God to creatively cultivate the world for an increase of flourishing. God and humanity are in perfect communion.
Fall | Bad - Humanity rebels against the Creator by rejecting God’s good command in exchange for their own self-rule and separation from God. This rejection of God is sin, infecting every person and part of God’s good creation. The consequences of sin are death (spiritually, relationally, and physically), suffering, disease, conflict, injustice, pain, toil, and separation between God and humanity.
Redemption | New - The Good God promises and sends a Redeemer to His people, Jesus Christ. In Jesus being truly God (God the Son) and truly man (born of a woman) He reconciles fallen humans to the perfect Creator by living a perfect (sinless) life, dying as a substitute for sinners on the cross, and resurrecting from death providing hope for this life and eternal life for those who believe in Him. Jesus ascends to heaven and sends the Holy Spirit to build His kingdom in the heart of His people. This redemption satisfies God’s just wrath and reconciles the estranged relationship between God and His people as they are adopted into His forever family.
Restoration | Perfect - Jesus Christ who first came in humility, will return in glory to restore all of creation to God’s original intention ushering in a new heavens and new earth. Sin, death, disease, and tears will be no more as all things are made perfect and joy will be fully realized as God and His people again, and forever, dwell in perfect communion. Jesus rules as king of this ever-increasing kingdom where His will is finally and fully done in earth as it is in heaven.
It is in this big broad story we find ourselves between the Redemption of Jesus at the cross and resurrection and the Restoration of Jesus at His return. Creation is enjoyed in the natural and cultivated beauty of our word. The fall is still experienced as EVERYONE can agree that no one is perfect without sin and the world is clearly broken as war, injustice, and conflict are close at hand. Yet good news of Redemption purchased has given freedom to generations of believing Christ followers who have actively worked to cultivate the ways and values of God’s gracious kingdom all while fueled by the promise of future Restoration. It is
through the lens of this simple, yet grand, unifying narrative of the Bible (and the world) that we can return to the various episodes and instructions of the Bible, as well as the experiences and emotions of our individual lives, and see them as part of The Story!
The Sermon Series
If you think of the Biblical narrative as a beautiful Hawaiian Island, Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration is flying over it in a jet at 30,000 feet. When we study an individual book of the Bible or topic we are hiking through a lush jungle or spending the day walking on a beach. The 12 “chapters” of this series should be considered as a brief helicopter tour. We get the broader context with more detail than a fly over, but less leisurely or in-depth as a hike. In each chapter, some select sections of the island will be hovered over, some flown over quickly, and others will be skipped entirely (even if no less an important part of the “island”.) The broad goals for this series are the same for every series. That we would have the target of our affections, hope, and worship moved from the things of this world to the Creator of this world who reveals Himself through the scripture and most clearly in the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ. Additionally, as disciples of Jesus who are called to go into the world to make more disciples, we do seek to faithfully engage with a world opposed to the God of the Bible. Specifically, we hope this series helps those who know Jesus grow as disciples in three ways:
Increase our Biblical Literacy – Know more of the Bible’s story and how various ‘chapters’ fit into The Story. Understand how key parts of the Old Testament are best understood in light of the New Testament. What is happening in each chapter, what does each chapter tell us about God?
Adopt a Christ-Centered understanding of the Bible - The Story of the Bible is all about Jesus with the Old Testament anticipating and pointing to Jesus. The New Testament Gospels revealing God in the life and mission of Jesus. The remainder New Testament (Acts, letters, Revelation) unpacks the Gospel of Jesus, what it means for Jesus’ Church, and points to the great hope of His victorious return. How does each chapter contrast with, point to or highlight the work of Jesus?
Deepen our Gospel Fluency – We see how our individual lives, and the lives of those around us whom we are called to reach with the gospel, interact with The Story so we can more readily apply the gospel to every person, situation, and every area of life. How does each chapter give us greater confidence in the work of God on our behalf? What does it tell us about how we are to respond to the Gospel?
We know The Story radically changes the life stories of individuals. Because of its metanarrative nature, all who hear it must respond either by receiving it as true and glorious or rejecting it favor of a lesser story. Our hope is those who do not know The Story or Jesus would hear and understand the Christian worldview. That you would reflect on your life in light of this story, and then respond to the offer of life with God in Christ leading to a lifelong reorientation from trusting your story to simply Trust Jesus now and into eternity.
PART I | Beginning in the Middle | Hopeless | v13-21
Luke 24:13-21 | 13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 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. 18 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?” 19 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, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 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.
Our telling of The Story begins in the middle. Two travelers walk down a lonely road towards a small village. The city of Jerusalem, days earlier sent into an uproar over a crucifixion, lies behind them. They knew the executed. They followed Him as their leader, listened to Him as a prophet who brought God closer to them, and hoped He would deliver their people from oppression. Disorientated and trying to make sense of an unjust, and seemingly untimely, death of a man accused by religious authorities of claiming to be God, they’re joined by unrecognized traveler. Jesus draws near These disciples are in this place of total confusion and Jesus pursues them in their fog. Verse 16 says their eyes were kept from recognizing him. I don’t know why this is, some think Jesus Resurrected body was unrecognizable, possible. Sometimes, when you see someone you don’t expect to see or in a different context it can take while to recognize them, doubtful. Could have been a spiritual blindness or veil, maybe. I’d like you to consider this: What if they are so immersed in the traumatic event they had just witnessed, shrouded in fear, and clouded by the confusion of gossip they’ve heard they couldn’t comprehend or even believe Jesus could possibly be walking right beside them. How easy is it for us to lose sight of Jesus presences in our lives?
Jesus draws them out. “What’s up gang, why so down?” still and sad Cleopas says “You really are the ONLY one who doesn’t know what just happened in Jerusalem?” Likely, offended “this guy” doesn’t understand his pain. He begins to tell Jesus his sad and hopeless version of the story of the past few days. Main character: Jesus of Nazareth. Just a man from a poor hapless place. A prophet, someone who listens to God and tell His people what He said. He was significant, a great preacher recognized by crowds of people. He did some great things, healings, miracles, other good works. He had favor with God and all people, everyone likes Jesus as prophet. You can believe some really great things about Jesus and still have a sad story.
Enter the villains: Our chief priest, our religious leaders those who taught us the Bible who taught us about God, and our rulers (the local leadership that is supposed to represent us) they gave this great Jesus over to the hated oppressive evil Roman government to be executed by crucifixion. This story is tragic because we had such great hope Jesus would end up leading us, our little nation of Israel into a great resurgence where we will no longer be under Roman rule and we again will be a great nation. Now our hope is as dead as Jesus. To top it all off, Jesus was such a good prophet he predicted His own death, yet on the third day rise. (Matt 17:22-23) Here we are on the third day… We know he died, we haven’t see I him alive. This story has to be over. What did is all mean, what do we do next, where do we go for hope?
PART II | Hope possible, Hope Explained | v22-27
22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23and 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. 24 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.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Cleopas continues, with a bit of an epilogue. In our sadness and hopelessness we’re now hearing rumors of a miraculous resurrection. The tomb is empty! The ladies saw angels who said Jesus is alive, and some of the guys, including Peter (who we all know can be a little rash) checked it out. No body. But without seeing Jesus dead or alive it just seems a bit to fantastic to believe, no one has seen Jesus yet. We’re so confused.
Can you just see Jesus with these guys? “Oh I am about to drop a bomb on them” We would expect if Jesus wanted to give these guys some clarity He would say “Hey it’s me! The good prophet, I called it, I’m back!” But he doesn’t. He is really not even that gentle, He rebukes them for what? Not understanding the entire point of Bible! It’s The Story all about Jesus! He goes on to correct them about the nature of the main character. He’s not just a good teacher, prophet, or miracle worker. He is so much more, he is THE CHRIST! The Savoir- King of God’s people! On this walk Jesus starts taking them through a bible study. God’s word is sufficient to show Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the promised savoir. He tells them why all what they have seen had to happen for God to save His people, and how all of the scriptures are not about a people but a person, Jesus. It wasn’t about a nation and their accession, it is about a man and His resurrection.
This is their Sixth Sense moment, (like reading the last chapter of a story before reading the rest) the time when all the pieces of the story start to connect in a new way that sheds so much light on what they have seen. The senselessness of the crucifixion becomes purposeful. This isn’t the first time Jesus taught like this.
John 5:39-40 | 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
You can be religious, or even scholarly spending lots of time trying to understand the Bible or attack it. But you will get it wrong if you don’t see The Story as one story about Jesus. The Old Testament only makes sense when it is read back in light of Jesus as the Christ. Jesus is the key that unlocks the Bible. To read it anyway else will lead to useless allegorizing spiritual truth behind every “story” so it doesn’t matter if it’s TRUTH but only if it rings true. Or powerless moralizing be a good person and win your own salvation based on being a good person in the OT, then grace comes through faith in Jesus in the New Testament. The bible isn’t two stories with two different main characters it is one story all about Jesus.
PART III | Hope Seen Hope Responded Too | v28-35
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 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. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 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. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
This type of Bible teaching (seeing Jesus meeting Jesus experiencing Jesus in the text) is intoxicating! They can’t get enough of it! Something inside them wells up stirring their as hopelessness moves to hopefulness in Jesus. Arriving at their destination, they beg Jesus to stay and have dinner. The traveler breaks bread with them in a way they have only experienced once before. In this simple but significant act the unknown traveler is recognized for who He truly is, the resurrected Jesus! Their eyes are opened! Jesus dead is a sad hopeless story, now they know Jesus is alive! The Story wasn’t over, it was a dark chapter but they know find themselves as part of a much greater story! They respond to the gospel Story and revelation of Jesus. The get up and race back the seven miles to the other disciples. They gathered with them to share their encounter with Jesus! The disciples have news too. Jesus has met with Peter too! The Story turns!
Like these travelers, we can be walking through the scriptures and not recognize how close Jesus really is. He is THE central character of The Story. From Jesus himself, we learn we can only understand The Story as much as we know it is a story all about Him. In the same way, our story can only truly be understood when know Jesus as the main character.
This is your time to respond to the story all about Jesus. Jesus was made known to them through the breaking of bread. If you know Jesus (not just as a good teacher but as the risen savior) this is part of why we take Communion each week as we do we are acknowledging our story is insufficient we can’t be our own hero, Jesus is our hero in our place dying the death we deserve on the cross. We sing remembering His victory and hope in His return. We give financially remembering all of creation has been given to be stewarded for His purposes. If you are still not convinced, have bought into another story, or created your own, we implore you trade it in for one far greater than leads to satisfaction and joy when we Trust Jesus.