Road to Emmaus (Lk 24)
After the resurrection, two dispirited disciples trudging along ruminating on the fact that they had hoped he was the one who would redeem Israel but he had been killed. What’s more some women were saying that His body was not in the tomb.
Jesus joined them and asked them what was wrong.
Luke 24:25-27 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning Himself.
“Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things?” The prophets of the Old Testament had predicted all of the things that had happened to Jesus – especially His sufferings. The events of the last few days did not mean that God’s plan had failed. On the contrary, it had all been predicted. This is what had to happen. It didn’t prove that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah they had hoped for. It proved that he was!
What they had seen, and thought was a disaster, was God’s plan unfolding.
Then Jesus beginning with Moses and all of the prophets, explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning Himself.
Beginning with Moses? Why not go back beyond Moses? What about the creation, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his 12 sons? Do they have nothing to say about the Messiah?
“Beginning with Moses” means beginning with the books of Moses/the writings of Moses i.e. the first five books of the Old Testament. Moses is the traditional author of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
“Moses and the prophets” is a way of talking about the scriptures.
In fact, Luke says that Jesus showed them what was said in all of the scriptures concerning Him. All of the scriptures (and, of course, they had only the OT at that stage) talk about Jesus. The Old Testament is about Jesus.
Last month we considered the story of Abraham sacrificing his son as a picture of God sacrificing His Son – and possibly on the very same spot – 2000 years earlier. It is just extraordinary that God has built into the scriptures so many – and such detailed and accurate – pictures of Jesus, the Messiah, who would come thousands or hundreds of years later.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the time when we think about the coming of Jesus. It is appropriate to start singing carols and thinking about Christmas.
So, I thought tonight we might think about the OT scriptures that talk just about His birth. There are many prophecies about His life and His death and His coming again. There are hundreds of prophecies about Jesus in the OT but let’s just think of His birth.
Where is the first reference to Jesus in the OT?
Genesis 1:1 – Elohim = plural but the verb (created) is singular. Moses couldn’t have known but under inspiration has a plural God who acts as one i.e. the Trinity.
The NT talks about Jesus creating, e.g. John 1:1-3: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.
Note: Gen 1:1 “In the beginning..” c.f. John 1:1. John is clearly referring back to Gen 1:1 and putting Jesus there. But Moses had already put Him there.
But that is not about Jesus’ birth and I said we were going to restrict ourselves to that.
Where is the first prophecy of Jesus’ birth?
Gen 3:15 (God speaking to Satan in the Garden of Eden) I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.
The Messiah/Saviour (the one who would crush Satan’s head) would be a descendent of Eve. The Messiah would be a human being. He would be born.
Besides that, God was saying there would be a Saviour! This is the first promise that there would be a Saviour. With Adam and Eve’s sin, the world fell apart. It was no longer the world that God had declared “good”. It had now been messed up by sin. It was no longer a world of harmony and peace and satisfying work and people bound closely together and people close to God. Remember how God used to walk in the garden with Adam and Eve? It had been idyllic but suddenly, as a result of their disobedience, suddenly there was tension between the man and the woman; they were banished from God’s presence; the land would no longer produce abundant food; they would have to toil and sweat; childbirth would be painful. And death became a reality.
That was the start of the world as we know it – the world of pain and struggle and tension and violence and poverty.
But God immediately promises a Saviour. One day this messiah would crush Satan’s head. It has no sooner fallen apart but God is already promising to restore it through a… human being; a descendent of the woman.
Right at the beginning of time (whenever that was!) God talked about the birth of this Messiah.
There were lots of other prophecies about the line through whom the Messiah would come.
His family line was predicted
He would be a descendent of Abraham’s.
Gen 12:2-3 – the covenant with Abram. I will make you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse, and all people on earth will be blessed through you.
That doesn’t specifically talk about a descendent of Abram but it does talk about his descendants: ‘I will make you a great nation” and “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” We can see that that is a reference to Jesus.
Gal 3:16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.. Scripture does not say “and to seeds” meaning many people but “and to your seed” meaning one person, who is Christ.
Refers to Gen 12:7 – to your seed I will give this land. (and Gen 13:15, 24:7)
The Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah
Gen 49:8-10 – Jacob is blessing his 12 sons = one of Judah’s descendents would have an eternal rule
Jesus’ genealogy – Matt 1:3 – one of Jesus’ ancestors is Judah.
This was written about 2000 years before Jesus’ birth.
The Messiah would be a descendent of King David.
Isaiah 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might; the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the lord…
But even to David himself, God had said, 2 Sam 7:11-16 (A I reads this, consider whether it is talking about David’s son, Solomon, or Jesus.)
That is a slightly strange prophecy. We could see it as referring to Solomon, David’s son, who would build the temple. Some of it seems to refer to a mortal human. “When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod…” Jesus never did wrong.
And yet some aspects cannot refer to Solomon – an eternal kingdom; I will be his father and he will be my son. And even the things that apply to Solomon apply in a slightly different way to Jesus. Jesus would build the temple – not the temple in Jerusalem but the temple that is made up of all believers. Even though he would never do wrong, he would be accused of doing wrong and he would be beaten and flogged.
There are many references to a new King David – a king who would rule with justice and rule eternally.
If you consider how many branches there are in a family tree, after a few generations there are thousands of possibilities. And yet, the Bible plots that family line accurately.
The Messiah would be born of a virgin.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Emmanuel.
Isaiah uses a word that can mean “virgin” but also can mean simply a young woman. Probably in the first instance, Isaiah was talking about a birth that would be a sign to King Ahaz.
But prophecies often have a more immediate fulfilment and a longer term fulfilment. Matt 1:22-23 clearly indicates that God intended it to mean a virgin birth in that bigger fulfilment of the prophecy. Matthew uses a word that does mean “virgin” and the whole context indicates that Jesus’ conception was not the result of a union of Mary and Joseph but of the Holy Spirit coming on Mary.
God had prophesied a virgin birth 800 years before the event.
Even the place of Jesus’ birth was foretold hundreds of years before the event.
Micah 5:2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will rule over Israel, whose origins are of old, from ancient times.
Bethlehem was a tiny town. If you wanted to hazard a guess about where the Messiah would be born, you wouldn’t pick this little town, but God pinpointed it.
When the wise men went to Herod and asked where the one born to be king would be born, Herod called together the chief priests and teachers of the law – and they said “Bethlehem” on the basis of this prophecy.
The timing of His coming was also predicted
Dan 9:24-26 24 ‘Seventy “sevens” are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
25 ‘Know and understand this: from the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven “sevens”, and sixty-two “sevens”. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two “sevens”, the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing.
If the “sevens” are understood as being 7 years, that prophecy predicts 490 years from the time of Daniel, or specifically, after the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, something would happen. It is clearly a prophecy of the Messiah. It refers to “the Anointed One”, which is what “messiah” means. It talks about putting an end to sin, atoning for wickedness, bringing in everlasting righteousness.
And apparently it was 490 years later that these things happened.
Right from the beginning there would be a Messiah, born of a woman.
Notice how precise this is. We know the timing; we know the place; we know that the mother will be a virgin and we know the family line. It could be fulfilled only in Bethlehem at that time in history, to a descendent of Abraham and Judah and David, through a woman who was pregnant and yet was a virgin! What are the chances? And yet God had that all mapped out.
Gal 4:4 But when the set time had come, God sent His Son born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law that we might receive adoption to sonship.
What sort of God is this?
- One who planned from the very beginning to redeem the world – because He loves the world. Jn 3:16
- Who would send a Messiah – That Messiah would be His own Son
- One who planned it in detail
- One who revealed the details thousands of years ahead. Who could possibly have known about that baby being born in that stable in that town at that time in history? Who could have got all those details right? Who organised the Roman Emperor to hold a census at just that time so that Mary and Joseph would have to return to the town of their ancestor David?
- One who holds the world and the history of the world in His hands
- An all-knowing, all-powerful God.
What sort of Saviour is this?
- One who has existed from the beginning of time
One who is God Himself
One who would be from a royal line
- Yet who would be born in a small village to a simple young couple
- One who was miraculously conceived – who was truly human but also truly God.
- One who would suffer. One who would die for us. Did not these things have to happen to the Messiah? Was this not all foretold? Would the Messiah not be a suffering servant?
What kind of event is Christmas?
- Not trivial.
- The culmination of a great plan over thousands of years
- The event that would start the restoration of the broken world
- God Himself coming into human history to rescue us.
What does it call forth from us? How do you respond to the God who did this?
Can you trust a God who proved faithful to His promises over millennia?