The Emmaus Road Hermeneutic

Vespers’ Homily at Providence Church

This is the Easter season! Easter is the Gospel’s exclamation point to the question mark of the crucifixion. We are only on the 11th day. We still have 39 to go.

But in this season of celebration, the resurrection answers more questions than merely “Is Jesus still in the tomb?” It also answers questions about how the Bible is to be interpreted. The Book of Luke tells us that two men were on the road to Emmaus and encountered the resurrected Lord. The Bible says their faces were downcast. Jesus inquires and Cleopas asks Jesus if he was aware of the things that happened in Jerusalem. Jesus plays along with their inquiry. He says: “What things?”

And so, they explain in detail all what happened.

Then Jesus breaks into the scene and gives them a lesson in Bible interpretation.

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

From this statement we gain at least two interpretive principles that we need to keep in mind when we read or hear the Bible in whatever season of the Church.

The first is the principle of cross before glory. The Messiah had to suffer in order to enter glory. The Bible emphasizes this theme again and again. It’s also stated as the death and resurrection principle. In other words, when we read the Bible we should expect things to die and be raised again. As you read the Scriptures and find death and violence and blood, remember that these are preludes to the resurrections moments; moments of triumph and victory.

The second is the principle of Christo-centrism. Jesus says from Genesis to Malachi, Jesus is the central figure. The Bible is a rich book that cannot be exhausted. The Church will continue to find new and fresh ways of applying the text of the Bible for the next thousand years. The Bible is a Christo-centered book. Jesus is present in the creation of the world, in the crushing of Sisera’s head, in the fire of Pentecost, and in the ultimate destruction of the devil. We are not merely New Testament Christians; we are whole Bible Christians, because everything from beginning to end breathes the glory of the resurrected Christ.

So, the resurrection is more than just an event. It has profound implications for how we read the Bible. It teaches us that God raised his Son from the dead, but also put thousands of resurrection events in His Word to build the expectation for the Resurrection.

And even though the resurrection of Jesus has occurred, it is only the first fruits of the final resurrection–the resurrection of the living and the dead at the end of History. That resurrection will be unparalleled by any previous resurrections.

 

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