Scripture fulfilled

This coming Sunday is the 3rd Sunday of Easter and our gospel is the account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The two disciples have explained to their fellow traveler (Jesus unrecognized) the cause of their disappointment and discouragement. It is then Jesus again speaks: “And he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.” (Luke 24:25-27)

The revelation of reality of Easter begins with the fulfillment of Scriptures – a theme emphasized in the beginning of Luke’s gospel:  “investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.” (Luke 1:3-4) Those who do not see the patterns of this fulfillment are “foolish” and “slow of heart to believe.” Jesus brings the sad irony to an end and begins the process of revealing himself and the meaning of the resurrection to the disciples through the lens of a suffering Messiah.

Jesus is direct: the suffering of the Messiah was necessary in God’s providential plan for the redemption of Israel and the salvation of sinners. It was necessary that Jesus be about his Father’s business (2:49), and for the kingdom of God to be preached (4:43). It was necessary to set the crippled woman free from her bondage (13:16) and for Jesus to stay with Zacchaeus (19:5). Above all, it was necessary for Jesus to go to Jerusalem (13:33) and there to suffer and die (9:22; 17:25). It was necessary that the Scriptures be fulfilled in Jesus (22:37; 24:44).

The fulfillment, however, consisted not only in Jesus’ suffering but also in his entering “into his glory” (v. 26). The language of entering into his glory is anticipated by earlier references to Jesus’ “exodus” (9:31), the revelation of Jesus’ glory in the transfiguration (9:32), and the penitent thief’s anticipation of Jesus’ entry into his kingdom (23:42). The glory of the Lord shone at Jesus’ birth (2:9, 14). The Son of Man will come-in glory (9:26; 21:27). The disciples had chanted “glory in the highest” while Jesus rode into Jerusalem (19:38). Now, their hopes were being fulfilled even beyond what they knew to hope for.

Just as Luke introduced the conversation on the road to Emmaus with a summary reference to the conversation between the two disciples before Jesus joined them, so also he brings it to a close by shifting from dialogue to a summary of the rest of the conversation. The summary continues the emphasis on the importance of the fulfillment of Scripture in all that had happened. “Moses and all the prophets” (cf. 16:29, 31) designates the Scriptures in the context of the two great figures of the OT who appeared at the transfiguration when Jesus’ glory was revealed: Moses and Elijah.  Now the risen Lord appears and explains how his suffering and entry into glory fulfilled Moses and the prophets (cf. Acts 17:2-3).

Image credit: James Tissot, 1900, The Pilgrims of Emmaus on the Road (Les pèlerins d’Emmaüs en chemin), Public Domain

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