Seeing the Story God's Way
by Lonnie Lane
Typical of how young men became the disciples of any learned rabbi, they attached themselves to the rabbi so that they became part of his life. The disciples would go wherever the rabbi went, they would literally sit at his feet and listen to what he had to teach them. Every instance in life was a teaching opportunity and a learning experience. Finally, in time, they would speak as their rabbi did, reason as he did and hopefully become as wise as he was. One was a true disciple when one could quote what their rabbi quoted and sound like he did having come to fully believe as he believed, having wrestled with the texts or the philosophical problem so that they fully grasped it. They would come to gain his wisdom through rigorous study and by emulating their rabbi. You can understand then why when Yeshua spoke that the people “were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority” (Luke 4:32) and not just quoting what others had already said.
It was not unusual for disciples to move in to the rabbis' home and become more or less their constant companion, their wives and family adjusting to having the disciples around. It was not, therefore, unique only to Yeshua to have disciples with Him all the time. Accordingly, Yeshua’s question to them was a penetrating one: What is it you really are wanting from Me? When they asked where He was staying, it wasn’t just to make conversation or because they didn’t know what else to say. They were asking for permission to follow Him, to enter His life so as to become His disciples.
I love Yeshua’s reply. It’s one He still says to all His disciples, including you and me -- “Come and see.” Come and see the Kingdom of God. Come and see the way to the Father. Come to Me and find rest for your souls you’ve never known before. Come and you will see truth. Come and know the love of God. Come and experience salvation. Come and you will learn to “see” as God would have you see, with Kingdom eyes, to understand and to know the ways of God. (John 1:29-39).
That was the beginning. What unfolded was more than they could ever have anticipated that day. What developed was what not just the disciples but most of Israel began to anticipate could actually be the culmination of their days of waiting for God to restore Israel. Hopes soared that with this Man, God might restore their nation to sovereignty once again such as they had under David and then Solomon. There was a great expectation in Israel at this time and Yeshua only confirmed in their minds that God was about to do what He had done for Israel before -- rescue them through great judgment upon their enemies. As it had happened with the Exodus from Egypt when they were oppressed by that pagan nation, so God would deliver them from the Romans.
Even when Israel had strayed from God and they found themselves once again in great duress under the
True, their had been tension with the leaders, but those things could be ironed out once they saw who He was when He led Israel to victory over their enemies, however that would happen. God would free them once again. Their prayers would be answered. Even the songs they had been singing for centuries were pleas to God for Him to rescue them. Hadn’t David in his Psalms uttered the very cry of Israel against their enemies time and time again and hadn’t God answered him and brought deliverance? These same prayers had been prayed since, individually and corporately:
Now it seemed that through Yeshua, God was about to answer a thousand years of prayers and remove not only their enemies but the sin that offended their God. For they knew that when Israel is pleasing in God’s sight, as they had been under David, they had peace with even their enemies. They looked for the redemption that would come when God was once again pleased with them and Yeshua gave them every reason to hope for that as God brought them miraculous healing and deliverance again and again. The excitement and expectations were palpable!
He had ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophesy: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech 9:9) Yeshua riding into Jerusalem on a donkey was a sure sign to the people that He was their long awaited king. No wonder their expectations were so high that He was the One. Prophesy was being fulfilled. That’s why they honored Him with laying palm fronds before Him, as they would do to a king or a returning conquering here. To them, He would be both.
But then, in just a few days it all fell totally apart. The unimaginable horror had happened. Their hero had been crucified. They knew full well that Deuteronomy said, “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death and you hang him on a tree…he who is hanged (on a tree) is accursed of God” (Deut. 21:23; Gal 3:13). Could it mean anything other than that Yeshua was under God’s curse? Is that why He was so brutally beaten and hung on a cross (tree) to die? Had He been against God all that time? How could they have been so wrong? And what’s more, their great hopes for the nation were crushed because now it was evident that Israel was still in their sin in God’s eyes. The great prophetic promises had not been fulfilled and they were still “in exile” under foreign domination, despite being in their land. They had not been liberated from the foreign power. And all now seemed lost.
Oh, they had had their ideas of how it would happen based on what had taken place throughout Israel’s history. Many believed the holy remnant in their zeal for God would lead a revolt and defeat the pagan hordes. Yeshua would lead them, for sure. Others believed God would come in apocalyptic judgment and protect the remnant of the holy ones while destroying evil, making a clear distinction between those who were holy and those who were unholy. Yeshua had given them a whole new picture of what holy is from God’s perspective. At least His disciples had come to think so. It all had seemed so right. So incredibly of God. But now He was dead and even their own priests and leaders had been against Him. Would their leaders have been so against Him if He had really been from God?
Such were what Cleopas and another equally distraught disciple were trying to sort out on their long walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus three days after the crucifixion. There were so many confusing events. What were they to make of it all? They knew Yeshua has been so horribly beaten before He was crucified. Wasn’t it enough that they crucified Him? But it was over. Dead is dead. But then there were hysterical women saying they had seen him, and reports of visions of angels. And then there was the perplexing rumor about the body of Yeshua being missing. So engrossed in discussing what it could all mean, seemingly out of nowhere a stranger was suddenly walking along with them asking what they were talking about. It seemed this stranger must be the only one who was unaware of what had been taking place.
“They said to him, ‘Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem who is unaware of the things that have happened here…these days?” And He said to them, "What things?" And they said to Him, "The things about Yeshua the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also 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 exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:19-27)
Now it may seem to be out of character for Yeshua to be calling them fools, for that’s what the text says, but the word for “foolish” or “fools” means to be unintelligent, or unwise, to be sensual by implication meaning that they were going by their feelings and not wise thinking. The Root of the word means to exercise the mind, to observe, to comprehend, consider, perceive, think, and to understand. This makes sense when we put it together with what He says next. He begins to tell them what the Scriptures clearly lay out about Messiah. "'Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (:26, 27). It had been all there in the Scriptures all the time, but no one, not even the priests, had the mind to comprehend and perceive what was written.
They had a seven mile walk to Emmaus. That’s enough time for Yeshua to give them a pretty thorough Bible lesson on the prophesies of Messiah. As He lays it all out for them from the beginning of Genesis of God’s plan, they begin to see that Scripture holds together in a cohesive whole. It’s not a collection of disjointed stories or laws. They all point to Messiah, in Moses and the prophets and the readings.
Cleopas and his friend were suddenly seeing things in Scripture as they had never seen them before and their
God hadn’t been angry with them -- He reached out to them in the most profound way, in a love that never quits. Not once in all that Yeshua went through did He retaliate, or place blame, or call for judgment or turn to bitterness. Even when He experienced being separated from His Father for the first time in His life, or in eternity past, He stayed in love and obedience, not resorting to anything of self. His only words were, “Forgive them, Father.” That was the motive, that was the reason. So mankind would be forgiven and restored to God in love. His exile, His separation from His Father, closed the gap for all mankind to be fully restored to God. The human exile from God that mankind has lived with since Adam and Eve were barred from the Garden of Eden was now ended for whosoever would receive from God what His Son had done for us.
Finally they come to Emmaus. Yeshua acts as if He will walk on past them but they implore Him to come and stay with them. It’s His way. He comes to stay with us when we want Him. But we must let Him know we want Him. Though He is a guest, He acts as the host and takes the bread and blesses it and breaks it. Perhaps they saw the nail scars in His hands, for as He gave it to them, suddenly their eyes were opened and they realized -- this was Yeshua! Risen Yeshua!! The moment that “they recognized Him…He vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:31). That very hour they began a hurried trek back the seven miles to Jerusalem to go and tell the eleven disciples what had just happened. Arriving they shouted in confirmation to the disciples, “The Lord has really risen!” (:34). To which we even today echo, “Amen. He is risen!”
So what’s the moral of this story? There always is one. There’s always something to learn from any story. Perhaps in this one it’s that when things don’t go as we expect, when things even look like disasters or great disappointments, look to the Scriptures. Wait upon God. You will find that He is doing a work of freedom even if all we can presently see is failure. He may be doing something so much holier than we have even considered or perceived when at first it looks like the enemy has triumphed. All He does is redemptive even if God’s mercies sometimes come in very strange ways, like the cross for our release from the fear of death.
If there’s one verse that we should tuck away in our hearts to pull out when needed, it’s these: “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28,29).
So whatever is going on, stay in love and obedience like the One in whose likeness we are being conformed. Even if it takes longer than you thought, or is harder to understand for a while. Trust in the Lord. His highest good for you will ultimately come out of it. Wait for it. Align with His purposes which are always to bring restoration and redemption. His truth and love will prevail.
Above all, forgive. What could man ever do to us that would be worse than He experienced? We forgive because He forgave us all. We forgive because we honor Him. And He is worthy of all honor. Praised be to God for His wisdom and truth.
“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever…. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations." (Ps 106:1; 100:5)
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2009.
Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships, one in Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked” and numerous articles on this website. She has been the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click Here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked."
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.