I will never forget driving through New York City a few weeks after the attacks and seeing American flags flying everywhere. I counted how many seconds it was between flag sightings and the longest I got to was 5 seconds. Our nation was drawn together against this horrible evil. There was unanimous agreement that the attacks of 9/11 were a textbook example of moral evil. That day, our nation testified to the belief in that truth as absolute. Would we do the same today? Would you? What about our belief in God? Is “truth” about the God of the bible absolute, or simply relative?
A year after 9/11, when the nation appeared to agree on the concept of moral evil, the Barna Research Group discovered that most Americans do not believe in moral absolutes. Moral Absolutism is the ethical belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, regardless of the context of the act. An example would be saying that the premediated murder of innocent lives in 9/11 is morally wrong. In a survey of 4,000 people, it was discovered that,
· 64% of all adults believed truth to always be relative, depending on the situation.
· 83% of teenagers believed truth to always be relative.
· Only 32% of Christians believe in moral absolutes
· Only 9 % of Christian teens believe in moral absolute.
Based on this survey, most Christians do not believe in moral absolutes. When asked this, “When you are faced with a moral or ethical choice, which ONE of the following best describes how you, yourself, decide what to do?” In other words, where do you turn to find your morality? Twenty four percent of born-again Christians said when facing a moral choice that they do, “whatever feels right.” One out of four Christians says their morality is determined by their feelings.
The world does not value absolute truths and sadly, too often, neither does the church. Do you? Was 9/11 absolutely wrong or was it justifiable? Truth is important. Let me ask you, “Do you have truth?” I believe the Bible is clear in its claims of absolute truths. And I believe the Bible makes specific claims about Jesus Christ. Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father accept me.” Jesus believed in absolute truth. As we work through our text, I want to ask you 2 questions to see if you have the truth.
Do you have True Knowledge?
In order to have the truth, you have to have the right facts. You have to know the right things. Jesus appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus to make sure they had the right facts about the Bible and the Messiah. Luke 24:13-17,
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 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. (Luke 24:13-17)
The men were talking over the facts about Jesus. They were discussing the meaning of everything that happened. They did not recognize Jesus, but because his identity was hidden from them. They were shocked that he had “no idea” of the recent events.
Human beings are meaning makers. Pastor and Counselor Paul Tripp explains this concept in his book, How People Change,
We look for meaning and purpose in every event, activity, and relationship in our lives. The toddler who asks his mother if God made telephone poles is a meaning maker. The second grade girl who advises her friend on how to get other girls to like her is a meaning maker. The husband and wife who discuss why the husband can’t get along with his boss are meaning makers. The elderly woman who wonders why her daughter doesn’t visit is a meaning maker. Meaning making is something we do unconsciously but incessantly. We never stop trying to figure life out. We ask questions. We make assumptions, draw conclusions, make connections, interpret data, and make distinctions. Whether we suffer, strive, achieve or relax, we ask ourselves consciously or subconsciously, “What is the point? What does it all mean?” And here is the important part: the answers we give ourselves, the meanings we give to our thoughts, circumstances, relationships, and actions move us in specific directions.
The disciples were grasping for meaning. They wanted to know, “What was the point?” of Jesus’ life, death, and rumored resurrection.
Although they were still discussing the recent events, it appears that they had already made their decision about Jesus. Over the last 15 chapters, Luke has pictured Jesus journeying towards Jerusalem and his ascension. The turning point for is Luke 9:51 which states, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Jesus was journeying back to the Father, but had to go through Jerusalem and the cross. These disciples of Jesus were on the road to Emmaus traveling from Jerusalem. They were journeying in the opposite direction. They thought everything was over. When Jesus approached them on the road, they stopped, stood still and were looking sad. They had knowledge of the events, but did not interpret them rightly. They assumed they understood everything that was going on, but as we will see, they did not have the true knowledge.
These men were not waiting in Jerusalem, but had turned away. Their faulty interpretation caused them to change their direction as Tripp said above, “And here is the important part: the answers we give ourselves, the meanings we give to our thoughts, circumstances, relationships, and actions move us in specific directions.” Have you ever turned away from a friend because you wrongly interpreted information? You may have believed something to be true about someone so you turned from them. You may have made a decision without having all the facts, or perhaps you had the facts, but drew the wrong conclusion.
The two men will explain to Jesus all the recent events and Jesus will add clarity to their confused knowledge. Luke 24:18-24,
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?” 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, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 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. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and 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. 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.” (Luke 24:18-24)
There are two phrases that help explain these disciples’ actions. First, in verse 20, “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” This reveals why they are sad. Jesus did not fulfill their hopes. They expected him to restore Israel as a nation by overthrowing Roman oppression. Their expectations were not met so they were sad and walked away. Beloved, I have seen too many people walk away from relationships, the church and the Lord because of the unfulfilled hopes of unmet expectations. But did Jesus fail these disciples, or did Jesus fail these disciples’ expectations? Jesus is not the problem, but rather the expectations of disciples. They did not have true knowledge. Jesus was going to redeem Israel, but not the way these disciples had expected. Their sadness was a result of unmet expectations.
The second phrase that reveals the motive behind their actions is the end of verse 24, “him they did not see.” The irony is very thick. The reader knows far more than these two men. There is a sense of anticipation and excitement. They said they did not see him as they were staring at him. This passage answers the question that every disciple had asked, “Where is Jesus?” His body is gone, but where is he?
Jesus’s response is crucial for us to understand. Luke 24:25-27,
And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
Before Jesus reveals his identity, he gives them true knowledge by helping them rightly interpret the Scriptures. He corrected their interpretation. Verses 26-27 are extremely important in how we interpret the Scriptures. Jesus is the key to interpret the whole Old Testament.
This would have been an amazing conversation. Jesus unpacks and interprets how everything from Moses to the Prophets explains how the Messiah would come and redeem his people through his death and resurrection. Do not miss this!!! The main purpose of the Bible is to explain how Jesus Christ was going to come and rescue an unholy people to reconcile them to a Holy God. The Bible answers the question, “How can a holy God forgive sin, yet show justice to the guilty? The answer is found only in Jesus Christ. It was necessary for Jesus to suffer on the cross before he was to enter his glory through the resurrection. Jesus Christ was punished for sin experiencing the penalty for sin in his death on the cross. And now through his resurrection from the dead, anyone who places their faith Jesus will have everlasting life. A holy God cannot overlook sin, so for our sake, Jesus, who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God.
Jesus provided true knowledge to the disciples showing from the Scriptures how to interpret everything in relation to Him. Jesus gave his disciples true knowledge, but true knowledge is not enough. You also need to believe.
The disciples needed things clarified for them, but their main problem was a lack of faith. Jesus said, “O foolish ones, slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” The disciples did not believe. Their main problem was a lack of faith in the word of God. I believe that this is our main problem today as well. In John 6, Jesus disciples asked him, “‘what must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’” (John 6:28-29)
It is not enough to have the right knowledge; you must also believe in that knowledge. Your belief in the truth will dictate how you live. The reason people do not forgive those who sin against them is because they do not truly believe Jesus words, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15). The reason people give themselves to lust or greed is because in those moments, they do not believe in the resurrection. John Piper writes,
All the promises of God were purchased for believing sinners by an act that happened in the past, namely, by the death and resurrection of Jesus. But God-glorifying BELIEF doesn't merely stare at those acts; it stands on them, and then looks forward to all the promises Jesus bought for us, and banks its hope on the promises, and moves out in a life of faith. Faith is future-oriented. It is heartfelt hope in the promises of God.
So as a church, we have to ask ourselves, “Do we believe in God’s Word?” Are we motivated by faith in God’s promises or unfilled hopes of unmet expectations?
As your pastor, I am praying that we will be motivated by faith to believe all that God has promised for us in Christ Jesus. I am praying that our hope will be set fully at the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Beloved, if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Will we be motivated by faith in the very great and precious promises of God or by fear that God will not be there for us in the end?
Maybe your problem this morning is not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of faith in that knowledge you already possess. Do not be foolish and slow of heart to believe. Jesus Christ has promised you a glorious resurrection if you have faith in Him. Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God. One pastor shared a story of young boy caught in a house fire,
The young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I'll catch you." He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you." But the boy protested, "Daddy, I can't see you." The father replied, "But I can see you and that's all that matters."
Beloved, we do not place our faith in what we see, but in our God who sees us. Our faith is grounded in what He has said and what he has done for us in Christ. The disciples did not believe in the resurrection, because they did not see him so they turned to walk away. We must trust God even when we cannot see the outcome. We must be disciples with a true knowledge and a true faith. Even though we have not seen him, we love him. Though we do not now see him, we believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls.
 http://brileyh.home.comcast.net/~brileyh/morals/barnsurv.htm accessed 4.9.15
 Tripp, Paul. How People Change. Pg 31.
 http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/battling-unbelief-together accessed 4.12.15
 Sherman, Reece. Faith Lessons, pg. 16
image credit (https://jessicaconnects.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/gotfaith2.jpg)
image credit (https://jessicaconnects.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/gotfaith2.jpg)