The Road to Emmaus
from RC Sproul
The late John H. Gerstner once told a story about an encounter he had with Perry Miller, America’s foremost Jonathan Edwards scholar. Miller greatly respected the sheer brilliance and complexity of Edwards’ thought, which is not surprising, since many people have regarded Edwards as the greatest theologian America ever produced. However, at the same time, this learned man considered Edwards’ biblical presentations on hell in sermons such as “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” to be repulsive.
Dr. Gerstner, knowing that this scholar was not a Christian, once remarked to him that if Edwards was right then he, as an unbeliever, was in serious trouble. The professor could only reply, “I know, I just hope that he is wrong.”
In a similar fashion, a person can study the Word of God for many years and still not be convinced to trust in its message. Apart from the sovereign intervention of the Lord’s grace, we are dead in sin and unable to respond to the message of salvation found in sacred Scripture (Eph. 2:1–3). Without the work of the Spirit through the preaching of the Word, no man can ever trust in the promises God made through Jesus (John 3:5; Rom. 10:14–15).
The meeting Jesus had with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection helps to illustrate this point. These two men, greatly discouraged after the death of this great prophet and teacher, find it unbelievable that this “stranger” does not seem to know of the events of Christ’s passion (Luke 24:13–21). And remarkably, even the evidence of the empty tomb could not convince these disciples that their Lord had returned to life (vv. 22–24).
No, it took Jesus Himself to open their eyes to the necessity of the Messiah’s death and resurrection as predicted in the Law and the Prophets (vv. 25–35). Scripture remains the Word of God regardless of whether or not we ever trust in its promises, but it takes the intervention of the Almighty to cause us to believe in its message. May we always be quick to heed the Word whenever the Holy Spirit opens its meaning to us.
How do you approach the study and preaching of Scripture? Do you trust the Holy Spirit to make your heart and mind receptive to its inspired words? Do you take time before church each Sunday to ask the Lord to make you attentive to the preacher so that you become a doer of the Word? Before you go to church this week, make sure to pray for your heart to be opened, then discuss what you learned from the sermon afterwards with friends or family.