Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Luke 24:17-19 things concerning Jesus of Nazareth

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, July 4, 2019

17 He said to them, “What are you talking about as you walk along?” This stopped them; they were sad.

For a while, it seems, Jesus walked with them, listening to what they were saying. Then, trying to draw out their conversation to include him (and therefore open the door to the gospel he was going to share with them), he asked them what they were talking about. So stunned were they that anyone traveling from Jerusalem would not know about what had happened, they stopped walking and let him see their grief.

18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

The name Cleopas is probably a shortened form of the masculine name Cleopatros. The identity of the other disciple is not given; they were probably among the seventy-two disciples Jesus appointed (Luke 10:1,17). Cleopas can’t imagine that anyone in Jerusalem would fail to know about what had happened to Jesus. Even though the city had been teeming with visitors for the Passover festival, so loud and prolonged had been the uproars of Friday (not to mention the previous Sunday) that everyone who had not actually been an eyewitness should surely have heard about it from friends or neighbors.

19 “What things?” he asked. “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.

The disciples do not immediately identify Jesus as the Messiah since they think this is a traveler who is completely uninformed about the Lord. They begin by calling him a prophet, a word which would resonate with any Jew. There had not been a true prophet in Israel since Malachi, some four hundred years before, and unless someone had heard about John the Baptist, it would be amazing to think that another prophet had arisen in these late days. Yet there was more to their words than this, Moses had promised a prophet “like me” would arise from within Israel (Deuteronomy 18:15), and the disciples knew that Jesus was that prophet, the Christ.

“Powerful,” they went on, “in word and deed.” Actually, the Greek text and some translations have “in deed and word,” which is correct, but which I have found is almost always misunderstood when spoken in English because of the similar term “indeed.” It needs to be modified somehow, such as, “in his deeds and in his words,” or inverted. The deeds of Jesus are what most of the people recognized. His miracles were each amazing, from the least (changing water into wine) to the greatest (raising Lazarus from the dead), and all of them were beyond anyone’s ability to carry out.

In the same way, the words of Jesus are amazing and unlike anything anyone has ever spoken. His wisdom is simple, elegant, and divine. Time after time the Pharisees were silenced by the Lord’s words because they didn’t know how to respond. When Moses had talked about the prophet, he revealed what God had promised. The Lord said, “I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).

“What puts us into a relationship with God is religion.” And the foundation of true religion must be the word of God, not simply man’s experience. We truly know Christ only through the written word of Scripture. The only true religion is Christianity. Why? Because only through Christ are we led to salvation and given salvation. Other religions are commonly but improperly called religions. For example, Cicero says of religion that it is “Worship of the gods… each state has its (own) religion.” However: “The Christian religion is a prescribed way for worshiping the true God in word, by which a man, separated by God through sin, is led over to God through faith in Christ, which is both God and man, so that he may be reunited to God and he may enjoy him for eternity” (Andreas Quenstedt, 1617-1688).

The Emmaus disciples recognized Jesus to be their Savior, but were kept from recognizing Jesus walking along with them and talking with them. Why was this happening? The Savior wants us all to recognize him in the Scriptures first and foremost. His work of preaching personally in the world was nearly at an end, and he used this occasion to teach this truth to the whole Christian church. Search the Scriptures, and put your faith in Jesus. He is risen indeed!

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


Browse Devotion Archive