by Doy Moyer
Everything in the Gospel of Luke hinges on these verses:
“He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:25-27).
Hays points out that when readers come to this passage, they are forced to go back to the beginning and read again with this in mind.1 The ones on the road to Emmaus referred to Jesus as a “prophet powerful in action and speech” (Luke 24:19), but Jesus was much more than that. They “were hoping that he was the one who was about to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21), and he would, just not in the way they might have expected.
“Redeem” also takes us back to the beginning of Luke where Zechariah prophesied,
“Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited
and provided redemption for his people” (Luke 1:68).
Jesus is the horn of salvation, raised up from the house of David to provide salvation from God’s enemies. All of this was prophesied beforehand, and Luke shows through his message that God is the One who faithfully fulfilled these promises in Christ.
But there was a problem. Jesus died on a cross, and this deflated the followers of Jesus who now had their hopes dashed. How can Jesus redeem Israel if He was crucified? Perhaps Jesus was not the Messiah after all.
Then they got the report from the women who told the disciples that “they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive” (Luke 24:23). They were confused and wondering what was going on. This is when Jesus said, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:24). Aren’t we all a bit slow sometimes to “get it”?
The redemption would come not through military might, but through the death and resurrection of the Son of God. “Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26). Yes, it was.
God be praised that even now we can be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb! He suffered and entered into glory for us so that we may follow in these very steps.
- Richard B. Hays, Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness, 2014.