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Who Do You Say I Am?

Reflections on Jesus' titles throughout the Scriptures


by Dr. Ken Gore, DBU Faculty

Today's Reading

Luke 24:19

“What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people." Luke 24:19

Six miles—that’s all the length it was back home. The two men took their time on a road that they knew all too well. During that trek from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they pondered and discussed all they witnessed in the past week. Now that their source of hope was gone, what would they do? All they knew to do was walk home, slowly, and talk about what they remembered.

They were in such deep thought, that they didn’t even notice the person who walked alongside them.  He interrupted their conversation: “Can you tell me what you’re discussing?”. They could not believe that their fellow sojourner was oblivious to the events in Jerusalem over the past week. Cleopas, the talkative one, told him about Jesus of Nazareth, and that he was a “prophet powerful in both word and deed.”

Cleopas further shared that this Jesus was to save Israel, but he was sentenced to death. After three days in the tomb, they learned that they couldn’t find the body.  Jesus the prophet had vanished.

After listening to them, the stranger began to speak. As he did, Cleopas and his traveling companion realized that he said things in a most peculiar, prophetic, way.

Old Testament prophets were spokespersons for God. Their role was twofold: they spoke to the people on behalf of God (an intermediary), and they spoke to God on behalf of the people (an intercessor). Although Moses was the first and greatest prophet in the Old Testament, he declared that one day a prophet like him would come and tell them everything that God had said to him (Deut. 18:18).

As this stranger spoke, he declared to them their unbelief. He stated that the Messiah had to go through all these things. Beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he explained in the Scriptures all these ideas about the Messiah.

Perhaps one passage he explained to them was the same one he shared with a synagogue in Nazareth. On that occasion, he read Isaiah 61, then he declared that the passage was being fulfilled in their hearing (Luke 4: 14-21). Although that audience nearly killed him, these fellows were much more receptive.  

Their fellow traveler also showed great intellect and knowledge, as if he already knew what was in their heart. Simon the Pharisee had earlier learned this when visiting with him. Simon wondered how he could be a prophet when this woman who was touching him was a “sinner.” Surprisingly, he did know what Simon was thinking, and he used the opportunity to share the love of God both with him and the woman (Luke 7:36-50).

Cleopas and his friend were thrilled about all that the stranger had said. When they arrived at Emmaus, they begged him to stay the night. As they served the food for the meal, their guest took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it. When they saw this, their eyes opened: they’ve seen him before (cf. Luke 9:16)!  As they recognized him, he left their sight.

Those six miles back to Jerusalem were no longer a drudgery! They returned swiftly back to the eleven disciples, to inform them what they had seen and understood.

The stranger’s declaration of their ignorance, interpretation of the Scriptures, understanding of their heart, and an allusion to an earlier miracle were enough for them to conclude that, yes, he truly was a prophet among them. This one, Jesus, would indeed declare the good news because he was the good news that they sought. He truly was the greatest prophet of them all.

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