Explaining the Gospel – Where Did Jesus Begin?

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WWJD – What would Jesus do?

Generally, we hear this question in relationship to some moral choice or other decision we face in life. But, “What would Jesus do?” in explaining the good news of His life, death, burial, and resurrection?

From the first article in this series, we learned that Jesus taught the importance of sowing the seed of “God’s Word” in a way that:

  • The hearer clearly understands it. Matthew 13:23
  • The hearer sincerely embraces it. Mark 4:20
  • The hearer will firmly hold on to it, so as to keep it. Luke 8:15
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If we want to learn how to accomplish these three objectives, we should look at the first post-resurrection gospel message that Jesus presented. It is found in Luke 24:13-27.

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 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. 18 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?” 19 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, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 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. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 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. 24 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.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Jesus started with Moses

For these Jewish travelers to clearly understand and sincerely embrace the message of His suffering and entrance into glory, Jesus took them back into the writings of Moses and the Prophets, what we call the Old Testament. He did not begin by telling them about His sinless life, the Jewish and Roman trials that sentenced Him to death by crucifixion, or even about His bodily resurrection from the dead. They had heard about those happenings, but could not make sense of them until Jesus connected them to the Old Testament storyline. The Old Testament redemptive storyline AND the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are inseparable!

Let’s suppose this seven-miles walk and talk lasted for a couple of hours. Out of all the events and prophecies in the Old Testament, what might Jesus have focused on to clearly connect the events of His life and death to the teachings of the Old Testament? Maybe some of these:

  • The promise of a Satan Conqueror who would crush the head of the Satan-serpent.
  • The sacrificial offerings in the Old Testament system of forgiveness.
  • The so-called “scape goat” that took away the sins of the people of Israel.
  • The bronze serpent that Moses “lifted up” in the wilderness.
  • One or more of the messianic psalms, such as Psalm 22.
  • Some of the prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel, Micah, Zechariah, or other of the Old Testament prophets.
  • The story of Jonah’s miraculous “resurrection” from the belly of the great fish.

No doubt, these Emmaus road pilgrims knew these Old Testament events and prophecies and many more. They were Jews! The writings of Moses and the Prophets had been taught them from earliest childhood.

"Knowing the Bible” does not necessarily equate with “understanding the gospel.”
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“I knew all those stories were in the Bible..."

We have discovered that many people who have grown up going to Sunday school, AWANA, and a Bible-believing church are amazed when they are introduced to The Story of Hope, our chronological Bible study workbook. “I knew all those stories were in the Bible, but NEVER realized they all fit together to make one BIG Story!”--we hear this often. So, a Bible study that connects the gospel of Jesus Christ to key redemptive events in the Old Testament is a good thing, even for Christians.

But what about unbelievers, especially those who have never been exposed to the teachings of the Bible and know very little, if anything at all, about the gospel of Jesus Christ? These kinds of people are becoming more and more common in North America. How shall they sincerely embrace what Jesus did for us and them on the cross without understanding the redemptive storyline that leads to the true and final “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”?

So, if Jesus was alive in our generation what would Jesus do to be sure His listeners clearly understand about God’s provision for their deliverance from sin? It’s probably safe to conclude that He would unfold God’s redemptive story, beginning in Genesis and culminating in a clear explanation as to how His sinless life, wrongful death, and glorious resurrection was the payment for our sin debt and the basis of our hope of eternal life with Him.

The Story of Hope was designed to follow this “what would Jesus do” pattern of evangelism. This evangelistic (or discipleship) resource summarizes God’s redemptive story using 40 key events—20 from the Old Testament and 20 from the New Testament—probably some of the same events that Jesus referred to and explained on the road to Emmaus.

Previous articles in this series:

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The Story of Hope is an evangelistic Bible study workbook designed to help people who are open to dialogue at the investigative questions and core beliefs levels. And the FREE downloadable Leader’s Guide for The Story of Hopewill guide you in the process of knowing how to evangelize unbelievers based upon a chronological Bible study of God’s overall redemptive story.

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