Turn in your Bible to Luke 24:13-27. If you’ll remember verses 1-12, when the angels encountered the women who had come to the tomb to complete the preparation of Jesus’ body, the angels said to them, “Remember what He said,” and we talked about how Luke was emphasizing the centrality of the words of Christ for His disciples. It's central to their faith. Well, in the passage we're going to study this time, Jesus elaborates on that very point.

It's an extraordinary scene, isn't it? Can you imagine walking along talking with a dear friend about the Lord Jesus Christ one day and Jesus Himself joining in on the conversation? These men, like the women, love the Lord Jesus Christ. These men not only knew much about the events that occurred in the last day, they had thought about them from a spiritual perspective. These men clearly understood much of the teaching of Jesus Christ, and it's very clear that these are real disciples. But, like those women who went to the tomb in love to complete the preparation of Jesus’ body, so also these men, as much as they love Jesus, don't trust Him enough, and they don't believe His Word enough. Even as you read their description of the events to Jesus, whom they don't recognize, you’re thinking, “Come on! Next step! One more link! You’re almost there! It’s the third day, and that means?! And the women don't find His body there, and that means?!” But it doesn't come.

In fact, when Jesus asks them about their conversation, you get the feeling throughout the opening verses of the passage that a deep sadness pervades it to this point. You can almost feel that they’re walking along and suddenly, dead stop, long pause, deep sadness. Luke tells you, “They stood still, looking sad.” And the reason they looked sad is that they were sad. They were almost inconsolably sad. And then they begin to describe all of the things that had happened. But the reason that they are almost inconsolably sad is because they had failed to believe the Word of God. Just as the women on their way to the tomb went in love and faith, but not in enough faith to believe that Jesus wasn't going to be there, so also these disciples believed in Jesus, but they failed to believe what the Word of God said about Him.

That is so clear from the passage. After they describe all the things that have happened in Jerusalem, what is the first thing Jesus says to them? Look at verses 25 and 26. “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” Jesus makes it clear that their failure is two-fold. They have failed to believe the Word of God. Jesus has been telling His disciples what the prophets said about Him. He had been teaching His disciples about His crucifixion and about His resurrection, but it's very clear from all of this that they still haven't gotten it.

Isn't it interesting that in this passage Jesus does not come alongside them and suddenly open their eyes immediately to see that He is Jesus? No, we're told in verse 16 that “their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.” It's Jesus walking with them, but for whatever reason, through whatever means, they did not realize it was Jesus. This is actually crucial to the whole story. It was crucial in God's plan and in Jesus’ design that they not recognize who was talking to them so that He could take them to the Book. Even the reports of the women from the tomb about the angels and the absence of Jesus’ body have not served to flip the light switch on for the disciples. But when Jesus takes them to the Book, then and only then do they get it. Why? Because the source of their sadness was their failing to believe the Word of God. Therefore, the remedy for that was the truth of the Word of God and its testimony to Jesus working deep down into their hearts and bones, for them to see all that had occurred in light of the truth of the Word of God and to believe that Word of God to be true. So Jesus opens up, as it were, with Genesis, and He says, “Let me take you through Genesis all the way to Chronicles”—that's the way the Hebrew Bible was organized—“through your whole Bible, and I'm going to show you Christ, suffering and raised, crucified and exalted.” And it's only at the end of that long Bible study that their eyes are opened.

The whole design of Jesus here is to restore their understanding of and confidence in the Word of God because that is essential to faith and hope and joy. Their lack of joy was because they did not understand the Word of God, and Jesus was determined that their joy would be restored. He explained the Word of God to them again so that their joy may be complete. And, by the way, has anybody ever told you that doctrine is boring? People who say that are killjoys because the doctrine of the Word of God is for your joy. Anybody who's against doctrine is against joy. God gave that truth to you for joy. And that's what Jesus is doing. He's taking them right back to the Word of God, and He's showing them the truth about Himself in the Scriptures so that their attention is given to it and their faith is restored and their confidence is put in what the Word says about the Christ, and their joy is restored.

That's so important for us to remember today. If you are lacking joy in the Christian life today—I don't belittle any circumstance that you may be in; you may be in very hard circumstances—but if you are lacking joy I can assure you of this. That lack of joy is rooted in not believing the Word of God about Christ. And what Jesus wants us to do is to go back to that Word and to attend to that Word and have confidence in that Word and understand what that Word says about Christ and believe and have joy that is complete. And if you’re an unbeliever today, no joy you have apart from this truth will last, and no joy that you have apart from this truth will be real joy. The only real joy there is, the only lasting joy that there is comes from knowing the Christ who is spoken of in this Word.