Now we walk by faith, but then we will have sight. Now we are given the written Word of God to study, sit under its preaching, meditate on, and pray. We are given the church of believers, the body of Christ, and the testimony of those who went before us. We are given the means of grace through the sacraments and the preached Word, where we receive Christ and all his benefits. But in heaven we will be in the Lord’s blessed presence, beholding his full glory. Our marriage to the Lamb will be consummated, and we will enjoy him for eternity, along with all those who have kept the faith. I love learning about him now, but I so look forward to the learning I will continuously receive on the new heaven and the new earth. Here’s three questions that are on the top of my list:
–Who were the two men on the road to Emmaus?
There is so much to learn from this encounter. Such a briefly recorded event is rich with teachings. Could you imagine walking seven miles with Jesus unaware while he is teaching you the theology of the whole Old Testament scriptures? And then, the stranger who you have prevailed to be your dinner guest becomes the host as he reveals himself to be the Christ! As Jesus gives them the bread that he has blessed and broken, these two men recognize that they are beholding the risen Savior—and then he just vanishes! I’m amused thinking about the faster pace of their return to Jerusalem as they rushed to spread this news.
But who were these guys? We see that one is named Cleopas. Some speculate that he is the Cleophas mentioned in Eusebius’ Classical History (3:11, 32; 4:22). This would make him the father of Simeon, who replaced James’ seat at the Jerusalem church after his death. Cleophas was Jesus’ uncle, and his wife Mary (Jesus’ mother’s sister) was one of the women who discovered the empty tomb. This is the troubling testimony that the two men were telling Jesus on their way to Emmaus. Although these are interesting connections indeed, we just don’t know. And, of course there are those who believe the unnamed man to be Luke. After all, he gives us the most detailed account. Who were these guys? And can you imagine how this encounter changed everything?! Think of the riches they had to share about what Christ taught them concerning himself.
–What was going down during the three years after Paul’s conversion?
In the letter to the Galatians, we learn that Paul was in Arabia for the better part of three years after his conversion, before he went to Jerusalem to meet the other apostles. We notice from the context of this information that Paul was defending his direct call from God as an apostle under the accusation that he was being manipulated by the motives of the others. But this short defense raises so many questions that the Holy Spirit has been pleased to keep unknown to us at this time. This is both humbling and intriguing. There is much we can learn from the unspoken parts of this account. Paul doesn’t immediately march up to the apostles after his conversion and say, “Hey, I’m one of you guys now.” What does he do for this considerable amount of time away? Obviously there had to be much prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. Paul was surely being “schooled” for his ministry.
But I can’t imagine he was just keeping all this to himself for three years. 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 suggests he was getting into a bit of trouble preaching the gospel. In Let’s Study Galatians, Derek Thomas suggests that even in Arabia Paul was learning “to taste the painful cost of discipleship” (23). The waiting alone would be painful for me.
But we don’t get this historical narrative. Paul leaves this part of his testimony out. Imagine how many coliseums he could have filled with this story. Or, what about those 15 days hanging out with Peter for the first time? What were the riches that conversation produced? Think of the books that could be sold… We will have to wait to find out.
–Who wrote Hebrews?
This one’s killing me. I’ve been teaching out of Hebrews since last February. Of course when I began my study, I researched the arguments for who the heck wrote Hebrews. My heart has always leaned towards Paul, and much scholarship tips its hat in that direction. As I read Hebrews, I imagine Paul as the writer. But we don’t know. There are some other suggestions, as well as scholarly arguments against Paul’s authorship. And being that Hebrews is comprised of much of the same theological material that must have been discussed on that journey to Emmaus, maybe it was Luke, or Cleopas, or whomever that mystery man is. It seems like he would have been received as an accredited source. And I would certainly be inspired to write a sermon-letter encouraging the Jews to persevere, convincing them that Christianity had superseded Judaism, after being instructed in detail by the risen Lord himself. But this is all mere imaginative speculation that someone like me does when they are trying to uncover a mystery that the good Lord is not ready to reveal. And so I have to wait.
What questions do you have burning to be revealed when you get to spend eternity glorifying our sovereign Lord, forever learning from his inexhaustible goodness?