Two disciples were traveling to Emmaus from Jerusalem and they spoke of the cross and were sad (Luke 24:13-24). Jesus drew near them and questioned them about their conversation. Yet because they knew him only in his death and not in the power of his resurrection, they could not recognize him as their Savior (Luke 24:16, 21; cp. John 21:1-12).
Paul explains that we have no Savior, if the dead are not raised (1Corinthians 15:13-18). These two knew Christ as a Prophet, who was mighty both before God and man in word and in deed (Luke 24:19). Nevertheless, to them Jesus was no more than a dead hero, whom they had hoped to be their Savior (Luke 24:20-21). The problem these two disciples had was they thought they knew what their Messiah would do, but they were wrong.
They believed the doctrines of men (Luke 24:21a). What man said about Christ hid the Living One from their eyes (Luke 24:22-24; cp. verse-16). Although they had the full Gospel preached to them by the women (Luke 24:22-23) and had verified certain points of their testimony (Luke 24:24), they still could not believe, because Christ crucified and yet alive did not fit into the framework of the Messianic prophesies they were taught (Luke24:21a; cp. Matthew 16:21-22; John 12:34).
Half-truths and unbelief go hand in hand. They are like two logs on a fire (cp. Ecclesiastes 4:11). Each one keeps the other burning. Remove one from the other, and both lack the power to continue on. Jesus told his disciples to beware of the leaven or doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:6, 12). He said this just before taking the apostles secretly to Caesarea Philippi, whereupon the evidence of the voice of God within Peter was first manifest (cp. Matthew 16:13, 15-17). This is where Peter confessed Jesus as Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Nevertheless, immediately before this and in contrast to the acknowledgment of Jesus as our Christ, our Lord warned the disciples of the doctrine of men (the Pharisees and Sadducees; cp. Matthew 16:12). False doctrine is like a leavening agent in a lump of pure dough (1Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9). I must not only be careful what I hear (Mark 4:24-25), but I must be also beware of how I hear (Luke 8:18). False doctrines have the cares of this world in view and will choke out the word of God (Matthew 13:22). Whether the leaven refers to the policies of the state or the teachings of the most strictly righteous denomination of our religious community (Mark 8:15; cp. Matthew 16:12), they compete with my realization of Christ as my Living Savior, and to him alone I must look and give my allegiance.
These two men on the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus had the utmost respect for their dead hero. Nevertheless, what they believed about him was full of half-truths that ultimately led them to deny their Savior. They loved him. They spoke well of him. They mourned him. Yet, in life they inadvertently denied him as their Savior. Their denial stemmed from their belief in false doctrine about their Messiah (cp. Matthew 16:6, 12, 21-22). They learned these half-truths from false teachers and enemies of Christ (cp. Matthew 17:10). The scribes and Pharisees constantly competed with Christ and put down his word (cp. Matthew 12:22-24, 38). Matthew 17:10 and Mark 9:11 reveal that the disciples were not only taught by Jesus, but they listened to and believed the teachings of the scribes as well. We know that Jesus is God, but the disciples did not know this until after the resurrection. They saw Jesus as a man, in whom they trusted to be the Messiah (Luke 24:21). The scribes would have been only too willing to tell them about the coming and the work of the Messiah, as they believed the Scriptures to reveal him (cp. Matthew 23:15; John 5:39). The disciples saw these enemies of Christ as teachers of the word of God, just as Jesus was believed to be. They were warned to beware of them (Matthew 16:6, 12) and to be careful to what extent they held the teachings of the Pharisees as true (Mark 4:24; Luke 8:18). Nevertheless, they failed (and so do we), and the doctrines of men (Matthew 16:6, 12) obscured the truth of Jesus as the Messiah (cp. Matthew 16:16, 21-22; Mark 16:11-14; Luke 24:11, 19-25).
May the Lord, our God, have mercy upon all of us and help us to incline our ear to the teaching of the Holy Spirit within and not hold the traditions of men in such high esteem.