Luke 24:13 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. 28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” ESV
In this story we find two people traveling back from Jerusalem to Emmaus. One was named Cleopas; the other is never named. In the city, Passover was complete, and their Savior had been crucified on a cross. They were traveling back with profound disappointment. They had anticipated so much, yet now on the third day, they traveled home with a dismal story. They were so sad that Jesus was no longer present, but in the midst of their deep sorrow, the story takes a twist. A traveler (Jesus Himself) walks up and asks, “What are you discussing so intently?” The two men are stunned the traveler does not know what has taken place in Jerusalem. They begin telling Jesus what happened. Now picture the scene in your mind. The risen Savior is asking two travelers what has happened in Jerusalem. Who would know better than the man who stood before them with scars in His hands and feet? Many scholars have debated why Jesus did not immediately reveal his identity. Some feel it was because Jesus had many things He wanted to walk them through in scripture and have an in-depth conversation about their thoughts and opinions, so He concealed His identity. I believe Jesus wanted them to become stronger in their faith. I don’t think He just wanted to appear to them so they would believe but build a deep faith within their hearts so they didn’t have to see Him physically in order to believe. As He walked them through scripture, their minds and hearts were set upon those things that were righteous and holy. Maybe this allowed them to recognize Jesus in the end because their eyes and hearts were turned in the right direction. Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29
One verse in particular sticks out to me in the conversation. “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.” This verse says it all about the men’s downcast appearance; they had lost their hope. They are using past tense verbs when the Son of Man is standing right in front of them as their Living Hope! How many times have we said, “I had hoped He would answer my prayer? I had hoped He would save my marriage? I had hoped He would heal my friend? I had hoped he would help us with our finances?” How many times have we asked these questions in a defeated voice, when Jesus is standing in our circumstance-we just don’t see Him?
But why have they even lost their hope in the first place? In verse 22 it goes on to say, “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.” This is the Gospel Jesus preached the whole time. He would be crucified and raised on the third day! It is currently the third day, and the angels are declaring he is alive-so what is the problem? Why are these men not rejoicing? They had heard the Gospel, but they didn’t necessarily believe it when they could no longer explain it. The same can be found in our own lives today. When we are faced with a very difficult situation we don’t understand, sometimes we begin to question or doubt. It is almost as if when they could no longer physically see Him, they did not believe. Jesus tells them they are foolish and slow of heart to believe. They want to have it all logically figured out before they believe. If they can’t find the reason or the answer to the situation, they want to get off the road, so to speak (lose the faith). But the Bible tells us very clearly, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Let’s go back and revisit the opening passage. It said the road was seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The number seven in the bible stands for completion, perfection. Don’t miss the importance of where they were on the road. They had only begun their journey, so they did not fully understand who Jesus was. Don’t be tempted to get off your seven-mile journey when you aren’t even half way down it. The Lord never asks us to try to figure it out, He asks us to have faith and stay the course! The more and more I walk with Jesus, I believe life is truly about the journey not the destination. You see, if we are sinners, saved by grace, we all have the same destination, but we do not all travel the same road. God has ordained a road, a specific path for us to take in order to reach others for Him. I cannot walk in empathy with someone who has a drug addiction because I have never had that problem. I can, however, walk in empathy with a woman experiencing infertility because I have traveled that road. You see, you never know what you will face on your road or what traveler you can bless.
In verse twenty-seven it says, “ And beginning with Moses, and all the prophets He interpreted the scripture for them.” How awesome would it be to have Jesus interpreting the scriptures! The Lord walked with them, explained scripture, and fellowshipped with them on the road. Their countenance lifted as Jesus moved them deeper into the Word and farther down the road. The same can be true for us. When we dig in His Word and begin to walk deeper with Jesus our countenance will lift. 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
Now the travelers have reached their destination, but Jesus acts as if He is going to continue. The two travelers insist that He come and spend the night. So as they gathered to eat, Jesus picked up the bread and blessed it. As He did this, their eyes were open and they recognized Him. Then He vanishes from their sight. Wow, now that would have been either really cool or very disturbing for someone to just disappear. But notice they had finished their journey, and at the end, Jesus revealed himself to them. We don’t have to wait until the end of our journey for the Lord to reveal things along the way. However, when we have finished our path, I think Jesus will make so many things clear to us, just as he did for the travelers. It wasn’t until they reached the end that they could fully understand the things Jesus said on the road. For many things on this earth, we can understand neither the purpose nor the reason. Sometimes we find ourselves second-guessing ourselves or maybe even God. I believe the point of the Emmaus Road can be summed up in a few sentences.
- Don’t quit. Stay the course and see how it ends.
- Don’t lose HOPE because we serve a risen Savior. Even our Savior had to be crucified before he was glorified!
- When you feel like you are traveling all alone, adjust your vision; God is always there.