That same day, two other disciples (not of the eleven) are traveling the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. As they walk along, they talk back and forth about all that has transpired during recent days. While they’re talking, discussing, and conversing, Jesus catches up to them and begins walking with them, but for some reason they don’t recognize Him. Luke 24 13-15
In Luke’s account of the gospel a group of women including Mary Madelene, Joanna and Mary mother of James have arrived at Jesus tomb. The stone is rolled away, the tomb is empty. They encounter angels who ask
“Why are you seeking the living One among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!” Instructed by the angels to go back and report to the disciples what they have learned they are met with a less than enthusiastic response.
The Lord’s emissaries(apostles) heard their stories as fiction, a lie; they didn’t believe a word of it. Luke 24:10. Peter runs to the tomb, discovers it is in fact empty and walks away not sure what to think. Here the story shifts to the two men walking on the road to Emmaus.
As they are walking they are discussing the events of the preceding days. Jesus comes alongside and asks what they are talking about. John lets us in on the fact that they do not recognize him.
I have read this story many times and have wondered what the purpose of this story is appearing as it does right after the account of the empty tomb. Jesus has appeared to Mary and to the disciples minus Thomas and then chooses to make his next appearance to two men walking away from Jerusalem. We get a sense of the confusion and uncertainty Cleopas and his friend are feeling as Jesus asks what they are discussing.
“He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. Luke 24:20-23
We saw His power and His glory a prophet powerful in word and deed
They sentenced him to death and crucified him
What we hoped for did not happen
Now His body is gone
Jesus response is neither gentle or comforting. “Come on, men! Why are you being so foolish? Why are your hearts so sluggish when it comes to believing what the prophets have been saying all along? Didn’t it have to be this way? Didn’t the Anointed One have to experience these sufferings in order to come into His glory? Luke 24:25
It is here I believe that we find the explanation for this story.
Just as the two men on the road to Emmaus failed to understand the significance of the crucifixion and death of Jesus, we also fail to understand the reality of spiritual matters. The good news is just as Jesus searched out two men on a dusty road called Emmaus and helped them to understand what they had missed, He will help us in our spiritual blindness.
He helps us with our unbelief and spiritual dullness. Sometimes we lose sight of and do not understand spiritual realities because of the uncertainty and monotony of life. We experience disappointment, hardship. Things do not work out like we planned and it wears us down, we lose our spiritual edge.
He helps us with our intellectual pride and unwillingness to follow. Unbelief is a greater sin than pride. But many times our unbelief is driven by pride. Pride produces a reluctance or outright refusal to admit we don’t know or that we could be wrong. We become unwilling to have faith in what we cannot see.
He helps us with our unwillingness to read and value His word the Bible. God in his generosity and wisdom has given us His book that contains all we need to know for living life as He intended it to be. We make excuses for our neglect of it, we don’t have the time, its hard to understand, but spend hours and days pursuing things that have no lasting value.
He is always with us even when we do not recognize his presence. The two men on the road to Emmaus could have made the choice to ignore Jesus, not knowing who he was. Instead they told Him what was on their hearts. They humbled themselves and listened when He admonished them for their unbelief. They listened as He reminded them of things they already knew. And because they were willing to invite Him a stranger into their home, He made himself known to them. Later they would say
“Weren’t our hearts on fire within us while He was talking to us on the road? Didn’t you feel it all coming clear as He explained the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures?
Humble, teachable, obedient, willing.
These are the things Jesus requires from all who would follow Him. He will do the rest.
Lord we accept as our brothers on the road to Emmaus did, your chastisement and admonishment to believe. Help us to be willing to follow you even when we don’t understand, to be obedient in all that you ask, to trust you to guide us on our road in life!
photo credit roadtoemmaus.com