Emmaus (from Ruth’s “Times Like This” CD)
“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing Him.” Luke 24:15-16
Two followers of Jesus were discouraged and downcast because all their dreams, beliefs and plans seemed to have been dashed when Jesus went to the cross. They had followed Jesus, trusted in Jesus, but now all they had was a tomb. Luke tells us as the two men walked along the road to Emmaus from Jerusalem they hashed over what they had experienced and were probably trying to make sense of it all when they joined by a third traveller.
Unbeknown to them this third traveller was none other than the risen Christ. “But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. And He said to them, ‘What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?’ ” Luke 24:17
The two men were stopped in their tracks by such a question. One of the two men named Cleopas answered with his own question, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Luke 24:18
Jesus asks, “What things?” And they answered, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and now our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened.” Luke 24:19-21
So far the story makes sense. The two men had hoped that Jesus would be the promised Messiah and He had died and been buried and their hopes were crushed. Fair enough. But, now their testimony to Jesus takes on a strange prelude. “Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find the body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive. 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.” Luke 24:22-24
These two men, Cleopas and his unnamed companion, had been followers of Jesus and trusted in Him to such an extent that they were part of the group huddled together with the other believers after the crucifixion. They were there in the house when Mary returned with the news that the body was gone from the tomb telling everyone that an angel had told her that Jesus was alive. So the question is, why are they going home to Emmaus filled with sadness (v. 17) and disillusionment when they had just experienced the empty tomb?
No wonder the next words out of Jesus mouth were, “O foolish men, 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?” The two men on the Emmaus road aren’t the only people who get discouraged when things don’t work out as planned in their Christian walk.
Even in spite of the evidence that Jesus was raised from the tomb and lived again their initial disappointment overshadowed the good news. Isn’t that how it is for us at times? Something happens that discourages us and disappoints, and even when things get turned around we are so focused on the initial disappointment that we can’t rejoice in the present good news.
We simply can’t see the forest for the trees. These two men didn’t have the faith to believe, according to Jesus, and that was because they had not understood the Scriptures. Having read the prophets they hadn’t grasped what the Scripture was saying about Jesus, His death and resurrection.
I love the next verse in Luke 24, “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (v. 27) Jesus gave these two men a Bible study on what the Scriptures said about the necessity of the Messiah dying for His people and being resurrected on the third day.
The Bible is full of these wonderful encounters when people are going about their daily business and suddenly they are surprised by the joy of the gospel. The Philippian jailer had no idea when he went to work that evening that within a few short hours he would encounter the wonders of God, hear the gospel and find salvation.
The Ethiopian eunuch was riding along in his chariot reading what we know as the Old Testament when suddenly Phillip was next to him and interpreting the Scripture for him. The next thing he knows he is asking Phillip to baptize him. The disciples are mending their nets when Jesus calls them to “become fishers of men,” and they leave their work-a-day life and follow Him to the cross.
The two men on the Emmaus road have no idea that they are walking with the risen Saviour but as He teaches they know, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures.” Luke 24:32
You and I face hardships every day and we often think that we face them alone and without God, because for many of us, God is dead and buried. We have left Him in the grave years ago or have forgotten about Him in the busyness of our lives. But God never leaves us, abandons us or forgets about us. One day when we least expect it He walks beside us to remind us that He is the risen God who died and rose again that we might have salvation and eternal life.
We sing that great song that reminds us, Open our eyes – Lord we want to see Jesus – to reach out and touch Him – and to say that we love Him In order to love Jesus, and to reach out and touch Him we need our eyes opened. Next post we will look at what happens to these two men when the veil is pushed back and they see Jesus. A hint: life changes in a big way.
* Almost ever day there is a new story in the news about Christians who are being persecuted for their faith even unto death. Please pray daily for strength and courage for these people who are experiencing this in their lives. Go to http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ for more on the persecuted church