On the same day that our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, He appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. This unique and fascinating post-resurrection experience is recorded in Luke 24: 13-32. Luke’s detailed account provides the reader with an inside glimpse at the understanding of the disciples when Jesus died.
o Conversation “concerning Jesus of Nazareth”
With heavy hearts, Cleopas and his companion walked together on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a seven-mile journey. Perhaps, they were making their way home after the Passover.
In excited, hushed tones, the travellers discussed the dramatic events of the past few days “concerning Jesus of Nazareth” (v. 19). “Their Master had been crucified contrary to their expectation, their hopes dashed, their anticipation disappointed, and they were now returning in sadness, and very naturally conversed, in the way, of the things which had happened in Jerusalem” (Albert Barnes).
“Could Jesus truly be the Messiah promised by God? If so, how could He have died?” For three years, they had been faithful followers of their Leader called Jesus – “a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (v. 19). They had watched in wonder as their Master performed miracles – the blind saw, the lame walked, the deaf heard, the dead were raised to life. They had seen how He fed five thousand with a boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fishes. They had heard all His discourses which had so blessed their hearts.
Together with Jesus’ other disciples, the two travellers had pinned all their hopes on their beloved Leader to liberate them from the yoke of Rome. But a sudden turn of events had dashed them all. Three days ago, the Leader they had loved, revered and followed had been brutally put to death – by crucifixion. Now He lay dead in a sealed tomb!
To add to their confusion, they had heard startling news that morning: “Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive” (vv. 22-23). “Could it be that Jesus had risen from the dead as He said He would, and as proclaimed today? If the reports were true, where was Jesus?” And so the two sad friends debated as they walked. Apparently, the news of the empty tomb did nothing to alter their minds nor cheer their hearts.
o Lessons from the risen Christ
As they continued their discourse, “a Stranger” (v. 18) drew near and joined them. Luke tells us that they were supernaturally kept from recognising the “Stranger” Who was none other than the risen Lord: “But their eyes were holden that they should not know him” (v. 16).
When Jesus enquired after their grief (v. 17), they shared with Him the tragic story of their lost cause: “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done” (v. 21). Their words reflected their shattered dreams – “all our hopes for deliverance perished with our Leader’s death.” “To day is the third day” implies that they had taken the women’s reports and the angel’s proclamation lightly for they still had not seen Him, and therefore had “reason to fear that He was not risen, for if He be, surely He would have shown Himself to them; so that, upon the whole matter, we have no great reason to think that He was risen. Our hopes were all nailed to His cross, and buried in His grave!” – Matthew Henry.
The two friends still had their doubts. For their unbelief, they earned a rebuke from the Lord: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (vv. 25-26). Jesus called them fools not because they were wicked men but because of their weak, unstable faith.
Cleopas and his companion must have read the prophets of old. But the portions that spoke of a suffering Servant did not fit in with their expectations and they might have conveniently overlooked them.
Luke tells us that the risen Christ – still incognito – gave the two doubting disciples the greatest Old Testament exposition in history: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (v. 27). It must have been the most intensive Bible college course ever conducted. The Lord expounded to them the Scriptures which spoke of the Saviour and showed them how they were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. He probably quoted from Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 – prophecies concerning Himself.
What a great blessing and joy to be taught by the Risen Saviour Himself! When the two disciples finally realised that it was the Lord Who had ministered to them, “they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?” (v. 32). When Jesus made the Word plain and clear to them, it set their hearts aglow, and kindled a holy flame of devout affection in them.
We are told that “… they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem” with the happy news that “the Lord is risen indeed …” (vv. 33-34). Now that they had seen the Lord, they could not rest till they had brought the good tidings to the disciples to comfort and encourage them in their faith.
The lives of Cleopas and his friend were transformed when they met with the risen Christ on the Emmaus Road. What about us? What is our response as we ponder the resurrection of our Lord? What do we do with the glorious news that our Lord is risen indeed? When was the last time we shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with someone?
We serve a risen Saviour. Let us reflect this truth in the way we live for the Lord. May we love and serve our risen Lord faithfully till He returns for us. Amen.