By Sam E. Stone
This quarter’s theme, “Undying Hope,” focuses this month on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many evidences confirm what took place. The account of the walk to Emmaus is noted briefly by Mark (16:12, 13), but is reported at some length by Luke. It took place on the afternoon of Resurrection Sunday. We know nothing more about Cleopas and his companion other than what is stated here. Some suggest this could be Clopas (John 19:25), and that the person with him could be his wife. J. W. McGarvey notes that others suggest the unnamed disciple was Luke himself and that, like the other Gospel writers, he mentions himself impersonally.
Luke 24:13, 14
Emmaus was a small village located about seven miles west of Jerusalem. The expression that same day takes the reader back to Luke 24:1 when on that Sunday morning a group of women returned to the tomb, but found Jesus gone. The two walking to Emmaus are obviously among the followers of Jesus (v. 9). They were engrossed in conversation when a man walked up to join them.
Jesus asked simply, “What are you discussing?” Their response was to stop in their tracks, their faces downcast. They couldn’t imagine that someone in this region hadn’t heard what had been happening in Jerusalem. Luke explains that they were kept from recognizing him. J. W. McGarvey comments, “Jesus himself designedly restrained their vision, that, unlike John (John 20:8, 9), they might see the resurrection of Jesus in the Scriptures before they saw it in reality.”
They responded by summarizing what had happened in Jerusalem over the past few days. “Jesus of Nazareth . . . was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers . . . crucified him.” Cleopas then explained their complete despair: “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 the verses omitted from our printed text (Luke 24:22-24), Luke
records what Cleopas and his friend had heard earlier in Jerusalem. Some of the disciples were saying that Jesus was now alive again! Several women reportedly found his tomb empty. “Some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see” (v. 24, NIV, 1984).
Jesus chided them for their hesitation in believing this. “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” A. T. Robertson observes, “The very things about the death of Jesus that disturbed them so were the strongest proof that he was the Messiah of the Old Testament.” “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (v. 27). Imagine having the Son of God teach you a “crash course” in Old Testament prophecy!
The two encouraged Jesus to come in for supper and stay overnight with them when they reached their home. They wanted to hear more from this incomparable Bible teacher. All of the Old Testament predictions about the Messiah were making sense now.
Jesus accepted their invitation. As they sat down at the table for the evening meal, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. As he did this, their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. Jesus vanished just as quickly as he had appeared on the road. R. C. Foster asks, “When he had blessed and broken the bread, did not the nail-scars on his hands now suddenly become plain to them as he reached forth his hands in offering the bread to them?”
The two asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked . . . and opened the Scriptures to us?” Even though it was night, they hurried back the seven miles to Jerusalem, from which they had just come! They found the disciples still meeting together. (This is the same gathering mentioned in John 20:19-23.) All of those who had seen the resurrected Christ were confirming their wonderful news to the ones who had not seen him yet. “It is true! The Lord has risen.” Peter told them of his encounter with Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:5). Then the Emmaus travelers told their story. They came to the same conclusion: “He is risen indeed!” This remains our hope, even today. The Lord lives!
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.