This is one of the most beloved passages in Scripture, and one of my favorites. One commentator calls it “a literary and spiritual jewel.” On the Road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a distance of about seven miles, Easter Sunday, late afternoon.
Two disciples are returning to their home after what certainly has been a week full of emotion.
And they are not filled with joy. Luke 24:13-14: Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.
Who were these two? As we will soon read, one was named Cleopas. This is the only place in Scripture where a man named Cleopas is mentioned. At the cross, a woman is mentioned as being “the wife of Clopas.” Some scholars think Cleopas and Clopas are the same person, with different spellings. That would make the two persons on the road a man and a woman.
These two were part of a larger community who followed Jesus. I have mentioned this before – it was not always just 12 guys with neat beards and British accents following Jesus around. Quite often, there was a huge crowd, men and women, traveling with him.
These two, Cleopas and his companion, may have been with Jesus from the very beginning. Certainly, they were there for the Triumphal Entry and the events that followed.
Verses 15-16: As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
They were kept from recognizing him. Christ is made known to us only by revelation. We don’t find or discover Christ, he is made known to us by revelation. In the Greek, this is called a “divine passive.” It is a means of saying that a particular action is actually the work of God.
If you are sitting in worship, in a Bible study, having a discussion with a friend, and the light bulb goes on, it’s the same thing. If you are kept in the dark, it’s not because you are clueless; maybe it’s because God doesn’t want you to have that something just yet.
Let’s continue, verses Luke 24:17-24: He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 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. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
In these verses, Cleopas gives almost a complete synopsis of the gospel. But as we will see, he leaves out something very important.
Also, notice that Jesus lets Cleopas do the talking. “What are you discussing together as you walk along?’ And later, “What things?” Jesus does not interrupt, and he waits patiently until Cleopas is finished. Cleopas is correct in his description of Jesus. Indeed, Jesus was a prophet, mighty in word and deed. In Luke chapter 4, Jesus clearly identifies himself with the prophets.
Just another comment – Cleopas’ words might affirm that he may have been with Jesus the entire time.
He was handed over to be crucified. They hoped he would be the one to redeem Israel.
It’s been three days since all this happened, and then the women come back with some amazing story of an empty tomb. The leaders checked it out, but the body was missing!
(SIGH) Guess the party’s over, right? Time to go home! I’ll bet it was a long seven miles!
Luke 24:25-27: [Jesus]said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
This drives me crazy! Why didn’t Luke ask Cleopas and his companion what Jesus said, and include it in his gospel? That way, we wouldn’t have had to look things up!
Notice also it says, “…all the Scriptures.” Remember the NT had yet to be written – the Scripture to which he refers is our OT today. Luke does not refer to the OT as often as Matthew does, but it’s still there.
Remember I said that Cleopas basically gave a summary of the gospel, but he left something out? “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’
What did Cleopas omit? The Cross. And what else? The Resurrection. My friends, we cannot have the Resurrection without the Cross.
Luke 24:28-32: As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
The invitation for Jesus to stay follows the ancient custom of hospitality. Notice also, like he did when he first began to talk with them, he does not force himself. Nor does Christ force himself on us.
Scholars are divided as to whether the meal is a re-enactment of the Last Supper. They see the words, “took…blessed…broke…gave” and tell us it’s a Sacramental meal. Others think the event recalls the feeding of the 5,000. Remember, Cleopas and the other disciple may have been there.
Others believe that, in the simple act of invitation, fellowship, and breaking of bread, Jesus is present and recognized.
Here we see the other so-called “divine passive” we mentioned, like verse 16. Only this time, their eyes were opened. Again, God is the one who reveals Christ to us.
And one of my favorite verses in all Scripture (32): “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Do we open the Scriptures? No, Christ opens the Scriptures. And, even though their hearts were warmed, which is great, they didn’t recognize him! Don’t be satisfied with just warmth in your heart, pray that God will perform a miracle and reveal the living Christ to you.
Luke 24:33-35: They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
They didn’t wait until the next day to return. I guess this tells us that there is no such thing as the Spiritual gift of procrastination. They find the Eleven, and those with them, and witness to them.
Obviously, the entire community has heard about Peter’s denial, and Jesus appearance to him as well.
These two disciples, who started out the day downcast, end the day testifying to what they had seen and heard. They had seen and been with the living Christ.
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” My friends, everything we need to know about Christ is in this book, the Bible. If we are not in scripture, we will most certainly go astray.
Cleopas and his companion started their journey in sadness, their faces downcast.
They expressed their doubts to the unseen Jesus.
They remained faithful, and invited him into their home and hearts.
Christ revealed himself to them, and he will reveal himself to us.
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
Thanks be to God…