Scripture: That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how 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 these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, 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.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, 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?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. Luke 24:13-35 ESV
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Observation: Recapping Friday’s Daily Focus, Jesus, having breathed his last, commended his spirit to his Father. An onlooking centurion is startled by all that transpires and spontaneously declares Jesus’ innocence. While Matthew and Mark also record this incident, both chronicle the centurion only proclaiming Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 27:54 and Mark 15:39). Luke instead records the centurion praising God and contending Jesus’ innocence. And only Luke tells us the crowds dispersed, beating their breasts—a sign of grief.
Today’s devotion skips Jesus’ burial and resurrection (covered in our study of Matthew and Mark). It picks up with a unique story of the resurrected Jesus coming alongside two men traveling home from Jerusalem to Emmaus (a seven-mile walk). As typical of the writing style of this age, Luke only mentions the lead character by name (Cleopas) and tells us that the encounter occurred on the same day of Christ’s resurrection. He adds the two men were processing all that transpired over the past three days.
As the story develops, Jesus draws near them and supernaturally clouds their perception of his identity. He then engages them in conversation, eliciting them to tell their version of all that occurred with his trial, sentencing, and crucifixion. Expressing their dashed hope that he would be “the one to redeem Israel” (v.21), they add that some women reported an encounter with angels who confirmed his resurrection and that some of his disciples verified the tomb was empty. At this point, Jesus admonishes them for their immature faith, summarizes the mission of “the Christ,” and further instructs them on the messianic prophecies regarding him.
The last scene takes place as they enter the village of Emmaus. Jesus continues to veil his identity and purpose by acting like he would continue his journey. Stirred by his teachings, the two urge him to stay with them. Jesus agrees, enters their home, sits at their table, blesses and breaks bread, and offers it to them. Instantly, they recognize him, but he immediately vanishes. Amazed, the two consider all that transpired and quickly return to Jerusalem, reporting the details to Jesus’ disciples, who also confirm that Peter saw Jesus.
Takeaway: Similar to the testimony to Jesus’ innocence (as mentioned in Friday’s Daily Focus), Luke again provides details to assure his readers that two witnesses confirm Jesus’ resurrection (complying with Levitical law, Deuteronomy 19:15). As the narrative continues, we learn that Peter also saw the risen Lord and the remaining nine disciples will see and interact with Jesus as he gives final instructions and ascends to heaven (to be covered in the following two Daily Focus devotions). But we must not lose sight that women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, and the other women who traveled with them) were the first eyewitnesses of the risen Lord. Sadly, in these ancient times of male dominance, men did not respect a woman’s testimony. But Jesus did! And so he first revealed himself to women.
Luke also highlights the importance of Scripture’s testimony. All the messianic prophecies point to Jesus. And as Cleopas and his friend listen to Christ expound on how he has fulfilled all of them, their hearts burn with joy, and they hunger for more. Thus, they plead for this rabbi to come and sup with them. And as Jesus promises in his revelation to John, he will enter into fellowship with any who open the door of their hearts when he knocks (Revelation 3:20).
Also worth noting, Cleopas and his friend did not recognize Jesus until he broke bread with them. It would be reasonable to assume these two men were part of the larger circle of disciples mentioned as the seventy-two. So they would have likely broken bread with Jesus before, perhaps at Passover during Jesus’ first two years of ministry. Regardless, Jesus used visual aids (whether in mental pictures associated with parables or tangibly with Roman coins, children, a fig tree, or the feeding of the masses) to reveal the heart of his Father and him. And here, he enacts divine hospitality that hints at the heavenly banquet that awaits his spiritual brothers and sisters.
Lastly, Cleopas and his friend do not merely bask in their experience with Christ. Instead, they feel a sense of urgency to go and tell the others. So they revise plans and immediately begin the seven-mile walk back to Jerusalem, a late-day journey uphill on a meandering road that would have taken at least three hours on top of an earlier three-hour walk. But no matter, this Good News can’t wait.
Our takeaway? You may have already connected the dots. We possess this treasured Gospel that liberates and unites women and men, Jews and Gentiles, and our socio-economic stratum (Galatians 3:28). And as we keep reading the breadth of Scripture, it reveals a greater understanding of Christ and enlarges our hearts to nurture our relationship with him and learn to love him, ourselves, and others (Mark 12:29-31). And Jesus will also reveal himself through mental images and tangible signs as we grow in our knowledge and love of him. Our response? This Good News is too good to keep to ourselves, for there is no better time than now to tell others (as the Holy Spirit brings them across our paths). And his Holy Spirit will give us the strength to go the extra mile.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who went the extra mile for us in laying down his divine prerogative and human life so that we might enter into an eternal relationship with you and him. And we thank you for the women and men who have testified through the centuries to ensure that we may possess this treasured Gospel that reveals, heals, and fills us with joy. So would you please help us cooperate with your Holy Spirit to go the extra mile for others who still need to hear your Good News? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling