This is one of the most beautiful and powerful stories in the Bible, and we should be so grateful to Luke for taking the time to investigate and record it. It tells the story of two disciples who are walking along talking about the execution of the man they thought was the Messiah, and trying to assimilate the new rumors that the body of Jesus has gone missing. We are not sure why they didn’t recognize Jesus when he began walking with them, but it seems that God contributed to preventing them from recognizing Jesus (v.16). After asking them what they were discussing, the incognito Jesus listens patiently while they describe their despair and confusion. After gently rebuking them for their lack of understanding of the Scriptures, Jesus then goes on to give them an in-depth Scripture study on how the entire Bible is about him, his death and resurrection! Finally, after the two disciples sit down to a meal with this stranger, their eyes are open and they realize it is the living Jesus. I love what commentator James Edwards says about this story: “On the ironic journey to Emmaus, living disciples talk about a dead Jesus, while a living Jesus speaks with lifeless disciples."
This story invites us also to encounter the living Jesus on our own journeys. Jesus promises us that even after he is ascended, “You will see me” (John 14:20). But we often miss the risen Jesus in our every day lives. This story shows us the many reasons we may miss him, but also invites us to ways that we have our eyes open to him more and more.
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13 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. 15 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.
17 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.”
25 He 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?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 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?”
33 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.