Text: “Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:13).
The same day referred to in this Scripture is the day of the Resurrection. The week prior to the Resurrection was filled with excitement because of the Passover celebration. People came to Jerusalem from many miles away to celebrate Passover, also known as The Feast of Unleavened Bread.
This celebration was an annual event and considered most important, both historically and religiously. This celebration was in remembrance of the deliverance of the Jews from captivity in Egypt and the organization of Israel as a nation by the redeeming power of Almighty God.
These two men walking along the road were followers of Jesus who lived in Emmaus. They traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Passover was now over, the Crucifixion had taken place, Jesus died on the Cross was buried, and then the unexpected happened.
On the first day of the week, in the early morning hours, some women who had come with Jesus from Galilee went to the tomb with spices to prepare His body. To their surprise, “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus”
“When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others” (Luke 24:9). This was a difficult concept for people to accept even though Jesus talked about it.
Scripture tells us, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21).
Jesus was announcing the coming of the kingdom of heaven. As you recall, when He began His ministry he said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). Those of us who have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior are very near the kingdom of heaven because it is in our heart.
The kingdom of heaven entered the realm of mankind when God appeared upon the earth in the Person of Jesus. Although we have the kingdom of heaven within us, we won’t fully realize it until Jesus comes to earth again and rids the world of all evil.
I am trying to get you to see that the treatment Jesus received and the death He suffered should not have been a surprise to the people. Isaiah 53 talks about the suffering servant. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3).
This is the Messiah the prophet Isaiah was talking about. Isaiah tells us that the Messiah was despised, afflicted, crushed, pierced, wounded, oppressed, afflicted, and led away like a sheep to be slaughtered (Isaiah 53).
The treatment Jesus received, the pain and agony He suffered and the Crucifixion should not have been a surprise too the people because it was written in the Old Testament. Even knowing all this, people were still surprised and dumfounded because they did not understand or did not believe.
It was the third day after the Crucifixion and Passover was not history. People were preparing to go back to their homes. Our Scripture reading talks about two men who were on their way back to their home in Emmaus. Emmaus is about seven miles from Jerusalem. These people as well as many other people were full of hope but have now lost their hope. They knew about Jesus and many accepted Him as the prophet who was mighty in power and word. He was the One who was going to redeem Israel.
All the events of the week, the arrest, the Crucifixion and the death took all the wind out of their sails. They were disappointed, let down, sad and empty hearted. The loss of Jesus left them without hope. They were on their way home to try to figure out the next move in their life.
They talked as they walked together re-hashing what had taken place. They did not realize that what had transpired was the greatest positive event in human history. They were too engrossed in their own problems and their own disappointments to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
When you think about it that is the way you and I think. When events in life do not unfold the way we would like, we tend to become disappointed and feel sorry for ourselves. I perceive this is what these two men were doing. “They were talking about everything that had happened” (Luke 24:14).
As far as they could see or as far as they could understand, there was nothing good in what had taken place. The celebration of Passover that was so meaningful in the life of the Jewish people ended in the crucifixion of the Prophet from Nazareth.
All of us have times in our life when things or events take place that cause us to be sad. It may be the loss of a loved one because of an accident. It may be an unexpected negative report from the doctor. It could be the loss of employment leading to losing one’s home. What do we do? To whom do we turn? How do we feel? What is our thinking?
We tend to feel sorry for ourselves. We tell other people because we want them to share our misery and our concern. We may try to find relief in a bottle of pills or a bottle of alcoholic beverage. Some people turn to robbing and stealing. Others might turn to more powerful drugs which deaden the senses.
The two men walking along the road were truly sorrowful. They did not have a negative outlook on life, but they did have some doubts. This was a dark hour in their life. They felt lonely and they felt as though they had been deserted.
Their thoughts were thoughts of disappointment. They shared their thoughts with each other. They rehashed all the events of the past week in an effort to find peace and contentment. Was it possible Jesus was not dead? Did someone steal His body from the grave? Was He really resurrected?
They were in very deep thought concerning these questions. In fact they were so deep in thought that they did not recognize the individual who walked along with them. “As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:15, 16).
These men were heading back to Emmaus. They were moving away from the fellowship of believers who were in Jerusalem. If they had stayed for a while longer, their thoughts and feelings could have been shared by many people.
It is a fact that there is strength in numbers. When we share our problems with a group of believers much of the weight is taken off our shoulders. This often brings peace to our heart and takes away some of the hurt because it is shared.
At times, we waste our energy and permit worry to enter our being when our concern is not taken to the Lord in prayer. Jesus appeared in their midst and was walking with them on the road and the two men did not even recognize Him. He knew what was on their mind and what they were concerned about, but still Jesus asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” (Luke 24:17)
The men were actually searching for Jesus through their conversation, and Jesus actually came to them. He does the same thing for each of us. We don’t have to search for Him because He is with those of us who have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior.
The men did not know this person was Jesus. I believe Jesus prevented them from recognizing Him so that He could listen to their conversation as He walked along the road with them. There are times you and I do not recognize Jesus is present with us, so we suffer in silence.
Although He is with us at all times, He doesn’t push Himself on us. In other words, it is up to us to recognize the fact He is in our presence and call upon him.
Jesus is alive and lives in joy and victory and He wants the same for each of His children. He wants us to be happy. He wants us to be full of life. He wants us to have what He has.
Listen to these words:
He is not far away:
Why do we sometimes seem to be alone,
And miss the hands outstretched to meet our own?
He is the same today,
As when of old He dwelt
In human form with His disciples-when
He knew the needs of all His fellow-men,
And all their sorrows felt.
Only our faith is dim,
So that our eyes are holden, and we go
All day, and until dusk, before we know
That we have walked with Him.
------------E.H. Divall, A Believer’s Rest
After Jesus asked the men what they were discussing, they looked at Him with very sad faces. “One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days’” (Luke 24:18). In response the question posed by the men, Jesus asked, “What things?” (Luke 24:19).
How could this stranger not know what had happened the past week? The news of what took place spread like wild-fire. It spread even faster than usual because of the multitudes of people present in Jerusalem for Passover.
Jesus could see the sadness and sorrow in the face of the men just as He sees the sadness and sorrow we encounter.
Jesus had compassion for the men. He wanted to share their grief. When we follow in the steps of Jesus, we will show forth love and compassion for those who are having difficulty or who are hurting for whatever reason.
Jesus’ question concerning the events the men talked about made Him look even more like a total stranger. It sounds as though Jesus was taking the events that happened to Him very lightly. He appeared to make light of His suffering, but in reality, the suffering was bitter and the burden was great.
Jesus wanted the men to tell Him what events took place, who was involved, and what was the outcome. He wanted to hear what the men had to say, so later on, He could explain the meaning of these events and why they had to happen.
They said, “About Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 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. In addition, some of our women amazed us.
They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see” (Luke 24 19-24).
The people knew that Jesus was from Nazareth and they referred to Him as a Prophet. He was considered a Prophet or a teacher from God. He preached a powerful word and this is evident by the multitudes of people that followed Him and listened to His teaching.
The thought among the people of the day was that Jesus was the one who would redeem Israel. Most Jews took Old Testament prophecy to mean the Messiah would be a military type person who would have the authority to redeem Israel.
Many people did not realize that the Messiah was to come and to redeem people, but it would be redeeming them from the slavery of sin. The events of the week led people to believe that their hope had been nailed to the cross and then buried in a tomb. When Jesus died upon the Cross, people believed their hope vanished. If we had been in the company of these people, we probably would have thought the same.
It is human nature to become negative in thinking when events occur that are different or opposite of what we expect or what we desire. There are times in our life when it is difficult to see the good in the bad.
Jesus’ death upon the Cross was a dreadful loss in the eyes of His followers. They could see only loss instead of joy, hope and victory. Jesus’ death and resurrection was their assurance of eternal life in His kingdom. Death was defeated and life was now victorious.
The men told Jesus the women found the tomb empty. That was bad enough, but then the women talked about angels at the tomb who said Jesus was alive. This sounded like just a story, so some men went to the tomb and found it empty.
It was very difficult for the people who followed Jesus to believe that a resurrection had taken place. It is still difficult for many people of this day and age to believe in the resurrection. When will everyone accept the truth of the resurrection? The truth is, not all people will ever accept the fact that the resurrection is true.
The men walking on the road and the disciples as well as many other people of Jesus’ day needed to see Jesus in Person. He showed Himself to people so that they might believe.
Today, people who do not believe will not have the opportunity to see Jesus in person here on earth, but they will be able to see those of us who are His followers. We are living breathing witnesses.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth….You are the light of the world….Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13,14,16). The “you” refers to each one of us. We are the salt and we are the light and our good works will shine forth. The glory is not ours, but the glory belongs to our Father.
After Jesus listened to what the two men had to say, He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:25)
Did Jesus really mean to call these men foolish? Jesus considered them foolish because this was all spelled out in the prophecies. The Jewish people knew the Old Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah.
When Jesus was teaching and preaching He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Three times, Jesus told His disciples about His death (Matthew 16, 17 and 20).
These two men along with many other people did not understand Jesus’ words because there were so tied up in the thoughts of the world. The world was looking for a military or political type leader instead of a leader exhibiting love, compassion, understanding and a willingness to give His life to redeem people from their life of sin and slavery.
Jesus went a step further, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). The two men were looking for answers and Jesus gave them the Scriptures containing answers to their questions.
There are times in our life when we do not understand something, but we know there is an answer. The best source is the same source Jesus used and that source is the Scripture. If we still do not understand after reading the Scripture, we can go to someone who is versed in the Scripture and have them shed some light for us.
As we walk down the road of life, there will be times when our heart is heavy because of some event that has happened. We may not understand why a particular event has taken place, but we can be assured that Jesus is in our presence and He knows what is bothering us and He knows how we feel.
Each of us believes the events that took place 2000 plus years ago. We accept, by faith that Jesus came to redeem us from a life of sin. We understand the resurrection has assured us life eternal in His kingdom. We know without a shadow of doubt that we cannot save ourselves.
We believe that God is a God of love because Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
We know we are never alone because Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).