Summary: Why did Luke only chose to record two post Resurrection appearances of Jesus - and why was the Emmaus Road experience one of them
The road to Emmaus
Story: The legendary Malcolm Muggeridge was a British journalist, author , satirist and media personality
He was also a Marxist before he found Christ.
During the Cold War he travelled to Russia to write a story about the Communist party and the decline of religion in that atheistic regime.
After conducting a series of interviews with officials in the Kremlin, he attended a Russian Orthodox Easter service.
The church was packed.
At the close of the service the priest said, “Christ is risen”, and the people shouted back, “He is risen indeed!”
Muggeridge looked into their faces and instantly realized that they were right and that Stalin was wrong.
He said it was the reality of their joy that tipped the scales of his soul toward Christ.
The reality of Christian joy is compelling!
Story: According to an ancient Russian Orthodox tradition, the day before Easter was devoted to telling jokes.
Priests would join the people in telling their best jokes to one another. (presumably “clean” jokes!!)
The reason was to reflect the joke God pulled on the devil in the Resurrection.
Satan thought he won on Friday, but God had the last laugh on Easter Sunday.
Our sketch this morning (in place of the reading) was the well known and well loved story of the appearance of the risen Jesus to two disciples on the road to Emmaus
We know one of them was Cleopas – but who was the other
There are two suggestions
1. The other was Luke himself – how else would St Luke know the story in such detail – but speaking against that theory is the belief that Luke was a Gentile – in fact the only Gentile to write a book in the New Testament – and the two disciples were clealy Jews.
2. The other suggestion is that the other disciple as Cleopas’ wife. She is unnamed because of the position of women in first century Palestine. Women could not give evidence in a Jewish Court of Law.
An interesting conundrum – but actually not that important to the story .
As I have mentioned over the last two weeks , the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to our faith.
St Paul puts it like this:
“..if Christ has not been raised from the dead, your faith is futile” (I Cor. 15: 17)
Yet, have you ever been surprised how little space all four Gospel writers give the post Resurrection appearances of Jesus?.
St Matthew devotes one Chapter out of 28
St Mark devotes one Chapter out of 16
St. Luke devotes only one chapter out of 24 &
St. John devotes two Chapters out of 21.
St. Luke only records two post Resurrection appearances.
i) one of these was Jesus’ appearance to the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35) and
ii) the other (Lk 36-49) follows on.
Cleopas and his friend go directly back the seven miles from Emmaus to Jeruslaem and tell the other disciples what has happened.
As they are discussing what Cleopas and his friend had to say Jesus appeared in the room where they were meeting.
Now we know from St. Paul, that at least 514 men – not to count the women such as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (as St. Matthew calls her) - saw the risen Lord (see 1 Cor. 15:3-8).
So the question I asked myself is this
" Why did Luke pick these two Resurrection appearances of Lk 24 as the only evidence of the Resurrection in his book
What was so special about these two appearances?
To answer that question, I will have to pose another and that is:
What was St. Luke’s aims when he wrote his Gospel?
As you all know, St. Luke was a consummate historian.
He wrote his two volume treatise (Luke-Acts) on the Christian faith with - I would suggest to you – at least two aims in mind.
1. His first aim is to give a reliable explanation of the origins of Christianity.
That is to say Luke sets out to tell the story of Jesus and its continuation in the life of the church.
2. His second aim, I believe is to show the relationship of Christianity to Judaism.
In other words, St. Luke sets out to show how Jesus was the fulfilment of the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures.
And interestingly, both these post Resurrection stories in Luke fulfill these criteria.
1. Firstly we see a reliable explanation of the origins of Christianity
We read of the truth of the Resurrection and as Charlie Moule the famous New Testament scholar once wrote:
"the birth and rapid rise of the Christian Church ... remains an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the church itself - the resurrection."