Summary: The story of this encounter, like our own journey of faith, may be viewed from three perspectives: 1) The need for understanding (Luke 24:13–24), 2) The source of understanding (Luke 24:25–27), and 3) The response to understanding (Luke 24:28–32).
There is a story of an Army Airborne ranger who was learning to parachute. The sergeant barked out the orders: 1. Jump when you are told to jump. 2. Count to ten, then pull the ripcord. 3. If the first chute doesn’t open, pull the second ripcord. 4. When you land, a truck will take you back to the post. When the plane got over the landing zone, the soldier jumped when it was his turn. He counted to ten, then pulled the ripcord. Nothing happened. He pulled the second ripcord. Nothing happened. “Oh great,” he complained to himself. I’ll bet the truck won’t be waiting for us, either.“( Rowell, E. K. (1996). Humor for preaching and teaching: from Leadership journal and Christian reader (p. 54). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.)
Disappointment is a reality of life. On our journey of life, things don’t often happen as we expect. In this His first post-resurrection appearance in Luke’s gospel, Jesus confronted two of His followers who were ignorant, filled with doubt, and confused. It was not that they did not believe the Scripture, but that their understanding of it was deficient—and a deficient knowledge of Scripture is insufficient and dangerous. Therefore Jesus opened the Old Testament Scripture to them and dispelled their darkness and confusion about Him with the light of truth. The story of this encounter, like our own journey of faith, may be viewed from three perspectives: 1) The need for understanding (Luke 24:13–24), 2) The source of understanding (Luke 24:25–27), and 3) The response to understanding (Luke 24:28–32).
1) The Need for Understanding (Luke 24:13–24)
Luke 24:13–24 13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 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. 18 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?” 19 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, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 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. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 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. 24 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.” (ESV)
This encounter took place late in the day on Sunday, as evening was approaching (v. 29). Two disciples of Jesus, some of the rest of the followers of Jesus who were not apostles (24:9), were going home that very day to a village named Emmaus. Probably they are two of the followers of Jesus who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover. So they had been among the “disciples” who lauded Jesus on his triumphal entry to the city (19:39) and were now returning home. At any rate, the phrase “of them,” like the opening words of v. 13, establishes a continuity with the foregoing events (Leifeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 1051). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.).
Nothing is known for certain about Emmaus, which appears nowhere else in Scripture. Tradition identifies it with the village of Kubeibeh, seven miles northwest of Jerusalem. As they trudged along the dusty road, the two of them were heartsick, devastated, and utterly confused. All of their hopes and dreams concerning Jesus had been dashed. Death and resurrection formed no part of their concept of Messiah’s office and programme, which is why they had not really taken in what Jesus had said about his coming death. They were hoping for a Messiah who would break the imperialist domination of the Romans by force of arms. A Messiah who managed to allow himself to be caught by the Jewish authorities, handed over to the Romans and crucified before he had even begun to organize any guerrilla operations, popular uprising or open warfare—what use was he? They thought the Old Testament prophesied a liberator who should not die, but be triumphant, Jesus was already disqualified: he had died. After that, it was almost irrelevant to talk of resurrection. Like the apostles and the rest of the disciples who had heard the women’s testimony to the resurrection, they did not believe it and thought it was nonsense. (David Gooding : According to Luke [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987], 351)