Summary: Why did Luke chose this post resurrection appearance to record. After all St Paul tells us that at least 514 men saw the resurrected Christ and this doesn't count the women
The road to Emmaus
Story: The legendary British journalist and media personality Malcolm Muggeridge was 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 realised that they were right and that Stalin was wrong.
He said it was the reality of their joy that tipped the scales for him towards 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 Gospel reading this morning was the well known and well loved story of the appearance of the risen Jesus to two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
I love it because somewhere it seems to always warm my heart when I read it.
Who were the two disciples?
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 Luke was the only Gentile to write a book in the New Testament –
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were clearly 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.
The Jewish prayer book (the siddur ) has this prayer that Jewish men still use
“Blessed are you O God, King of the Universe, Who has not made me
“a goy [Gentile],”
“a slave,” and
In Jesus day women could not give evidence in a Jewish Court of Law.
Is that the reason Luke doesn’t name Cleopas’ companion?
Whoever Cleopas’s companion was - is an interesting conundrum – but it doesn’t actually impact the story.
As I have mentioned over the last three weeks, that 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 ACTUAL post Resurrection appearances.
i) one of these was Jesus’ appearance to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35) and
ii) the other actual post Resurrection appearance in Lk 36-49 that follows on from the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Cleopas and his friend having realised that had met Jesus rush directly back the seven miles from Emmaus to Jerusalem 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 and said peace be with you.
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 only two Resurrection appearances as the only evidence for 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.