Summary: The town of Emmaus was on the road to nowhere, at least until Christ came.
What You Can Learn on the Way to Nowhere
It seems that nobody thought Jesus was alive. The disciples thought the women’s report was crazy. Even the investigation by Peter and John of the empty tomb had mixed results. Jesus had told them when He was alive that he would suffer death. No one believed that either, until it happened.
Sunday, the first day of the week would be a busy day for Jesus. He would appear to Mary, the women, then Peter, then the eleven, then He would go out traveling on an eight mile hike to a small town called Emmaus. Let’s find out why He went there.
Exposition of the Text
Two disciples of Jesus had started out for home early. There was no reason any longer to stay in Jerusalem. The Lord they loved was dead and buried. Cleophas and another follower of Jesus were downcast and gloomy. Their hopes in Jesus had been crushed. It was dangerous for Jesus’ disciples to be seen in Jerusalem, and it was a long journey home. It would have seemed to have been the longest journey home they had ever taken.
As these two disciples trudged home with their heads down, they were met by whom they thought a stranger. He did not seem to be weighed down with sorrow and was making better progress on the road. If Emmaus was there home, they might have wondered why a stranger was making haste to go their little town out in the middle of nowhere. These two disciples had become nowhere people again on a journey to nowhere.
Luke lets us know that this supposed stranger was actually Jesus. Either the disciples were so lost in spirit that they did not recognize Him, or more likely, Jesus prevented them from recognizing Him. He takes notice of the forlorn look of these two disciples and asked them why they were so gloomy. Cleophas could not believe that this “stranger” on the Jerusalem road to nowhere did not know what had happened there. With all the commotion they thought, how could anyone not know what had happened to Jesus.
Jesus continued to play the role of a stranger to draw out what He wanted from them. They responded that they had believed that Jesus of Nazareth was going to be the Prophet who would deliver Israel from Roman bondage. Instead, Jesus had been crucified and was now dead and buried. They must have stayed in Jerusalem to hear the report from the hysterical women that Jesus was alive. But unlike Peter and John who went to investigate the matter, these two went home. Their hope was drowned in unbelief.
Jesus, who knows all things, already knew what was in their heart. He drew it out of them in order that He could deal with their unbelief. He did not chide them for not believing the women’s report. After all, the women had also been overtaken with the same grief. Their report could easily have been dismissed to extreme psychological stress which had caused them to hallucinate. Jesus does not even chide them for not believing what He had Himself told them about His death and resurrection. Instead, he chides them for not believing what Scripture said about the death and resurrection of Christ.
Luke then tells us that Jesus began to show them from all of Scripture the texts that spoke of both His passion and resurrection. We would certainly like to know ourselves the Scriptures He shared with them. We would think that Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and Genesis 22 would be at the top of that list. But there are many others as well which Jesus could have shared with them over what may have been as long as a three hour hike. In this Jesus demonstrated to them and us the absolute authority of Scripture, which at that time is what we call the Old Testament today. Jesus preaching the old Testament proofs to them caused their hearts to burn within them.
When they got to Emmaus, Jesus acted as He would travel further. What place could be beyond nowhere? The two disciples knew that travel at night was dangerous, especially if one was going to the nothing beyond nowhere. They also knew the requirements of hospitality to strangers that the Law of Moses commanded and bid this stranger to stay with them.
Jesus took food with them which is proof to us that He was no ghost. He was really alive. He could eat. He would do the same with the other disciples to prove to them that the resurrection of Scripture is not just that of a soul, but a body as well. This physical body had some characteristic that our current body does not possess as He could vanish and also appear suddenly from sight.