JESUS APPEARS ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
Luke 24:30-35 And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how He was known of them in breaking of bread. (Also See Luke 24:13-29)
This event, that took place after the resurrection of Jesus, is contained in a rather lengthy narrative recorded by Luke, and referred to with minimum detail in Mark's gospel record, (!6:12-13). Paul also mentions it in his letter to the church at Corinth as part of his listing of the appearances of Jesus after His resurrection (See 1 Cor. 15:3-8). The verses in Luke's account that precede the lesson text will be paraphrased in order to give additionalmeaning in the text listed above.
Not only were Jesus' apostles in Jerusalem at this time, but there were evidently many disciples, both men and women, that followed Him into this city to observe the Jewish Passover feast. While there, many of them witnessed His trial before the Sanhedrin, as well as before Pilate and Herod. Some, maybe even most, remained in Jerusalem to witness Jesus' burial. They were probably there also when the controversy of the disappearance of His body became known. However, at this time His resurrection was known to only a few chosen disciples. As the lesson text states, two of His disciples had left Jerusalem and were traveling on the road to a village called Emmaus, which was located about threescore furlongs (a little over 7 1/2 miles)west of Jerusalem. They were discussing among themselves all of the events that had taken place in this Holy city while they were there.
As they were going over these things in their minds, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. I have heard this scripture used to teach a lesson about the love of Jesus has for His followers - when He is on our minds, He is near to us, will walk with us, and always gives us righteous guidance in life's pathways. Looking back on all of His appearances to His faithful disciples after being raised from death, we know they were spiritually intended to occur in order to remove any doubt and firmly establish that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, and the promised Savior of the world. Doubtless, these two disciples of Christ had seen Him before, and probably witnessed His death on the cross of Calvary, yet when Jesus approached them and began to walk by their sides, they did not recognize Him as the one that they had previously followed. Just as we often dismiss the thought of mentally recognizing someone we know to have died, so it seems to be the case with these two men. They saw Him crucified, buried, and sealed in a tomb, therefore they knew within their minds that the man now walking with them on the road to Emmaus could not be their Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jesus begins a conversation with them by asking what they were discussing that made their countenance appear so sad. One of the men, named Cleopas, couldn't understand that anyone would not know about the tragic events that had taken place in Jerusalem. When Jesus inquired, What things, they began telling the whole story. They said that Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet of God, was condemned to death by those of the Jewish counsel, delivered to the Roman rulers who pronounced the death sentence, and He was crucified. These men could not understand these things because they had trusted in Him to be the Messiah, which should have redeemed Israel. They continued their recounting of the events that took place by saying that certain women, that, like us, were also disciples of Jesus, on the third day after His burial, went to the sepulchre of Jesus and found not His body. These women told other disciples that angels appeared to them and said that He was alive. Those they told also went to the tomb and confirmed His body was not there. Paraphrasing their story, this is was what they were discussing among themselves as they traveled home to Emmaus - their hopes were gone; Jesus was slain, buried, and now His body had disappeared and all hope disappeared with Him.
At this point, Jesus interrupted their iteration of the events that had taken place with Him in Jerusalem. He called them "fools," and by inference, He called all men and women that failed to rightly interpret Old Testament prophecies by the same title. It should be noted here that Jesus, in His well-known "Sermon on the Mount." taught that, to be angry with another without a cause, and call them a fool, is a sin, and if not reconciled, that soul shall be in danger of hell fire (See Matt. 5:22). However, Jesus certainly had just cause to refer to these men, as well as the entire Jewish nation, as "fools." The nation, as a whole, had conceded to the prejudices and opinions of the elders, the religious leaders of Israel, and had accepted their false interpretation of the Old Testament prophets. Thus, these two disciples, as well as all Jews, were slow of heart and dull of learning having failed to believe in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).
Coming to the village of Emmaus where these two men lived, it appears that Jesus did not intend to stop for any length of time, but desired to continue on further. However, the men, noting that it was now evening, asked Jesus to stay with them for a while. This invitation was accepted, and as He sat at meat with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. Two things should be noted here. First, this was not in reference to the "Lord's Supper" that New Testament Christians were later commanded to observe, it was the common practice of giving thanks to God for His provisions contained in the meal they were about to partake. Secondly, the blessing of such a meal was well known to be the responsibility of the host, not that of a guest. It seems that the authority Christ Jesus exercised at this meal caused them to recognize Him as their Lord and Savior - their eyes were opened, and they knew Him. But just as suddenly as He had appeared to them on the road to Emmaus, Jesus vanished out of their sight.
Realizing that it was Jesus, with whom they had walked, talked, and sat with at mealtime, their hearts burned within them, anxiously wanting to let others know that they had seen Him alive, and about other things that had happened to them in the presence of Jesus. Therefore they immediately rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them. What a great example for all young Christians - once Jesus is found and the hope of salvation is secured through obedience, one should not hesitate to proclaim the true reason for their rejoicing in the hope of persuading others to also accept Jesus as their Savior. These two disciples from Emmaus returned, not to the Roman authorities, nor to the Jewish religious leaders, but to those that loved Jesus - to His apostles and the disciples that had obediently followed Him during His personal ministry on earth.
The wonderful message that they could not wait until the following day to disclose was, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how He was known of them in breaking of bread. Of the appearance of Jesus to Simon Peter, we have no record other than what is disclosed here and a reference made by Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth saying that He was seen of Cephas (Peter) (1 Cor. 15:5). No doubt Peter was with the other apostles when these two men came to them with their news that Jesus was alive. Is it possible that Peter failed to recognize Jesus when He appeared to him? There seems to be no logical reason for Peter to withhold such information from the other apostles if he had indeed seen Jesus and recognized Him as their Lord and Savior.
Some doubt that the event recorded by Mark was the same as that written in more detail by Luke. But if not, what appearance could it have been, since there is no other reference to it? If, indeed, it is the same, then we can conclude that after all these things were told to the apostles, they were not convinced that Jesus had been resurrected from death and doubted that He was alive. At the end of Mark's record of this event he wrote that neither believed they them (See Mark 16:12-13), a disbelief that would soon disappear.