Emmaus Road: Part II
Hope is silent, or at least it is a bleeding beast. The two disciples along the Road to Emmaus are in need of both encouragement and instruction. Jesus has already asked questions to draw out their beliefs and opinions of the events surround his death, burial, and the empty tomb. He also knows what they believe about the nature of the one to redeem Israel. They did not understand why the coming messiah would have to suffer before his kingdom was set up. Furthermore, they saw the Messiah as setting up an earthly kingdom in which Israel was immediately restored politically, militarily, and spiritually. The men represent the understanding of many in Israel. Jesus has been patient and listened to these two express their frustration and disappointment. Now, Jesus will correct their misunderstanding and redirect them to the truth of the Scriptures. The rebuke offered by Jesus is not because the disciples somehow did not believe the witness of the women or the apostles. It is because they did not understand and believe the word of God as spoken by the prophets and his earthly teachings. In verses 26-27 he says, “26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” The initial statement of Jesus, which places his suffering before his glory, is followed by an amazing message interpreting the Law and the Writings of the Prophets in light of himself. I hope someday we can hear or read this incredible sermon along the Emmaus Road. We know that the message was gradually awakening the traveler’s souls and warming their hearts to Jesus. Their response is later recorded in Luke 24:32. They said, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” There is also the evidence Jesus shared with the disciples in that he must suffer and handed over to suffer and die in his earthly teachings (Luke 9:43-45; 18:31-34). They just did not understand yet.
The sermon has come to an end as Emmaus comes into full view. Jesus has worn down their doubt and reinforced their hope of a redeemer of Israel. They have tasted fellowship with Jesus and they cannot understand it all just yet, but they don’t want the moment to pass. In The Gospel According to Luke, James Edwards writes, “People often sense the presence of God before they recognize or articulate it. The disciple’s [two travelers] sense in Jesus something they cannot verbalize or identify. The Resurrected One, vicariously and unbeknownst to them, is having an effect on their faith (Hos 6:2; Rom 6:4). The two disciples do not know who Jesus is, but they know they do not want to be without him.” The travelers urge Jesus to stay with them and share a meal with them. It is amazing to me that Jesus, the risen Savior and Son of God, agrees to share a meal with the obscure disciples. During the meal Jesus blesses the food and they have a moment when they see the travelling teacher as the Jesus, the risen Lord. Perhaps it was a similar prayer at the last supper or the blessing of bread during the feeding of the 5,000 that triggered their hearts to see Jesus anew. Ultimately, we know that God opened their eyes to see the identity of Jesus. And just as Jesus had mysteriously arrived on the road, he was gone. The two disciples were so excited that they long to share the good news with the 11 Apostles and other disciples back in Jerusalem. The journey to Emmaus was long and challenging, but the journey back to Jerusalem was probably fast and full of joyful anticipation. The seven miles journey to Jerusalem probably seemed like seven minutes to them. The two return and tell all and remarkably are not believed by the disciples in Jerusalem. Mark 16:13 says, “And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.”
There is much to take away from this portion of Scripture. First, witness accounts and testimonies are helpful in convincing others of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but they are limited. However, when these secondary limited evidences are accompanied and corroborated with biblical truth, it is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Second, we cannot see Jesus without divine help. The two men were veiled to Jesus’s true identity until they were ready to see him. Salvation is the work of God to reveal truth and transform a willing person from death to life in his timing and according to his Sovereign will. Third, the Emmaus Road is a three-part journey for all who become disciples. The first part of the journey is from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Jesus meets you on the road and you begin to learn and understand the truth of his person and work in relation to yourself as a sinner in need of repentance and restoration. You learn the truth and your false ways are exposed and either accepted or rejected. The second part is the experience with Jesus at table. The longing to continue to pursue Jesus and understand who he is will lead to an opportunity to see him for who he really is, YOUR, crucified Savior and risen Lord. For many, this will lead to a transformed heart and is the beginning of saving faith. However, some will walk away from the table altogether. The third part of the journey is reserved for those who have seen experienced the salvation of Jesus and long to share him with others. This is the journey from Emmaus to Jerusalem. The disciple of Jesus would do well to understand that not all will believe his or her message. The patience show to them must be shown to others. Ultimately, a disciple is called to meet others on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus and point them to Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. He alone is the way to the Father in Heaven.