We continue to meditate on the drama of the resurrection of Jesus and how the disciples of Jesus perceived it. The account below takes place on the day of the resurrection of Christ:
13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him. 17He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19"What things?" he asked. "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see" (Luke 24:13-24).
This passage tells the story of two disciples of Christ walking seven miles from Jerusalem toward the village of Emmaus. The name of one was Cleopas (v. 11), but we don't know the name of the other. The day they were walking together was Resurrection Sunday, the third day after the crucifixion of Christ (v. 21). Passover had finished, but the Feast of Unleavened Bread, lasting seven days, was continuing. To walk further than a mile on the Sabbath was considered work, so this was their first opportunity to walk more than a mile. We don't know why they were walking westward away from Jerusalem; it may be that they were walking to their homes or a place of work.
As they walked, a stranger came walking behind them listening to their intense conversation. Cleopas and his friend were comparing notes and reflecting on the last three days' events (v. 14). Perhaps they talked about the curtain torn from top to bottom in the Temple, i.e., the curtain separating man from God (Matthew 27:51). Maybe they spoke about the tombs breaking open at the death of Christ and about the bodies of many holy people coming out of their graves (Matthew 27:52). The two were disciples of Jesus but not of the eleven Apostles.
The two were disillusioned since the crucifixion of Christ: "We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel" (v. 21). It's also interesting that, like Mary Magdalene thinking that Jesus was the gardener, in the same way, these two believers did not realize that the stranger walking with them was the Lord: “They were kept from recognizing him" (v. 16). Some think it was the setting sun on their faces as they walked westward in the late afternoon, while others believe it was because he had a cloak with a hood that kept them from seeing His face. Maybe there was more to it than something natural. It could be that God was the One that kept them from recognizing Christ to allow them to air their thoughts and feelings about their disillusionment. Believers in Christ should cast their discouragement and depression upon the Lord: "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous be shaken" (Psalm 55:22).
It is also a lesson to believers in Christ that we are to come alongside those discouraged or weak in their faith and unable to see Christ at work. We should encourage one another by explaining the Scriptures that our God is never far from us, even when we are low. He is always close and ready to meet with us, especially when we lack understanding of what He is doing in us and through us. The Lord will manifest Himself to those seeking Him and enquiring after Him: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). I pray that if you don't understand all that God is doing in your life, that the Lord will come and walk with you today. Keith Thomas.
Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke: Click on study 65. Jesus on the Emmaus Road