With The Risen Jesus
From Jerusalem To Emmaus
"That very same day, as the two disciples were walking to the village named Emmaus, which was sixty stadia away from Jerusalem, they were discussing everything that happened," (Luke 24:13-14).
2. "That very same day" - That was the third day after Jesus had been crucified and killed. The ones walking were two disciples, followers of Jesus. It was the third day after losing their beloved master. They were suffering with bereavement. There was a huge gaping hole in their hearts. We might imagine their sense of loss as such that they were drained in spirit as any one would be after having lost a loved one.
3. They had been walking away from Jerusalem. There was no need for Jerusalem any more. The week before leaving Jerusalem like that would have been unthinkable.
4. That day of Sunday just one week before, the road going to Jerusalem from The Mount Of Olives had been teeming with the enthusiasm and the excitement of the people because Jesus had come into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The people greeted him by spreading their clothes on the path. The huge crowds and the flock of disciples praised God at the top of their lungs, saying, "Blessed be the one coming in the name of the Lord, our king. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest." It truly was a regal entrance into the capital city. The great prophet and the king, the messiah, in whom Israel was expectant and hoped, had made his entrance into the capital of Jerusalem. "He must be the one, the very One, who would set Israel free from Gentile rule. Through his arrival in Jerusalem, finally, the kingdom of God would be manifested. The new time would begin. Everything would be different. All would change!" In all this frenzy, even these [two] disciples were among those who entered the city with Jesus.
5. It happened just one short week ago. But, now everything was done with. With the frenzy done and gone, the only thing left was futility. "What was all that about? What was that excitement over?" Any how, it's in the past and doesn't matter any more. Jesus was dead. They departed from Jerusalem. Everything was gone now and they no longer had any use for Jerusalem; they were finished with it.
6. As they were discussing these events, they walked on towards Emmaus. But, you can't make time come back by talking try as you might. The more they spoke, the more their talking would make them grow despondent and resentful. If only Judas had not betrayed him. If only the disciples, the ones that were in Gethsemane with him, had been able to protect Jesus. But, they were guilty of the same thing because all the disciples of the disciples had forsaken Jesus and fled. They were sorry, but they would never stop being sorry. They will probably live only blaming themselves as survivors.
7. [They might live with] a sense of loss for losing their loved one. [They might live with] a sense of futility and purposelessness after their great expectations and hopes had so easily collapsed. [They might live with] a sense of guilt that would torment and rebuke their consciences. [They might live with] a sense of powerlessness in themselves because they could not do anything. We [live] there too. The way they were is often times how we are. The Bible understands our troubles. It knows our figure of when we make our dark faces and walk trudgingly along on the road of life just as they did in going from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
8. But, there would be no reason to read the Bible if we can only see that part of ourselves that is in the Bible. Yet, the Bible does not just speak about humanity, it is a story that speaks about God. The Bible points [us] to Christ and tells us what could happen to us when we get with Christ. What happened to those who departed from Jerusalem and headed to Emmaus so trudgingly? Let's take another step further and look deeper into this together.
With The Risen Christ
9. In verse fifteen the text goes like this: "As they discussed and debated, Jesus himself drew near to them and began walking with them," (verse fifteen).
10. Christ quietly drew near to them and then the Lord walked with them. They wore dark faces, left Jerusalem, and continued on walking to Emmaus. The Lord appeared to them, but he did not head them off to stop them. He didn't deny them and put a stop to their walk. He didn't even say go back to Jerusalem. The Lord walked along with them in the same direction.
11. They didn't notice that he was the risen Christ. Why was that? It only explains that "the two men's eyes were blocked and they didn't see that it was Jesus." This goes in contrast with the words in verse thirty-one "the two men's eyes opened and they saw that it was Jesus." In short, it means that the fact that the risen Christ had been walking with them was not obvious to them one bit at all. Of course, it is not obvious for us either. It is only by the work of God's grace that "our eyes are opened" and that we can first have an understanding of [Christ] through God.
12. Any way, the moment we understand is not when the work of Christ in us first begins. Even though they hadn't noticed, they were already walking with Christ. In their getting with Christ here, there are two main things recorded in particular.
13. The first one is that Christ expounded upon the scriptures with them. In verse twenty-five the following is recorded: "'Well now, you men whose understanding is so poor and whose hearts are dull and unable to believe all that the prophets have spoken, the messiah was supposed to experience the suffering you are talking about and then enter into glory, wasn't he?' Then beginning from Moses and all the prophets, going over the whole Bible, he explained to them what was written in it about him," (verses twenty-five through twenty-seven).
14. They knew that Christ had been crucified. How much did they know? They were quite knowledgeable of all that Christ had been explaining to them. They had also heard of Christ's resurrection. They had already heard from the women in their group that the tomb was empty, and that it was announced by angels that "Jesus is alive." But, the fact that the Christ who was supposed to be the savior was cruelly crucified and ended up dead was totally inconsistent and absurd with it all beyond what they could take. And also after Christ was killed, buried and then three days elapsed, the message that he rose from the dead and was alive was impossible for them to understand and brought them more confusion than anything else. What this means is that even though they were looking hard at all that had happened, they couldn't get it. Christ had to put the pieces together in a detailed explanation for them. But now that's the first main point, which took place in the text.
15. The second thing, Christ ate a meal with them. In verse thirty it reads as follows: "When he sat at a meal with them, Jesus took bread, recited a prayer of praise, broke the bread and passed it out," (verse thirty).
16. When the traveling party got close to the village of Emmaus their destination, Christ was about to still go on further. They detained him and said, "Please stay over night with us. It is getting closer and closer to evening, and the sun is already setting." Christ entered the home to stay the night with them. But, something unusual happened here. Christ came in as a guest, but he acts as the master over the meal. The Lord takes the bread, recites a prayer of praise, breaks the bread, and distributes it. Just exactly what happened at "The Last Supper" also happened at this little table. Whereupon, all of a sudden, the two men's eyes opened. They realized two things there and then.
17. First is that Jesus had sat at the same table and then they realized that the Christ of the resurrection had been walking with them all along the way. But, a very strange thing is written in the text here. The text says that, "Then the two men's eyes opened, and they saw that it was Jesus, but then his figure became invisible," (verse thirty-one). Their eyes opened, [but then] he "became invisible." In effect, it seems to say that the really important thing is not whether Jesus was with them in a form that they could see. The important thing is that they truly realized that Jesus had been walking with them all along the way so far. It is that they had come to see that the Lord had been with them even before they had realized it.
18. Then they realized something else. It was that they were no longer like the two men they were when they were wearing dark faces, heading to Emmaus, and dealing with the sense of loss, the feeling of futility, the sense of guilt and powerlessness. When they were realizing this, they had hearts that burned within them and not the cold hearts of when they had set out from Jerusalem. Unaware of it, the fire of life began to burn in them, [though] they were like corpses. They said, "When we were talking on the road and when he was explaining the scriptures to us, didn't our hearts burn?," (verse thirty-two).
19. This flame was different from the flame that burned when they were once moved with excitement and fervor [the week before]. That flame had gone out. Israel was under Roman rule still as ever. They were not set free as of yet. Everywhere they looked nothing had changed. But, yet now they knew that the Christ of the resurrection had come along with them and he would be coming along from here on out. Through Christ the flame of life was upon them. Therefore, they went back to Jerusalem. They went back to the Jerusalem where there had been no trace of hope. They did that in order to testify to the Christ of the resurrection.
20. The scripture states that something can and does happen in us. What the Bible says in this text is not a unique experience [meant for] only these two disciples. The church has experienced it repeatedly even to this day. The scriptures are explained and the meaning of the cross and the resurrection become clear. When the bread is divided in the Lord's Supper, it shows that the Christ of the resurrection is with us both now and here after. The fire of life begins to burn and it burns bigger and better. The Christ of the resurrection is there behind all these things that happened. And as persons who have received the flame of life, we will return back home again. Just as they went back to Jerusalem, we too will go back. As we embrace our great hope, we will return to the world which seems, just like always, wherever we look, to be under the rule of sin and death. [Let's return then] as witnesses of the Christ of the resurrection!