It’s been a long time since I’ve written a sermon, but the time has come where I have been given an opportunity to share God’s Word again and this blog post is a glimpse into what I’ll be sharing: a deeper dive into Luke 24:13-35 (The journey to Emmaus). I hope you’ll grab a cup of coffee and join me on this journey of discovering Jesus all over again.
Before we read through this passage in Luke, it’s important to understand where it fits into the timeline of Jesus’ story. It’s Sunday. The day of Jesus’ resurrection. The women have gone to the tomb, but they discovered the stone rolled away and the angels told them that Jesus had risen. They ran to tell the news to the remaining eleven disciples. Peter and John raced to the tomb to inspect for themselves and discovered the same thing: the stone rolled away and the burial cloths laying just inside the tomb. But Scripture doesn’t state clearly that they believed Jesus was raised from the dead. In fact, it strongly suggests that they did not believe this news. They were perplexed and confused, and, fearing the Jews, they were hiding behind locked doors. (John 20:19)
Some of Jesus’ followers left Jerusalem after the Passover to travel to Emmaus on foot. As they walked, they discussed all of the events from the previous three days. Their story is as follows:
Some points I found to be worth noting about this passage are listed below:
1. (Vs. 13) “That very day” refers to resurrection Sunday, the day Jesus rose from the grave.
2. (Vs. 13) “Seven miles from Jerusalem”: This journey would have taken approximately two hours and a bit to walk. The distance from Jerusalem and travelling along the road would have afforded them the opportunity to discuss the events that had taken place that weekend (the death of Jesus) with less fear of the Jews over-hearing their conversation.
3. (Vs. 14) “They were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.” These events are outlined clearly in verses 19-24 (below).
4. (Vs. 16) “Their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.” There are many speculated reasons for this. Some suggest it could have been because God divinely held back their ability to recognize Jesus. Others suggest it could have been due to poor air quality (although the rest of the passage makes this seem unlikely). And still other sources reason it could have been due to Christ’s changed appearance from the disfigurement He would have had from enduring torture and beatings. They may not have immediately recognized His resurrected state.
The point is: it doesn’t matter. They did not need to know Jesus was bodily present with them to converse with Him and learn from Him. His spiritual presence was enough for them.
5. (Vs. 17) “They stood still, looking sad”…and they were. Their friend, Master, Rabbi, was just brutally murdered in front of them three days prior and they’ve heard stories of His body now having gone missing. They are distraught, confused, and trying to make sense of an incredibly traumatizing three days and are most likely desperate to be hopeful that Jesus is actually alive, but perhaps also a little fearful of that hope. Crushed hope makes hearts sick.
6. (Vs. 26) “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” Throughout the Old Testament, God’s chosen leaders were first brought through suffering and then to glory. In fulfilling this pattern, the Messiah would also have to suffer before entering into His glory. Matthew Henry’s commentary states, “He could not have been a Saviour if He had not been a sufferer.”
7. (Vs. 27) “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” They didn’t know the things being explained to them were about the Person doing the explaining, but Jesus was making it clear that their Master could be trusted, that what He had said was true, and that His actions had fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. Jesus’ first recorded action after His resurrection was to once again make blinded eyes see the Truth of who He was. He took the time to explain and make clear God’s Word to these two people journeying to Emmaus.
8. (Vs. 29) “But they urged Him strongly saying, ‘Stay with us’.” It’s common for us, after spending time in God’s presence, to want to linger there with Him, isn’t it? May their request be the cry of our hearts each day. “Stay with us!” “So He went in to stay with them.” He met their request as they hadn’t finished learning from Him yet. He meets our requests as well.
9. (Vs. 30-31a) “When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him.” Note: “He broke bread.” “They recognized Him.” This is the first recorded event post-resurrection where Jesus eats with His followers and, beautifully, it bears a striking resemblance to the last meal He shared with His disciples just prior to His death. This was a representation of His body that was broken for them. It was this simple act that made them finally recognize Him for the Messiah that He was and is. This action answered their plea and hopes expressed earlier in verse 21: “We had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel”. The breaking of the bread, representing Christ’s broken body, IS the hope and redemption of Israel.
10. (Vs. 31b) “He vanished from their sight.” Jesus had finished revealing Himself to them and teaching them what they desperately needed to know, but He didn’t leave them in the dark. He had just finished equipping them with the knowledge and understanding of who He was. They knew now how to find Him. Henry’s commentary says, “Such short and transient views have we of Christ in this world; we see Him, but in a little while lose sight of Him again. When we have come to heaven, the vision of Him will have no interruptions.” Oh, what a day of rejoicing that will be!
11. (Vs. 33) “They rose that same hour.” There is urgency here, as there should be. Christ has risen! Tell everyone! They walked for another two hours (although, I’m guessing they went much faster this time) back to Jerusalem to share the good news with the eleven disciples (and the others) gathered there.
12. (Vs. 34) “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 1 Corinthians 15:4-5 states, “that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve.” It’s understood from these verses that Jesus has appeared to Peter also, but it’s evident that Peter has not yet told the others about that just yet in our timeline. Who knows? But God obviously made this fact apparent to the two people in Emmaus.
13. (Vs. 35) “He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.” This statement beautifully and poignantly wraps up the encounter the travellers on the road to Emmaus had with their Master. The risen Messiah, in the breaking of the bread, helped these weary travellers see that He had broken His body and poured out His life for Isreal’s, for the world’s, for their redemption.
There are so many lessons to learn from this short section of Scripture, but some of my personal take-aways from this passage are:
1. When Christians are distressed, it is wise to meet with a fellow believer who can encourage them. The two travellers to Emmaus did not go off alone in their distress, but rather stuck together, walking and talking about the grief and questions in their hearts.
2. Jesus notices our grief and comforts us in it if we allow Him to.
3. Jesus meets us in our searching and our seeking.
4. Jesus is able to help us understand His Holy Word and He does so when we ask Him to.
5. What has been your road to Emmaus? Where were you distressed and how did Jesus meet you in that?