The text begins today by saying, Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. That’s strange. I grew up going to Emmaus as a kid. I have a half-sister who lives in Emmaus, and Diana’s uncle and aunt still live there where they operated a Dairy Queen-style ice cream and steak shop – a place where you could get a legitimate steak sandwich, not the pretend types that are sold in most places!
Okay, yes, that was near Allentown. An area of the Lehigh Valley where the German Moravians settled and named towns after biblical places, like Bethlehem, Nazareth, Bethel, and Emmaus. And I went to high school with kids from another original Moravian settlement on the NJ side of the Delaware named Hope Township.
Reading of the two who were walking along the road to Emmaus near Jerusalem, there are several things that immediately jump to the front.
The entire situation of the crucifixion of Jesus was big news in the city. It was apparently not something that just a sizeable fraction of people were aware of. From the remarks of these travelers, there was no person in the city at the time who was not tuned into what was going on with this Jewish preacher.
As well, it is clear that the responsible parties for the execution of Jesus were the Jews. Cleopas and his friend said, The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death. Those who should have been the first to recognize the Messiah were in fact the ones most guilty, and this is a major theme we’ve highlighted throughout these studies in Luke.
Cleopas and his friend also confess to their personal hope that Jesus was indeed the Promised One. But they had no way of understanding or making sense of the events of previous days.
Jesus mildly rebukes them for not knowing the Scriptures better as to what must happen. It was not like these guys were particularly out to lunch. None of the closest followers were looking to see how the horrible crucifixion would soon be reversed with a resurrection. None were going to the tomb with expectations of a living Jesus.
This all points to the inability of the mind to hear, absorb and comprehend spiritual/biblical truth without the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. These folks, being of the Old Testament era, did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As soon as the Spirit descends on the Day of Pentecost, the recipients are immediately new people in terms of theological insight.
We might bear this in mind relative to those we witness to who are yet to come to Christ. It should be no wonder to us that they do not see the Scriptures as we do, not noting the incredible and clear connection of, for example, the sacrificial systems of the Old Testament as foreshadows of the cross work of Jesus Christ. But when we share biblical truth, and when the Holy Spirit is moving in their lives toward saving faith, it is like watching a new light that is rising to shine within them.
“Without me, you can do nothing,” said Jesus. Without him living in us in the form of the Spirit, we can understand little of the Scriptures. Without the Spirit working through us, we are merely moving in the minimalist power of the flesh to communicate the Scriptures.
Again we see: the resurrection makes all the difference. The Spirit is the only power. Eternal life in Christ is the only life that lasts. May our eyes be opened, and may our hearts burn with the power of the enlightenment of God’s Word!
Luke 24:13 – Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does 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. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but 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. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.