A Walk that Changed Everything for Discouraged Disciples
Just as they are today, roads in ancient times were necessary. They connected people and cities. Goods were traded on roads. Armies would march on roads. That is why the Roman Empire was so committed to building roads. Rome had paved over 50,000 miles of road when Jesus lived. On one of those roads, Jesus made a significant post-resurrection appearance to two defeated disciples. As they walked, they rehearsed the day. Jesus had been betrayed, tried in six illegal trials, beaten to please the crowd, crucified, and placed in a borrowed tomb. On this third day, He is gone. They were walking home in sadness, like those who had left a funeral.
The two were empty, sad, discouraged, and hopeless as they walked seven miles west of Jerusalem to what we suspect was their home in Emmaus. Their two-way conversation became three-way as Jesus entered their journey and broke into the discussion. As the event unfolds, we can see consistent gospel truths that enrich our lives this Monday.
As they walked, they did not expect Jesus or recognize Him. The incredible truth is that Jesus was looking for them. This is the first truth of the Bible story—God is always the initiator. In the broken garden of Eden, God came looking for Adam. The shepherd goes out to look for the one lost sheep. This is the theme of the Bible. John declares how our relationship with God begins: “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19, KJV). Realizing that God sought me before I could imagine seeking Him is still a wonderful truth for me. Paul affirms this truth in Romans 5:8, stating that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God has made the first move. He came to earth. His second move was the cross. Finally, He walks out of a sealed tomb to find us.
God has made the first move. He came to earth. His second move was the cross. Finally, He walks out of a sealed tomb to find us.
They were looking at Him, walking with Him, and talking to Him, and they did not recognize Him. Verse 16 in the ESV states, “But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” Why would Jesus not allow them to recognize Him? Could it be that He wanted them to be honest? They need to admit their disappointment, doubt, and devastation. When we have lost a vital relationship with Jesus, we must confess our true condition before God reveals the greater truth. They would have to walk by His Word and not by sight. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word. Many times, people want to see a sign or feel something about God. The sign or feeling becomes their focus rather than the revealed person of Jesus in His Word.
Jesus asks them two questions, the first one being in verse 17: “What are you discussing?” Cleopas indicates that Jesus must be a stranger, as if everyone knows what happened (v. 18). Then Jesus asks the second question in verse 19: “What things?” Cleopas now gives Jesus an accurate report of what had transpired, and it was the fulfillment of many prophesies given hundreds of years before by the prophets (vv. 18-24). How easy it is to recite the truth, the creeds, and sing the songs of redemption—and miss the Savior of whom we speak. We must move beyond knowledge to a relationship of trust based on the revealed person of Jesus who declares His Word is enough.
How easy it is to recite the truth, the creeds, and sing the songs of redemption—and miss the Savior of whom we speak. We must move beyond knowledge to a relationship of trust based on the revealed person of Jesus who declares His Word is enough.
What we see when circumstances dim our eyes is not always true. We do not see the whole picture. As they declared Jesus to be a stranger, they had missed the fulfillment of Jesus’ coming. Many Jews wanted a crowned king, and they got a crucified savior. They wanted a roaring lion and got a sacrificial lamb. They wanted an earthly ruler, and Jesus brought a heavenly kingdom. They missed the gospel, and their expectations led to disappointment. So when we seek our mindset in prayer rather than God’s kingdom and His will, it only leads to sadness and sorrow. According to Romans 12:2, God’s will is always good, pleasing, and perfect.
Many Jews wanted a crowned king, and they got a crucified savior. They wanted a roaring lion and got a sacrificial lamb. They wanted an earthly ruler, and Jesus brought a heavenly kingdom.
Jesus then retells them the story they knew from their Jewish background. He began with Moses, then continued to all the prophets and all the Scriptures concerning Himself. He interprets the Scriptures with which they were familiar. This time they hear it with honest hearts that are now ready to receive God’s plan. But the journey comes to a close. They have reached their homes. Two interesting things happen. First, they invite Jesus to stay the night with them and eat. It says, “They urged him strongly.” Second, a tradition is changed for the moment. As Jesus stays for dinner, the passage says that Jesus broke the bread and handed it to them. In Jewish custom, this was the duty of the father in a home. He was the head, the master, and the ruler of the home. Now, based upon their invitation to stay, Jesus takes the position of ruler of the house. He gives them bread, their eyes are opened, and they recognize Him. He then vanishes.
Their response to this walk with Jesus is found in verses 32-34, which say their hearts burned within them, and they immediately rose and walked seven miles back to Jerusalem to tell the story of the risen Savior. No longer did they need to walk by sight. They acknowledged their misguided understanding and desperation. The Scriptures were interpreted, and truth was revealed. Their hearts burned, and they were now convinced of the Christ. The walk to Emmaus should direct our hearts to the reality that a risen Savior seeks us, knows us, and desires us to believe beyond what we see to the power of the resurrected Christ, and to surrender to His perfect will. This should be a walk that changes everything for us.
The walk to Emmaus should direct our hearts to the reality that a risen Savior seeks us, knows us, and desires us to believe beyond what we see to the power of the resurrected Christ, and to surrender to His perfect will.
Copyright © 2023 Dennis Henderson. All rights reserved.