The Road to Emmaus
1. Recognize the context: Historical and Immediate Context-
In verses 1-12, Luke has given his account of the resurrection. The women went to the tomb, and they found the body of Jesus missing. These two “men,” clearly angels from their description and verse 23, reminded the women of Jesus’ words. The women returned to the Eleven disciples to recount their experience. Here, Luke only mentioned Peter going to the tomb to investigate the scene. However, we know that John also went to investigate the empty tomb (John 20:3-10, Luke 24:24).
2. Read the Scripture: Luke 24:13-35
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.
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
Later that same day, two men were walking to Emmaus and discussing everything that had taken place concerning Jesus. It is significant there were two people present in the story. In Jewish law, two people were needed to bear witness. For Luke, this imagery of two witnesses was important. Two witnesses gave testimony about the Messiah at the start of his Gospel (Simeon and Anna, Luke 2:25-38). Here, two men will give witness to the resurrection.
Initially, somehow, these two were kept from recognizing him. Jesus approached them and inquired about their conversation. They were astounded because, ironically, Jesus didn’t seem to know what had happened in the past few days around Jerusalem.
The two attempted to provide Jesus with a summary of his own ministry and the events of the past weekend. After their explanation, Jesus rebuked them and said they were “foolish and slow to believe.” He then presented them with the question, “Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” He used the books of Moses (the Torah) and the Prophets to explain the Messiah's coming.
As Jesus appeared to be going further down the road, the men strongly insisted Jesus stay with them for the evening. When they broke bread together, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. This scene could have triggered memories of the Last Supper if the two were present, but more likely, they were reminded of the feeding of the 5,000 (Luke 9:12-17).
More irony followed in the story. Their eyes were opened to recognize him, but he disappeared from their sight. They realized in reflection that Jesus had opened the Scriptures to them on their journey. After Jesus disappeared, they immediately returned to the Eleven back in Jerusalem to confirm his resurrection.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, prayerfully consider what it must have been like to be on the road to Emmaus with the two disciples and Jesus.
Today, prayerfully reflect on the resurrection. Consider not only the impact on your own life but on the world today.
Today, prayerfully reflect on the suffering and glory of the Messiah. What difference does that make in your own life?
To do: (Actions with the Holy Spirit's help)
Given the prayer suggestions above, how do you need to respond today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, and co-workers.
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)
Read and study the verses above.
Read the following account of Jesus' appearing to disciples in Luke 24:36-49.
Read 1 Cor. 15:3-8 and see all the people to whom Jesus appeared.