The Road to Emmaus: Luke 24:13-35
The story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is beautiful portrayed in Luke’s Gospel. The only other mention of this powerful story is from Mark’s Gospel and it is only two verses long. Thankfully, Luke goes into great detail and there are many truths to be learned from his account. A journey that began in hopelessness and despair turned into one that brought the assurance that Christ had defeated death, once and for all, and had given us the promise of eternal life by belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
The story takes place on Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday. These two disciples were not among the now eleven disciples, but they were followers of Christ, probably in Jerusalem. They knew the eleven and probably had regular contact with them. These two followers have just heard the news that Jesus’ tomb was found empty, but they could not grasp exactly what was happening. It seemed that all of the disciples had to be reminded, again and again, that Christ would rise from the dead on the third day. These two followers were wondering what had happened as they trudged along on the road towards Emmaus.
And as they walked along the road, downcast and without hope, the risen Christ walks up alongside them. Luke’s Gospel tells us that “they were kept from recognizing him.” Jesus begins a conversation with these two men and these two disciples were stunned that this stranger had not heard of the terrible news of Jesus’ crucifixion in Jerusalem. They then explain to Jesus how the prophets had predicted that the Christ would have to suffer these things and then enter into glory. Jesus sort of scolds them by saying, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”
It is only later, after the two disciples invite Jesus to come in and stay with them, that they discover who this “stranger” is. Jesus pretends to be going on further but the two disciples insist that Jesus come inside and eat, rest, and be safe. They were offering hospitality to a stranger. Jesus accepts their offer and as Jesus breaks the bread they were able to recognize Him. And Jesus immediately disappears from their sight.
Jesus had been with these two men all along but they were so lost in their grief and sorrow that they did not, or could not, recognize the risen Christ. Many times we are just like these two men. We get so caught up in the turmoil of our own lives that we can’t seem to realize that Christ is also there with us, in the midst of our troubles and sorrows.
We don’t know why these two disciples were traveling towards Emmaus. It is possible that they lived there, they could have been going there on business, or they could have just been looking to escape the terrible things they had witnessed a few days earlier in Jerusalem. They probably just wanted to get away from the difficulties of the last few days.
What do you do to escape the pressures and the challenges of this world? Do you get lost on a road that leads to despair and loneliness? Do you ever get so tired of trying to do what’s right – only to have more problems and difficulties come your way? Are you to the point that you are so downcast and beaten down by this world – that you fail to look up and notice that Christ is there with you – in the midst of your difficulties?
These two men were not looking for Jesus, in fact, they don’t even recognize him when He comes up and walks alongside them. It is important to note that Christ was meeting them in their place of loss. And that is precisely where Christ is waiting to meet us today. He is already there for us but He is waiting for us to acknowledge His presence and His power to change our situation of hopelessness and despair into one that is full of joy and hope and eternal life.