One of the fullest and most beautiful accounts of the resurrection appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be found in the story of the walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Mark refers to the story in one verse, but Luke had other sources of information not available to others.
The story is an incontrovertible proof of the resurrection on the third day, which has been described as the best attested fact in history. This narrative is a fulfilment of Christ’s promise ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst’. When two souls talk together with Christ as their theme, he draws near, lifting despondency and enlightening darkness.
This incident has been called the loveliest story in the world. It has to do with the simplest things – a dusty road to a village, two ordinary people, a country cottage, a simple invitation to a meal. Into these simplest of things came the living Christ, transforming and enriching everything.
What a sorrowful walk it was! Cleopas and his unnamed companion were returning from the Passover; they walked and were sad, their hopes had been blasted, they staggered under their load of sorrow. They were overwhelmed with grief, they had lost their best friend and the bottom had dropped out of their world. But at the moment of their greatest need ‘Jesus himself drew near and went with them’, though they didn’t recognise him. The stranger who joined them was none other than the subject of their conversation. They were carried captive by the stranger’s amazing knowledge, his supreme authority and his burning words. Let us observe four things in this matchless story:
Opened Scriptures (verses 25-27)
The disciples’ knowledge was weak and imperfect, they confessed frankly that their expectations had been disappointed by Christ’s death. They had looked for a temporal redemption from the powers of Rome. They had completely overlooked the fact that it was predicted of Christ that he must first suffer and then enter into his glory. They wanted the crown without the cross. There is a widespread tendency today to dwell on the attractive parts of Scripture and to omit those which do not appeal to us. The love of God is over-stressed by some preachers at the expense of his other attributes; e.g. his hatred of sin. These two disciples had read their Bibles without fully understanding what they read.
‘Beginning at Moses and all the prophets he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.’ Here the Lord Jesus sets his imprimatur on the Old Testament – we need to beware of neglecting or despising it. How full of Christ is this portion of God’s Word. We cannot go far in any part of Scripture without meeting with something that has reference to Christ, whether sacrifice, prophecy or type. Christ is the central sun of the whole book; the key to the sacred volume is Christ.
The Lord’s ministry that day to the two disciples completely lifted them from the depths of despair; they could say with the Psalmist, ‘Thy word hath quickened me’. What must it have been to hear the Bible expounded by the Lord; small wonder then that their hearts burned within them as he talked with them by the way. What would we not give to have a transcript of that divine exposition?
Opened home (verses 28 and 29)
Here is a Guest they really wanted to stay. Christ loves to be entreated of his people; he gladly enters where welcome. ‘He made as though he would go further” – he desired to see if they really wanted his company. He loves to draw out our desires. At Emmaus the Christ who is asked to come in order to receive abides in order to bestow. Has Christ been welcomed into our home? Is Christ the head of the house? A man’s Christianity may be tested by his home life; said the Psalmist, ‘I will walk in my house with a perfect heart’.
Opened eyes (verse 31)
‘Their eyes were opened and they knew him.” The revelation to sense came only after the revelation to faith. ‘He was known of them in the breaking of bread’ (verse 35). They had not been at the last Supper (only the twelve were there); perhaps they remembered how he gave thanks at the feeding of the five thousand or perhaps they saw the scars in his hands as he broke the bread – ‘they knew him’.
Are our spiritual eyes open? Can we say with the blind man who had his sight restored, ‘One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see’ (John 9:25).
Opened lips (verse 35)
‘They told what things were done’. They set off that very hour to tell the others what they had heard and seen – a distance of seven and a half miles. Such was their enthusiasm they braved the darkness and dangers of the night. Alas, some Christians have never gone seven and a half yards out of their way to tell what they know of a living Saviour! Good news is not meant to be kept a close secret but to be shared with others.
We certainly have need to pray: ‘O Lord, open thou our lips; and our mouth shall show forth thy praise.’
Rev Maurice Handford is from Poynton, Cheshire. This article is taken with permission from The Gospel Magazine, March-April 2010.
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