18 Sep 2016

The Road to Emmaus

Religious 17 Comments

Luke 24: 13-35 records the events of two disciples walking to Emmaus after the crucifixion. They are demoralized because they thought Jesus was the Messiah, but now He’s dead (or so they think). Then He begins walking with them, though they don’t recognize Him:

On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] 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.

I love the above story, for three reasons:

(1) They don’t recognize Jesus, even though He is literally right in front of their faces.

(2) They had believed in Him during His ministry, no doubt bolstered by His miracles. Part of the urgency in killing Jesus was that He had raised Lazarus from the dead, in front of a crowd. So these disciples presumably knew that Jesus had raised others from the dead, and (possibly) they also knew that He had predicted His own return after being killed. Yet they were so sure that was impossible, they couldn’t see Him in front of their faces–even after others in their group prepped them by saying they had seen an empty tomb and angels.

(3) In order to prove to them that this man they had followed really was the Messiah, and really would come back from the dead, Jesus reminded them of all the prophecies in (what Christians now call) the Old Testament. As Vernon McGee put it, Jesus didn’t show them the nail prints in His hands, instead He showed them the Scriptures.

17 Responses to “The Road to Emmaus”

  1. Khodge says:

    Big miss Bob.
    Twice, at the end of the quoted passage, He revealed Himself in the breaking of the bread. Quoting scripture at them had no effect.

    By quoting McGee here, you could not possibly have made a stronger scriptural argument in favor of a Sacramental Church.

  2. Harold says:

    but they were kept from recognizing him.

    “I love the above story, for three reasons:

    (1) They don’t recognize Jesus, even though He is literally right in front of their faces.”

    It was not so much that they did not recognise him, but were kept from recognising him. Is this an intervention to prevent them doing so? Then when they did recognise him perhaps it was nothing to do with the scriptures being so persuasive, but that they were allowed to recognise him?

    It seems an odd way to put it if it was simply them not recognising him.

    • Harold says:

      Similar to God hardening the Pharaoh’s heart.

    • guest says:

      Exactly.

  3. Dan says:

    Maybe I just read his posts in a different manner, but it seems to me that a lot of the complaints towards Murphy come from missing what his point was to begin with.

    I don’t believe he was trying to say that Jesus got them to recognise Him by using scripture. I took it as him saying that when they were expressing their doubts, Jesus didn’t say “Hey, it’s me, look at my wounds”. Instead, He simply explained how the scriptures said this would come to pass, and that it had to happen this way, without even bringing up the fact that it was Him standing in front of them.

    • Dan says:

      In other words, rather than reveal Himself directly in the flesh to relieve their doubts, He used scripture to try to show them the light. I don’t think the story is about what got these guys to see it was Jesus talking to them. I think it’s about believing in the scripture rather than only believing what we see directly in front of us.

      • Harold says:

        OK, so in order for Jesus to teach the lesson it was necessary that they did not recognise him. Makes sense.

    • Khodge says:

      That would be a valid observation if that is the point of the passage. It is not. The punchline, given twice, about six sentencs apart, is that they knew him in the breaking of the bread.

      The breaking of the bread – communion or Eucharist in Sacramental Christian churches – is how you know The Lord. They did not even recognize their hearts were burning as they listened to scripture until they had broken bread.

      • Dan says:

        Couldn’t it be both? Why are those mutually exclusive?

        • Khodge says:

          Of course it could be both. But it is not.

          Take away the breaking of the bread and you are left with Jesus spending a few more hours on earth doing exactly what he had spent the prior 3 years doing.

          He showed them that they would find Him in the breaking of the bread.

      • Mark says:

        The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is one of the most understood subjects in the Bible. The Catholics have the bizarre teaching of transubstantiation and many Protestants have the weird teaching of examining yourself to make sure you are worthy of participating in it.

        I would recommend going to this webpage and listen to Bob George explain what Communion isn’t and then what it is. My guess is that most of the people commenting on the subject have never heard this teaching before, but once you do, it’s clear as a bell. I have a few other things I’d like to say about it, but rather than doing that, I’ll just wait and see if anyone comments on what Bob has to say. (The play button is just above where it says Romans 12:1-10 and to the left of where it says The Lord’s Supper is for The Body of Christ.)

        http://bobgeorge.net/the-lords-supper/

  4. Bob Murphy says:

    Khodge,

    Your reaction here is PERFECT for illustrating why pride and sectarianism keep Christians fighting with each other. I said nothing wrong in my post, and in fact it was a very important point. Look again:

    …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.

    Now if “the point” (in your words) was only that Jesus needed to break bread for them to see Him, He is certainly an inefficient teacher, isn’t He? He wasted a lot of time doing something that you (apparently) think doesn’t even warrant mentioning.

    Notice again what happened in the above. The disciples lamented that the women “did not see Jesus,” then He comes back and says they are foolish for not believing, and then walks through the Scriptures.

    So, McGee’s point–which I was amplifying–is that when Jesus seeks to show that you are foolish for not believing in Him, His evidence is the Scriptures.

    Now, YOUR point–which is a GREAT one and you’re right, I should’ve said it too, if I wanted to make a second point on this passage instead of the one on which I focused–is that notwithstanding the obvious proof in the Scriptures, the actual human disciples could only see Jesus through the breaking of the bread.

    So in summary, your point is great and important, but in order to make it you thought it necessary to say something like this:

    Take away the breaking of the bread and you are left with Jesus spending a few more hours on earth doing exactly what he had spent the prior 3 years doing.

    You’re making it sound like it was no big whoop for Jesus to specifically show them all the prophecies concerning Himself in the Scriptures, such that they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?””

    OK ecumenical rant over.

  5. Khodge says:

    These are good and challenging posts that you have been posting. Will try to back off on my sectarian takes. (Sometimes it just slips out.)

    • Bob Murphy says:

      FWIW I felt like I came off too harshly too in my response. Bring it in guys, group hug.

      • Khodge says:

        Bob, nothing but good here. (I’m stubborn and need the four x four.)

        That said, Dan had an excellent point that can be expanded. This passage, well chosen by you, actually shows some of the many was God is open to communication:
        1) Jesus talks directly to us
        2) God has written his love-letter to us (scripture)
        3) We have been given teachers (the disciples did not continue on their journey, they returned to the Apostles
        4) He feeds us in the breaking – and sharing – of the bread.

      • Khodge says:

        p.s. I take a rather unhealthy pride in being a PERFECT bad example.

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