13. Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.
Now we follow two of them, who are leaving Jerusalem and traveling to a village called Emmaus. The “them” here was not the eleven, but just the Lord’s followers in general, the “rest” mentioned in verse 9. The village Emmaus was about seven miles from Jerusalem, so this was no short walk. It is likely that, the Lord Jesus being thought dead, His followers were beginning to scatter, as often happens when any movement breaks up. These former disciples were heading home in discouragement, assuming their hopes had been all in vain.
14. And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
As they travel, these two disciples talk together of all these things which had happened. Indeed, we can imagine that most people in Jerusalem had talked of little else since these things had occurred! Yet for disciples of His like these were, we can imagine that even more this was constantly the center of their conversation, and the thing that dominated their thoughts. Their lives had been torn apart, and their hopes dashed. It could not be but that they were talking about this, and trying to decide just what it was that had gone wrong.
15. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.
Now while they talk and reason about these things, Jesus Christ Himself joins them on their walk. This would not have seemed a remarkable thing to them, as travel was precarious in those days due to the many robbers who would waylay the unwary traveler. Thus one traveling a road alone and meeting others going the same way would be likely to join them for safety. The Lord was apparently walking more quickly and purposefully than they were. Perhaps they were wandering slowly and dejectedly, with sick hearts. Now, they are joined by the very Lord they were pining for, and they do not even realize it!
16. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
Some would try to claim that the Lord Jesus looked far different in His resurrected form than He did before His death, and that this is the reason these two disciples couldn’t recognize Him. Then they reason from this idea to claim that we will look far different when we are resurrected as well. Yet notice that the reason they didn’t recognize Him was because “their eyes were restrained,” not because He looked so different. This would seem to indicate that if their eyes had not been restrained, they would have recognized Him, for why restrain eyes that cannot see anyway? Would you blindfold a blind man? So the Lord probably did not look as different as some like to claim. Yet their eyes were restrained, and they did not know Who it was Who had just joined them walking down the road.
17. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”
Our Lord Jesus, as He often does, begins His teaching with a probing question. That is, what is it that they are talking about that is so sad? This reminds us of the angels’ question, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” If these men only knew it, this was not the time for great sorrow, but rather for great rejoicing!
18. Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”
We learn here that one of them is named Cleopas. This name means “Of a Renowned Father,” so he may have been the son of someone rather well-known at the time. We do not know the name of the other disciple, or even if he was a man or woman. All we know is that one of them was a man named Cleopas.
Cleopas cannot believe that anyone hadn’t heard about the great events surrounding Christ’s death. Even a stranger in Jerusalem would have heard from the talk of those around him news of this great event. This was the talk of the country at that time, no doubt!
19. And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
The Lord does not deny knowing of these things, but still He plays innocent, and asks them to tell Him what things these are that they mean. So they explain to Him that they are talking about Jesus of Nazareth. This was not the most respectful of names, for Nazareth was not a town with a good reputation, but it was how He was known to those not well acquainted with Him. Then they explain that He was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people. Notice that they relegate the Lord Jesus to the status of a Prophet, not the place of Messiah. Remember, this was something the Lord had never claimed to the crowds, but had only been revealed to a very few, like the twelve. Even if these two knew of this, it might have seemed ridiculous to claim this for Him now, considering how He had died. Few in Israel could have imagined their Savior, the Messiah, dying on a tree!
20. “And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.
Notice that these two disciples do not claim that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had turned on the Lord, as many would declare today and have us believe. Rather, they make it clear that it was the chief priests and their rulers who had delivered Him to be condemned to death, and who had crucified Him. How great is the slander that is brought against the common people of Israel constantly by the theologians! Yet the many libelous things they write against them are not supported by the Word of God. The crowd of rabble who were at Pilate’s judgment hall at the right time to condemn the Lord Jesus, made up of those who were the flunkies of the religious leaders along with the disciples who followed Barabbas, were by no means representative of the majority of people in Jerusalem!
21. “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.
These two disciples testify that it had been their hope that He was the One Who was going to redeem Israel. Yet the word “hope” is not strong enough in English. This was their hope, and yet, the way we use this word in English, one can really hope for anything, but this does not mean he will get it. The idea of the Greek word here is expectation, when one has reason to believe he will receive what he is expecting. They had seen all He had done, and thought it gave them good reason to think that He was the One to redeem Israel, God’s people.
Redeeming Israel means far more than just bringing salvation to certain individuals in Israel. Not to deny the importance of that, for without the salvation and forgiveness of sins that the Lord offers, no one in Israel could ever be saved. Yet the redemption of Israel has to do with far more than simply that. It means bringing all the exiled Israelites from all the nations where they have been scattered and returning them to the land of Israel. It does not matter for this whether these Israelites are living or dead, for the dead will be raised to be returned to the land. This involves breaking the yoke of Rome or any other nation from the People, and making them a free nation ruled only by God once more. It means making them the head of all nations, and not the tail in anything. It means setting up their temple, their priesthood, their tribal governments, and David’s throne. It means all these things, and these two disciples had been right, even though at this point they no longer believed so. All these things will be done through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One Who will redeem Israel.
No doubt this hope had been shared by almost everyone in Jerusalem, and no doubt the vast majority of people there were feeling the same disappointment that these two disciples felt. This incident is almost like what today we would call an interview with the “man on the street” at those times letting us know what the people of Jerusalem were thinking about His death.
Finally, these two sadly declare that it is the third day since these things happened. That might not mean much to us, but in Jewish society at the time they apparently had a superstition that if one was going to be raised from the dead, it had to be in the first two days after death. They thought that in those two days, the spirit stays around the body, seeking entrance back into it. If one could heal whatever had damaged the body and caused it to die, the spirit would naturally enter back in, and the person would live again. This is how they explained the resurrections performed by Elijah and Elisha. Yet after forty-eight hours, the spirit would leave and return to God, and then only He could ever call it back again. Thus, when the Lord had been dead for more than forty-eight hours, that to them meant it was all over. I am not saying that this belief they had was true, only that this is what they believed, and the significance they gave to the third day. Of course, the Lord Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead just weeks before this after he had been dead and in the grave for four days, so they should have known already that the third day was no insurmountable obstacle to Him!
22. “Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us.
These two disciples had been part of the Lord’s company, which no doubt included a large number of individuals at that time. Therefore, they knew more than most of the common people would have at this time. They knew of the women’s visit to the tomb, and the report they brought to the disciples.
23. “When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.
These disciples repeat what the women had said. They did not find His body in the tomb any longer, but rather saw angels who told them that He is alive. Yet these two had clearly not believed their report, and had not believed it so thoroughly that they were even now leaving Jerusalem rather than remaining to find out what would come of this strange claim of these women. We could blame them for their lack of faith, but if so we would have to blame every one of the twelve along with them. No doubt many of the Lord’s former followers were scattering after His death as well, just as these two were leaving the others and traveling to Emmaus. They probably were going back to wherever it was they had lived before meeting the Lord, and these two would never have returned to find their fellow disciples again if He had not risen and come to meet them on the road. How many others might have scattered just like these two, and not have heard the wonderful news of the Lord’s resurrection until one came to them from the apostles in the Acts period later on?
24. “And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
They go on to tell the story of Peter and John, and how they ran to the tomb and found it empty, just as the women had said. Yet they had seen no angels, and He did not appear to them either. These two disciples don’t seem to know quite what to make of this report. Obviously they do not set much store by the testimony of the women, considering that they are heading dejectedly down the road out of Jerusalem. What had happened to His body they do not know, but we would expect that they were probably speculating that someone had stolen it. No doubt all these things had been part of the discussion they had been having while walking down the road before the Lord Jesus came up to them.
25. Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Now the Lord Jesus calls them foolish ones, and admonishes them for their lack of faith. They believed some of what the prophets spoke of, that a redeemer would come to deliver Israel. Yet they had been slow to believe ALL that these same prophets had spoken. The reality is that the prophets had also spoken of the very things that had been accomplished in Jerusalem these last few days. Christ had done exactly what the prophets had said the Messiah would do, yet these disciples had stumbled in faith because of it. Their hearts had been too slow to believe these things. This is the danger of knowing some parts of what the Word says about a thing, but not enough to know all of what the Word says about it. Such partial knowledge can result in a lack of faith as surely as no knowledge does.
The word Christ uses here for “foolish ones” is the Greek word anoetos, which means without reflection. It is not the word moros, which He warned against calling anyone in Matthew 5:22, lest one come into the judgment of the Gehenna of fire. The only people He ever called by this name were the scribes and Pharisees in His great castigation of them in Matthew 23.
26. “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”
Indeed, this is what Christ was supposed to do. The same prophets like Isaiah who predicted the triumph and reign of Christ also predicted His sufferings and death. It was just as necessary for the Lord to do the one as it was for Him to do the other.
27. And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Now the Lord goes from Moses through all the Prophets and expounds to them the things in the Scriptures written concerning Himself. How wonderful it would have been to have heard the Lord give this discourse! We can only guess at some of the things He might have said, but certainly the Old Testament Scriptures are rife with passages telling about the Lord Jesus. For when we realize that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Lord Jesus Christ of the New, we can see that He does indeed fill every page of the Old Testament. There is much written there that tells about Him. Now, He opened those Scriptures for these men, and explains to them all the things they had to say about Him.
28. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther.
As the Lord has been expounding these things to them, they have been traveling all the while. Now, they are drawing near to the village that was their destination. Emmaus was about seven miles from Jerusalem, so they were coming to the end of their seven mile journey. The Lord indicates that He is going to go on farther, letting them continue on to the place where they were staying. The Greek prospoieomai or “added to go” indicates there was no deception on the Lord’s part. He really was going farther, and would have gone on had these two disciples not constrained Him. What exactly His errand would have been had He gone on farther we cannot say.
29. But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.
These two constrain Him from continuing His journey. They invite Him to stay the night with them, since the evening was fast approaching. If He went on from here, He probably would have had to sleep outdoors that night; at least, if He did not use His power to travel elsewhere. Therefore, these two invite Him to stay with them. This was in line with the social customs of the day, but I cannot help but think that they were quite eager to make better acquaintance with this One Who had taught them so much about the Scriptures in such a short time. Whatever the Lord might have been intending to do by going farther down the road, He willingly agrees to abide for a time with these two disciples.
30. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
Now it is later in the evening. The meal is prepared, and they sit down with the Lord to the table. Perhaps it was actually the home of these two disciples at which they have arrived. It could be that these two were a couple, man and wife, and this was where they lived; at least, when they were not following the Lord around the country.
Now once they have sat down to eat, the Lord does what must at first have seemed to them a very strange thing. He takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to them. This was ever the Lord’s way when beginning a meal with His disciples. This blessing was similar to what we do when we pray before a meal. Yet blessing, breaking, and distributing the bread were all the tasks of the host. It was not the job of a guest in the home to do this. Therefore, the Lord has stepped forward and acted as the host. This would have seemed most unusual to these two disciples, at least, until they recognized Him. Once they knew it was the Lord Who was doing this, they would have realized that all they had was truly His, and that He as their Master had every right to act as the host, even in “their” own home.
31. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
We might wonder if it was this familiar act of the Lord’s at mealtime that any one of His disciples would have recognized that made them recognize Him at this point. Yet I do not believe that this was it, but rather that God opened their eyes so that they would recognize Him. Remember, it was He Who had shut their eyes from recognizing Him in the first place. There is no indication here that He looked so physically different as to be unrecognizable, and certainly no one else who saw Him after His death had any trouble recognizing Him. Therefore, we would believe that God removed the blinders from their eyes upon Him performing this familiar act.
The moment they recognize Him, He vanishes. The Greek word aphantos, which occurs only here, indicates that He became invisible, not that He actually left the room. Perhaps when these disciples had left to go back to Jerusalem and report what they had seen, He continued, either visible or invisible, on His journey down the road, as He would have had they not constrained Him to come in with them.
32. And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
These two disciples confer upon discovering that the One they had had as a guest was in fact the Lord Jesus. Their minds go back to their journey with Him on the road, and they recall how their hearts burned within them as He made the Scriptures open to them. By these words they describe the feeling they had as they realized that they were being taught great truth and were understanding the reality of the Scriptures. Now, they can easily understand why this had happened to them, realizing that it was the Lord Himself Who had been opening the Scriptures and explaining these things to them.
How great it would be to have Christ Himself speak to us and interpret the Scriptures for us! Yet we do not have this privilege, and so we have to struggle to find the truth that is there. Yet God has given us His Holy Spirit to aid us in our quest to learn His truth. We do not have to make this struggle alone.
33. So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
These two disciples are so excited about what has happened that they simply cannot remain at Emmaus. Therefore that very hour they rise up and return to Jerusalem. Considering the lateness of the hour, much of this journey must have been made in the dark. Traveling at this time was a dangerous thing to do. Yet what else could these disciples do? They had seen the Lord alive, and the excitement of it could not be contained, even overnight.
When these disciples get back to the city, they find the eleven and the rest who are with them gathered together, and in a state of great excitement. This is not the mournful and despondent group they had left earlier in the day!
34. Saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
The reason these are gathered together is excitement. The Lord has appeared in person to Simon, who is usually known as Peter. What exactly He said and did at this appearance is not recorded for us, either here or in the other gospels. In fact, the only other place this appearance to Peter is mentioned is by Paul in I Corinthians 15:5, as he is listing the appearances of the Lord Jesus. While we do not know what transpired between these two at this appearance, we do know that Peter had much to work out with the Lord after his denials. We see some of that working out in John 21. What went on here at this earlier appearance, however, was apparently private, as the Lord does not see fit to tell us about it. The Lord has the right, of course, to have private relationships with any one of His people. In fact, this is what He desires! There are some things that just should not be shared, and apparently this is one of them.
It seems that the Lord Jesus’ appearing to Peter convinced the rest of the disciples that He was truly risen from the dead, whereas His appearances to the women did not. This might seem strange to us, but we need to realize that the testimony of a woman was not valued in their culture, as unfair as that may be. It apparently took the testimony of a man to this fact before many of the others would believe it.
35. And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
Now these two disciples returned from Emmaus break into the conversation with their own thrilling tale. They relate the story of how He had met them on the road, ending with how He was known to them when He broke the bread. We can imagine their excitement as they told the others of this amazing event!