As we are coming off the Easter celebration, I am grateful for all that transpired that fateful day 2000 years ago –the day Jesus conquered death and set us free! However, I feel a little inquisitive about the various people Jesus appeared to once He was resurrected. For instance, who were the two men walking to Emmaus? Were they new to the faith or had they followed Jesus the entire 3 years He preached? How many times had they heard Jesus speak? Were they healed by Him?
Earlier in Chapter 24 of Luke, we are told it is early Sunday morning. That would be the same Sunday morning the tomb was found open and empty. Then the discussion turns to these two men, and we are told it is “the same day,” meaning resurrection Sunday. We are also told the two men were headed away from Jerusalem.
Why would Jesus appear first to someone outside His inner circle, and why outside of Jerusalem? We may never know the answer, but can you imagine being one of the first He appeared to?
We then find out the two men were followers, knowledgeable about what had happened, and continuing to discuss all they had heard over the 3 days since Jesus’s death. And suddenly Jesus was walking with them, but they were not aware of his identity. As He appears He engages them:
He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Luke 24:17
Did you catch it? Their grief was “written across their faces.” Certainly, it was an emotional time. You can hear the surprise in their response to Jesus’ question. Who wouldn’t have known about all that transpired over those 3 days? It completely consumed Jerusalem. How the followers of Jesus must have mourned as their hope and dream of a better life now seemed dashed. What confusion they must have felt. This man had done miracle after miracle, but now He is dead.
“What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.” Luke 24: 19-21
But then the men explain, they had also been told that Jesus was alive and not in the grave. Yet, instead of being excited, they were filled with doubt. They were unable to wrap their brains around the fact that Jesus was ALIVE.
Aren’t we just like that? We really go through phases of understanding who God is and what He can really do.
In the next few verses, it appears Jesus scolds them a little, but I also see our patient, kind, grace-filled Lord continuing to teach:
Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27
Here was Jesus, the newly risen and glorified Savior, still taking the time to teach, to help His disciples understand the truth –that takes love and patience. In addition, Jesus even stayed with them a while longer.
By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. Luke 24:28-29
And then over a meal, Jesus is revealed.
Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! Luke 24:31
What thoughts and questions must have gone through their minds as suddenly they realize who they are talking with, and yet, there was no time to respond as Jesus disappeared from before them. But I believe He accomplished His purpose for being there as we read:
They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them … Luke 24:32-33
Can’t you see them running back to Jerusalem, tripping over themselves in excitement? The joy they must have felt as the disciples confirmed that Jesus had also appeared to Peter. If we could only hold onto that joy every single day. This year, let’s find the gift of Easter – joy! …and hold on to it daily!!
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.