Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 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?”
“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. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 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. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 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.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 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?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.—24:13-35
After the emphasis on the empty tomb in verse 1-12, the account that we have just read adds evidence of Jesus’ physical appearance and the testimony of Scriptures as taught by Jesus. The account begins with two travelers leaving Jerusalem and ends with them returning to Jerusalem, and it centers on the statement that Jesus is alive.
Jesus joins the travelers, and they begin to recount their perspective on what Jesus was—a mighty prophet. This is a true but inadequate understanding of Jesus. As with the account of Joseph of Arimathea, the travelers’ hope for the redemption of Israel reminds readers of the hopes expressed at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. These hopes are fulfilled in the rise Lord Jesus. The travelers recount the details of Jesus crucifixion, the timing that is now the third day, and the evidence of the empty tomb.
Jesus points out that their failure to accept the evidence is a result of their heart problem of unbelief in Scriptures concerning the Messiah’s suffering and glory. Then Jesus explains the Christ-centered nature of Scripture. The references to “beginning with Moses,” “all the Prophets,” and “all the Scriptures” emphasizes the comprehensiveness with which all of Scripture points to the accomplishment of God’s saving plan through Jesus. It is divine illumination, however, that results in the travelers recognition of the risen Lord Jesus. Excitement grows as they return to tell the Eleven in Jerusalem.
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.—24:36-43
On the same day, Jesus meets with his disciples and addresses their doubting hearts as to whether or nor he has risen in the flesh. The disciples were not naively expecting to see Jesus alive. The rebuke concerning doubts is then followed by an invitation to see that Jesus physically stands before them with flesh and bones. Jesus then eats some broiled fish right before them, emphasizing the physical reality of the resurrected Jesus in the disciples presence.
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”—24:44-49
There is no explicit temporal link at the beginning of these verses, so they may be later setting. Jesus explains the comprehensive way which he fulfills the goal of Scripture and enables the disciples to grasp this meaning for themselves. Like other Jews at the time, Jesus divided the Old Testament into three sections: the Law, the Prophets and the Writings (with Psalms representing the Writings). According to Jesus, the Scriptures anticipated not only his suffering, death and resurrection but also the spread of the good news of the forgiveness of sins to all nations. The disciples will be witnesses under Jesus’ command, with the enabling power of the Spirit, in keeping with the promise of the Father.
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.—24:50-53
Luke has compressed here what will be developed in more detail in Acts 1:1-11. Bethany is on the Mount of Olives. So Jesus ascends as a visible demonstration to his disciples of the decisive shift in salvation history that has now taken place, as he will reign from the right of the Father. With references to Jerusalem and the temple and praising God, Luke concludes his Gospel where he began it. Hopes for the fulfilling of God’s promises are realized in the risen Lord Jesus. God has come to his people, and so Jesus who now reigns is to be rightfully worshipped.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Judges 11-12, John 1:1-28, Psalm 101:1-8 and Proverbs 14:13-14
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