On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles* from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad.
After Mary Magdalene and other disciples saw the empty tomb, they might think that someone took their Lord’s body and hid it for some reason. Peter and other disciples amazed what had happened in the tomb, but they didn’t think that Jesus was risen till they meet him again. They were still in doubt and fear. Someone might think that Roman soldiers moved the body in order to avoid an additional riot by those who wanted to take the body of Jesus. We know that there were five thousand people who followed Jesus on every side of Judea.
In fact, according to Jewish-Roman historian, Josephus who was born in AD 33—around when Jesus died, that Rome and other Jewish political leaders terribly worried about a riot by those who followed Jesus after Jesus’ crucifixion. But, as you know, nothing was happened; rather they hid themselves with fear and anxiety. There was no riot, but silently escaping or returning home like these two men who walk the Road to Emmaus.
After the story of the empty tomb, the first to see the Risen Jesus were two followers of Jesus, a man named Cleopas and his unnamed friend. It happened this way...
3 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
Jesus had appeared as a gardener to Mary, and now as a stranger to two other disciples. I love this story and some pictures describing this scene beautifully. Jesus appeared as a stranger and listened to his disciples who didn’t recognize him. They talked to Jesus about Jesus.
They might talk about their hope, dream, fear and disappointment. They were not a mob. They didn’t raise a riot. They were on the way to back to their home with the great disappointment, but they were still talking about their Lord who crucified. They grieved for their Lord crucified on the road back to their home.
We all walk sometimes the road to Emmaus like these two disciples.
In his translation of the New Testament, William Barclay translates this text by saying that “they stood with faces twisted with grief” (Luke 24:17b). The two disciples’ faces were “twisted with grief”—as undoubtedly were their hearts—as they walked the road to Emmaus.
Can you imagine it?
When they talked about Jesus their Lord, their faces were twisted with grief.
Each of us, one day, would walk our own road to Emmaus—a journey of grief, disappointment, and pain.
Quite a few years ago, I received an e-mail from a friend who got married with US Army officer. She said in the e-mail that her husband was killed in Iraq. I sang for their wedding. We had a good time when they lived in Korea. When she lost her husband, she was six month pregnant. She wrote of the sadness she felt for “the loss of her dreams for love.” She was walking the road to Emmaus.
I received another note from a man who told me of his eighteen months of unemployment and his feelings of discouragement and anxiety. This was his road to Emmaus. You know that I, your pastor, have often prayed for your work, job and financial peace, because I don’t want to receive such painful note from you. This note described his suffering.
Today, we read the story of two disciples who went down to Emmaus and they met Jesus on the way. To these tow disciples, their faces twisted in grief, Jesus came and walked with them. Yes, Jesus met them when they walk the way of disappointment, discouragement, anxiety and fear, and He still meets us when we walk the way to our own Emmaus.
I wonder if you are walking on your way to Emmaus now.
Are you? Some of you walked the way to Emmaus and finished now.
I want you to remember that your Lord is risen today, and is walking with you. Whatever the way you are walking now—way of pain, way of discouragement, way of disappointment, way of brokenness, way of doubt, way of hopelessness, or way of bitterness—your Risen Lord is walking with you, and help you to recognize that He is alive.
Jesus is risen today. Alleluia! Amen.