Challenge: Read the entire chapter.
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.
Walking with Jesus
Two men who had been followers of Jesus are walking away from Jerusalem with heavy hearts. They are feeling discouraged, disappointed and sad. You see, the death of Jesus was a shattering tragedy for them. They had assumptions of who Jesus was and what he was going to do and when he was crucified all those assumptions fell flat.
As they are walking, they come across a man (who is Jesus). They can see the man but they can’t see that it is Jesus, because God had kept them from recognizing Him (vs 16). They walk and talk with Jesus and tell him of the events of the last few days, namely His death and resurrection. Here Jesus points out their hearts are so filled up with their own agenda for Jesus that they can’t see the truth. So He leads them through the story of the Bible.
This story of these men on the road to Emmaus shows us that we can see Jesus but at the same time, not truly know Him. Why?
The Reason for This (and Every) Season
For these men, the crucifixion was NOT a victory. It shattered everything they had hoped for. They thought – no, hoped – that Jesus would redeem Israel in His life through His words and actions. They thought He would put an end to the Roman oppression they were suffering under.
Ironic, because the very thing that they thought kept Jesus from redeeming Israel was the very thing that did redeem Israel and the rest of the world. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the most powerful part of the crucifixion story. Sometimes we are blinded by it, immune to it, we don’t see it for what it really is because we have been exposed to it so many times. But it’s the heartbeat of the whole story.
Jesus conquered His enemies by giving His life for them. Giving His life for us.
I know it’s not popular opinion to think of humanity as being God’s enemy. But we live in a world and a realm where sin and darkness and evil are at its core. It’s why we are born into sin before we even open our eyes. But if we miss this, then we miss everything.
It’s the reason why the birth of Jesus, which we celebrate right now, is so important. Jesus was born into a sinful world as a perfect, sinless baby so that He could take all of our sins onto Himself at the cross.
And after taking our sin onto His perfect self, seeing it all – He still loves us.
These men on the road to Emmaus finally recognized that it was Jesus who had been walking with them only after they’d invited Him into their home for a meal. Jesus took the bread and broke it and gave it to them in the same way He had at the Passover supper. And then their eyes were opened, and He was gone.
They only understood after they’d seen the bread broken, which Jesus said was His body broken for them (1 Corinthians 11:24). Only when we see the cross, and fully understand what Jesus’ love is personally, do we see who Jesus really is.
This Christmas season, I pray that you never lose sight of the heartbeat of the story of Jesus. I pray that you fully understand the love of Jesus, and that His love fills your hearts. Only when our hearts are filled with His love, can we truly see that love conquers all sins. And when we truly see, and we strive to let it rule in our hearts and lives, His love overflows to the world.