This fascinating story about the two disciples on their journey to Emmaus always holds a certain mystique for me. I picture these two figures in the late evening on a dusty road forlorn, dejected and full of sorrow. I imagine them walking and talking in hushed tones of the events that took place, saying to one another that now all hope was lost. They wonder why with all the miracles He performed could He not have saved Himself. They knew He was no ordinary man; He was more than just a prophet. He spoke with such authority, like none other that they had heard before. He quoted the scriptures and drew vast crowds with His preaching. He stood up to the Pharisees who were always trying to entrap Him and yet His answers always fazed them, putting them to silence.
It was unbearable for them to think of a future without Him. Something with great meaning had gone out of their lives. The scene they left behind, as gruesome as it was, was less painful to them than the one they envisaged. A life without The Teacher brought great doubt and their thoughts were clouded with the memory of what had befallen Him. The scene was gruesome enough. They couldn’t erase the images out of their minds. How could he not have saved Himself when he saved so many?” The beating, the scourging, the insults and the cries of “crucify Him!” etched painfully in their consciousness. To watch Him helpless on the cross was too much to bear. When he finally cried out “It is finished” that was a spirit-defeating moment. A life-force had gone out from them.
The earthquake and the early darkness, accompanied by the rending of the curtain in two increased their fear of what had just transpired. It was an experience of great magnitude. His life in exchange for Barabbas! What a mockery! Then to hear Him say “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” They who plotted to take His life as far back as they could remember should be forgiven! Yet He was always noble of character, preaching love and the forgiveness of sins. Who was ever like Him?
The Stranger joins them, but they take no serious notice of Him, so absorbed are they in their grief. When He asks them the subject of their discussion, they couldn’t believe that anyone would not have heard of the terrible things that had transpired. They recount to Him the terrible news and the fact that some women said that they had seen Him, but obviously they did not believe them. He chides them for not remembering that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and go into His glory so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled. They listen to Him attentively and with great interest as He speaks to them about Moses and all the prophets, and of the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:24-27). They had forgotten everything that He had previously said. “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18).
As they reach their destination, they constrain Him to stay with them and have supper. The moment of truth presents itself. He breaks bread and blesses it and immediately they recognize Him, whereupon He vanishes from their sight. Immediately, they rise and return from where they had come. I just love when they said “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, when He opened to us the scriptures?” Hope was now revived. The long journey at night presents no obstacles. There is now a spring in their step, anticipating what the others would say. They had to return and share the good news: They had seen the Lord. Life now takes on a new meaning. Hope has been restored.
This is such a great lesson for us. Despite reading the Bible, despite hearing God’s Word, despite the fulfillment of so many prophecies, we are inclined to doubt. We forget that God’s Word never returns void; that He does what He says He will do. Feeling dejected and forlorn, sorrowful and distressed is an indication that we do not believe in His promises. Jesus had told His disciples on three occasions that the Chief Priests and Scribes would put Him to death and that He would rise again. Even the raising of Lazarus from the dead did not make the possibility of His resurrection something to be entertained. We can be sure of His Presence; that He walks with us as He walked with the two men on their way to Emmaus. If we invite Him into our hearts as they invited Him in to sup with them, He will make Himself known to us. He will revive that hope in our hearts, the hope that renews our faith, to give us that confidence again to know that we are children of God and that nothing can separate us from the love of God.