Rumors echoed throughout Jerusalem. The epic events of the weekend had everyone talking. The arrest, crucifixion and death of the Nazarene consumed every conversation.
“Have you heard the latest news? Thieves carried off the heretic’s body!”
“Jesus is alive just like he said! He is our Messiah!”
The disciples had scattered. Some hid in an upper room apartment while others returned home.
Cleopas maneuvered through the busy streets. He stepped aside to allow a procession of people to pass by. He scanned the crowd in search of his traveling companion.
Where is he? Doesn’t he realize that we must reach Emmaus before nightfall?
Cleopas paused under a sycamore tree; its shade provided welcome relief from the afternoon sun. He usually traveled light, so he carried no baggage other than a heavy heart.
Soon, his friend joined him in the shade. “Sorry I’m late, Cleopas. It was unavoidable.”
Cleopas frowned. “I honestly don’t know how this happened. I was sure he was the Messiah. How could I be so wrong?”
The two men began their journey home. Along the way, they discussed everything they had witnessed.
“I don't understand,” Cleopas exclaimed. “I was there, in the room when Jesus healed that paralyzed man. I heard his words. I saw the man stand to his feet and walk!”
His companion nodded in agreement. “Yes, and I witnessed his remarkable responses to so many ridiculous questions. The Pharisee’s blindly questioned him without any regard to his divine identity.”
The steady stream of travelers on the road had thinned quite a bit by the time the two men reached the crossroads. As they continued eastward toward Emmaus, a stranger came along side them. He listened in on their conversation and then asked, "What things happened in Jerusalem?"
Cleopas sighed with disbelief. "You're kidding me, right? Have you not heard what happened in Jerusalem? They killed Jesus! They crucified our Messiah; the only one who could redeem Israel."
The stranger placed his hand on Cleopas' shoulder. "Beloved of God, I sense your deep grief. Please hear my words. It seems that you have forgotten the ancient lessons your father taught you. Do you not remember the words Moses spoke to Israel while they were in the wilderness? Moses told the people, 'The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him'."
The stranger's words captured men's attention. An ember of hope began to burn in their hearts. He seemed to know what they needed to hear. He reminded them of all the promises of God; the promises already kept, and the promises yet to keep. By the time they arrived in Emmaus, the ember of hope in their hearts had exploded into a blazing fire of faith.
The men could not contain their excitement. "Please stay and eat with us," they implored.
"We wish to continue our discussion," Cleopas added.
The stranger agreed to stay. As their meal was prepared, he continued to explain God's plan of salvation. He reminded them of the prophet Isaiah. "Do you remember Isaiah's words?"
"Which words?" The men asked.
As the stranger took a loaf of bread into his hands, he began to quote Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn."
After he finished speaking, the stranger broke the bread and then he vanished right before their eyes.
"Did you see that?" Cleopas touched the pillow where the stranger had been seated. "It's still warm!"
"It was Jesus!" They exclaimed in unison. The sudden clarity of the situation flooded their hearts with joy.
"I understand now!" Cleopas jumped to his feet. "I remember when Jesus read that same passage from Isaiah. He told the people, 'Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing'. It's true, Jesus is our Messiah! We must return to Jerusalem and tell the other disciples!"
Scripture passages in the order they appear:
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