"That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognise who He was.
"He asked, 'What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?'
"They just stood there, long faced like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, 'Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn't heard what's happened during the last few days?'" Luke 24:13-19 (The Message).
Jesus must have enjoyed His little game with these disciples. They were not part of the Twelve, but they were disciples, nevertheless, people who were committed to this Rabbi and learning to walk in His yoke. The events of the past few days had hit them as hard as they had hit the remaining eleven disciples.
They were going over and over the tragedy they had witnessed, just like we do, in a sort-of cathartic way. Sharing their pain was a way of trying to come to terms with it. When a stranger came alongside them, they were so engrossed in their grief and frustration that they took little notice of Him.
Luke continues the "mystery" of the missing Jesus. The women had not seen Him. They had evidence that something unusual had happened but that was all. Peter had not seen Him. His visit to the tomb turned up nothing. Now Jesus joins this grieving pair and they are too preoccupied to notice who was walking with them.
Imagine their surprise when their unknown companion had no idea what they are talking about! Jesus egged them on, pretending to be ignorant of the dramatic events they were recounting. He must have chuckled to Himself, anticipating the moment when He would make Himself known to them. It was also a beautiful moment, a moment of opportunity - to share with them in the clearest way possible, the meaning of the story in which they were fully involved.
They were oblivious to the obvious clues surrounding this stranger because of their emotional state. They believed that their beloved Master was dead. Because of that, they were full of sorrow and despair. This is how the human psyche works. Our emotions are the symptom of what we believe. If the interpretation of our experiences is faulty, we will feel the emotional pain of that false belief.
Most often times we see ourselves as the victims in difficult circumstances. Because of our inborn sense of worthlessness aggravated and confirmed by the way we are often mistreated by family or peers; we interpret our experiences as confirmation of who we think we are.
The minds of these disciples blotted out the possibility of Jesus being alive. Instead they believed their false idea that He was dead and with Him all their hopes. All they could do was to come to terms with their grief and bitter disappointment.
But Jesus was about to change that! Only an encounter with Him can expose and change our faulty interpretations and replace our emotional pain with peace. It takes an honest admission that we are wrong to bring about this radical and permanent release from pain.