Luke 24:13 – 33
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles* from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad.* 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ 19He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth,* who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.* Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ 25Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah* should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us* while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.
The story of Emmaus is one of my favorites in the gospel of Luke. I can identify with the two apostles, so disheartened and discouraged. I see them walking along, kicking the dirt, not sure why they are going “home” to Emmaus; it doesn’t feel like home any longer. Their hearts are heavy because they feel a tremendous loss – they had loved Jesus, and followed him for three years. Now, he has been killed, cruelly and without mercy, and buried.
And then, this man comes alongside them. Jesus will come alongside us as well. They do not even recognize him, so absorbed are they in their grief. And he explains from the scriptures how the Messiah had to suffer and die. They find comfort in his words, in his presence, and when they reach their destination, they beg him to come in and stay with them.
When Jesus breaks the bread, they recognize him. How often they had seen Jesus break bread! But especially, they remembered how, on that last night, he broke the bread and shared it with them around the table, saying “This is my body, broken for you.” Suddenly, they understood – they knew it was Jesus. And they rejoiced, and they gathered their things and went rushing back to Jerusalem in half the time it had taken them to get to Emmaus. And they found the disciples rejoicing, for Jesus had appeared to Simon, and they all knew about the resurrection! What they had all thought was the worst possible thing had not turned out to be the last thing!
Rejoice and give thanks! The worst is never the last! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!