The Walk to Emmaus
[This chapter is based on Luke 24:13-33.]
Late in the afternoon of the day of the resurrection, two of the
disciples were on their way to Emmaus, a little town eight miles from
Jerusalem. These disciples had had no prominent place in Christ's work,
but they were earnest believers in Him. They had come to the city to
keep the Passover, and were greatly perplexed by the events that had
recently taken place. They had heard the news of the morning in regard
to the removal of Christ's body from the tomb, and also the report of
the women who had seen the angels and had met Jesus. They were now
returning to their homes to meditate and pray. Sadly they pursued their
evening walk, talking over the scenes of the trial and the crucifixion.
Never before had they been so utterly disheartened. Hopeless and
faithless, they were walking in the shadow of the cross.
They had not advanced far on their journey when they were joined by a
stranger, but they were so absorbed in their gloom and disappointment
that they did not observe him closely. They continued their
conversation, expressing the thoughts of their hearts. They were
reasoning in regard to the lessons that Christ had given, which they
seemed unable to comprehend. As they talked of the events that had taken
place, Jesus longed to comfort them. He had seen their grief; He
understood the conflicting, perplexing ideas that brought to their minds
the thought, Can this Man, who suffered Himself to be so humiliated, be
the Christ? Their grief could not be restrained, and they wept. Jesus
knew that their hearts were bound up with Him in love, and He longed to
wipe away their tears, and fill them with joy and gladness. But He must
first give them lessons they would never forget.
"He said unto them, What manner of communications are these that
ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them,
whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto Him, Art Thou only a
stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to
pass there in these days?" They told Him of their disappointment in
regard to their Master, "which was a prophet mighty in deed and
word before God and all the people;" but "the chief priests
and our rulers," they said, "delivered Him to be condemned to
death, and have crucified Him." With hearts sore with
disappointment, and with quivering lips, they added, "We trusted
that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all
this, today is the third day since these things were done."
Strange that the disciples did not remember Christ's words, and
realize that He had foretold the events which had come to pass! They did
not realize that the last part of His disclosure would be just as verily
fulfilled as the first part, that the third day He would rise again.
This was the part they should have remembered. The priests and rulers
did not forget this. On the day "that followed the day of the
preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet
alive, After three days I will rise again." Matt. 27:62, 63. But
the disciples did not remember these words.
"Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe
all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered
these things, and to enter into His glory?" The disciples wondered
who this stranger could be, that He should penetrate to their very
souls, and speak with such earnestness, tenderness, and sympathy, and
with such hopefulness. For the first time since Christ's betrayal, they
began to feel hopeful. Often they looked earnestly at their companion,
and thought that His words were just the words that Christ would have
spoken. They were filled with amazement, and their hearts began to throb
with joyful expectation.
Beginning at Moses, the very Alpha of Bible history, Christ expounded
in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Had He first made
Himself known to them, their hearts would have been satisfied. In the
fullness of their joy they would have hungered for nothing more. But it
was necessary for them to understand the witness borne to Him by the
types and prophecies of the Old Testament. Upon these their faith must
be established. Christ performed no miracle to convince them, but it was
His first work to explain the Scriptures. They had looked upon His death
as the destruction of all their hopes. Now He showed from the prophets
that this was the very strongest evidence for their faith.
In teaching these disciples, Jesus showed the importance of the Old
Testament as a witness to His mission. Many professed Christians now
discard the Old Testament, claiming that it is no longer of any use. But
such is not Christ's teaching. So highly did He value it that at one
time He said, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither
will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." Luke 16:31.
It is the voice of Christ that speaks through patriarchs and
prophets, from the days of Adam even to the closing scenes of time. The
Saviour is revealed in the Old Testament as clearly as in the New. It is
the light from the prophetic past that brings out the life of Christ and
the teachings of the New Testament with clearness and beauty. The
miracles of Christ are a proof of His divinity; but a stronger proof
that He is the world's Redeemer is found in comparing the prophecies of
the Old Testament with the history of the New.
Reasoning from prophecy, Christ gave His disciples a correct idea of
what He was to be in humanity. Their expectation of a Messiah who was to
take His throne and kingly power in accordance with the desires of men
had been misleading. It would interfere with a correct apprehension of
His descent from the highest to the lowest position that could be
occupied. Christ desired that the ideas of His disciples might be pure
and true in every specification. They must understand as far as possible
in regard to the cup of suffering that had been apportioned to Him. He
showed them that the awful conflict which they could not yet comprehend
was the fulfillment of the covenant made before the foundation of the
world was laid. Christ must die, as every transgressor of the law must
die if he continues in sin. All this was to be, but it was not to end in
defeat, but in glorious, eternal victory. Jesus told them that every
effort must be made to save the world from sin. His followers must live
as He lived, and work as He worked, with intense, persevering effort.
Thus Christ discoursed to His disciples, opening their minds that
they might understand the Scriptures. The disciples were weary, but the
conversation did not flag. Words of life and assurance fell from the
Saviour's lips. But still their eyes were holden. As He told them of the
overthrow of Jerusalem, they looked upon the doomed city with weeping.
But little did they yet suspect who their traveling companion was. They
did not think that the subject of their conversation was walking by
their side; for Christ referred to Himself as though He were another
person. They thought that He was one of those who had been in attendance
at the great feast, and who was now returning to his home. He walked as
carefully as they over the rough stones, now and then halting with them
for a little rest. Thus they proceeded along the mountainous road, while
the One who was soon to take His position at God's right hand, and who
could say, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in
earth," walked beside them. Matt. 28:18.
During the journey the sun had gone down, and before the travelers
reached their place of rest, the laborers in the fields had left their
work. As the disciples were about to enter their home, the stranger
appeared as though He would continue His journey. But the disciples felt
drawn to Him. Their souls hungered to hear more from Him. "Abide
with us," they said. He did not seem to accept the invitation, but
they pressed it upon Him, urging, "It is toward evening, and the
day is far spent." Christ yielded to this entreaty and "went
in to tarry with them."
Had the disciples failed to press their invitation, they would not
have known that their traveling companion was the risen Lord. Christ
never forces His company upon anyone. He interests Himself in those who
need Him. Gladly will He enter the humblest home, and cheer the lowliest
heart. But if men are too indifferent to think of the heavenly Guest, or
ask Him to abide with them, He passes on. Thus many meet with great
loss. They do not know Christ any more than did the disciples as He
walked with them by the way.
The simple evening meal of bread is soon prepared. It is placed
before the guest, who has taken His seat at the head of the table. Now
He puts forth His hands to bless the food. The disciples start back in
astonishment. Their companion spreads forth His hands in exactly the
same way as their Master used to do. They look again, and lo, they see
in His hands the print of nails. Both exclaim at once, It is the Lord
Jesus! He has risen from the dead!
They rise to cast themselves at His feet and worship Him, but He has
vanished out of their sight. They look at the place which had been
occupied by One whose body had lately lain in the grave, and say to each
other, "Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us
by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?"
But with this great news to communicate they cannot sit and talk.
Their weariness and hunger are gone. They leave their meal untasted, and
full of joy immediately set out again on the same path by which they
came, hurrying to tell the tidings to the disciples in the city. In some
parts the road is not safe, but they climb over the steep places,
slipping on the smooth rocks. They do not see, they do not know, that
they have the protection of Him who has traveled the road with them.
With their pilgrim staff in hand, they press on, desiring to go faster
than they dare. They lose their track, but find it again. Sometimes
running, sometimes stumbling, they press forward, their unseen Companion
close beside them all the way.
The night is dark, but the Sun of Righteousness is shining upon them.
Their hearts leap for joy. They seem to be in a new world. Christ is a
living Saviour. They no longer mourn over Him as dead. Christ is
risen--over and over again they repeat it. This is the message they are
carrying to the sorrowing ones. They must tell them the wonderful story
of the walk to Emmaus. They must tell who joined them by the way. They
carry the greatest message ever given to the world, a message of glad
tidings upon which the hopes of the human family for time and for
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