We are in the middle of looking at Jesus telling His disciples about His death. We are comparing two different times. The first was His final “telling” while “on the road” to Jerusalem. Today we will look at His “telling” as He walked with two of them to Emmaus which can be found in Luke 24:13-35.
The road between Emmaus is about 7 miles; around 11.25 kilometers. As someone who enjoys walking I can tell you that a quick walk of this distance would take about two hours. A leisurely walk maybe would take several more hours. These two disciples didn’t seem to be in a hurry that day and their walk gave them time to ponder. Let’s join in the story as Cleopas.
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I can’t sit still any more. Some of the women came in about an hour ago talking about seeing an angel at Jesus’ tomb and not finding Him. My mind is whirling with questions! What does all this mean? Have the Romans hidden His body? Are they laying a trap for us? I have to get out of here or I will go crazy! I’m already “crazy with grief.” How could all this have happened?
I decide to go see my sister. She and her husband live in Emmaus. I just need to get away for a while so I can think. Thaddeus seems to be of the same mind as I am so I ask him to accompany me. It is about the third hour of the day when we pack a small lunch and head out the door. I don’t think anyone even noticed us go. Everyone is either lost in thought or in small groups discussing the reports from this morning.
My heart is heavy and its heaviness is settled in my feet. It feels as if every step is mired in mud. But I can’t just sit still and wait any longer, so we press on. While walking Thad and I mull over recent events. We were so hopeful just days ago. Now everything is turned upside down.
I’m the first to pose a question as we walk along. “How could all this have happened in such a short time? Surely it wasn’t legal what the Sanhedrin did.”
“No it certainly wasn’t. But who was going to stop them? The people were backing them. Did you hear the cry of the crowd! Talk about fickle!”
“You said it Thad. One minute they are crying out ‘Hosanna’ the next it’s ‘Crucify Him.’ I’m sure some of them had experienced His miracles, but that didn’t make any difference.”
“What about us! We followed Him every day. But when He REALLY needed us, we ALL ran away. I’m so ashamed of my behavior. I wish I could tell Him how sorry I am.”
“I really thought He was going to take the throne when we came into the city. It was so exciting and everyone seemed to be behind Him. But then He just leaves a few hours later.” I shake my as I ponder our first day back in Jerusalem.
A “stranger” approaches us and asks us what we are talking about. I tell Him that we are just talking about the events that happened during Passover this year.
“What events” He asks.
“You’ve got to be kidding! You don’t know what has been going on these past few days? Where have You been?” Thad looks at Him with astonishment.
My reply is a little kinder and to the point. “We are ‘talking about Jesus of Nazareth… He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus’ (verses 19b-24). We really thought He was the one but now we don’t know what to think.”
He shook His head and said, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (verses 25-26).
I start to say something then think better of it. I don’t want to be rude, but why would He say that? Does He know something we don’t? Jesus did talk a lot about Him dying. Thad looks at me and I see we have the same questions. “Please explain what You mean.”
He tells us that we need to look back at the beginning of the Law God sent through Moses if we really want to understand. He takes us step by step through the requirements of the Law and the writings of the prophets. I had never looked at these things in the way He is showing them to us.
We continue our walk to my sister’s house. We are in no hurry and we often pause to discuss a point He brings up. One of those times was when He talked about the prophet Isaiah’s words concerning how the Messiah would die. Isaiah said that the Messiah would be pierced and beaten. Jesus certainly suffered these wounds. He also referenced Isaiah’s statement about bear the sins of many in His death. Could this be Jesus too?
As we walk along He is willing to answer ANY question we raise. His answers lift my heart. I can see they are having the same effect on Thaddeus too. We want to hear more! We drink in everything He shares with us but there is still a longing buried in each of us. We miss Jesus. What is to become of us now that He is gone? Those questions we keep to ourselves.
As we approach the city gate Thad and I turn in but our companion doesn’t. We still have questions only He seems capable of answering. “Please don’t leave us. It’s late and nearly supper time. Come with us and have dinner. I’m sure my sister has room at her table for one more. She and her family would also benefit from Your wisdom concerning the Messiah. They too followed Jesus and are hurting since His death.”
He agrees to join us and we walk the short distance to my sister’s house. Samuel, my sister’s husband welcomes us into their home. Rebeca, my sister, quickly sets three more places at the table. As we all sit to enjoy this meal together our friend; you know it’s funny but we haven’t even asked Him His name. Samuel says the prayer and the bread is passed to our guest first. He picks up a piece and breaks it and begins handing pieces to each of us.
“Wait a minute!”; something in my heart cries. I look over at Thad and he has the same “wait a minute” expression I imagine is on my own face. “Jesus! It that really You?”
“IT IS You!” exclaims Thad.
Jesus smiles at us for a moment then He is gone. Where could He have gone? We look around the room quickly to make sure He hasn’t just stepped back from the table but He is nowhere in sight. The four of us look at each other with shock and wonder on our faces.
Thad says, “I knew there was something different about Him. My heart was ‘singing’ with His answers to our questions and who else would know the prophets better than Him?”
“You are so right Thad! I felt it too!” I can’t sit still again! I HAVE to get up. I have to tell the brothers about our time with Jesus. He REALLY IS ALIVE!!! Thad and I don’t even finish eating before we are running out of the house.
We make it back to Jerusalem in record time. There is NO WAY this news can wait! Everyone is gathered together and they are sharing stories about seeing the Master. Peter has even seen Him. But our story is different because not only did we see Him but He explained His death to us like never before and WHY He had to die.
He told us so many times about what was going to happen to Him but we couldn’t see past ourselves to take in the truth. I wonder what might have been different if we had only understood before the way we do now. I don’t know if I’m glad He didn’t really explain before or not. He knew the whole plan all along. That must have been a hard burden to carry. I wish somehow I could have lightened that burden some instead of increasing it by my refusal to really hear Him.
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Lord Jesus, thank You for sharing the full meaning with Your disciples AFTERWARDS. I wonder what would have been different if You had shared earlier. Would Satan have listened in and messed up God’s plan? Would he have convinced the Pharisees that killing You wasn’t a good idea? I can’t imagine the weight of that burden on You. I know You don’t “worry” but I sure would have been. I bet the disciples were worrying about the little that they did know. Imagine how heavy their hearts would have been if they had known the fullness of what lay ahead. I’m sure they would have been trying even harder to persuade You not to go to Jerusalem. It would also probably have impacted how they related to You every day.
That knowledge certainly impacts how I view Your life. I wish I could have walked the roads with You but am grateful too for being on this side of that Passover. I can look back with understanding instead of forward with trepidation. I can’t even begin to imagine the sorrow of the three days in between.
Thank You that You loved me enough to make that sacrifice for me. I deserved that death, not You. But because of You I will never have to pay that price. The BEST part of it all is that You didn’t STAY dead. You removed the pain lodged in Your disciples hearts. You brought the GREATEST joy out of the DEEPEST sorrow. Thank You!