The walk to Emmaus. 24:13-35


In this passage Luke explains how we can know the risen Lord. The two disciples, on the road to Emmaus, view the cross as messiah's defeat. As they journeyed they were joined by a stranger who explained the scriptures to them. The climax of the story occurs when they reach Emmaus and join together for a meal. It is then that they recognize Jesus and marvel at how excited they were when he "opened the scriptures" to them.

The passage

v13-14. Luke tells us that the journey to Emmaus occurs on the day of Jesus' resurrection. On that day two disciples journey to Emmaus, a village not yet identified by archeologists.

v15-17. Jesus joins the disciples and asks them what they are discussing. The disciples fail to recognize the stranger.

v18. Cleopas reacts by asking whether the stranger is the only person in Jerusalem who doesn't know about the crucifixion of Jesus. According to Eusebius, Cleopas was Jesus' uncle, the brother of Joseph, although his identity is not essential to the story.

v19-20. Prompted by the stranger, the disciples give their perspective on the person of Jesus and the recent events in Jerusalem. As far as the disciples are concerned, Jesus is a "prophet"; most probably the long foretold prophet like Moses - the Moses-like messiah.

v21. Now, with the death of Jesus, Israel's redemption is lost. Of course, the disciples were looking for the redemption of a political Israel, yet Christ's kingdom is not of this world.

v22-24. It was now the "third day" (rather than three days) and the disciples are left with the unreliable (so they thought) witness of a group of women who claim that an angelic messenger had told them that Jesus is alive.

v25-27. Jesus now instructs the disciples from the scriptures. Luke doesn't list the messianic Old Testament texts fulfilled in Jesus' life. They are obviously commonly known and were later detailed in Matthew's gospel. The point Luke makes is that Jesus is their source.

v28-32. Having persuaded Jesus to draw aside for a meal, the disciples recognize Jesus when their eyes are "opened". Divine power is implied. The opening of the scriptures and the breaking of bread, does the trick.

v33-35. The disciples return to Jerusalem with their news about the risen Lord.

Experiencing the risen Lord

Most believers, at some point in their life, are driven to seek the Master's touch, they are driven to experience the "inner light", as the mystics used to call it. In times of depression, doubt, danger, we crave a glimpse of the risen Lord. I actually placed myself on the top of a mountain and demanded that Jesus reveal himself to me - I think it was male menopause, or something like that. The only trouble was that I had set myself up next to an ants nest and was soon forced to vacate my holy hill. So much for the "inner light."



The gospel accounts of Jesus life all have a similar interesting feature. When it comes to the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus, the gospel writers record very few of his appearances. In fact, Mark records none. Paul's summary account of Jesus' appearances in first Corinthians 15:5-8 gives us some idea of what is missing. So, what's going on? Why censor the information?

"Censor", of course, is too harsh. The gospel writers select the pieces of tradition that suit their literary purpose. So, what we have in Luke's gospel is a summary account of the women's visit to the tomb, followed by Peter's visit, Jesus appearance with the disciples in the upper room during which he provides evidence the he is actually alive and acts to open their minds to the scriptures, commissioning them for service, and then finally they all go off to Bethany for the ascension. In the middle of this summary account we have a detailed account of the Emmaus walk. So for Luke, who is writing to believers who don't have the physical presence of Jesus with them in their daily life, this is the resurrection reality for their walk.

What then do we have in the story? We have two disciples, not apostles, not two of the eleven remaining heavies, but rather your everyday follower of Jesus - they are you and me. When Jesus walks with them they don't recognize him, and when they do recognize him, he's not there. That's just the way it is!

How then did they recognize, how did they experience the risen Lord? First, in the scriptures; "Weren't our hearts glowing while he was with us on the road and when he made the scriptures so plain to us?" J.B. Phillips. Second, in the breaking of bread; "He took the loaf, gave thanks, broke it and passed it to them. Their eyes opened wide and they knew him", J.B. Phillips.

So, we meet with our risen Lord, touch him, know him, in the study of his Word and in the gathering of his friends.


Luke says of the early believers that "they continued steadily learning the teaching of the apostles, and joined in their fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayer", Acts 2:42. Share how these activities are practiced in your church and how they bring you close to Jesus.

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