It was about a seven-mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. A journey of this length gives you some time to talk, so the two disciples were discussing, and maybe at times debating, the events of the past few days. They had been in Jerusalem following Jesus, and a lot had taken place. A week earlier these disciples were filled with joy and great anticipation as Jesus entered Jerusalem, but those feelings quickly faded as the week unfolded. Today, these two men are down-and-out, and they are not sure what to make of everything that has happened.
“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him,” says Luke 24. “He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still; their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “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.”
Notice they hoped, which is past tense. They have given up at this point. Their desire was to be free from the Roman government, and they thought Jesus was going to be the one who overthrew the Romans. They had longed for this day, but it didn’t happen the way the disciples had it pictured. And confusion was added to their disappointment this morning, they found out Jesus’ body is missing from the tomb.
Continuing their conversation with Jesus, they said,
“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.” Not sure what to make of things, the two disciples decide to return to Emmaus.
I can relate to these guys, and perhaps you can as well. We have an idea of what life is going to look like; the picture we have in our mind is exactly what we desire, and it seems everything is moving in that direction. But suddenly, it changes. Suddenly, it shatters. It shattered by a phone call from a doctor saying we have cancer. It is tattered after months of financial struggle has left us nearly bankrupt. It is violently torn by a devastating heartbreak. Our hope for life to unfold as it is pictured in our mind is gone. The picture seems to be only a distant memory. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we simply don’t know what to make of things, and we are perplexed by life’s shattered pieces lying around us.
It is in moments like this we can be grateful for what Jesus showed the disciples. As they traveled, he helped them understand the promises of the Lord are trustworthy.
Jesus says in Luke 24, “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?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So, he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Suddenly, these two guys connect the dots and realize every word of Scripture is true. It turned out their picture of life was not a reality, but there was something even better happening. There was something even better coming. They realized they could fully hope in the promises of the Lord. His promises are trustworthy.
Because of an empty tomb, you and I know we can fully hope in the promises of the Lord. Psalm 145:13 says, “The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.”
Our mind’s picture of life may have been shattered, but we have hope of something better coming. “Trust in God; trust also in me,” Jesus encourages. We can fully hope in the trustworthy promise of something better coming. We have the faithful promise of eternal life in Heaven.
As for the disciples traveling to Emmaus, Luke says they returned to Jerusalem the same day. This means they walked 14 miles in one day, and I’ve often wondered if they had to buy a new pair of sandals the next day.