The Two Travellers

Were you there—when He rose up from the grave?

4. The Two Travellers

3. Peter | Index | 5. The Disciples

Luke 24:13–35; Mark 16:12–13

Luke 24:13  Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognising him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “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. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 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. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going further. 29 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. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks,
broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 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?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognised by them when he broke the bread.

Mark 16:12 Afterwards Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.


The Two Travellers

Good witnesses

We have been getting to know ‘the people who met the risen Lord.’ The death of Jesus, to bear our sins and God the Father’s penalty of judgment against them, and the rising of Jesus from the tomb on the third day, are very well evidenced by plenty of known, credible, reliable, first-hand eye (and ear!) witnesses. Their testimonies corroborate each other. In any properly constituted court of law, that is very strong evidence. Add to that the fact that Jesus both claimed and showed Himself to be God in flesh. (As one little girl described Jesus to her mum, ‘Jesus is God with skin on.’) Then consider that Jesus predicted perfectly accurately, on numerous occasions, exactly what would happen to Him. You can then begin to understand why one High Court Judge stated that there was more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead than for any other event in ancient history.

Minds disengaged?

Yet the disciples seemed to disengage their minds and their memories of Jesus’ words, predictions and miracles. They are so upset and feel so defeated that their emotions overcome both their faith and their logic. We all can be a bit like that in a crisis. How important it is for us each day to read, understand, know, believe, learn and apply God’s word to our daily lives. We reap the benefit of so doing in the ‘down times’ of our lives.

‘They think it’s all over’

Here are two travellers on the way to Emmaus. They knew Jesus before He died on the cross. They are convinced that He was at least ‘a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.’ Remembering who Jesus was, and what He said and did, they ‘had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel.’ They even had heard the women’s testimony about the empty tomb and knew that Peter and John had been there, which confirmed their testimony. (It seems they have not yet heard that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and her friends, or later to Peter.) But now every hope has gone. Unbelief reigns. The Scriptures are ignored. Jesus’ words and promises are forgotten. That is why all they once felt confident and happy about concerning Jesus, and following Him, is now spoken of as being in the past and so not true anymore: hence their sad words ‘had hoped,’ and saying that Jesus ‘was’ the one who ‘was going’ to redeem Israel, rather than ‘is the one who will redeem Israel.’ As one football commentator famously put it, ‘They think it’s all over.’

The unknown stranger

As they discuss these sad thoughts, in their seven-mile-long walk to Emmaus from Jerusalem, an unrecognised man comes up to them and walks with them. We know who the ‘stranger’ is because the Bible tells us: but they have no idea yet. If angels can make themselves unrecognisable, the Lord of the angels certainly can! With ‘downcast’ faces, they answer His question, ‘What are you discussing together?’ and then talk dejectedly about their sadness and their huge disappointment about ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ The unknown stranger, the risen Lord Jesus Christ, is extremely frank with them: ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?’ He then explains from all the Old Testament (then called the ‘law and the prophets’ or, as here, ‘Moses and all the prophets’) what ‘all the Scriptures’ say about the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus believes the whole of the word of God and applies it all to Himself, the only sinless and perfect Man, the unique eternal Son of God, the Son of Man, and God the Son. He is one Person in the Trinity with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus teaches them a lesson seven miles long from the Old Testament. He obviously regards and respects it as God’s word. So should we: the Old and the New Testaments together form God’s complete and infallible written word.

Breaking bread—open eyes, Scriptures, hearts and understanding

A little later they invite Him to dine with them. They urge Him to stay with them, which He does. Today, Jesus still dwells with and in all who invite Him! At the table, they recognise Him as Jesus when He takes the bread, breaks it, and gives thanks. Their eyes are opened—no doubt they think back to that time when Jesus said that His body would be broken on the cross, when He would die there as our sin-bearer and substitute. Then Jesus disappears as quickly as he had appeared. Their hearts had burned within them as He opened up the Scriptures to them. That is still the way that He speaks to us today, aided by His Holy Spirit. Their eyes, their hearts, their understanding, and God’s word have all been opened by Jesus. That is how God saves people today. He deals with our hearts through His word as the Holy Spirit makes it real to us.

Open mouths too!

But now their mouths are opened too! They go to tell the disciples that the resurrected Jesus has met and taught them. Those once sceptical disciples have just heard from the women who also met the risen Lord. They also have heard that Jesus has appeared to Peter. Here is layer upon layer of good evidence coming from many sources! That is usually how God convinces sinners to trust Him: He keeps on revealing truth to them until they repent and trust Him. If you are seeking God, keep reading His word, the Bible, always with the prayer that God will speak to you through it.

Soon the disciples will meet Jesus too. We will look at that in the next chapter. But we can learn a lot from these two travellers:

  • Be honest with God about how you think and feel.
  • Never think you are alone. Others believe in Him too!
  • When God starts to speak to you through His word, keep listening.
  • Weigh up the evidence but do not expect to see it all before you come to trust and follow Jesus. You have enough evidence already anyhow!
  • Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection for you, and believe the Bible with all your heart and mind.
  • Tell others about Jesus too: seek to be a blessing to them. This includes helping people to come to trust Christ and supporting fellow believers.