Vision 2020: Eyes opened on the Emmaus Road

I believe that the Emmaus Road account in Luke 24 is a terrific story for Vision 2020.

Here is the text in the Holy Gospel:

The Road to Emmaus

13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” 18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” 19 And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” 25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

The Disciples’ Eyes Opened

28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

___

I could highlight this resurrection story by dividing it into two parts: (1) Eyes restrained (vv. 13-27) and (2) Eyes opened (vv. 28-35)

Eyes Restrained (vv. 13-27)

After Jesus’ crucifixion and burial, disciples on the road to Emmaus outside of Jerusalem are walking sadly and discussing the recent events with one another.  Jesus appears to them and asks them what is going on.  His questions draw out their love and devotion to the Messiah but also their confusion and despair.

In verse 16, Luke mentions Cleopas and his friend, that “their eyes were restrained (prevented – krateo), so that they did not know (recognize – epiginowsko) Him.”

Amid political events and personal trials, it is sometimes a struggle to see with spiritual eyes the face of Jesus. So much of our confusion in this physical world tends to cloud our spiritual vision of the Savior.

It is interesting that they refer to the third day in verse 21.

Howard Marshall remarks,

“The reference to the third day appears to reflect the Jewish belief that by the fourth day the soul had left the body (Jn. 11:39), or possibly a dim memory that Jesus had spoken enigmatically of something happening on the third day. From a literary point of view, it prepares the way for the coming miracle (Creed, 296).

The two disciples have a lot of knowledge and experiences, but the pieces of the puzzle have not yet been fitting together. I am very thankful that in our struggles and lack of understanding, Jesus walks with us and encourages us to go back to the sure footing of promises in the Bible.  And his rebukes are gentle.  He does not abandon us.

“And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said: but Him they did not see. Then he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (v. 24-27).

Did Jews understand that the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament would go through immense suffering?

Howard Marshall suggests,

“But it is not clear whether pre-Christian Judaism expected the Messiah (2:26; et al.; 24:46) to suffer . . . At best the expectation can hardly have been a widespread one, but the evidence is hard to assess since there is good reason to suppose that anti-Christian polemic has led to suppression of some of the evidence.”

So, what should we see in Moses’ Torah?  The Pentateuch? The first five books of the Bible? Alfred Plummer connects certain texts and images in these opening books with Christ: “Such prophecies as Gen. iii. 15, xxii. 18; Num. xiv. 17; Deut. xviii. 15, and such types as the scape-goat, the manna, the brazen serpent, and the sacrifices, are specially meant. Comp. Acts viii. 35.”

And yet how many people like Thomas were full of doubts and did not see and understand?

Darrell L. Bock answers,

“Still others went to the tomb and found it empty, but they did not see Jesus. This empirical note seems to be key for the two, since it seems they are not yet convinced that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Thomas gets all the contemporary press as a doubter of the resurrection, but Luke 24 makes it clear that he was merely one of a crowd, including these two followers. Like modern people in their skepticism, they will be persuaded only if they actually see Jesus. As readers we almost want to yell at the two, ‘Take a close look!’ . . . Do not be skeptical as these men were.  Remember what God required of the Messiah: suffering, then vindication in exaltation. . . . The disciples have been slow to believe. They have not read Isaiah 52-53 or Psalm 16 with understanding, not to mention Deuteronomy 18:15, Psalm 2:7, Psalm 110:1, Psalm 118 or Daniel 7:13-14.”

We need to walk with the perfect Teacher, open our hearts to his words, and focus solely on hearing him. Don’t you think that during this time of social distancing and isolation, it is a golden opportunity to walk with Jesus and hear him?

Norval Geldenhuys shares,

“And then the Saviour, who knows the Word of God perfectly, because of His intimate union with the Spirit who is its Primary Author, expounded to them in broad outline all the Scriptures that referred to Him, from the first books of the Old Testament and right through to the end. With burning hearts (verse 32), but still unaware that it was Jesus Himself who was teaching them, they listened to His incomparable exposition of the deepest contents of the Old Testament. And thus, they learned that everything that had happened to the Saviour was in agreement with the prophetic Word and that He would still be revealed as Conqueror.”

When I get to heaven someday, I will ask Jesus if he could share with me all over again what he taught the men on the road to Emmaus. I agree with G. Campbell Morgan who wrote,

I never read this without having the feeling that I would have given anything to travel that road and hear what He had to say.  One could almost imaginatively follow some of the things as one thinks of the Old Testament.  They listened to this Stranger as He took their own sacred writings and interpreted to them their deepest meaning. They listened to Him as He revealed to them the profoundest depths in the suggestive ritual of the Mosaic economy, as he breathed in their ears the secret of the love which lay at the heart of the ancient law.  They listened to Him as He traced the Messianic note in the music of all the prophets; showing that He was David’s King, “fairer then the children of men,” and in the days of Solomon’s well-doing, He was “the altogether lovely” One. He was Isaiah’s Child-King with a shoulder strong enough to bear the government; and the name Emmanuel, gathering within itself all the excellencies. He was Jeremiah’s “Branch of Righteousness, executing justice and righteousness in the land.” He was Ezekiel’s “Plant of renown,” giving shade and giving fragrance. He was Daniel’s stone cut without hands, smiting the image, becoming a mountain, and filling the whole earth. He was the ideal Israel of Hosea, “growing as the lily,” “casting out His roots as Lebanon.” To Joel, the Hope of the people, and the Strength of the children of Israel; and the Usherer in of the vision of Amos, of the “Plowman overtaking the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed;” and of Obadiah the “Deliverance upon Mount Zion and holiness;” the Fulfillment of that of which Jonah was but a sign. He was the “turning again” to God, of which Micah spoke. He was the One Nahum saw upon the mountains publishing peace. He was the Anointed of Whom Habakkuk sang as “going forth for salvation.” He was the One Who brought to the people the pure language of Zephaniah’s message, the true Zerubbabel of Haggai’s word, for ever rebuilding the house of God; Himself the dawn of the day when “Holiness—shall be upon the bells of the horses,” as Zechariah foretold; and He the “Refiner,” sitting over the fire, “the Sun of Righteousness” of Malachi’s dream (emphasis mine).

William Hendricksen chimes in,

“Jesus may have interpreted such passages as Gen. 3:15; 9:26; 12:3; 22:18; 49:10; Exod. 12:13; Num. 24:17; Deut. 18:15, 18; II Sam. 7:12,13; Ps. 2:2; 22:1, 18; 45:11; 68:18; 69:20, 21; 72:8, 9; 110:1; 118:22; 132:11; Isa. 2:4; 7:14; 8:8, 10; 9:1, 2, 6, 7; 11:10; 25:8; 28:16; 35:5, 6; 42:1; 49:6; 52:14; ch. 53; 55:4; 59:16; Jer. 23:5; Ezek. 17:22; Dan. 2:24, 35, 44; 7:13, 14; 9:25; Mic. 5:2; Hag. 2:6-9; Zech. 3:8; 6:12 f.; 9:9; 11:12; 12:10; 13:7; Mal. 3:1.  But the Old Testament picture of the Messiah is not confined to a number of specific passages. As I have shown earlier there are, as it were, four lines, which, running through the Old Testament from beginning to end, converge at Bethlehem and Calvary: the historical, typological, psychological, and prophetical. It is reasonable to believe that our Lord, in interpreting in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself, showed how the entire Old Testament, in various ways, pointed to himself. See also Acts 10:43.”

Godet relates,

“Jesus had before Him a grand field, from the Protoevangelium down to Mal. iv. In studying the Scriptures for Himself, He had found Himself in them everywhere (John v. 39, 40). He had now only to let this light which filled His heart ray forth from Him.”

Where do we see? And in what areas today, do we have trouble seeing?

Where can we turn to see the foreshadowing of the Messiah to come? Is it not in every book of the Old Testament?

Lord, help us to behold Your wonders when we open up and read the Old Testament.

Eyes Opened (vv. 28-35)

Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and he indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, ‘Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ And He went in to stay with them” (vv. 28-29).

During this COVID-19 season, are we pressing into the heart of Jesus with our prayers to Him?  Do we want more of Him in our thoughts and in our hearts?

Plummer and Godet emphasize:

  • “He began to take leave of them, and would have departed, had they not prayed Him to remain. Comp. His treatment of the disciples on the lake (Mk. vi. 48), and of the Syrophenician woman (Mk. vii. 27). Prayers are part of the chain of causation” (emphasis mine).
  • “Every gift of God is an invitation to claim a greater. But most men stop very quickly on this way; and thus, they never reach the full blessing (2 Kings xiii. 14-19).”

Norval Geldenhuys concludes,

“If the men of Emmaus had not invited Jesus into their home, He would have passed on, and how poor would love their lives have been then! But because He had spoken to them thus on the way, their hearts burned with love with Him and they invited Him in and thus received the richest blessings, even the Lord Himself as the Living King of their lives. How often does he address us also on life’s way. And He still desires to enter where he is invited.”

Today, we invite you, Jesus, in our homes, to teach us, and to abide with us. We need you.  We love you.

“Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight” (vv. 30-31).

William Hendricksen asks,

  1. How was it that in the breaking of the bread they suddenly recognized him?
  2. Did they see the marks of the nails in his hands?
  3. Was it the manner in which he broke the bread and gave it to them that opened their eyes?
  4. Or was it the way he spoke to his Father that refreshed their memories?

Darrell L. Bock points out,

“It is in the intimacy of fellowship that Jesus is recognized. This setting is no mistake; it is a major Lukan theme.  Many of the resurrection appearances he describes are associated with table fellowship (Lk 24:41-43; Acts 1:4; 10:41; also Jn 21:9-15). . . . It is through sitting with Jesus and listening to him that we get to know him” (emphasis mine).

Take the time today to sit with Jesus and listen to Him this week.

We love you, Lord.  Open our eyes. In your name, we pray, amen.

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