What took place on the road to Emmaus?

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By BibleAsk Team


The account of the road to Emmaus is a poignant and richly symbolic narrative found in the New Testament, specifically in the Gospel of Luke. This story captures a significant post-resurrection appearance of Jesus Christ to two disciples, Cleopas and another unnamed disciple, as they journeyed from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day of Jesus’ resurrection. To explore this narrative, we’ll examine the biblical text, its historical context, theological implications, and the significance of this encounter in the broader context of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances.

Biblical Account: The Road to Emmaus

Luke 24:13-35 (NKJV)

Setting the Scene

The narrative begins with two disciples leaving Jerusalem, despondent and discussing the recent events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and reports of His resurrection.

Verses 13-16:

“Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.”

The journey to Emmaus, a village about seven miles northwest of Jerusalem, provided a setting for a deeply personal encounter with Jesus.

Verses 17-24:

“And He said to them, ‘What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?’ 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?’ 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, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 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. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 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.’”

The disciples recount the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and the confusion caused by the empty tomb and the reports of His resurrection.

Verses 25-27:

“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.”

Jesus rebukes their lack of understanding and proceeds to explain from Scripture (likely referring to the Old Testament) how the Messiah must suffer before entering into His glory.

Verses 28-32:

“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. 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. 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?’”

Upon reaching Emmaus, Jesus acts as if He would continue, but the disciples urge Him to stay with them. During the meal, Jesus blesses and breaks bread, revealing Himself to them. Their eyes are opened, and they recognize Him, after which He disappears.

Verses 33-35:

“So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, ‘The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!’ And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.”

The disciples immediately return to Jerusalem to share their experience with the other disciples, affirming that Jesus had indeed risen and appeared to them.

Historical and Theological Context

The Journey to Emmaus: Symbolism and Meaning

The journey to Emmaus is more than a simple narrative of a walk and a meal; it is layered with symbolism and theological significance that underscores the central themes of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and the fulfillment of Scripture.

  1. Messianic Prophecy Fulfillment:
    • Jesus’ explanation to the disciples on the road highlights how His suffering and resurrection fulfill the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. This includes passages such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, which foretold the suffering and vindication of the Messiah.
  2. Revelation through Scripture and Fellowship:
    • The disciples’ hearts burn within them as Jesus explains the Scriptures to them. This emphasizes the importance of understanding Scripture in recognizing Jesus as the Messiah and understanding the events of His life, death, and resurrection.
  3. The Breaking of Bread:
    • The disciples recognize Jesus when He breaks bread with them, a gesture reminiscent of the Last Supper. This act serves as a revelation of His identity and also as a precursor to the ongoing practice of communion among Christians.
  4. Post-Resurrection Appearances:
    • The encounter on the road to Emmaus is one of several post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, demonstrating His victory over death and His continued presence with His disciples.

Theological Implications

The road to Emmaus narrative holds several important theological implications for Christian faith and practice:

  1. Jesus’ Presence in Scripture:
    • Jesus’ explanation of Scripture underscores His authority and presence throughout the Old Testament, revealing how all Scripture points to Him (Luke 24:27).
  2. Recognition through Revelation:
    • The disciples recognize Jesus not through physical appearance but through the revelation of Scripture and the breaking of bread. This emphasizes the spiritual nature of recognizing Jesus as the resurrected Lord.
  3. Witness to the Resurrection:
    • The disciples’ testimony upon returning to Jerusalem provides early evidence of Jesus’ resurrection, a foundational belief in Christian theology (Luke 24:34).
  4. Commission to Share the Gospel:
    • The disciples’ immediate return to Jerusalem to share their experience with the other disciples underscores the commission to proclaim the gospel and bear witness to Jesus’ resurrection (Luke 24:35).

Conclusion

The road to Emmaus narrative in the Gospel of Luke offers a profound account of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to two disciples. This encounter is rich in symbolism and theological significance, illustrating Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, His presence in Scripture, and His victory over death. The disciples’ journey from confusion and sadness to recognition and joy reflects the transformative power of encountering the risen Christ and understanding the Scriptures.

The road to Emmaus narrative continues to resonate within Christian theology and practice, reminding believers of Jesus’ ongoing presence, His revelation through Scripture, and the commission to proclaim His resurrection to the world. The road to Emmaus remains a significant example of God’s redemptive plan fulfilled in Jesus Christ, inviting all who hear to encounter Him through His Word and recognize Him as the resurrected Lord and Savior.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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