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The road to Emmaus

The gospel of Luke tell us one of the most beautiful and meaningful story about the encounter of resurrected Jesus and His disciples; the one from the road of Emmaus (Chapter 24:13-35). This is the story of two of Jesus disciples: Cleopas (vs. 18) and perhaps Luke, the writer of the third Gospel. The time of the story is first Sunday after Jesus resurrection, "that same day" (vs. 13), chronologically it's in the middle of the first christian Passover.

This text is meant to explore the meanings of the event, observing "7 traits of the sad disciples", starting with the 17th verse: "What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?" ("este scutropoi" - you are sad, present indicative, plural of the second person; emphasizing the mood). "You are sad" are Jesus' words which describe with precision their spiritual mood. All their reasoning's are marked by this sadness. Why the Christians are sad in the first day of the first Christian Passover? This sadness is not based on the reality of this historic event of resurrection, but is related to a distort perception of the event, a continuing problem even today. Here are the 7 traits:

  1. "But their eyes were holden that they should not know him" (vs. 16).
  2. The word ekratunto, means "kept captive", "locked up". What sized them to see in the spiritual realm, to recognize the Man who walked with them for a while? The answer is: disbelief, based on three facts happened in the recent past:

    • Jesus told them that He will die (but also told them that he will resurrect in the third day);
    • As He told them, Jesus was crucified and died;
    • They took Him from the cross and embalmed Him, preparing the body for a long dead state (Jewish tradition).

    His resurrection did not occur in their options as a possible fact. Otherwise, they should eagerly anticipate, counting the hours, the morning of the third day, or joyfully jumped, as Mary the prophet, celebrating the new Pesah (Passover). We cannot request them, now after thousands of years that they should act differently. In the name of a dead Christ we can do a lot of things: costly embalming (Nicodimus), a new and expensive sepulcher (Joseph from Arimathaea), more spices and ointments for a better embalming process (the women). All this are sufficient clues for an unambiguous disbelief. Still He want us to see Him as is: eternally alive. Unfortunately there are too many churches, veritable and impressive tombs, frozen in their traditions, where there isn't the real foundation: the proclamation of His extraordinary resurrection and amazing celebration of His eternity. Disbelief, as stated above, do not mean to deny his historic reality, but to reject His divinity and authority over His Church. If that happens, then there will be just the overwhelming sadness of another dead religion which, as stated by Nietzsche, "You killed God" (The dull).

  3. They talked religiously (vs. 14, 15), but their outcome was a dreadful resignation regarding an unchangeable past. (vs. 20 " …the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him").

    The final point of Christianity is not the death of Christ, but His glorious resurrection. Only the joy and happiness focused on His victory is the foolproof cure for the sadness of his death.

  4. They had strong beliefs regarding His authenticity. (vs. 19 "…Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people ".)
  5. These beliefs were based on the recent past, but nothing from the present may take away their grief. Jesus' diagnostic was correct... "and ye are sad". As we can see, religious beliefs, even if they are correct and focused on the past, cannot replace a real personal relationship with Christ.

  6. They hoped for an imminent national salvation, but this hope disappeared too soon due to His death. (vs. 21 "But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.").
  7. They could only replace that hope with disappointment. The short time of three days it looked like it was an eternity. God has disappointed them!

  8. They rebute other's religious experience. Their only reaction to this experience it's their astonishment. (vs. 22 "Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished…").
  9. There are some sad Christian today, which they choose to forbid to others different authentic religious experiences, due to their lack of such experiences into their lives. "It did not happen to me, so it's not authentic or true". If I did not experience the fruits of Holy Spirit, that does not means that it ceased to exist, and all others' experiences are false.

  10. They are confused about initial evidences of the eye witnesses. They can't process those pieces of information and can't have a positive outcome, even if they have sufficient data. (Vs. 23, 24)
  11. Their religious confusion feed their sadness. We can find rational persons, provided with all the needed pieces of information, and yet they show without modesty that they are unbelievers (agnostic). An authentic believer knows, he is not confused, instead he knows very well, that's why he is a believer (gnostic). The deepest sadness and desperation is to know that you can't know anything for certain.

  12. They did not recognize Jesus; even He is talking to them, and is walking with them all the way. Only when He blessed the bread their eyes were opened - despite their inner heart burn, as a reaction to His evidences, they did not understand Him (vs. 31, 32).
  13. What a wonderful picture is this walk of Jesus with those two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It represents the historical reality of Christianity for more than two millennia: He is walking along with His Church even in its weakest moments, crises or blindness, keep trying to motivate the Church to revival.


That evening on the road to Emmaus finished in a happy mood for those two disciples. In fact they had as a guest this stranger so persuasive, and they don't want to let Him pass because He demonstrate to them, how well defined in the Scriptures is this historic event that they witnessed. The force of His evidences dissipate their unbelief, invade their darken confusion with the clear and powerful light of the new revelation. They recognize Him with burning hearts and gladness, in His new position of the Lord of Lords. They recognize Him when He blessed the bread in the most overwhelming communion, the first one after His resurrection. This golden chain connects them until His second coming: " ye do show the Lord's death till He come" (Paul, to the Corinthians).

A big renovation happened in their spirit: the new revelation transformed them to a new happy life and its core is the personal encounter with the reality of the resurrected Jesus. They have now, no doubt, disappointment, confusion or lack of perspective but a happy future, a new mission and His kind smile.

This metaphor of the road to the Emmaus describes two stages of the Christian transformation, which are individual lessons. The road from Jerusalem to Emmaus is the road of confusion, astonishment, and sadness. Let's escape, let's get rid of this trauma, let's left behind us this sad experience which we do not understand, a standard reaction of self preservation. Blindness, scales on the eyes, another road, and yet the same, the one to Damascus. Let's get rid of this ridiculous imaginary fact that Jesus has risen, by violent means of destruction. There is, on both roads, an amazing fact: a clear encounter with Him, by His initiative, on His own time and scenario, through which He is revealing Himself without any doubt.

Then, there is the second stage, the one of light, happiness, clear vision, and the responsibility of sharing the great truth: the trip back, from Emmaus to the "city" – the world in which we all live. Christianity with a mission: behold the amazing transformation. From the beginning to the end of it, His Church has a single purpose: to be a witness, proclaiming His resurrection. Take this purpose from the Church and it will die in confusion, sadness and desperation. Remind its purpose and help the Church to accomplish it, and it will grow, and glow due to fulfilling its amazing destiny.

pastor Valeriu Brâncovan



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