Sunday, April 07, 2013

Luke 24:13-35 - The Road to Emmaus

The Way to Emmaus - Robert Zund
Indian summer is that period of warm weather days between summer and winter after a cold snap, kind of a second summer. It is a time of transition, but it has some kind of mystic glory about it so that it seems to belong to another place, another climate. We have before us today an incident on Easter Sunday afternoon that is like Indian summer. The simple story of the walk to Emmaus which Luke tells us provides a picture of the risen Christ unequaled by any other record of the resurrection. There is the sense among Jesus’ followers that something big has taken place, but the importance and effects of it have not sunk in. It just did not make sense to them.

Have you ever had something happen to you that just did not make sense? You were sure the Lord was in it. You were confident that things would turn out well. But then disaster struck. Then loss. Then confusion. Then your confidence evaporated. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Why is this not making sense? Why do I hurt so much? Was there something I missed? Did I get fooled?

That was the feeling among Jesus’ disciples and friends in the passage before us today.

Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 24:13-35 to teach people that Jesus waits for you to invite His Presence and enjoy His fellowship.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about a relationship with Jesus.
Key Verse: Luke 24:26-27
Pray and Read:  Luke 24:13-35

Contextual Notes:
It was Sunday afternoon, Easter afternoon. The Lord’s followers had been through a horribly confusing weekend. The One they had believed was the Messiah who would restore everything was dead. With illegitimacies, outright lies, bold betrayal, and blatant disregard of jurisprudence, the Jewish rulers in corrupt collusion with the Roman procurator executed Jesus as a criminal. They heard the insults He endured at Calvary. They watched Him die.  Ironically, one of those same Jewish rulers, Joseph of Arimathea, was permitted to bury the Lord in Joseph’s own new tomb just before Sabbath began at sundown.

On Sabbath, the deep darkness of loss descended on them. Their hearts were desolate and hopeless. Jesus Himself had raised people from the dead, but now He was. The morning of the first day of the week was baffling. The women say they’ve seen angels who say Jesus is alive again. They claim His tomb is empty. Peter and a few other disciples in hiding run to the tomb and confirm it is empty.   Nothing has gone according to their plans. And maybe that is the big problem in the end.

Sermon Points:
1.   Jesus waits for you to invite His Presence (Luke 24:13-27)
2.   Jesus longs for you to enjoy His Fellowship (Luke 24:28-35)

Exposition:   Note well,


a.   This is the second of Jesus’ three post-Resurrection appearances in Luke’s Gospel and is found only here. In the last verse of the last passage, Peter walks away from the tomb wondering to himself what had happened. But Luke attempts to make it all clear in his most theologically significant contribution to the resurrection accounts. His account of the Resurrection is more than a recounting of events. Luke interprets those events in the light of the Old Testament teaching about the Messiah (Luke 24:6-7; 19-27).

b.   It is late the same day as the Resurrection, and two disciples, Cleopas and a companion are walking towards Emmaus,[1] representative of the discouragement and unbelief of Jesus’ followers. They are talking sadly over the events of the last few days when a stranger overtakes them and joins their conversation. He asks for information, and they pour out their hearts. The crucifixion had dashed all their hopes that Jesus the prophet might be the Messiah. However, the stranger gives a thorough exposition of the Messianic prophecies, with special emphasis on the necessity of Messiah’s sufferings.

c.   We see here a reunion with Jesus (Luke 24:13-16), a request from Jesus (Luke 24:17), a reply to Jesus (Luke 24:18-24), and a rebuke by Jesus (Luke 24:25-27) followed by their recognition of Jesus (Luke 24:28-35).

d.   Luke 24:13-15 – Two of them: One of them is named Cleopas. We do know that neither one was an apostle. Cleopas may be the one mentioned in John 19:25, and as early as the third century, the church historian Eusebius tells us, the other was identified as Simeon, son of Clopas who was elected the leader of the Jerusalem church after James, the half brother of Jesus was martyred.[2] But we don’t know. What is fascinating is that Jesus may have had a family connection with Cleopas. On the side of Jesus’ step-father, Joseph the Carpenter, the Lord had step-cousins, legally cousins, but not biologically because Jesus was Virgin born. According to the early church historian, Eusebius, a man named Clopas (also known as Alphaeus[3]) was the brother of Joseph the Carpenter.[4] This Clopas is probably the man Cleopas mentioned in Luke 24:18 to whom Jesus revealed himself on the Road to Emmaus. His wife, Mary of Clopas (John 19:25), was sister to Salome and Mary. She was present at the Crucifixion (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40) and accompanied Mary the mother of Jesus to Jesus’ tomb on Resurrection Sunday. The other person is probably not his wife, Mary of Clopas even though the masculine pronouns do not preclude her. Since she had gone to the tomb that morning, the conversation would probably have been different. Clopas (Alphaeus) and Mary had five sons who were among Jesus’ Apostles: Matthew-Levi, Thomas Didymus (the twin), James son of Alphaeus,  Judas Lebbaeus Thaddeus, and Simon the Zealot, all Jesus’ cousins.[5]

e.   Luke 24:14-15 - They were talking (homiloun), discussing (suzetein), and literally threw ideas back and forth (antiballete).

f.    APPLICATION: They were doing a lot of talking, but we do not find anything good, nothing of faith, if we go around peering into things critically and doubtfully, questioning people’s motives. And so often we ask all the wrong questions. It often degenerates into a critical spirit, resentment, distrust, and bitterness of spirit. The Apostles were doing the same thing in the Upper Room back in Jerusalem, with doors locked, fearful of Roman boots tramping outside, worried about reprisals, wondering who was with them, who they could trust, and who would betray them next like Judas did. But there is only one thing that knits up a man’s sorrows and heals his spirit. It is looking at that Cross with an understanding that Jesus did it for you and me.

g.   Luke 24:16 – Something had changed about Jesus since His resurrection so that He was not instantly recognized instantly by those who knew Him (Luke 24:37; Matt 28:17; John 20:14; 21:4), but perhaps they were kept from seeing spiritual reality because their vision was skewed and their eyes needed opened (as in 2 Kings 6:17).

h.   Luke 24:18 – Cleopas cannot understand how anyone could be in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover and not have heard of the death of Jesus of Nazareth.

 i.    APPLICATION: In a picture so similar to the Lord walking with Adam and Eve in the evening in the Garden in a love relationship with them, Jesus, the forever Messiah, joins these two and walks with them along the path.

j.    Luke 24:21 – We trusted: or We had hoped. Here they use a word of weakened trust, shrinking from saying that they “believed” this.[6]

k.   Luke 24:25 – Foolish: The word Jesus uses of the two on the Emmaus Road is anoetos,[7] (literally, unintelligent; a defect both of understanding and of heart accounts for their unbelief). Unlike the fool of the OT whose problem is a moral one, this word describes a person who sees things from a distorted perspective. He or she has not adjusted to the way God sees things, the viewpoint of the Lord seen through Scripture. Jesus gave them that perspective on His own death from the OT, demonstrating that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die and only then enter into glory. Paul tells us in 2 Cor 5:16, “Though we once regarded Christ in this [worldly point of view], we do so no longer.”

l.    Luke 24:26-27 – Did not the Christ have to suffer? This was surprising revelation for first-century Jews who did not connect Messiah as the Suffering Servant. He may have used passages like Deut. 18:15-18; Isaiah 9, 11, and 53. Jesus predicted it in Luke 9:22, 44; 12:52; 13:32-33; 17:25; 18:32-33. Moses and all the Prophets, Scriptures: Luke describes the OT Scriptures in terms of the Hebrew Bible, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (cf. Luke 24:44).

m. APPLICATION: The whole OT points forward to Jesus the Messiah. The early church recognized the suffering Messiah in Psalms 2; 16; 22; 118; Isaiah 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12. Jesus makes our hearts burn within us as He opens us to the Scriptures. His Word is a fire. Jesus speaks to us through His Word. Whenever we read and study it, we find Christ ready to meet us in its living pages to speak His great and precious promises. Revelation 19:10 says that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Within every book is His face and in every promise we find His voice. It is little use to read the Bible only as a duty. Ask the Lord to speak to you. Ask Him to let you read it with a burning heart and glowing love for you. Are you seeking Jesus in His Word daily?


a.   Luke 24:28 - Arriving at their journey’s end, they invite their Stranger to accept their hospitality. It was polite for Jesus to make as if He would go on, unless they invite Him to stay, which good manners required them to do.[8]

b.   Luke 24:30 – In a moment, the roles are reversed and the Guest becomes the Host, presiding at the Table. He breaks bread as they have seen Him do before. These disciples were not themselves reminded of the Last Supper, because neither of them were present, but Luke is reminding us of it and also pointing again clearly to the great Messianic banquet over which Messiah will preside. Cleopas and his companion had seen Jesus break bread at common meals with the disciples and in the feeding of the multitudes. They may have recognized Him from the scars of the nails in His hands.

c.   APPLICATION: Jesus meets them, as He does us, in personal fellowship and communion. The Lord longs to reveal Himself to us by personal visitation and manifestation. But He is polite. He will not impose Himself on you or a local church. He is sensitive to inconveniencing others. He will move on down the road if hosting Him is inconvenient. And many churches have let Him go. They have hosted revival meetings in honor of Jesus, but without the presence of Jesus to revive them. That sounds so backward, but for those people Jesus’ presence is an inconvenience. His presence means we must change. Some people do not want change, but if they do not want change, then they do not want the Gospel. The entire nature of the Gospel is that you need to change. You are a sinner and that is not what you were created for. You need to change. Is it inconvenient? Ask a woman in the Muslim world who risks poisoning or being beaten to death for being baptized. Yet she does it. It is much less inconvenient for us, but we have no fear of the Lord. We listen to a message from God’s word, then we go out to eat and pick it apart at what the preacher said that we didn’t like, and then we go to work on Monday morning unchanged. Why? Because it is too inconvenient to invite the Lord Jesus in. He might rearrange some of the furniture. He might take over and take control of the bread distribution. He might assume He is in charge. He might put His finger on something in my life that I don’t want to change. He might ask me to admit I’m wrong about something. He might call me to change my ways.

d.   Luke 24:31 – Jesus disappears: Suddenly, they recognize Him – He is the Lord! And He is gone – disappeared!

e.   APPLICATION: He vanished. This is deeply significant. His sudden disappearance confirms He has received a unique and glorified resurrection body. He vanished to teach them something important. From now on they must rise up and walk by simple faith. It must be by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). They must walk in trust and not in unbelief. That’s a mega-theme of this Gospel. Later Thomas would demand to have an outward sign of the Master’s presence, something he could touch and see. The Lord was gracious to Thomas, but Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29). He calls us to go forth leaning on His Word, counting upon His unseen Presence in faith like the Psalmist who says, “I have set the LORD always before me./ Because he is at my right hand,/ I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8).

f.    Luke 24:32 – Were not our hearts burning within us: This idiom could mean that their hearts were grieved at Jesus’ convicting words on the road (Psalm 72:21), but more likely it means that they felt a strong urge to respond to Jesus’ powerful words (Psalm 38:4; Jer. 20:9).

g.   APPLICATION: How many times the Lord has walked with us unrecognized, unknown to us. Not until His Presence has passed and we remember how our hearts burned within us do we seem to come to attention and say, “That was the Lord.” Many an answer to prayer, many a simple gracious blessing or spoken word of grace when we seem most alone. It is then that He is often the closest to us.

h.   Note the meal (Luke 24:28-31a), the miracle (Luke 24:31b), their meditation (Luke 24:32), and their mission (Luke 24:33-35). They recognized Jesus and the power of that recognition sent them to tell!

i.    Luke 24:34 – The Lord has risen and appeared to Simon: It is past sunset, but they get up immediately and return the seven miles to Jerusalem to tell the disciples. There they find that Simon Peter has seen Him, too (1 Cor15:5). It might not be clear in the English, but the Greek makes it clear that this report comes from the Apostles, not Cleopas and his companion. Paul tells us of that appearance to Peter in 1 Cor 15:5.

j.    APPLICATION: Belief in a literal, physical resurrection of Jesus is supported by three lines of evidence. The evidence of fulfilled prophecy. The evidence of eyewitness testimony. The evidence of millions of transformed lives through faith in Him over the span of 2000 years.

k.   APPLICATION: The passage of the Emmaus Road is one of the most important passages in the NT, for in it the Lord taught how His life and mission, His death and resurrection must be viewed in the context of Gods self-revelation in the OT Scripture. It forms the vital connecting link between the OT promises and the apostolic exposition of their fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth. The OT is a book of unsatisfied longings and unfulfilled promises, which found their fulfillment when Christ came. Various themes of prophecy and promises come together in God’s Anointed One. He is the Shepherd of Israel, gently leading His sheep and caring for them. He is also the coming King of glory sitting on a throne wearing the robe of the High Priest in all righteousness who will rule the nations with an iron rod and scatter His enemies. He is both the Suffering Servant, the Man of Sorrows, who offers His own blood in atonement for all the world and the Mighty Warrior returning from battle, covered in the blood of His enemies. Jesus shows the two on the Emmaus road from the Scriptures that the Suffering Servant and the Conquering Messiah are the same person. When the Scriptures were opened to them, only then were their eyes were opened also.

l.    The tragedy of the Jews was that their own presuppositions blinded them to much of what the Scriptures teach about the Messiah. Things did not happen according to their plan. So they rejected Him.

Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.” That’s the door of the church, by the way. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me (Rev. 3:20).
Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1993), 911-915.
S. MacLean Gilmour, “Luke,” The Interpreter’s Bible, George Arthur Buttrick, gen. ed., Vol. 8 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1952), 8:421-429.
Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1993), 257.
David W. Pao and Eckhard J. Schnabel, “Luke,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson, gen. eds. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 400.
Dwight J. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 502-504.
Laurence E. Porter, “Luke,” The International Bible Commentary, F.F. Bruce, gen. ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 1226-1227.
Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion (Wheaton: Victor, 1991), 674.
Lawrence O. Richards, The Victor Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Wheaton: Victor, 1994), 210.
A.B. Simpson, The Christ in the Bible Commentary, Vol. 4 (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1993), 4:345-349.
David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996), 150-151.
Mark Strauss. “Luke,” Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Clinton E. Arnold, gen. ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 1:498-500.
Charles R. Swindoll and Bryce Klabunde, The Consummation of Something Miraculous: Jesus’ Trial and Triumph of Redemption. A Study of Luke 16:19-24:53 (Anaheim, CA: Insight for Living, 1995), 126-129.
J. Willcock, The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Luke (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1896), 24:600-601.
Harold L. Wilmington, The Outline Bible (Nashville: Tyndale House, 1999), 558-559.

[1] More than one place was called Emmaus (1 Macc. 3:57; 4:3), but this Emmaus’ location has been narrowed down to two possible locations. Josephus mentions an Ammaous thirty stadia (3.5 miles) from Jerusalem in War, VII. vi. 6. Luke may have mentioned a round trip distance. Josephus in (War, IV, i, 3; cf. Antiq. 18.2.3) says: “Now Emmaus, if it be interpreted, may be rendered 'a warm bath' for therein is a spring of warm water useful for healing” (ISBE). Here he is referring to the hot springs near Tiberias. Josephus (War 7.6.6) says that Vespasian settled in an Emmaus, sixty furlongs from Jerusalem, a colony for his soldiers. There is also an Arab village 7 miles northwest of Jerusalem on the road to Lydda called El-Qubeibeh where the Crusaders built a fort called Castellum Emmaus. This last one Alfred Edersheim, after a long footnote, chooses (Edershiem, 912-913.)
[2] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.11.1.
[3] Alphaeus and Clopas are the same name in Hebrew. Alphaeus ( ) in Babylonian Talmud as Ilphai or Ilpha (R. hash. 17b) and the other often found in the Jerusalem Talmud as Chilphai (Jer. B. Kama 7a). Wetzel, Theol. Stud. u. Krit. 1883, Heft 3.
[4] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3:11, quoting Hegesippus.
[5] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book 3, Chap. 17, 360-361; Bible History (, John J Rousseau and Rami Arav, Jesus and His World, (Augsburg Fortress, 1995);
[6] Alford.
[7] The word is used six times in the NT, five times for believers.
[8] Insisting was part of the hospitality (Judges 19:5-9; 1 Sam 28:23).