The seven-mile-long walk home to Emmaus from Jerusalem must have seemed daunting for two weary travelers, one known as Cleopas. They had been in the city as it went into an uproar over Jesus of Nazareth, its people finally succumbing to political intrigue and a spasm of emotion that led to Jesus’ crucifixion.
Just before leaving, they also heard wild stories that only disturbed them more, tales of a tomb flung open, visions of angels, and a dead man walking. Yes, they would travel the seven miles home, but when they got there, could they even sleep? Which would win out, weariness or worry?
A man joined them along the way. We know the story; we know he was Jesus. It’s not clear why two people who had followed him could not recognize him. Perhaps it was their grief. Perhaps a resurrected body is different enough that it is not immediately associated with its mortal predecessor. Or perhaps God simply willed that their eyes be veiled for a time to enhance their understanding later.
The man, oddly enough, seemed ignorant of all that had transpired, despite traveling from the same place they had been. They explained what they had seen. He proceeded to make them feel ignorant.
“Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” the man asked. He began to explain the Scriptures to them—he worked from what we would now call the Old Testament, of course—showing them that what had happened had to happen.
We don’t know what he specifically cited. Surely he mentioned Genesis 3:15, the condemnation of the serpent for bringing temptation to the garden: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Also, the promise from God to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
They must have discussed Deuteronomy 18:15—”The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet”—and how Jesus’ role exceeded even that of a prophet.
Cleopas and his traveling companion must have been intrigued. And being good, hospitable Jews, the kind of Jews who would not leave a man to travel dangerous roads at night alone, they invited him into their home when they finally reached Emmaus.
The man must have seemed pushy when they sat down to share a little bread. He took the bread to bless it, a role usually performed by the host. And when he broke it—Jesus! They knew they had been walking with Jesus! And then he vanished!
A seven-mile-long walk back to Jerusalem should have seemed particularly daunting. The travelers should have been exhausted. They should have been fearful, for it was night, and bad things happen on the road at night.
But they walked back down that road anyway—when you’ve experienced the risen Christ, there is no fear.
I suspect they ran as much of the road as they could. When they paused for breath, did they laugh as they gasped for air? Did they discuss how crazy this all would sound once they reached Jerusalem?
Know that Jesus walks with you. See Jesus for who he is. Run and tell others. Living the Christian life can be that simple.