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Luke 24:28-35 1
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The LORD has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Background

By the time of the actual writing of Luke’s Gospel, most of the church was composed of Christians who had not personally witnessed Christ in the flesh. This story is meant to connect them (and us today) with Christ, who is still revealed through the reading and interpretation of scripture (v. 27) and the Lord’s Supper (vv. 30-31). We should not view ourselves at a disadvantage because we have not personally seen Jesus.

The term “two of them” refers back to “the eleven and all the rest” (v. 9). Cleopas 2, the disciple in this story, is never mentioned in any list of the apostles, so these two are among “the rest” rather than among the original eleven apostles. They may very well be husband and wife, in part because they offer hospitality jointly as would a husband and wife. This is Easter afternoon—just hours after Jesus rose from the dead. We know little about the town of Emmaus, which was about 7 miles from Jerusalem . All of Jesus’ resurrection appearances take place near Jerusalem. The story does not tell us why the travelers were going to Emmaus, although their hospitality to Jesus, their invitation to stay with them, makes it likely that Emmaus is their home.

Jesus’ preaching had made a deep impression upon their hearts, (Luke 24:32), and now they feel it their greatest privilege to entertain the preacher and offer hospitality. This is a constant effect of the doctrine of Christ: Jesus’ words, when heard, always dwell in the heart. His words make an impact. In verse 28, they come to Emmaus and Jesus acted like He would go further” (v. 28). This sounds as if the two disciples have reached their home. Jesus proceeds to leave them. Custom of the times requires them to invite Jesus to dinner, and custom would also require Jesus to decline unless they insist. Hence, the urging to stay with them.

This story involves highly liturgical language we still use today, including” He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them” (v. 30); “The Lord has risen indeed” (v. 34); and “the breaking of the bread” (v. 35). The risen Christ is revealed through the telling of His story, the interpretation of Scripture, and the breaking of bread. Something we as Christians still do today. These are almost exactly the words that Luke used to describe Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper (22:19). Note the four verbs: took, blessed, broke, and gave. Jesus took these same actions at the feeding of the five thousand (9:12-17). Normally, the host would perform these actions in a home. Jesus, the guest, becomes both host and celebrant at His table.

Earlier, their eyes were being kept from recognizing him (v. 16). Their eyes are now opened, and they recognized Jesus (v. 31a). It has been the conversation and words of Jesus who opens their eyes. The Emmaus disciples show hospitality to Jesus, and are rewarded with a private audience with the risen Lord. We never know what blessings we might receive by giving hospitality or what blessings we might lose by foregoing it. As the disciples reflect upon what they have experienced, they comment on how their hearts were affected when Jesus opened the Scriptures to them (v. 32). This is the intended revelation that should come from the breaking of bread: We are preparing to recognize Jesus in our midst. Our hearts then are being opened to personally hear from our Lord.

The Emmaus disciples run to share their story with the other disciples in Jerusalem. They had to go seven miles to get to Jerusalem, and the hour was late, but their good news of seeing Jesus alive energized them for their journey. This is the goal of the communion experience. Once the Emmaus disciples arrive in Jerusalem, they find the eleven apostles and their companions discussing Jesus’ appearance to Peter. Remember, after Judas’ death, we occasionally hear of “the eleven” in the New Testament. Each time we hear “the eleven,” we are reminded that there should have be twelve. Also, we are reminded that there were others with the eleven (v. 34c). Presumably these include the women and others, totaling about one hundred twenty, mentioned in Acts 1:14-15.

Items for Discussion

  • What is it about the Communion Experience that helps you in “recognizing Jesus” as your Savior?
  • Which are the elements of communion that impact you most? Make you excited so you run and tell others?
  • What do you do to help yourself prepare for communion: In worship together? When we are doing it over a computer, live streaming?
  • If the “Word of God” and Jesus Himself have an impact upon a person’s heart, then how should we be using these great gifts? In Worship? When worshiping “Virtually? When just together with friends and family?
  • In this story, Jesus is not just giving the disciples a “sermon.” What is making this event so different?
  • How do you think Jesus’ blessing or the reliving of the Last Supper is impacting the two disciple’s understanding of God’s word? 
  • In what way does the sharing of other human experiences (life’s journey along the road) strengthen one’s faith?
  •  All encounters with Jesus’ are not on a “Road to Damascus.” What differences do you see here that made this so effective?
  • The two disciples immediately shared their experience with other believers. How do you think this helped the other believers?
  • What would have been missed if the two disciples just went to bed after Jesus disappeared?

Discussion Challenge

  • The COVID-19 challenge of these times has diminished the Church’s ability to offer hospitality and worship together. Can we still repeat the experience shared by the two disciples through “virtual” experiences? How?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleopas
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