Cleopas and Another Meet Jesus on the Road to Emmaus-Luke 24:13-35
Updated: Apr 13
"Quickly, Mary, the Sabbath has ended, so let us get home to Emmaus and give word to all those who are in deep mourning; we must get there to tell them the tomb is empty!" I knew if I expressed our dear friends' suffering, she may readily consider the journey instead of hiding out for our own security. For three days now, no one dares enter the streets lest we be accused as part of the so called "insurrection", and even the disciples, except Thomas, are not willing to step out from the locked door of the upper room. "We must not think of ourselves for others need to hear the news!" As expected, Mary abides with not so much as a word of caution. She quickly gathers up the remnants of our lunch from earlier in the day for the seven mile journey will take us to dusk.
Our hearts pumping with excitement over all that took place this morning, we hardly had a minute of silence. With Mary having received all the details earlier from Mary Magdalene, Mary, Salome and Joanna, my queries would not stop. "So tell me more; why did they think it was angels that they saw?" My dear wife couldn't be happier than to reveal all the details her closest friends had explained to her about arriving at the empty tomb this morning. Then she suddenly burst out with tears in frustration over the disbelief of the disciples and even myself. Oblivious of our surroundings someone spoke up from behind us.
A gentle natured man, who was clean shaved revealing facial scars from possible 'battle wounds' in the past, draws up closer. He inquires, "What are you discussing that has made you so sad?"
Stunned that the stranger wasn't aware of the current events, I question back," Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem that does not know what happened these last few days?"
A kind retort is returned, "What things?"
Laying it all out at once, I tell him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth who was a mighty prophet in deed and word before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers delivered him 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." Taking a deep breath, I continue on the hard part. "Our trusted close friends arrived at the tomb early today and astonished us. They exclaim that they saw angels who said he was alive!" I press on, " Our other good friends who we keep company with also went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see him nor the angels."
With a curt reply before more could be uttered, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not Christ have to suffer these things before entering his glory?" With great clarity and eloquence of a sage, this stranger begins sharing from beginning with Moses and continues with all the prophets of what they said in the scriptures concerning the Messiah. This erudite stranger spoke with such precision and understanding that it was easily filed away into our mind and hearts. He quoted passage after passage from the writings of the prophets explaining the role of the Messiah. The whole journey was mesmerizing that before we knew it, we approached the gates of Emmaus. Dusk was setting and the stranger began to bid good-bye and travel on, but quickly Mary urges me to offer him to stay the night in our home. With more insisting, the man agrees and happily we continue on with his exposition of the Scriptures.
Mary quickly sets out a warm meal and bread before us, and I give the honor of prayer to our guest. He accepts and takes the small loaf of bread and breaks it apart giving thanks to God and passes it to each of us. Suddenly, our eyes are opened, and we recognize Jesus! "Jesus! " we simultaneously gasp and immediately Jesus disappears!
Mary exclaims, "No wonder my heart was burning from within me as he shared the scriptures on our journey!" - My sentiments exactly!
"Mary, we must go back to tell the others! We must tell the disciples what the women saw is all true!"
In less than an hour and in the dark no less, we headed back to Jerusalem to tell the others only this time we were laughing and running the whole way.
Jesus lives and the whole world will be touched by this day in history! "Indeed, he is not found among the dead, but the living! Just as the Angels said!" shouts Mary out running me for a few minutes that is!
Questions for Reflection:
In my rendition of the Bible account, Cleopas and his wife Mary did not allow fear for their well being keep them from journeying back to Emmaus. The others are reported to have been hiding out in a locked room, and surely this included them. I suggest in complete speculation, that perhaps they felt concern for the others in their home town who would want to know the recent news. Fear and worry didn't trap them inside, and they journeyed back in the open after the Sabbath ended. Reflect on how concerned you are over your welfare, perhaps forgetting others who could use support, provision, or company. Does worry have you bound up that you can't live freely? Are you imprisoned by your fears?
This event is only fully recorded in the book of Luke; one other Gospel, Mark, only gives two versus regarding the occurrence. Out of the two travelers, only one is named (Cleopas). There are no pronouns or any other indication of whether the other is a male or female. Most speculate that the other was a male companion. Since the scripture mentions in the Gospel of John the name Mary, the wife of Cleopas, who was at the foot of the cross with Jesus' mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, we could assume it was the same Cleopas. They were all in the inner circle of Jesus' friends. Historians believe that Cleopas was the younger brother of Joseph (Mary's husband-Jesus earthly father) making Mary a sister- in- law to "mother" Mary. One could assume they all had extremely close knit friendships. Contemplating the verse, "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." insinuates that Cleopas and the other person had a place to stay and could provide food. It could be assumed that they owned a home in Emmaus. It seems reasonable that Cleopas would return to his home with his wife.
God delights in showing himself to those who hearts believe! The scripture states that the women arrived at the tomb at daybreak and found it empty with two angels inside of it. One angel said,"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here- he is risen, Remember what he told you in Galilee, 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' Then the women remembered." (Luke 24:7-8) God will make himself manifest to those whose hearts are set on him in faith. Jesus gave these women respect and honor for their trusting hearts. Within days of the crucifixion, the scripture shares the faith of two other women who had listened to his discussions of dying and suffering. In two separate accounts, these women poured out expensive perfume on him before the crucifixion, and Jesus explains their heart in both circumstances, "She prepares me for burial". There is something unique about the faith of women where worship comes easily with their nurturing hearts. We see Jesus showed "himself" first to the ones who stood at the foot of his cross with broken hearts; Mary Magdalene and the other women (Matthew 28:9) saw him that morning. He rebukes the disciples for their stubborn refusal to believe the reports of his return (Luke 16:14). God shows a special favor and blessing to those whose faith does not waiver with circumstance.
If the circumstances were that the two travelers were a husband and wife, it would allow for the women to be taught by Mary spreading the lessons faster among the early church.
Another interesting aspect to learn from this event is that when two people (or more) start discussing spiritual things of God, they will undoubtedly have the blessing of Jesus showing up. Not visibly, but His spirit of wisdom, peace, joy, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, self-control will be present. He states, "Where two or more are gathered in my name, I will be in their midst!" Mathew 18:20 What a God we serve that cares to be with us in our daily lives! Invite Jesus into your heart, your day, your home, your prayers and allow your eyes to be opened to the beautiful mystery of our Father's love for us!
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
As the account is recorded in the Bible:
Isaiah 52:13-15- Jesus' face was disfigured by crucifixion -
Isaiah 50:4-6 -Jesus' face was disfigured by the whip and beatings-beard pulled out