"But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.Luke 24:21(NASB)
The touching account of the two disheartened disciples walking the seven-mile journey to Emmaus is unique to the book of Luke, and gives a beautiful glimpse into the tender heart of our God.
Having just read of Christ's glorious Resurrection, been introduced to the women who sped to tell the apostles that Jesus is risen from the dead, and having read how Peter immediately rushed to the tomb and was amazed to see nothing but the linen cloth, the scene rapidly changes to two distraught men discussing the shocking events of Christ's death. Then the Lord Jesus Himself comes alongside and starts to walk and talk with them on the way.
The two disciples were astonished that the stranger who joined them did not know all that had happened during the Passover feast that year. They started to tell him about Jesus the Nazarene Who was a prophet, mighty in deed and gracious in word, both in the sight of God and all the people. They explained how the chief priests and rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death and crucified Him.
They told Him how confused and distressed they were. They had believed Jesus to be the Messiah and trusted Him for their salvation, but they had expected deliverance to come through political success and military might. Although their expectations were shattered with Christ's crucifixion, there is a hint of hope in their conversation, for they told their new companion how certain women had a vision of angels and said He was alive.
They confessed, "We were hoping He was going to redeem Israel," but continued, "and besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened!" Were they recalling the time that Jesus took His twelve disciples aside and told them that everything written in the prophets about the Son of Man would be accomplished? Were they remembering that He said He would be handed over to the Gentiles to be mocked, insulted, spat on, flogged, killed, and that He would rise on the third day? Maybe!
Did they have a glimmer of hope when they told the stranger what Jesus had said on the way to Jerusalem, when He took the twelve disciples aside and told them that the Son of Man would be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, who would condemn Him to death and hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and that on the third day He would be raised-up from the grave? Maybe!
Did they start to recall some of the things the Lord Jesus had taught them, when the stranger who was walking with them started to open up the Scriptures to their understanding? Was their hope increased when, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, their fellow-traveller started to explain many things concerning the Lord Jesus in all the holy Scriptures?
It seems that there was a small measure of hope in the heart of these two disciples because they had been counting the days since the crucifixion and knew that NOW it is the third day. Their weak faith did not rejoice when the women testified of the empty tomb. Their dejected countenance and the sorrowful tale they told as they walked together, demonstrated that a measure of doubt continued to lurk in their minds, but it WAS the third day!
The fluctuating hope and teetering trust of the two disciples was shortly to be transformed into factual faith, when they invited Jesus to come into their home and sup with them. And it was when He took the bread and blessed it, broke it, and began giving it to them, that their eyes were opened and they recognised the Messiah in their midst, and immediately He vanished from their sight.
What a change of mind must have flooded their heart as they excitedly said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, and explaining the Scriptures to us?"
These two disciples had placed their faith in the Lord Jesus for salvation, but they had not yet learned to live by faith; to walk in spirit and truth; to live their life by trusting God's Word and not relying on sight, circumstances, or their fluctuating feelings. It is very easy to find our hearts swayed by the difficult circumstances that impact our lives, but how honouring it is when we live by faith, walk in spirit and truth, and do not rely on our own interpretation or understanding.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, whose sorrow was turned into joy when they met Jesus on the way, and He opened-up the Scriptures to them. Thank You that their hope in Him was restored when they discovered that Christ was indeed their promised Messiah Who died to pay the price for their sin and rose again the third day, so that all Scripture would be fulfilled. I pray that I would be careful not to fall into the trap of letting outward circumstances affect my inner trust in You. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.