The Road to Emmaus
Cleopas listened to what they all had to say. He found it hard to believe. The Passover was over and it was time they made their way home to Emmaus. It was a seven mile walk and he did not want to delay setting out. They could discuss the matter on the way.
As Cleopas and his companion walked they considered text after text to see if the scriptures supported this turn of events. Did they explain what this rising was? Was He going to be King or not? How could He be if He was dead? Had the plan gone wrong? They conversed earnestly as they walked along the dusty road.
Another traveller joined them.
“You seem to be having a huge discussion here,” He said. “And a very sad one. May I join in? What’s it all about?”
Cleopas gaped at Him. He did not recognise the traveller as God was restraining his ability to do so. “Are you the only stranger round here who has not noticed the things happening in Jerusalem?”
“What things?” asked the traveller.
“Why, the things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a mighty prophet in word and deed from God to the people. And the chief priests and scribes got Him crucified as a common criminal. But we were hoping He was going to be the King of Israel and restore the nation. It all happened three days ago. And then, this morning, some of our women went to the tomb and found it empty and told us that angels told them He had risen. Some of our number went to check, and, yes, it was empty. But we have not seen Him.”
“Foolish ones!” exclaimed the traveller. “Let me explain the scriptures to you.” And, beginning with Moses, He carefully went through all the prophecies relating to Himself all through the scriptures. They listened until they reached their home in Emmaus.
“Look, we are home now,” they said. “And it is getting late in the day. Come in and stay with us.”
When the meal was on the table, Jesus blessed the bread, broke it and gave it to them.
At once they recognised Him. But before they could talk with Him further He vanished in front of their eyes. They turned to each other excitedly. “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He explained the scriptures?”
Despite the lateness of the hour, they immediately set off on the long road back to Jerusalem. Unlike the chief priests and elders, they were well acquainted with the house where the disciples used to gather and where they would be now, and went straight there. The place was full. Ten of the twelve disciples were there plus several others who followed Jesus. It was the safest place to be at that time with their leader dead and everyone looking for His followers.
Fish and Honeycomb
There was an excited buzz of conversation. Simon Peter was insisting that he had seen Jesus! Some agreed that it must be true that He had risen! Others said it was just not possible!
But Simon’s great booming voice would allow no argument. Let the others doubt if they wanted to. He would not. He had denied His Lord when Jesus had needed His support at the time of His trial. Peter should have been there for Him- but he wasn’t.
And Jesus had looked at him in sorrow across the crowded place and known what he had done. He had wept bitterly then. And since. And then Jesus had appeared to him. Alive after all. We are not told of the conversation. But Simon Peter was adamant that Jesus lived and was saying so in that locked and secret house where they all hid from the authorities.
Into this hubbub, the two from Emmaus interjected their story and it was while they were all talking about it at the tops of their voices that Jesus appeared in the room.
“Peace be with you,” He said.
“Aaargh! It’s a ghost!” someone shrieked. They cowered away from ‘the apparition’.
“What are you making all this fuss about?” asked Jesus. “Come and touch My hands and feet. Of course I am not a ghost! You can’t touch ghosts! Come and touch Me and stop being so silly!”
He held out His hands and feet to show them. Even then they were still a bit dubious, wanting it to be true but doubting their own senses. A solid ghost …..?
“Do you have any food here?” Jesus asked in exasperation. They rustled up a piece of cooked fish and a bit of honeycomb. He made them watch as He ate it. Ghosts don’t eat. He must be real …
Then He patiently explained the scriptures to them, showing why it was necessary for Him to die and how it was written that He would rise again on the third day. Today. And here He was.
At last they understood. Aided by God’s grace, they finally comprehended Jesus’ mission and purpose. And Jesus then told them that they were to go out into all the world and preach. He breathed the Holy Spirit on them and told them that they were now in a position to forgive sins in their ministry. They were to stay in Jerusalem when He told them to, until they received the full power from Heaven, and then they were to go out and use their gifts to preach.
It happened that Thomas, one of the twelve disciples, was not present on this occasion. The others told him about it. But Thomas refused to accept Jesus was alive.
“Unless I see Him myself, and see the nail marks in His hands, and actually put my hand into the wounds, and into the one on His side,” he declared, “I will not believe He has risen.”
He had to wait eight days. Then Jesus appeared again when all the disciples were together, this time including Thomas. Once again the doors were locked and barred against the elders and the Roman authorities. Once again, Jesus arrived without anyone having to open up.
“Peace to you,” He said. Then He turned to Thomas. “Here you are,” He said. “Put your finger into the wounds in My hands and reach out and put your hand into the wound in My side. Now be not unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas did so. “My Lord and my God!” he said, falling to his knees.
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, you have seen and believed. Blessed are those who have not seen but believed.”