Can you imagine what it was like for Cleopas and his friend as they walked home from Jerusalem on the Sunday after Passover? Both men were disciples of Jesus, yet their teacher had been executed over the weekend. As they began the two-hour walk back to their village they began discussing what had happened that holiday weekend.
The discussion they had became quite emotional and possibly even heated. And then a stranger joined them and asked, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” (Luke 24:17 CSB). They stopped walking and looked sad and discouraged.
“The one named Cleopas answered him, ‘Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?’ ‘What things?’ he asked them. So they said to him, ‘The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet powerful in action and speech before God and all the people…’ (Luke 24:18-20).
He went on to tell how the Jewish leaders had handed Jesus over to the Romans and he had been crucified. They believed that he was the promised Messiah and had put their hopes in him – but now he was dead. But that hadn’t been the end of the matter. Earlier that very day, the third since his death, some of the women of their group had shocked them by finding Jesus’ tomb empty! They also said that they had seen angels who said that Jesus was alive. Some of the men went to the tomb and confirmed that it was empty. They didn’t know what to think.
At this point, the stranger entered the conversation. He began going through the Jewish scriptures, from Moses through all the Prophets and explained how they applied to the Messiah. Wouldn’t you love to have heard that conversation!
When they arrived at their village they invited the stranger to come with them – they wanted to hear more. Food was brought out and they took their places together around the table.
“It was as he reclined at the table with them that he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31).
They then recognized that this was Jesus – alive! And just as they recognized him he disappeared – vanished from sight! They had been with Jesus for the last few hours but had not recognized him [the text tells us “But they were prevented from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16)]. They immediately went back to Jerusalem to tell the others that Jesus was alive and they had seen him.
Notice what they said about the time they had spent with Jesus: “Weren’t our hearts burning within us while he was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). Their time with Jesus had made a difference even though they had not recognized him.
Does our time with Jesus make a difference to us? When we study the Scriptures, either alone or with other Christians, does our heart burn within us as we consider Jesus and what he has done for us? Or have we been so desensitized by the world that when we read and study God’s word it has no impact on us?
May we approach the Scriptures with open eyes and longing hearts as we seek to know Jesus better.
Readings for next week:
12 March – Luke 22:35-71
13 March – Luke 23:1-25
14 March – Luke 23:26-56
15 March – Luke 24:1-27
16 March – Luke 24:28-53