Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, land to enter into His glory? Luke 24:26.
It was towards evening; the day was far spent when the two disciples reached Emmaus; yet there may have been time enough for them, after they had dined, to return by daylight to Jerusalem (a distance of about seven miles, a two or three hour’s walk) and to be present at that evening meeting, in the midst of which Jesus was seen by them once more. It must have been between mid-day and sunset that the journey to Emmaus had been taken. Of the two travelers, the name of one only has been preserved; that of Cleopas, generally believed to have been a near relative of Christ—the husband of the Virgin Mary’s sister. It was not, however, the closeness of the relationship to Jesus which won for them the privilege of that conversation by the way. Had nearness of relationship had anything to do with the matter, there was one surely to whom, above all others, we might have expected that He would appear on the day of His resurrection. Yet neither on that day, nor on any of the forty days He spent on earth thereafter, does Jesus seem to have made any special manifestation of Himself to His mother, or to have taken any individual notice of her whatever. Her name does not once occur in the record of this period of Jesus’ life. It shows that Jesus had dropped the recognition of this relationship altogether, as one not suited to be carried into that kingdom to whose throne He was about to ascend.
And as it was nothing in their outward relationship to Jesus, so neither was it anything in the personal character, position, or services of these two men which drew upon them this great favor of Christ.
They had occupied no prominent place beside Christ in the course of His ministry. They had shown, as far as can be known, no special strength of attachment to Him, or to His cause. Had Peter, James and John been the travelers, it would not have been so remarkable that He should have given them so many of the hours of that first day of His resurrection—more hours than He had given to any other interview of that period, perhaps as many as were spent in all the other interviews together. Why was it that He joined Himself to them? Christ’s first words to them help us to understand. He has been walking beside them so close as to overhear their conversation. But they have their minds so set upon the topic that engrosses them, that they notice not that a stranger has overtaken them, and had been a listener to their discourse. At last in a manner expressive at once of interest and sympathy, Jesus breaks in upon their discourse with the question, “What manner of communications are these that ye have to one another, as ye walk and are sad?” That sadness it is that draws Jesus to their side. It was to
Mary, weeping in her lonely grief; to Peter drowned in tears of repentance,—that He had already appeared. And now it was to these two disciples in their sorrow that He joins Himself. Early did the risen Savior assume the office of contorting those who mourn, of binding up the broken heart.
Little need, thought one of these two disciples, of asking such a question as Jesus had asked. Of what could any two men leaving Jerusalem, only two days after that crucifixion had occurred—of what else than of it, and Him the crucified, could they be talking? “Art thou only,” says Ceopas, “a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?” And the stranger says to him, “What things?” Thus it is by questions that Jesus draws out from them that statement, which at once reveals the cause of their grief. And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since those things were done.”
There was indeed much about which these disciples might differ and dispute. The yielding of their Master to the power of His enemies, and His shameful crucifixion two days before,—how could they reconcile with His undoubted power, as a prophet so mighty in words and in deed? And those sayings of His, pointing to a future, never now to be realized, so they thought, what could they make of them? Had Jesus Himself been disappointed, deceived: had He imagined that the people would rise on His behalf, and prevent His crucifixion? That might have been, had He not so often show that He knew all that was passing in men’s hearts. Could He then have been ignorant how the multitude of Jerusalem would feel and act? There was truth, too, in what so many of them had flung reproachfully in His teeth, as He hung upon the cross: Be had saved others, why did He not save Himself? What a confused mass of difficulties must have risen up before these two men’s eyes as they reasoned by the way! And then besides, there was what they had just heard before they left the city,—the report of some women that they had gone out, and found the sepulcher empty, and had seen angels, who told them that He was alive. They indeed might easily have been deceived; but Peter and John had also gone out. It is true that they had seen no angels, nor had any one, that they have heard of, seen the Lord Himself. But the sepulcher had been found empty. The women were right so far; were they right also in what they said about the angel’s message? Could Jesus actually be alive again? We wonder that these two men could have left the city at the time they did. We wonder at this the more because we know that, had they but waited an hour or two longer, they would have had all their doubts dissolved. It is clear enough, however, that neither of them had any faith in the resurrection; and as clear that they were dissatisfied with their unbelief—altogether puzzled and perplexed. Ignorant, they needed to be taught; deeply prejudiced, they needed to have their prejudice removed. For hours and hours, for days and days, they might have remained together without clearing up the difficulties that beset them. But now in pity and in love, Christ Himself appears—appears in the garb of a stranger who joins them by the way. They do not recognize Him. For their eyes were holden that they should not know Him.
(To be continued)