"As they ... discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them" (Luke 24:15).
In this final and grand chapter of Luke is given to us perhaps the first fulfillment of comforting promises, "Where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20). A pastor once noted that only one of the two was named, and he suggested that the reader take his or her own place there beside Jesus and Cleopas. What a beautiful thought!
I would like to share this wonderful commentary from William Barclay:
This is another of the immortal short stories of the world.
(i) It tells of two men who were walking towards the sunset. It has been suggested that that is the very reason why they did not recognize Jesus. Emmaus was west of Jerusalem. The sun was sinking, and the setting sun so dazzled them that they did not know their Lord. However that may be, it is true that the Christian is a man who walks not towards the sunset but towards the sunrise. Long ago it was said to the children of Israel that they journeyed in the wilderness towards the sunrising (Num.21:11). The Christian goes onwards, not to a night which falls, but to a dawn which breaks -- and that is what, in their sorrow and their disappointment, the two on the Emmaus road had not realized.
(ii) It tells us of the ability of Jesus to make sense of things. The whole situation seemed to these two men to have no explanation. Their hopes and dreams were shattered. There is all the poignant, wistful, bewildered regret in the world in their sorrowing words, "We were hoping that he was the one who was going to rescue Israel." They were the words of men whose hopes were dead and buried. Then Jesus came and talked with them, and the meaning of life became clear and the darkness became light. A story-teller makes one of his characters say to the one with whom he has fallen in love, "I never knew what life meant until I saw it in your eyes." It is only in Jesus that, even in the bewildering times, we learn what life means.
(iii) It tells us of the courtesy of Jesus. He made as if he would have gone on. He would not force himself upon them; he awaited their invitation to come in. God gave to men the greatest and the most perilous gift in the world, the gift of free-will; we can use it to invite Christ to enter our lives or to allow him to pass on.
(iv) It tells how he was known to them in the breaking of bread. This always sounds a little as if it meant the sacrament; but it does not. It was at an ordinary meal in an ordinary house, when an ordinary loaf was being divided, that these men recognized Jesus. It has been beautifully suggested that perhaps they were present at the feeding of the five thousand, and, as he broke the bread in their cottage home, they recognized his hands again. It is not only at the communion table we can be with Christ; we can be with him at the dinner table too. He is not only the host in his Church; he is the guest in every home.
Fay Inchfawn wrote,
Sometimes, when everything goes wrong;
When days are short and nights are long;
When wash-day brings so dull a sky
That not a single thing will dry.
And when the kitchen chimney smokes,
And when there's naught so `queer' as folks!
When friends deplore my faded youth,
And when the baby cuts a tooth.
While John, the baby last but one,
Clings round my skirts till day is done;
And fat, good-tempered Jane is glum,
And butcher's man forgets to come.
Sometimes I say on days like these,
I get a sudden gleam of bliss.
Not on some sunny day of ease,
He'll come ... but on a day like this!"
The Christian lives always and everywhere in a Christ-filled world.
(v) It tells how these two men, when they received such great joy, hastened to share it. It was a seven miles tramp back to Jerusalem, but they could not keep the good news to themselves. The Christian message is never fully ours until we have shared it with someone else.
(vi) It tells how, when they reached Jerusalem, they found others who had already shared their experience. It is the glory of the Christian that he lives in a fellowship of people who have had the same experience as he has had. It has been said that true friendship begins only when people share a common memory and can say to each other, "Do you remember?" Each of us is one of a great fellowship of people who share a common experience and a common memory of their Lord.
(vii) It tells that Jesus appeared to Peter. That must remain one of the great untold stories of the world. But surely it is a lovely thing that Jesus should make one of his first appearances to the man who had denied him. It is the glory of Jesus that he can give the penitent sinner back his self-respect.
Patricia Erwin Nordman