I have been thinking about the road to Emmaus story and how Jesus opened scripture to a couple of discouraged believers and I have been trying to imagine what it would feel like…
“But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.” (24:12). Jesus has finished his ministry; a whirlwind three years of teaching and healing had seemingly ended with his death on a disgraceful cross. Sure he foretold the necessity of his death but how could his followers fully grasp the idea in his midst, breaking bread with him and seeing lives changed. Without regard to their disbelief though, zealous Jews and a Roman court sent Jesus to be crucified and his followers watched as the one they thought to be the Messiah was beaten, stripped and tortured to death on a wooden plank near the refuse pile of Jerusalem.
Rumblings of hope were growing however and by the third day the most explosive event of history would be upon an empire and the world. Jesus was no longer dead and his grave was empty. We can only imagine the elation of Peter as he returned home to “marvel” at what had happened. But the absent tomb was only the beginning. It is with this hope and anticipation that we meet two believers, somewhat discouraged, on a road to Emmaus.
As they discuss all that happened in Jerusalem a stranger joins them and challenges them to change their views of what the Messiah’s true role was, rather than a conquering ruler he was a resurrected savior. The promised return has now happened and without this story, the believers would still be waiting and anticipating their Messiah’s appearance.
While Jesus would later appear to the disciples in Jerusalem the experience on the road to Emmaus gives us an important lesson on the revelation of Christ throughout all of scripture and our need to recognize how he was the fulfillment of prophesy and the savior we first heard of in Genesis 3. Without it we might be prone to shape the image of Christ on something other than scripture and the truth that only comes from godly revelation.