13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?"
19 "What things?" he asked.
"About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."
25 He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
Verse 13 begins with the phrase "Now that same day." What day is that? It's the "first day of the week" (v. 1), or Sunday. It's the day that the women went to the tomb "early in the morning" only to discover "the stone rolled away" and the body of the Lord Jesus missing. It's the day that the women "told all these things to the Eleven and to the others" (v. 9). It's a day of great morning because three days earlier Jesus was crucified and buried. And it's a day of great confusion because now they don't know what has happened to the body.
On that very day, these two disciples are walking to "a village named Emmaus." Verse 13 tells us Emmaus was about seven miles from Jerusalem. It's a long walk. To pass the time and to try and make sense of things, the two men "were talking with each other about everything that had happened." They no doubt talked the way men talked... not too deeply about their feelings, rehearsing the facts, pausing to consider solutions, wanting to regain control.
Three things happen with these two men. First (v. 15), "Jesus himself came up and walked along with them." They experience a post-Resurrection appearance of the Lord. With all their senses---sight, hearing, perhaps touch and smell, and later taste---they encounter Jesus.
Second, they explain to Jesus the facts of the last several days (vv. 18-24). They explain who Jesus was, as they understood Him, and what Jesus did, including his death and the eyewitness testimony of the empty tomb. Third, Jesus explains the Scriptures concerning himself to them and stops to eat with them (vv. 25-32).
Yet, they do not recognize Jesus.
Three Insufficient Ways of Knowing the Truth about Jesus and the Resurrection
Each of these experiences illustrate three insufficient ways of knowing the truth about who Jesus is.
First, physical senses alone are insufficient for recognizing Jesus for who He is. Jesus walks with them. Jesus talks with them. Jesus cooked and ate with them. Perhaps Jesus laid His hand on their shoulders or they shook hands when they first met on the road to Emmaus. We marvel at what it must have been like to have a multi-sensory encounter with the Resurrected Lord. But here's the truly marvelous thing (v. 15-16): "Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him." They had no idea who Jesus was. Their physical encounter did not help them know Jesus.
We like to think that if Jesus showed up today we would recognize Him right away. Excuse me... but that's our pride, isn't it? Recognizing Jesus is not a matter of physical sight or sensory perception. It's remarkable that when Jesus appeared to any of the disciples for the first time, they did not immediately recognize Him. Mary Magdalene did not recognize the Lord on sight (John 20:11-16). Nor did the male disciples recognize Jesus any quicker (John 21:1-7).
Mary, Peter, the disciples, the two on the road to Emmaus all saw, spoke with, and heard Jesus. But our physical senses alone are insufficient for knowing and recognizing Jesus for who He truly is.
Second, facts alone are insufficient for recognizing Jesus for who He is---even if the facts are firsthand eyewitness testimonies. In verses 17, Jesus asks them what they're talking about. The question froze them in their tracks and changed their expression. In verses 19-24, the two men run down the facts about Jesus and recent events. They mention that Jesus was a powerful prophet in both word and deed. They tell of how the religious leaders sentenced Jesus to death and how Jesus was crucified. They even mention their own hopeful feelings, believing Jesus was the one to redeem Israel. Then they give the facts about his burial three days ago, and the amazing eyewitness testimony from the women and from the male disciples that the body was no longer in the tomb. They have the facts down cold. They had witnessed much of this, and what they had not witnessed themselves they heard from other eyewitnesses.
And, yet, they don't recognize Jesus when they were talking with Him face to face. It's not enough to know the facts about Jesus' life. These men believe all the facts about Jesus but they're still missing something. They are religious but they're not recognizing the very Founder of their religion. The facts alone don't get us there.
Third, Bible study alone is insufficient for recognizing Jesus for who He is. How would you like to have Jesus lead you in Bible study or lead your small group? That's exactly what happens with these two men.
"How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." (Luke 24:25-27)
But even with Jesus as their Bible teacher, they still did not recognize Him! Religious and Bible knowledge alone are insufficient for recognizing who Jesus really is.
Experiences alone won't get us there. Facts alone won't get us there. Bible knowledge and religious activity alone won't get us there. These three things are insufficient for knowing Jesus as He truly is. We need something more, something more reliable.
One Infallible Way of Knowing the Truth about Jesus and the Resurrection
We must have our eyes opened by God. Verse 16 says, "they were kept from recognizing him." Who kept them from recognizing Jesus? God the Father did. They would not recognize Jesus until---verse 31---"Their eyes were opened and they recognized him...." Knowing Jesus requires that God supernaturally open our eyes with spiritual sight. That's the one infallible way of knowing the truth about Jesus.
"Jesus said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him." (Matt. 11:25-27)
"The disciples came to Him and asked, 'Why do you speak to the people in parables?' He replied, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them'." (Matthew 13:10-11)
"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to Him, and He cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14)
Until God opens our eyes to He really is in Christ, we remain blind to ultimate truth. Has God opened your eyes yet? Do you see with the sight that He alone can give? How would you know that you see and recognize Jesus for who He is?
Three Important Insights We Must Embrace
If our eyes have been opened by God, then there are three things that we must embrace in order to know Jesus as He truly is.
First, if God has opened our eyes then we know that Jesus has come in the flesh.
"This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every Spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the anti-Christ, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." (1 John 4:2-3)
Second, if God has opened our eyes then we know that Jesus is God's unique Son.
The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus was designed to declare conclusively that Jesus is the unique Son of God. Turn with me to . Paul writes of the Gospel...
"...regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:3-4)
To truly celebrate Easter, to truly celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord, is to see in the Resurrection the Holy Spirit's powerful declaration that Jesus is the Son of God. It is to sing what the Centurion exclaimed in fear, "Surely He was the Son of God"! There is no proper celebration of Easter without having our eyes opened to the fact that Jesus is the unique Son of God and embracing it with the eyes of faith.
Third, if God has opened our eyes then we know that Jesus is Lord.
Unless we recognize Him as the Ruler of all creation and the ruler of our individual lives, then we do not recognize Him as He truly is. We are not saved from God's judgment. We are not yet born again. We're like the two men on the road to Emmaus. Our eyes are not yet spiritually opened to apprehend the truth--Jesus is Lord!
"No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:3)
But Lord is not an honorific title. If Jesus is Lord we owe Him obedience.
46 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? 47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." (Luke 6:46-49)
This means that when it comes to really grasping Jesus' lordship---to accept Him as our personal Ruler and King---to obey Him as our God---no one can do these things without the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in opening their eyes and giving them the ability to do so.
Do you know these things? Has God opened your eyes to realize Jesus has come in the flesh to offer himself as a sacrifice for sin and to be raised from the grave? Has God opened your eyes to recognize through the Resurrection that Jesus is the only-begotten and unique Son of God? Has God opened your eyes to see and obey Jesus as your own Lord and Savior?
Or do you not know these things? Have your eyes not been opened? For unless your eyes are open and you are given faith, you will die in your sins and after that will be God's eternal wrath and judgment.
If your eyes have not been opened, then open your mouth. Pray to the Lord for the gift of sight, so that seeing with the eyes of faith you may believe in Jesus and be saved. Call on God to give you the gift of faith so that you may live forever in His love and joy and share in the wonder of His glory and Resurrection.