The rush of Sunday morning was beginning to calm. But the excitement that the risen Jesus and the empty tomb had stirred was far from over. About seven miles from Jerusalem, two disciples were walking and discussing the news of the empty tomb as the women had described it.
The following is an account taken from Mark 16:12-13 and Luke 24:13-32. The following events have been placed in chronological order.
Their journey to Emmaus was about seven miles. The two disciples, one of them named Cleopas, had much to contemplate over their trip. The death of their Lord was much to begin with, but the uncertainty of the empty tomb and the women’s extraordinary testimony (including Mary Magdalene’s) was mind boggling.
It was not uncommon to be walking among others this time of day. Though it was not crowded, the chatter of other conversations competed with their own. Nevertheless, the great importance of their subject captured their attention. And very subtly, a man, walking alongside them asked about their conversation.
Puzzled at the idea that anyone in Jerusalem would not know about what had happened, the disciples bewilderedly answered, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who doesn’t know?” They might have thought this man to live under a rock!
They shared the events of the past few days as they perceived them. Reliving them was undoubtedly torture to their hearts. They mentioned Jesus ministering among the people as a prophet of God and how He stirred up the anger of the chief priests and rulers until they’d had enough and crucified Him as a criminal.
They continued to speak about their hopes that He would redeem Israel and lead them as their earthly king. But His death had shattered their hopes. Then, relating the empty tomb, they talked about the women’s vision and how none of the disciples were able to substantiate it. (Peter had seen Jesus, but the disciples hadn’t heard the news yet.)
The man responded, “Oh foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” He continued, “Wasn’t all of this necessary so that the Christ would suffer and enter into His glory?” Then, beginning with the first books of the Old Testament, the man explained to them how the Scriptures taught all these things.
The disciples hung on every word as if God Himself was speaking to them. Upon arriving at their destination, they begged the man to join them for dinner and continue his exposition.
Over dinner, God opened their eyes to recognize this strange man to be the risen Jesus. Doubt was destroyed. God’s Word burned in their hearts and their faith was strengthened.
Suddenly, Jesus vanished from their sight.
Reflecting on what had just happened, the disciples wondered retrospectively, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” It was all making sense now.
Overjoyed, they rose up and rushed back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.
The book of Psalms opens up with these words, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2).
Those who love Jesus love God’s word. The two are used synonymously at times because all of Scripture is about God’s redeeming work in Jesus Christ. To have God’s Word is to have Jesus Christ.
On the evening of Resurrection Sunday, it was the Scriptures—being illuminated to the disciples—that burned in their hearts, producing hope in the Son of God. That same power exists in God’s eternal Word. Does it burn within your heart today?