Wednesday, October 10, 2018
The Two on the Way
By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
The video version of this teaching is available at:
The scripture reading for this teaching is: Luke 24:13-35
Yeshua had indeed risen from the dead! He first appeared to the women at the tomb who had come to anoint His body with burial spices on the morning of the first day of the week after the Sabbath. At first no one would believe them as they related their experience to the disciples gathered together in the house. Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves and found the empty tomb and the neatly folded grave clothes just as the women had reported.
Whenever I read this story, I am reminded of a song recorded back in the 80’s by Don Francisco titled “He’s Alive” that tells the story of Yeshua’s resurrection in poetic verse set to a powerful musical backdrop. The Master was nowhere to be found. Had he actually risen as the women had reported? Or had His body been relocated by the Romans or the High Priest and the corrupt Sadducees? What had become of Him? There were key witnesses, chosen by God before hand to speak boldly of the risen Messiah.
Acts 10:40-41 NKJV 40 "Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 "not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.
After His resurrection, Yeshua did not appear before great multitudes as He had done many times during His earthly ministry. He did not return to the Temple to clean it of its corrupted state and establish His kingdom on earth as many expected Him to do. Yet the prophecies that Yeshua had often spoken of throughout His ministry, prophecies that the disciples and followers, at the time, had little understanding of what they meant, were about to play out in a powerful way.
The disciples had the eye witness testimony of the women who went to Yeshua’s burial tomb, but none of them, thus far, had seen the risen Messiah themselves. Jewish tradition of the day did not require them to remain in Jerusalem for the entire Feast of Unleavened Bread. Many were engaged in preparations to return to their homes and lives in the Galilee region. Although the details of which are lost to history, Simon Peter was the first of the disciples to encounter the risen Yeshua. Paul establishes Peter’s encounter in his first epistle to the Corinthians
1 Corinthians 15:3-5 NKJV 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, (Peter) then by the twelve.
Sometime, most likely before Simon Peter’s encounter with Yeshua, two of the disciples departed for home, traveling on the road between Jerusalem and a village known as Emmaus.
Luke 24:13 NKJV 13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.
Identifying the exact village which these disciples were traveling to is rather difficult given that there were a number of villages known by the name Emmaus. The name Emmaus is of Greek origin. It is number #1695 in the Strong’s Lexicon. According to the Word Study Dictionary, outside of its use as a proper name for a place, the word means hot spring.[i]
The original site of this village is unknown but was most likely located on the major route between Jerusalem and the Galilee about 7 miles north of Jerusalem. The Greek manuscripts use the Greek measurement of “stadion” to describe the village’s location, of which sixty stadion cover the distance to Emmaus. A stadion is approximately equivalent to a modern day furlong, about one eighth mile.
One of the two disciples traveling on the road that day was a man named Cleopas. Although a common name at the time, this Cleopas was probably the same Cleopas mentioned in John 19:25, the husband of the Mary who accompanied Mary the mother of Yeshua at the cross. Cleopas was Yeshua’s uncle, the brother of His earthly father Joseph.
As Cleopas and the other un-named disciple were walking along the road, I can imagine that they were broken hearted and depressed over the events of the preceding days. While on this journey, a stranger joined them.
Luke 24:14-16 NKJV 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
Mark’s gospel records that Yeshua’s appearance was different and that is why they did not recognize Him.
Mark 16:12 NKJV 12 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country.
Although Yeshua, in His resurrected and glorified state, was indeed flesh and bone, His resurrected glory was different than His previous earthy glory. Paul speaks of this differing glory in his first letter to the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 15:39-42 NKJV 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.
Not recognizing Yeshua in His resurrected state was not unusual. Mary Magdalene thought He was the gardener. First Fruits of Zion in their work The Chronicles of the Messiah, make an observation about their failure to recognize the Master.
“Some (commentaries) suggest that the two on the way to Emmaus did not recognize Yeshua because they were stubborn and unbelieving. (Other) commentaries suggest that the devil blinded them to the Master’s identity. On the contrary, Luke says, “Their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him” (Luke 24:16). Jewish writers typically use passive constructions like (this) as a way of protecting the name of God.”[ii]
As they walked along the road, Yeshua engaged them in a conversation.
Luke 24:17-21 NKJV 17 And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?" 18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?" 19 And He said to them, "What things?" So they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 "and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.
Cleopas probably though that this stranger was just another pilgrim returning home after the pilgrimage for Passover. Yeshua seemed to play along by asking, “what things.” Their description of Yeshua as a “prophet mighty in deed and word before God” perhaps reflects their disappointment about their Messianic hopes for Yeshua. They did however, recognize the responsibility of the chief priests and rulers for Yeshua’s crucifixion even though it was the Romans who actually carried it out. They had hoped that Yeshua was the one who would be the Messiah and bring the redemption of Israel. Cleopas went on to tell the stranger what the women had found earlier that morning.
Luke 24:22-24 NKJV 22 "Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 "When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 "And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see."
When Cleopas and the other disciple set out on the road to Emmaus, the mystery of the missing body of Yeshua remained unsolved! After Cleopas relayed the details of the previous three days, Yeshua answered them.
Luke 24:25-27 NKJV 25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
The exact things that Yeshua shared with them on the road that day are not recorded. Cleopas and the other disciple still did not recognize this stranger as being the resurrected Yeshua! We can imagine that Yeshua spent a great deal of time explaining the things in the Torah, the Prophets and Writings which spoke of Messiah.
Yeshua’s conversation with them would have encompassed the entire body of scripture. Perhaps they slowed their pace or occasionally stopped along the road to argue a point or two. This type of discussion would not be uncommon in 1st century Judaism and is spoken of in the scriptures.
Deuteronomy 6:7 NKJV 7 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Up until now, the disciples did not understand Yeshua’s predictions about His suffering, death, and resurrection. The reality of Messiah’s death and resurrection can be inferred from the Hebrew scriptures and there are other Rabbinic sources which speak of the suffering and death of the Messiah. Perhaps Yeshua was taking Cleopas and the other disciple back through the scriptures and revealing them in a new light.
We do not know what the ensuing discussion consisted of. All that Luke states is the Yeshua explained the prophecies contained in the scriptures which concerned Himself. We can probably infer from texts cited later by the apostles to reconstruct what Yeshua may have spoken of.
Perhaps Yeshua spoke of Abraham and his promised son, through whom was promised the land and through whom all nations would be blessed. He would have spoken of the significance of the sacrifice of Isaac, the very promised son and heir! Jewish tradition says that Isaac actually died and was resurrected by God.
There was that story of Joseph, who was hated and rejected by his own brothers. Later when they themselves were in desperate need because of famine in the land, the brothers went to Egypt seeking help, did not recognize Joseph who was now in command and second only to Pharaoh. Joseph forgave them for their betrayal none the less.
Yeshua would have surely spoken of the sacrificial system with all its rites and ceremonies and how it all speaks so loudly of the Messiah who suffers and sacrifices for all. Brenda and I wrote about the Messianic aspects of the sacrificial system in our Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah study series volume three.
In reference to the prophets, Yeshua would have certainly cited Daniel
Daniel 9:26 NKJV 26 "And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
Yeshua would have reminded them of the words of the prophet Zechariah.
Zechariah 12:10 NKJV 10 "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
And from the prophet Amos the frightening event that would have been fresh in their minds.
Amos 8:10 NKJV 10 I will turn your feasts into mourning, And all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist, And baldness on every head; I will make it like mourning for an only son, And its end like a bitter day.
The servant of the LORD prophesies of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 would have been a particularly powerful witness to the events of the last few days.
As the Master continued to teach and share the Messianic implication of the scriptures with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He would have discussed Psalms, particularly Psalm 22 as well as other Psalms of David where David speaks of his tribulations as well as triumphs. In the Acts of the Apostles it is recorded that they cited many times from the Psalms, particularly Psalm 16 as a prophecy of Yeshua’s resurrection.
Psalms 16:9-11 NKJV 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
All through Yeshua’s teaching, Cleopas and the other disciple did not recognize the stranger walking with them as the Master Yeshua. As they approached the village, they asked the stranger to stay with them.
Luke 24:28-29 NKJV 28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." And He went in to stay with them.
Perhaps they were beginning to see all the pieces fall into place and their spirits lifted as Yeshua spoke to them. They saw that all of the events of the last few days, although frightening and tragic, were predicted long ago. Perhaps they now understood the meaning of the empty tomb! His body had not been taken away by the Romans or the chief priest’s men. But if he was indeed resurrected and alive, where was he? I am sure that with building excitement they wanted to know more from this amazing and knowledgeable stranger.
It was only two days into the Festival of Unleavened Bread so as they prepared for the evening meal, matzah would be placed on the dinner table. Cleopas, being the eldest present would have been the logical one to offer the blessing over the bread, instead he deferred to the stranger who agreed to dine with them.
During Yeshua’s earthly ministry, the disciples were with him for more than three years and perhaps present with Him every day for every meal. As Cleophas handed off the matzah to the stranger, something amazing took place. The biblical scholar David Instone-Brewer comments on this encounter at Emmaus.
“The story of Emmaus suggests that (Yeshua) had a characteristic way of blessing bread, and all the Synoptics note that (Yeshua) looked up to heaven as he blessed the bread for thousands, so perhaps He did this in a particularly singular way.”[iii]
Before Yeshua finished the blessing, the astonished disciples realized that this stranger they had spent the last several hours with was none other than the Master Himself! As Yeshua took a piece of the matzah into His mouth, he vanished from their sight.
Luke 24:30-31 NKJV 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
Can you imagine the excitement they must have experienced! They now knew beyond any shadow of doubt that Yeshua had risen from the grave and was alive on the earth with them! Their fears were dispensed with and their greatest hopes were now realized! They changed their plans of returning home to the Galilee and could not wait to return to Jerusalem and tell the other disciples that He was alive!
Luke 24:32-35 NKJV 32 And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
Although is was late and traveling at night was rather dangerous, Cleopas and the other disciple hurried back to Jerusalem. I can imagine that they would be out of breath when they reached the house where the other disciples were staying. As they shared their story with the others, Yeshua appeared in their midst and greeted them with “Peace to you”. Now all of the remaining eleven closest disciples and perhaps a few others would see Him and know that He had indeed risen from the grave. They all would then realize as so well put in the last words of Don Francisco’s song, “He’s alive and I’m forgiven, heaven’s gates are opened wide!”
1. Yeshua specifically mentions in Luke 24:25-27 that the Messiah must suffer and then enter into His glory. Other than Isaiah 53, where is this mentioned in the scriptures? Reference the Torah Prophets and Writings.
2. Yeshua appeared to the disciples in His glorified state, yet He was still flesh and bone; He was still a physical being, able to eat and drink and be touched, etc. Are there other examples in the scriptures of a person or persons being in this state of glory other than Yeshua?
3. The story of Yeshua’s encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is the fourth encounter that Yeshua has with people after His resurrection. Reading further in the gospels and epistles, following the Emmaus road experience, what other encounters are recorded? What are the circumstances and reactions of the people when encountering the resurrected Yeshua?
4. Compare the “Great Commission” found in Matthew 28:19 with the commandment in Deuteronomy 6:7, how are we, as disciples of Yeshua, to apply both of these instructions in our daily lives?
5. When Yeshua appeared to the disciples following the return to Jerusalem of Cleopas and the other disciple, the disciple Thomas was not present. Thomas was skeptical of the reports and had to see Yeshua for himself, going so far as to touch the nail scars in His hands and the spear wound in His side. Compare Yeshua’s answer to Thomas in John 20:29 with the “Be Attitudes” in Matthew 5:1-11.
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[i] The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament. AMG Pub. P574
[ii] FFOZ The Chronicles of the Messiah. D. Thomas Lancaster. Vol. 5 P1712
[iii] David Instone-Brewer, Traditions of the Rabbis From the Era of the New Testament, Vol 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), 75.