George Eliot called it “the loveliest story in the world.” But what is it that makes the Emmaus story so beautiful?
First, you have a country road and a country village. You have two ordinary people—not members of the Eleven. Only one of them, Cleopas, is named. You have an earnest invitation to share in a very frugal meal. And that is all. Yet out of these commonplace threads is woven a story that has thrilled people for 2,000 years.
Walking down that Emmaus Road were two dispirited travelers. For them the thoroughfare could not be measured in miles; it stretched from bewilderment to heartbreak, from bitter disappointment to disillusionment.
As Cleopas and his companion trudged homeward, the death of Jesus, which was certain, and His possible resurrection, which was manifestly uncertain, were the only subjects of discussion. And while they reasoned on them, “Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them” (Luke 24:15)
The first thing He does for these two who thought their precious dream had faded, that death had taken charge, was to open to them the Scriptures. During the walk, not only the Scriptures, but hearts, were opened. “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).
It was an experience that His listeners did not want to end. The day was melting into evening and they begged Him to stay. In these twilight moments, while the three supped together, the room was suffused with burning glory. Suddenly the two villagers were dazzled by the awareness that the stranger to whom they had offered hospitality was none other than the risen Lord! Truly alive! As quickly as they recognized their royal guest, so quickly did He vanish from their sight. Pieces of the broken bread were still there on the table. And while the two sat in stunned silence, the room still echoed the sound of His blessing.
The appearance of the resurrected Jesus had to be reported at once to the Eleven in Jerusalem. While only hours earlier their footsteps had dragged along a weary road, now their feet fairly flew. They were bearers of the best news of all: “He is risen!”
The most commonplace walk, the dustiest road, the lowliest home and the most ordinary people can be filled with radiant glory, if the living Lord draws near and takes preeminence. The burning heart, surely, is a supreme need of every individual who names the name of Christ.
Arnold Brown, With Christ at the Table