Two ordinary people, probably husband and wife, were walking home from Jerusalem to their country home in Emmaus musing on the events of an extraordinary day. This is the setting of Luke's vivid record of a brief encounter with Christ, the heavenly Stranger, in which He ministers to two discouraged and disappointed saints and revives their faith and hope; praise His Name!
He accompanies them "Jesus himself drew near, and went with them" (v.15). This is a very precious statement from which saints of all ages have drawn immense comfort. Jesus drew near as a friend in their travels and troubles. The couple walked with leaden feet and heavy hearts along the highway. Recent events had shattered their dreams and dashed their hopes, for their Lord had been arrested, crucified, and slain. Disillusioned and downhearted they made their way home. The future was now weak and uncertain.
Silently and suddenly a stranger strides alongside them, sharing their grief and sorrow; it is Jesus Himself, yet unrecognised and unknown. The One they thought was dead is alive again, and comes as a sympathetic friend who is always available, accessible, approachable; our forever friend. He is the friend of publicans and sinners; a friend that loves at all times; a friend that sticks closer than a brother, always near and "a very present help in trouble" (Ps 46.1).
Earthly friends may fail or leave us,
One day soothe, the next day grieve us;
But this friend shall ne'er deceive us,
O! How He loves.
He addresses them - with two questions: "What manner of communications are these?" (v.17), and again, "What things?" (v.19). Gently and tenderly He asks questions to prompt them to tell Him of their concerns, as a wise counsellor seeking to resolve their doubts and difficulties. The two therefore opened their hearts and told Him all about the unjust crucifixion of Jesus, in whom they trusted, and the strange rumour that He was alive. Little did they realise that the stranger was the very cause and centre of all the commotion in Jerusalem, and that His questions were preparing them to hear the truth of the whole situation. He is truly the "Wonderful Counsellor" (Is 9.6). We have such a Counsellor to guide us through the gloom to glory (Ps 73.24; 33.11).
He answers them - by rebuking their unbelief and revealing to them "in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (v.27). The Lord is the great Teacher who enlightens and enriches. Their eyes were opened, their faces beamed, their hearts burned, what a never-to-be-forgotten experience! Do we know anything of such fellowship and instruction?
He abides with them "He went in to tarry with them" (v.29).Suddenly they arrive home. Time had stood still. He shortens the journey, lightens the load, and renews strength. The sun is setting; the two are weak and weary after a long day of emotional and physical stress and strain. The Lord accepts their pressing invitation, "Abide with us", and He becomes the guest in their weakness and weariness.
He appears to them - the guest becomes the Host, gives thanks and breaks the bread; in that moment He was known of them by the prints in His hands, evidence of His passion. He then miraculously "vanished out of their sight" convincing them that He was indeed the divine Redeemer who lives and loves! We who believe are on the highway to Heaven, so let us respond to His gracious invitation: "I stand at the door, and knock I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Rev 3.20). How sweet, amidst life's pressures, to recall this ministry of the Lord drawing near to us as our friend, counsellor, teacher, guest, and redeemer.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pet 1.3).