Sunday, April 30, 2017

To Emmaus and Back

This Sunday's Gospel reading was from Luke 24:13-35 and tells the story of two followers of Jesus who met the resurrected Lord as they walked away from Jerusalem, but they did not recognize him.

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles (sixty stadia or 7.5 miles and some texts say one hundred and sixty stadia) from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Fifteen miles in one day is a good hike. Sixteen miles on a mountain trail is the most I have done.

The average walking speed of a human is 3.1 miles per hour. So let us say, 7.5 miles to walk to Emmaus, 1 hour for lunch with Jesus, 7.5 miles back to Jerusalem. Total elapsed time for Cleopas and his companion was 5 to 6 hours. Total time with Jesus is not so clear, but for him  to expound on the scriptures and how he was revealed in them probably took a couple of hours. Lucky guys, or were they both guys?

In John 19:25 we see a reference to someone with a very similar name,

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

John spells the name differently. but he may be referring to the same person. Perhaps Cleopas was accompanied by his wife on the road to Emmaus.

I wonder what ever happened to Cleopas, and his wife?


  1. Not the most important thing to think about, but I have always been puzzled at the number of times after His resurrection that Jesus appears "cloaked" to his followers, and is only recognized when He wishes it.

    1. That Jesus revealed himself in this way will remain a puzzle. Something about remembering to see Jesus in strangers like Mother Teresa did comes to mind.