This appears to be the third or fourth appearance of Jesus after his resurrection, depending on when Jesus showed himself to Peter.
And here we see two followers of Jesus walking down to Emmaus, which was perhaps their hometown. And as they did, they talked with each other about all the women had said, and what Peter and John had found at the tomb. But it’s obvious from their sadness that they still didn’t believe Jesus had risen.
Then, Jesus appeared. But it says that these followers couldn’t recognize him. The New King James puts it, “Their eyes were restrained.” In other words, they could see Jesus, but he purposely kept them from recognizing him. It is perhaps the very thing that Jesus did with Mary Magdalene in the garden.
And he asked them, “What are you talking about?”
The two followers must have been shaking their heads in disbelief as they said, “You don’t know? You were in Jerusalem right? You must have seen and heard what happened.”
But playing dumb, Jesus simply said, “What things?”
And the two followers poured out their hearts. All the hopes they had had that Jesus was the Messiah and that he would set them free from the Romans, only to have them dashed with his crucifixion. And then the bewildering news of how Jesus’ body had disappeared and the stories of his resurrection.
At which point, Jesus said,
How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? (25-26)
And then he gave the first “sermon” on the prophesies of a suffering Messiah that would die for our sins and be resurrected.
When they arrived at Emmaus, Jesus acted as if he would continue on, but stirred by all the words of Jesus, they begged him to stay. And as they sat down to eat, Jesus broke the bread and gave it to them. Perhaps as he did, it sparked a memory of how he had done the very same thing on the day he fed the 5000 or the 4000. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. When they did, Jesus disappeared.
They said to each other,
Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us? (32)
They then rushed to the eleven disciples and told them that Jesus was alive, confirming the women’s and (apparently) Peter’s testimony.
What can we learn from this? How often are we slow of heart to believe what God has spoken?
Oh, we believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again. But what about his other words to us?
Sometimes we are slow to believe because like these followers, we have been disappointed in the past. Or things are not going as we had hoped. And so we question God, asking, “Is your Word really true? Are you really here with me? Are you really going to provide for me? Do you truly care for me?”
I know I have experienced those doubts more than once.
Or perhaps we doubt that his way is best because our way seems better. Or going his way seems hopeless. I’ve known more than a few people that have married non-Christians because they couldn’t find a suitable Christian partner. So instead of waiting, they just plunged into a relationship with an unbeliever. Too many times, I have seen that decision end in regret.
And because we fail to believe, like those two followers, we walk through this life in disappointment and sorrow.
But the good news is that Jesus does not give up on us. He is still there walking with us. And if we will pour out our hearts to him, and if we open up our lives to him, and let him pour his word into our lives, he will bring us healing and renew our hope.
So let us not be slow of heart to believe. Let us open up our hearts to him and believe. For,
Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed. (Romans 10:11 NASB)