The Bible


Luke 24:13-35 : The Road to Emmaus



13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass therein these days?

19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which 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 have crucified him.

21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;

23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.

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 tarry with them.

30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,

34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

    Study the Inner Meaning



On the Road to Emmaus


By Joe David

Lelio Orsi's painting, Camino de Emaús, is in the National Gallery in London, England.

Each of the four gospels contains a story about Jesus appearing to His disciples after the Sunday morning when they had found the sepulcher empty. For example, see Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-19; Luke 24:13-33; John 20:19-31, and John 21.

In Luke, there’s a story of two disciples walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus, a walk of about seven miles. Shortly after they leave the city they are approached by another traveler who has noticed their troubled faces and serious talk and asks them what is troubling them. Walking along together, they ask the stranger, “Haven’t you heard of the troubles in Jerusalem, how the prophet from Galilee, who we hoped would be the one to save Israel, was given up to be crucified? And strange to say, when some of the women went on the third day to anoint His body, they saw angels who told them that he was not there but was risen from the dead.”

On hearing this, the traveler chides them for not believing, and says “Don’t you see that Christ had to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?” The stranger then tells the two disciples many things concerning Jesus, from the books of Moses, and the prophets, in the Old Testament. The two disciples listen with awe, but do not recognize the stranger. At length they arrive at Emmaus. The stranger appears to want to go on when the two stop, but they beg him to stop also, because it’s getting late in the day, and they want to hear more. So they all sit down to share the evening meal, and when the stranger takes up the loaf of bread and breaks it and gives them pieces, their eyes are opened and they recognize Him, and He vanishes.

One can imagine the stunned awe that came over them both as they realized that this was Jesus. They knew He was crucified, and yet He had walked and talked to them for several hours. The women were right! The angels were right! He was alive!

The New Church believes that there are internal meanings to all the stories in the Word of the Lord, the sacred scriptures, and that this internal meaning, within the literal stories about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joshua, Samuel, David, and the rest, and all the sayings of the prophets from Isaiah to Malachi, and the four gospels… this meaning is what makes the Word holy.

So what can we see here in this story? Well, that internal meaning in “Moses and the prophets” is the story of Jesus’ life in the world, from His birth in Bethlehem through all His growing years until His “death” and then His rising. Because Jesus knew that, and had certainly read the Scriptures and understood them internally, He knew for a long time how His earthly life was going to close, and that it was necessary for it to close as had been “written”, in order to save the human race. So He told the two disciples that story as they walked toward Emmaus.

More about that walk... In the Word, any mention of walking is really referring to how we live our lives from day to day. In many stories of the Word, it is said that someone walked with God. It is said that we should walk in His ways and that we should walk the straight and narrow path.

Also in this story we are told that this was a journey of sixty stadia (in the original Greek). Sixty (or other multiples of "six") represents the lifelong work of rejecting the temptations that come from our inborn selfishness. Apocalypse Explained 648. So, this journey to Emmaus means our life’s journey - as a person that is trying to follow the Lord’s teachings and become an angel.

The destination was Emmaus. In the Word any city represents a doctrine, an organized set of truths that we have put in order so that we can live according to them -- our rules of life. See Arcana Coelestia 402. They are not necessarily good, as with Jerusalem or Bethlehem, but can also be evil doctrines, e.g. Sodom or Babylon. My dictionary tells me that the name Emmaus means “hot springs”. Another universal meaning in the Word is that water means truth in its beneficial uses, but can also mean truth twisted into falsity by those in hell, in an opposite sense. See, for example, Arcana Coelestia 790. Think of the wells that Abraham dug, or the waters that Jesus promised to the woman of Samaria as they talked by Jacob’s well, or the pure river of water flowing out from under the throne in the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation. In its converse sense, where water is destructive, think of the flood that destroyed all but Noah and his family, or the Red Sea that had to be parted so that the children of Israel could cross. The springs represented by Emmaus were holy truths bubbling up from the Word for us to use. And these are hot springs, and heat means love. So that's our destination, where truth and love together are flowing out for us to use, in a continual stream from the Lord.

This plain little anecdote about the disciples meeting the Lord on the road to Emmaus isn't just a story about Jesus's resurrection with a spiritual body. It is also a story of how we should be living our lives. We can be traveling toward heaven, listening to the Lord, walking in the way with him, and at the end He will break bread and have supper with us.



Happiness From Living Usefully


By Rev. William Woofenden

Rider Attacked by a Jaguar, by Eugène Delacroix

"Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." Judges 14:14
Additional readings: Luke 24:16-53, Psalms 107:1-13, Psalm 108

This text is known as Samson's Riddle. It may be called "The Riddle of Life." The Scripture setting of our text is found in the fourteenth chapter of Judges: "Then went Samson Timnath...and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid.... And after a time he returned...and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion… And Samson said, 'I will now put forth a riddle unto you… "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness."'"

The Word in the letter throughout is wonderful. Through our knowledge of the letter of the Word the Lord speaks to us. Through our reading of it the Lord's presence and power come into our lives.

The stories of Samson have a strong appeal. They are among the best known of the Bible stories, and are often quoted. Samson is a synonym for strength. His many feats are a marvel—the slaying of the lion, the carrying away of the great gates of Gaza, the pulling down of the temple of Dagon.

We should note carefully that Samson did not perform these deeds in his own strength, for it is written that "the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him." We are familiar with examples of remarkable endurance and of physical strength in apparently weak persons in emergencies and under stress of emotion. And there is this statement in the writings: "Man's thought from his will produces all the strength of his body, and if it were inspired by the Lord through His Divine truth, man would have the strength of Samson" (Arcana Coelestia 10182). It is unwise to set limits on what the Lord can accomplish through the human form brought into the Divine order. We are today very far from what is possible for us in physical as well as in spiritual powers. The literal accuracy of the Samson stories has been questioned, but we should not be among the questioners.

Samson was called a Nazarite, as he took the vows of Nazariteship, and the life and deeds of Samson are prophetic of the Lord's work in His early youth and manhood. As a Nazarite Samson represented the natural humanity of the Lord which, armed with the Divine truth, battled with the hells and overcame them.

Samson's strength is said to have been in his long hair. This is representative. The hair is the outmost of the body, external even to the skin, and represents the very outmosts of our life, the life that is directly in contact with the world.

Translating this relationship to things of the mind, the hair represents our thoughts which we carry out into actions, and in a particular sense the literal meaning of the Divine Word which is its outward sense. Truth is strong and effective when it is brought out and applied directly to the doings of our outward life.

We may entertain many ideas of what is allowable for us to do, but when we consult the commandments, the truth confronts us in the plain practical form of self-denial. And we can devise no ingenious argument which will break the practical force of these laws of conduct. "Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall it will grind him into powder" (Matthew 21:44). In fact the word Nazarite means self-denying. Said Hannah of her son Samuel, "I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head" (1 Samuel 1:11).

Because the power of literal truth is represented by the hair, Elijah and John the Baptist, who taught obedience to the laws of God, are particularly represented as hairy men. If we keep the precepts of the Word in our outward lives, the Lord can inflow and give us power. No power is exerted by holding truth in the memory and not letting it operate in our lives. It is in the doing of the truth that the Lord's power is manifested in us.

It was not in his own strength that Samson slew the lion. It is written, "And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid." When Samson suffered his hair to be cut, his strength left him. If we take away the outward deeds in which power is embodied and acts, we deprive good and truth of the instrument or means by which they can exert their power.

There is a lesson for us in Samson's slaying the lion. In a good sense the lion, as the king of beasts, represents the mighty power of truth fighting against evil, and especially the mighty power which is in the letter of the Word of God. In this good sense the Lord is called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Revelation 5:5). But when, as in this story of Samson, the lion is used in a bad sense, it represents the power of truth perverted and turned into falsity, that power within us which wages war against the spirit of Divine truth and stands in our way to prevent our doing what is good in practical life. This lion is the demand to conform to the natural-mindedness and self-seeking of the world. It represents the terrible power of the natural mind when it is working for self-advantage, the destructive power which we see so active in the world today. Such lions are frequently mentioned in Scripture. "They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion" (Psalm 22:13) and "My soul is among the lions" (Psalm 57:4).

There is a time when we should learn the truth and do it simply because it is the truth. A soldier is not made just by giving him equipment. He must learn to use it and to obey. The armor of the spirit has to be proved. And we are assured that if we learn and keep the precepts of the Word because they are from the Lord, He Himself will be with us and give us the victory.

When Jesus sent the seventy forth to preach the Gospel, they returned again with joy saying, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name" (Luke 10:17). "And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you" (Luke 10:19). Sometimes evils seem too strong for us. They are indeed too strong for us always, but they are not too strong for the Lord, The Spirit of the Lord can come upon us mightily as it came upon Samson.

On his return, Samson came upon the carcass of the lion. Using its skeleton as a hive, bees had made honey within it. Then Samson put forth his riddle: "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." None could guess this riddle.

It is a riddle to many today. They say, "How can I be happy by doing always what is true and right? How can I gain delight and pleasure by denying myself, by restraining my desires and curbing my passions?" This is a riddle and will always be a riddle to the natural man.

But self-denial does not mean the giving up of the affections and desires with which the Lord has endowed us, but only that we use them as they were meant to be used. Only so can we really enjoy them and only so can the Lord bless us through them. When we cease to misuse and abuse our faculties, when we have put away evil from our doings, we find that we have not lost anything. Our affections remain, and they have been purified and sweetened. The natural affections that stood in the way of our regeneration will be increased in power and allowed full freedom once the desire for evil has been slain.

This is a great truth, namely, that when heavenly love, love to the Lord and to the neighbor, inflow into our affections, cleansing and purifying them, we come into the fullness of life. No good thing does the Lord ever wish to withhold from us. No evil man can possibly be happy. That is why the Lord came into the world to make clear the way of life and to give the power to overcome evil. Evil may promise happiness, but its promises are false; in the end it will curse and not bless. Happiness is the result of overcoming evil.

Of those that walk in the way of the Lord, of those that keep the commandments and precepts of the Word in their outward acts it is written: "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon... And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and. gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isaiah 35:9-10).