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Luke 24:13-35 : The Road to Emmaus

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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

Commentary

 

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.

Commentary

 

What the Bible says about... its Inner Meaning

     

By Rev. John Odhner

A frozen bubble shines with light.

What does the Bible say about its own inner meaning?

Some people take most of what the Bible says very literally. Others see the Bible as being largely symbolic, with a deeper meaning. Sometimes a conflict arises between the two different points of view. One side insists that any search for a deeper meaning comes from a failure to believe what God plainly says. The other side claims that it is only by means of the symbolic interpretation that the Bible becomes meaningful and relevant for today.

The question of how to interpret the Bible shouldn't just be a matter of personal opinion. Regardless of whether we prefer a literal or symbolic interpretation, it makes sense to look at how the Bible interprets itself. How does God tell us to interpret His revelation? Does He indicate that we should look for a deeper meaning?

Jesus said that all the Law and the Prophets hang upon the Two Great Commandments, to love the Lord and to love the neighbor. But some parts of the Bible don't seem to say anything about loving God and others. Do these parts of the Bible actually have hidden meanings that teach us how to love?

Jesus explained that the commandment about murder shouldn't be taken just on a literal level. On a deeper level, it prohibits hatred and contempt. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder,'...But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment." (Matthew 5:21-22)

Likewise, the deeper meaning of the commandment against adultery prohibits lust. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery,' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28)

Jesus frequently showed that the Old Testament contained deeper meanings than were first apparent. For example, He told His disciples that the Old Testament contained many prophecies about His own life that they had not understood.

"Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24:27)

"He opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures." (Luke 24:45)

Jesus showed that stories in the Old Testament were symbolic of His own life, even when the symbolism was not apparent in the literal meaning. For example, the story of the manna is symbolic of Jesus as the bread of life: "Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven." (John 6:32)

Another story with an inner meaning referring to Jesus is the brass serpent: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up." (John 3:14)

It is similar with the story of Jonah and the whale: "As Jonah was three days in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40)

The temple in Jerusalem, which was the scene of many stories in the Old Testament, was also a symbol of Jesus. (John 2:19-22)

In his letters to the early Christian congregations, Paul also encourages us to go beyond the literal meaning of the Old Testament. He asks us to obey the spirit of the law, not just the letter. "He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter." (Romans 2:29)

"We should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter." (Romans 7:6)

"The letter kills, but the spirit gives life." (2 Corinthians 3:6)

Paul often pointed to deeper meanings in the Old Testament. For example, he took Adam as a symbol of Christ, (Romans 5:14) and his marriage with Eve as a symbol of Christ's marriage with the Church. (Ephesians 5:31, 32)

The Tabernacle of Israel with its furnishings and all the rituals and sacrifices performed in it pictured Jesus' work of salvation. These earthly things were the "copy and shadow of heavenly things...symbolic for the present time." (Hebrews 8:5, 9:9, Colossians 2:16, 17) The story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar and their sons is also an allegory, in which Hagar's son represented the Lord's covenant with the Jews and Sarah's son symbolized the New Covenant in Christ. (Galatians 4:22-31)

The apostle Peter saw the story of Noah and the Flood as an antitype of baptism and regeneration. (1 Peter 3:20-21)

The Exodus story tells how the children of Israel escaped from Egypt, trekked through the wilderness for forty years, and finally made their home in the promised land. Many have seen this as symbolic of our spiritual journey out of slavery to sin, through trials and temptations and into heaven. But does the Bible itself suggest that this is a parable, or a story with an inner meaning? In fact, it does. Psalm 78 opens with the words, "I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old." (Psalms 78:1).

The "parable" that follows is the story of the plagues on Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, bringing water from the rock, receiving manna from heaven, and other stories of the Exodus. Thus the whole story of Exodus is a parable.

The prophet Hosea wrote, "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son." (Hosea 11:1)

Clearly, the "child" here is Israel as a young nation, and being called out of Egypt refers to the Exodus. But on a deeper level, it refers to Christ Himself — it is prophetic of what would happen in Jesus' life. (Matthew 2:15)

We can see from this that many of the stories of the Old Testament are symbolic of Christ and His work of salvation. But what about the stories that are not directly explained in the New Testament? Do they also have inner meanings? Many people have seen a parallel between Joseph, the son of Israel, and Jesus. The Bible itself never says specifically that the story of Joseph has an inner meaning relating to Christ. But here's a list that illustrates how Joseph was a symbol of Christ, even though this symbolism could not have been seen before Christ's coming.

Joseph and Jesus Compared:
- Joseph was a shepherd; Jesus was our Shepherd
- Joseph was a beloved son; Jesus was a beloved Son
- Joseph was stripped of his tunic; Jesus was stripped of His tunic
- Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver by Judah; Jesus was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver by Judas
- Joseph was abandoned by his brothers; Jesus was abandoned by His disciples
- Joseph was falsely accused of crime; Jesus was falsely accused of crime
- Joseph was imprisoned with two criminals, one of whom would be released; Jesus was crucified with two criminals, one of whom would be saved
- Joseph was became ruler of all the land; Jesus became King of heaven
- Joseph provided food to hungry people; Jesus provided food to hungry people
- Joseph was reunited with his brothers, who bowed down to him; Jesus was reunited with His disciples, who worshipped Him
- Joseph was reunited with his father; Jesus was reunited with the Father in Him

May we look for a deeper meaning even in places which the Bible does not specifically explain? We have already seen that Christ fulfilled many prophecies that were symbolically hidden in Old Testament stories. Does every part of the Law and Prophets contain prophecies of Jesus life? Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." If Jesus fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law and Prophets, then every jot and tittle must contain prophecies of His life, either symbolically hidden or clearly stated.

So far we have focused on the Old Testament. What about the New Testament? Does it also contain inner meanings? Jesus constantly spoke in parables: "Without a parable He did not speak to them." (Matthew 13:34)

He told us that He would eventually reveal to us the inner meaning of His words.

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.... These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language but I will tell you plainly about the Father." (John 16:12, 25)

What about the Book of Revelation? Many things in this book seem obviously to be symbolic. For example, this book speaks of Four Horsemen, one on a white horse, one on a red one, one on a black one, and one called Death on a pale horse. Most people can see that these are not literal horses, but symbols of something else, such as war, famine and plague. (Revelation 6:1-8)

Most people realize that the holy city New Jerusalem is a symbol of heaven or of a new era on earth, and not a literal city a thousand miles high coming out of the clouds.

If the Book of Revelation is at all like the prophecies of the Old Testament, it must contain many prophecies hidden in symbolism that become clear only after the prophesied events have taken place.

The Bible is God's revelation of Himself. As a Divine Revelation, the Bible contains infinite truth. In order to see that truth more fully, we must look for the deeper meanings to which the Bible itself points us. If we do this, the Lord will "open our eyes to see wonderful things from His law" so that we can more and more clearly see the Lord Himself revealed in "every jot and tittle."

Author: Rev. John Odhner. Used by permission.

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