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.

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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.

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Explained #677

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677. And the rest became afraid, signifies the disturbance of mind and turning away of those who were to some extent spiritual. This is evident from the signification of "the rest," as being those who had not been merely external and natural, but also to some extent internal and spiritual (of which presently); also from the signification of "to become afraid," as being to be disturbed in mind and to be turned away from those who have been merely natural, and thus in mere falsities and evils.

(References: Revelation 11:13)

[2] That "to become afraid" signifies such disturbance and turning away will be seen below. In the first place, let something be said about those who are meant by "the rest that became afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven," as being not merely natural, but also to some extent spiritual. For when from those who are merely natural the truths of good that resided in their externals are taken away, they are not disturbed by the influx of falsities and evils from hell, still less do they turn away; for their proper thought and will, which has been interiorly concealed with them, consists of mere falsities and evils therefrom and of evils and falsities therefrom; and when they are in these they are enraged against truths and goods, and thence are eager to destroy them. This is why the evil, when they are no longer in externals, are not afraid of evils and falsities, or even of hell, for these belong to their love, consequently to the delights of their life. But it is not so with those who are also spiritual; these are disturbed in mind and become afraid when they are infested by evils and falsities, which takes place when they are among the evil; for they fear the loss of their spiritual life, respecting which they are disturbed in mind and are alarmed, and supplicate the Lord for aid, and turn themselves away from the evil.

[3] When societies in the spiritual world are purified, which takes place whenever those who are evil, especially hypocrites, have insinuated themselves into them, and mingled themselves with the good there (the signs of whose presence are an obscuration of the understanding, a loss of the perception of good, a dullness of the affection of truth, and the like), then influx is let in from hell, at which the evil rejoice, but the good are disturbed in mind, and turn themselves away; thus there is a separation, and those who become afraid and turn themselves away are preserved, while the rest are cast out. Thence it is clear why it is that it is said that some "became afraid," and why this signifies the disturbance of mind and turning away of those who are to some extent spiritual.

[4] In the Word "to become afraid," "to be dismayed," and like expressions are often used in reference both to the good and to the evil, and "terror" and "dismay" signify a state of the mind disturbed and changed by an imminent or visible danger to the life; but this is one thing with the good and another with the evil; with the good it is a disturbance of mind and a change of state from imminent and visible danger to the soul, but with the evil it is from imminent and visible danger to the life of the body. This is because the good regard the life of the soul and not so much the life of the body as the chief and final thing, while the evil regard the life of the body and not so much the life of the soul as the chief and final thing; in fact, the evil do not in heart believe in that life, and such as do believe still love only the things that are of the body, such as the appetites and pleasures of various kinds. But with the good the reverse is true.

[5] To make clear that "to become afraid," "to be dismayed," "to dread," and the like, signify to be disturbed in mind from a change of state of the interiors, I will cite some passages from the Word by way of confirmation. In David:

My heart is agitated in the midst of me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me; fear and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath covered me (Psalms 55:4, 5).

This is said of temptations, in which evils and falsities break in from hell and inspire terror in regard to damnation; for as has been said above, the good become afraid and tremble on account of imminent dangers to the soul, thus from the invasion of evils into the thoughts and intentions of the will. Thus there are various disturbances of mind that in particular are signified by "agitation of heart," "terrors of death," "fear," "trembling," and "horror," which are here mentioned according to the order of their succession.

(References: Psalms 55:4-5)

[6] In Isaiah:

The islands came 1 and feared, the ends of the earth were agitated, they drew near and came (Isaiah 41:5).

This is said of the Lord's coming; and "the islands and ends of the earth" mean the Gentiles that are remote from the truths of the church; and their "fear and agitation" signify disturbances of mind from fear of being destroyed.

[7] In Ezekiel:

All hands are relaxed, and all knees go into waters, whence they shall gird themselves with sackcloth, terror shall cover them, and upon all faces there shall be shame; they shall cast their silver into the streets, and their gold shall be an abomination (Ezekiel 7:17-19).

This, too, treats of the Lord's coming, and these things are said of it; the various disturbances of the mind from grief on account of evils and from joy on account of goods are described by various expressions of fear and grief, as that "the hands are relaxed," "the knees go into waters," "terror shall cover them," and "upon all faces shall be shame," which signify not only various disturbances of mind and changes of state of the life, but also turnings from falsities and evils; for the falsities that they will reject are signified by the "silver that they shall cast into the streets," and the evils by "the gold that shall be an abomination;" "all knees shall go into waters" signifies grief on account of the loss of the good of love, and joy that it is now recovered, "knees" signifying the love of good, and "to go into waters" signifying to weep.

[8] The holy tremor that seizes upon, agitates, and convulses the inner parts of the head, when the Divine flows in and fills them is called "fear," "terror," "dread," as can be seen from the following passages. In Luke:

When Zacharias saw the angel he was troubled, and fear fell upon him; the angel therefore said to him, Fear not, Zacharias (Luke 1:12, 13).

Likewise when the virgin Mary saw the angel (Luke 1:29, 30).

When the angel of the Lord stood by the shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, they were afraid with a great fear; but the angel said to them, Be not afraid; behold, I proclaim unto you good tidings of great joy, which is 2 to all the people (Luke 2:9, 10).

When Jesus was transfigured and was seen in glory, it is said that Peter, James, and John feared when they entered into the cloud (Luke 9:34).

And when they heard the voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, they fell upon their faces and feared exceedingly; but Jesus drawing near touched them, saying, Arise, be not afraid (Matthew 17:5-7; Mark 9:6).

When the Lord healed the palsied man, it is said that fear took hold on all, and they glorified God; and they were filled with fear, saying, We have seen wonderful things today (Luke 5:26).

And when the Lord raised to life the dead young man of Nain, it is said that fear took hold on all, and they praised God (Luke 7:16).

So here in Revelation it is said that "they became afraid, and gave glory to the God of heaven. " Furthermore:

When the women entered into the tomb they saw an angel sitting at the right side, clothed in a white robe; and they were terrified (Mark 16:5, 6).

And when the women departed from the tomb they were seized with fear, trembling, and amazement, and at the same time with great joy; and they told no one, for they were afraid; therefore Jesus said to them, Fear not; tell the brethren (Matthew 28:8, 10; Mark 16:8).

The two disciples going to Emmaus said to Jesus, Certain women terrified us (Luke 24:22).

From these passages it can be concluded that "terror" and "alarm" mean in the Word various disturbances of mind arising from the influx of such things as cause amazement, connected also with joy.

(References: Luke 1:12-13, 1:29-30, 2:9-10, 24:4-5; Mark 16:5-6; Revelation 11:13)

[9] Again, "terror" signifies in the spiritual sense terror on account of evils and falsities that are from hell, for these terrify the spiritual man, because they are the opposites of the goods and truths, which the spiritual man loves and the loss of which he fears. In this sense "terror" is mentioned in many passages of the Word. Thus in Isaiah:

About the time of evening behold terror; before the morning it is not (Isaiah 17:14).

"Evening" signifies the last time of the church, when there are mere evils and falsities; these are called "terror" because they are hell. But the "morning" signifies the first time of the church, when there are no evils and falsities, therefore it is said, "before the morning the terror is not."

(References: Jeremiah 30:9-10)

[10] In Jeremiah:

Fear thou not, my servant Jacob, and be not terrified, O Israel, for behold, I save thee from afar; Jacob shall be tranquil and quiet, none shall make him afraid (Jeremiah 30:9, 10).

And in Zephaniah:

The remnant of Israel shall feed and be at rest, none making them afraid (Zephaniah 3:13).

"Jacob" and "Israel" mean those in the church who are in goods and truths; and "none terrifying and making afraid" signifies that nothing of evil and falsity from hell shall infest them. It is similar in many other passages. But what is signified by "fearing God" in the spiritual sense will be told in the explanation of the eighteenth verse of this chapter.

(References: Jeremiah 30:9-10; Revelation 11:13)

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.