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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.

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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.

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Apocalypse Explained #820

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820. As it was shown in a preceding article (n. 817), that Cain, Reuben, and the Philistines, represent in the Word those who are in truths separated from good, I will now show that the apostle Peter in the Word of the Evangelists means truth from good which is from the Lord, and also in the contrary sense, truth separated from good. And as truth is of faith and good is of charity, "Peter" also means faith from charity, and again faith separated from charity. For the twelve apostles, like the twelve tribes of Israel, represented the church in respect to all things of it, thus in respect to truths and goods, since all things of the church have reference to these, the same as to faith and love; for truths are of faith, and goods are of love. In general, Peter, James, and John, represented faith, charity, and the works of charity; and this is why these three followed the Lord more than the others, and it is said of them in Mark:

He suffered no one to follow Him save Peter, James, and John (Mark 5:37).

(References: Revelation 13:12)


[2] And as truth from good, which is from the Lord, is the first thing of the church, Peter was the first to be called by his brother Andrew, and afterwards James and John were called, as is evident in Matthew:

Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee saw two brethren, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishers. And He said unto them, Come ye after Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And straightway leaving their nets they followed Him (Matthew 4:18-20).

In John:

Andrew findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And therefore he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looking upon him, said unto him, Thou art Simon the son of Jonah; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, Peter (John 1:41-43)

In Mark:

Jesus going up into a mountain calls unto Him whom He would, first Simon upon whom He conferred the name Peter, and afterwards James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (Mark 3:13, 16, 17).

Peter was the first of the apostles because truth from good is the first thing of the church; for, from the world a man does not know anything about heaven and hell, nor of a life after death, nor even about God. His natural light teaches nothing except what has entered through the eyes, thus nothing except what relates to the world and to self; and from these is his life; and so long as he is in these only he is in hell; and therefore, that he may be withdrawn from these and be led to heaven he must needs learn truths, which teach not only that there is a God, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death, but also teach the way to heaven. From this it is clear that truth is the first thing through which man has the church. But it must be truth from good, for truth without good is mere knowledge that a thing is so; and mere knowledge does nothing except to make a man capable of becoming a church; but this is not effected until he lives according to knowledges. Then truth is conjoined to good, and man is introduced into the church. Moreover, truths teach how a man ought to live; and when man is affected by truths for the sake of truths, which is done when he loves to live according to them, he is led by the Lord, and conjunction with heaven is granted him, and he becomes spiritual, and after death an angel of heaven. Nevertheless it is to be known that it is not truths that produce these effects, but good by means of truths; and good is from the Lord. Because truth from good, which is from the Lord, is the first thing of the church, Peter was the first to be called, and was the first of the apostles, and he was also named by the Lord "Cephas," which means petra [a rock]; but, that it might be the name of a person, he is called Petrus [Peter]. In the highest sense "rock" [Petra] signifies the Lord in relation to Divine truth, or Divine truth proceeding from the Lord; consequently in a relative sense "rock" signifies truth from good, which is from the Lord, the like is meant by Peter. (That "rock" has this signification see above, n. 411. But what "Simon son of Jonah" signifies see also above, n. 443.

(References: John 1:40-42; Mark 3:16-17)


[3] These three apostles were fishermen, and the Lord said unto them, "Come ye after Me, and I will make you fishers of men," because "to fish" signifies to instruct natural men; for there were at that time, both within the church and outside of it, natural men who became spiritual as they received the Lord and received truths from Him.

[4] From this the signification of the Lord's words to Peter concerning the keys may be deduced; as in Matthew:

When some had said that Jesus was John the Baptist, others Elijah, others Jeremiah or another of the prophets, Jesus said to the disciples, But whom say ye that I am? Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon son of Jonah; for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but My Father who is in the heavens. And I say also unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in the heavens; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in the heavens (Matthew 16:14-19).

This was said by the Lord to Peter because truth from good, which is from the Lord, is the first thing of the church, and this was what Peter signified; and this was said when he acknowledged the Lord to be the Messiah or the Christ, and to be the Son of the living God; for without such an acknowledgment truth is not truth, because truth derives its origin, essence, and life from good, and good from the Lord. Because truth from good, which is from the Lord, is the first thing of the church, therefore the Lord says, "upon this rock will I build My church." It has been said just above that "Peter" or "Rock" signifies in the highest sense Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and in a relative sense truth from good, which is from the Lord. That "the gates of hell shall not prevail" signifies that falsities from evil, which are from the hells, will not dare to rise up against those of the church who are in truths from good from the Lord, "the gates of hell" signifying all things of hell, for there are gates to all the hells through which falsities from evil exhale and rise up. "The keys of the heavens" signify the introduction into heaven of all those who are in truths from good from the Lord; "whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in the heavens, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on the earth shall be loosed in the heavens," signifies that heaven is opened by the Lord to those who are in truths from good from Him; and that it is closed to those who are not. These things were said to Peter; but because "Peter" means truth from good, which is from the Lord, they were said of the Lord, who is the source of good and its truth; and this is why they were said when Peter acknowledged the Lord to be the Messiah or the Christ, and the Son of the living God. Moreover, as soon as good is implanted in truths with man he is conjoined with the angels; but so long as good is not implanted in truths with man heaven is closed to him; for he then has evil in place of good, and falsities in place of truths. From this it is clear how sensuously those think who attribute such authority to Peter, when yet such authority belongs to the Lord alone.

[5] That "Peter" signifies truth from good, which is from the Lord, has been made manifest to me from heaven, as may be seen in the work on The Last Judgement (n. 57). Because "Peter" signified truth from good which is from the Lord, and consequently also doctrine, and thus he represented those who are in truths from good and in the doctrine of genuine truth from the Lord, and since such as these instruct others, and are instructed by the Lord, therefore Peter so often spoke with the Lord and was also instructed by the Lord. He spoke with the Lord at His transfiguration:

About making three tabernacles (Matthew 17:1-5; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:26-36).

The Lord then represented the Word, which is Divine truth; and "tabernacles" signify the worship of the Lord from the good of love and truths therefrom. (See above concerning the Lord's transfiguration, n. 594; and concerning the signification of tabernacles, n. 799).

He spake about the Lord:

That He was the Christ, the Son of the living God (John 6:67-69).

He was taught by the Lord:

Respecting charity, that a brother must be forgiven as often as he sinned (Matthew 18:21, 22).

Respecting regeneration, which is signified by the one who having once bathed has no need except to wash his feet (John 13:10);

Respecting the power of truth from good from the Lord, which is meant by the power of those who have the faith of God (Mark 11:21, 23, 24);

Respecting sins, that they are forgiven to those who are in faith from love (Luke 7:40-48);

Respecting men who are spiritual, as being free; and those who are natural, as being servants, about which Peter was taught when he took the stater out of the mouth of a fish and gave it for tribute (a fish signifying the natural man, as likewise one that pays tribute. Matthew 17:24-27); as well as many other things (respecting which see Matthew 14:26-31; Luke 9:27, 28; Mark 10:28, seq.; Mark 13:3, seq.; Mark 16:7; Luke 22:8, seq.; Luke 24:12, 33, 34; John 1, 8:10, 11; 20:3-8; 21:1-11).

(References: John 13:3-10, John 18:10-11, 20:2-8; Luke 9:28-36, Luke 24:33-34; Mark 11:21-24, Mark 11:23-24; Matthew 18:21-22, 19:27-28)


[6] It was because Peter represented those who are in truths from the good of love to the Lord, or in doctrine from truths, and these are they who instruct others, that the Lord said to Peter when he replied that he loved Him, that "he should feed His lambs and sheep," respecting which in John:

When they had breakfasted, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My lambs. He saith to him again, Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he saith unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed My sheep (John 21:15-17).

From this it is clearly evident that Peter represented truth from the good of love to the Lord, and this is why he was now called Simon son of Jonas, for "Simon son of Jonas" signifies faith from charity; "Simon" signifies hearkening and obedience, and "Jonas" means a dove, which signifies charity. That those who are in the doctrine of truth from love to the Lord are to instruct those who will be of the Lord's church is meant by the Lord's asking, "Lovest thou Me?" and afterwards by "Feed My lambs" and "My sheep." Not that Peter only would instruct, but all those who were represented by Peter, who, as has been said, are those who are in love to the Lord, and thence in truths from the Lord. Peter was asked three times to signify the full time of the church from its beginning to its end, for this is the signification of "three;" so when he was asked the third time it is said that "Peter was grieved."

[7] And as the third asking signified the end of the church, therefore these words of the Lord to Peter immediately follow in John:

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast younger thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldst; but when thou shalt be old thou shalt stretch forth thy hands and another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldst not. And when He had thus spoken He saith unto him, Follow Me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved, following; which also leaned on His breast at supper. Peter, seeing then, 1 saith to Jesus, Lord, but what about this one? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me. This saying therefore went forth among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. Yet Jesus said not unto him that he should not die, but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? (John 21:18-23).

What all this signifies no one can know unless he knows that "Peter" signifies faith from charity, and also faith without charity, faith from charity in the church at its beginning, and faith without charity when the church comes to its end; thus "Peter when he was younger" signifies the faith of the church in its beginning, and "when he became old" the faith of the church coming to an end; and "to gird himself and walk" signifies to learn truths and live according to them. From this it is evident that "I say unto thee, when thou wast younger thou girdedst thyself and walkedst whither thou wouldst," signifies that the church in its beginning will be instructed in truths that are from good, and by means of them will be led by the Lord; and that "When thou shalt be old thou shalt stretch forth thine hands and another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldst not," signifies that the church at its end will not know truths, but falsities that belong to faith without charity, and will be led by them, "to gird oneself" like as "to be clothed" signifying to be instructed in truths, because "garments" signify truths clothing good (see above, n. 195, 395, 637), and "to walk" signifying to live according to truths (see above, n. 97[1-2]); consequently "to gird himself and walk whither he would" signifies to consider freely and to see truths, and do them; while "to stretch forth the hands" signifies not to be in such freedom; for "the hands" signify the power of truth from the understanding and perception of it, and "to stretch forth the hands" signifies not to have that power, thus neither the freedom to think and to see truth. "Another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldst not," signifies to acknowledge as truths what another dictates, and what one does not see for oneself, as is done at this day with the religion of faith alone. This faith is what is now meant by "Peter," and therefore it is said that Peter turning about saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, and said of him, "But what about this one?" likewise that Jesus said to Peter, "What is that to thee?" "The disciple following Jesus" signifies the goods of life, which are good works; and that these will not perish to the end of life is signified by the words that here follow.

[8] From this it can now be seen that "Peter" signifies also faith separated from charity, as also when:

Peter thrice denied the Lord (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:29-31, 54, 66-72; Luke 22:33, 34, 50, 51, 55-62; John 13:36-38; 18:16-18, 25-27).

Also when the Lord, turning away from Peter, said to him, Get thee behind Me, Satan, thou art a stumbling-block unto Me; for thou savorest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men (Matthew 16:21-23).

Also when the Lord said to him, Simon, Simon, Behold Satan demanded you that he might sift you as wheat (Luke 22:31).

All these things have been cited to make known that "Peter" in the representative sense signifies in the Gospels truth from good, which is from the Lord; also faith from charity; and also in the contrary sense truth separated from good, which in itself is falsity; also faith separated from charity, which in itself is not faith.

Footnotes:

1. The photolithograph has "tunc" for "hunc," "then" for "him."

(References: John 1:40-42, John 13:3-10, John 21:15-23; Luke 22:33-34, 22:50-51; Mark 11:21-24; Revelation 13:12)

  
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References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 821, 836


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