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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 #937

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937. That "Moses" signifies the Word of the Old Testament can be seen from certain passages in the Word in which he is mentioned. But in some passages "Moses" means the law in the strictest sense, which is the law given from Mount Sinai; in others, the law in a broader sense, which is the historical Word; while here the Word of the Old Testament, both historical and prophetical, is meant. "Moses" signifies the Word because the Ten Commandments, and afterwards the Five Books, which were the first part of the Word, were not from him but from the Lord through him. That Moses is mentioned instead of the law and the Word, is evident from the following passages. In Luke:

Abraham said unto him, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. If they hear not Moses and the prophets neither will they be persuaded if one should rise from the dead (Luke 16:29, 31).

Here "Moses and the prophets" have a like meaning as the "law and the prophets" elsewhere, namely, the historical and prophetical Word. In the same:

Jesus, beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, interpreted in all the Scriptures the things that pertained to Himself (Luke 24:27).

In the same:

All things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the psalms concerning Me (Luke 24:44)

In John:

Philip said, We have found Jesus, of whom Moses in the law did write (John 1:45).

In the same:

In the law Moses commanded us (John 8:5).

In Daniel:

The curse hath flowed down upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us (Daniel 9:11, 13).

In Joshua:

Joshua wrote upon the stone of the altar a copy of the law of Moses (Joshua 8:32).

In John:

Moses gave to you the law. Moses gave you the circumcision. If a man receive circumcision on the sabbath, that the law of Moses might not be broken (John 7:19, 22, 33).

In Mark:

Moses hath said, Honor thy father and thy mother (Mark 7:10).

(References: John 7:22-23; Revelation 15:3)


[2] That which was from the Lord through Moses was attributed to Moses because of the representation; therefore the terms "the law of Moses" and "the law of the Lord" are both used in Luke:

When the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought Him up to Jerusalem, (as it is written in the law of the Lord, that every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord), that they might offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons (Luke 2:22-24, 39).

[3] Because Moses represented the law it was permitted him to come into the presence of the Lord on Mount Sinai, and not only to receive there the Tables of the Law, but also to hear the statutes and judgments of the law, and command them to the people; and it is added, that they might therefore believe in Moses forever:

Jehovah said unto Moses, Lo, I will come unto thee in the mist of a cloud, that the people may hear when I shall speak unto thee, and may also believe in thee forever (Exodus 19:9).

It is said "in the mist of a cloud," because a "cloud" signifies the Word in the letter. So when Moses came into the presence of the Lord on Mount Sinai:

He entered into the cloud (Exodus 20:21; 24:2, 18; 34:2-5).

(That "cloud" signifies the sense of the letter of the Word see above, n. 36, 594, 905, 906.)

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 905-906)


[4] Because Moses represented the Lord as to the law or the Word, therefore:

When he came down from Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone; therefore when he spoke with the people he put a veil over his face (Exodus 34:28-35).

"The shining of the face" signified the internal of the law, for that is in the light of heaven. He veiled his face when he spoke with the people because the internal of the Word was covered and thus obscured to that people to protect them from anything of its light.

(References: Exodus 34:5, Exodus 35:2-4)


[5] Because Moses represented the Lord as to the historical Word, and Elijah the Lord as to the prophetical Word, when the Lord was transfigured Moses and Elijah were seen talking with Him (Matthew 17:3). When the Lord's Divine was manifested in the world, only those who signified the Word could talk with the Lord, because discourse with the Lord is by means of the Word. (That Elijah represented the Lord as to the Word, see n. 624.)

(References: Malachi 4:4-5)


[6] Because Moses and Elijah taken together represented the Word, where Elijah is spoken of as the one sent before the Lord, both are mentioned, in Malachi:

Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, the statutes and the judgments. Lo, I send to you Elijah the prophet, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah comes (Malachi 4:4-6).

Elijah the prophet means John the Baptist; because he, like Elijah, represented the Word (see above, n. 624, 724).

(References: Exodus 35:2-4; John 7:22-23; Malachi 4:4-5; Revelation 15:3)

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


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