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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 Revealed #36

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36. I became in the spirit on the Lord's day. (1:10) This symbolizes a spiritual state then owing to Divine influx.

"I became in the spirit" means, symbolically, a spiritual state, the state in which John was while he was experiencing the visions, and which we will take up in the following exposition. "On the Lord's day" symbolizes influx from the Lord then, for that day brings the Lord's presence, as it is a holy day.

Concerning the prophets we read that they were in the spirit or in vision, and that the Word came to them from Jehovah.

When they were in the spirit or in vision, they were not in the body, but in their spirit, a state in which they saw phenomena such as are found in heaven. But when the Word came to them, they were then in the body and heard Jehovah speaking.

These two states of the prophets must be properly distinguished. In the state of vision the eyes of their spirit were open and the eyes of their body closed; and they heard then what angels said, and what Jehovah said through angels, and also saw representations produced for them in heaven. Moreover, they sometimes seemed to themselves to be taken then from place to place, their body remaining where it was.

(References: Revelation 4, 5, Revelation 6, Revelation 7:17, Revelation 8:1, Revelation 9, Revelation 10, Revelation 11, Revelation 12, Revelation 13, Revelation 15, Revelation 16, 17, Revelation 18, 19)


[2] This was the state in which John was when he wrote the book of Revelation, and the state sometimes experienced by Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Daniel. They also said that they were then in vision or in the spirit. For Ezekiel says,

The Spirit lifted me up... and brought me back into Chaldea, to those in captivity, in a vision (of God), in the spirit of God. (Thus) went up from me the vision that I had seen. (Ezekiel 11:1, 24)

He also says that the Spirit lifted him up, and he heard behind him an earthquake, and more (Ezekiel 3:12, 24). So, too, that the Spirit lifted him up between earth and heaven, that it brought him in visions of God to Jerusalem, and that he saw abominations (Ezekiel 8:3f.). He was likewise in a vision of God or in the spirit when he saw the four living creatures, which were cherubim (Ezekiel 1; 10), as also when he saw a new earth and a new temple, and an angel measuring them (Ezekiel 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48). That he was then in the visions of God, he himself says (Ezekiel 40:2), and that the spirit lifted him up (Ezekiel 43:5).

(References: Ezekiel 3:14, Ezekiel 41:1, 42:1, 43:1, 44:1, 45:1, 46:1, 47:1)


[3] The same was the case with Zechariah, who had an angel with him at the time, when he saw a man riding a horse among the myrtle trees (Zechariah 1:8ff.); when he saw the four horns, and then a man with a measuring line in his hand (Zechariah 1:18; 2:1ff.); when he saw Joshua the high priest (Zechariah 3:1ff.); when he saw the lampstand and two olive trees (Zechariah 4:1ff.); when he saw the flying scroll and the ephah (Zechariah 5:1, 6); when he saw the four chariots coming from between two mountains, and the horses (Zechariah 6:1ff.).

Daniel was in a like state when he saw the four beasts coming up from the sea (Daniel 7:1ff.), and when he saw the combat between the ram and the male goat (Daniel 8:1ff.). He himself says that he saw these things in visions (Daniel 7:1-2, 7, 13; 8:2; 10:1, 7-8), and that the angel Gabriel appeared to him in a vision (Daniel 9:21).

(References: Zechariah 2:5)


[4] The same was the case with John, as when he saw the Son of Man in the midst of the seven lampstands (Revelation 1), and finally, the new heaven and the new earth, and then the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven (Revelation 21, 22. John himself says that he saw these things in the spirit and in vision (1:10; 4:2; 9:17; 21:10). This, too, is meant by the statement, "I saw," everywhere it occurs in this book.

(References: Revelation 1:1, 4:1, Revelation 5:1, 6:1, Revelation 7:1, Revelation 8:1, Revelation 9:1, Revelation 10:1, Revelation 11:1, Revelation 12:1, Revelation 13:1, Revelation 15:1, Revelation 16:1, Revelation 17:1, 18:1, Revelation 19:1, 21:1, 22:1)


[5] It is clearly apparent from this that to be in the spirit is to be in a state of vision, which is brought about by an opening of the sight of a person's spirit; and when this is opened, phenomena found in the spiritual world are as clearly visible as those in the natural world are to the sight of the body.

The reality of this is something I can attest to from many years' experience.

The disciples were in this state when they saw the Lord after His resurrection, which is why are told that their eyes were opened (Luke 24:30-31).

Abraham was in a like state when he saw the three angels and spoke with them. 1

So, too, Hagar, Gideon, Joshua and others, when they saw angels of Jehovah. Likewise when Elisha's lad saw the mountain full of fiery chariots and horses all around Elisha, for Elisha prayed and said,

"Jehovah, open, I pray, his eyes that he may see." And Jehovah opened the eyes of the lad, and he saw. (2 Kings 6:17)

As regards the Word, however, it was not revealed in a state of the spirit or of vision, but the Lord dictated it to the prophets in an audible voice. Consequently we are nowhere told that the prophets spoke it from the Holy Spirit, but from Jehovah. See The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Lord, no. 53.

Footnotes:

(References: Ezekiel 3:14)

  
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Thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem for the permission to use this translation.


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