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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.

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Apocalypse Revealed #662

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662. 15:3 They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. This symbolizes a confession springing from charity, thus from a life in accordance with the precepts of the Law contained in the Ten Commandments, and from a faith in the Divinity of the Lord's humanity.

To sing a new song means to joyfully confess from the heart and affection that the Lord alone is the Savior and Redeemer and the God of heaven and earth, as may be seen in nos. 279, 617 above. Here, however, the song is called not a new song, but the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb; and the song of Moses symbolizes a confession springing from a life in accordance with the precepts of the Law that constitute the Ten Commandments, thus from charity, while the song of the Lamb symbolizes a confession springing from a faith in the Divinity of the Lord's humanity. For the Lamb means the Lord in respect to His Divine humanity (nos. 269, 291, 595), while Moses in a broad sense means all the law written in his five books, and in a strict sense, the Law called the Ten Commandments; and because this serves people in the way they live, the song of Moses is called the song of Moses, the servant of God. For in the Word a servant means someone or something that serves (no. 380), in this case for the way one is to live.

[2] Moses in a broad sense is called the Law because his five books are called the Law. All the commandments, judgments and statutes given through him in his five books are called the Law, as may be seen in no. 417 above. That everything written in those books is called Moses and the Law of Moses can be seen from the following passages:

Philip... said..., "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law, and of whom the prophets, wrote, Jesus...." (John 1:45)

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

...the days of their purification according to the Law of Moses were completed... (Luke 2:22)

...all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets... concerning Me. (Luke 24:44, cf. 24:27)

Did not Moses give you the Law? ...Moses... gave you circumcision... so that the Law of Moses should not be broken... (John 7:19, 22-23)

Abraham said to (the rich man in hell), "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them... If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead." (Luke 16:29, 31)

The curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God has been poured out on us... As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this evil has come upon us. (Daniel 9:11, 13)

Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him... (Malachi 4:4)

Jehovah said to Moses, "Behold, I will come to you in the mist of a cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and also believe you forever." (Exodus 19:9)

[3] It can be seen from this that Moses in a broad sense means the Word written by him, called the Law. That Moses means the Law that constitutes the Ten Commandments also then follows, and the more so because Moses hewed out the tablets after he broke the first ones (Exodus 34:1, 4); and when he brought them down, his face shone (Exodus 34:29-35). That is why Moses in paintings is depicted holding the tablets in his hand. Moreover, we are told in Mark, "Moses said, Honor your father and your mother" (Mark 7:10). And Joshua "wrote on the stones (of the altar) a copy of the Law of Moses" (Joshua 8:32). That Law was the Ten Commandments.

It can be seen from this that in the present case, the song of Moses, the servant of God, means nothing else than a confession springing from charity, thus from a life in accordance with the precepts of the Law contained in the Ten Commandments.

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


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