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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

 

Arcana Coelestia #10125

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10125. 'And you shall anoint it' means consecration to represent the Divine Good of Love from the Lord as He exists in heaven and in the Church. This is clear from the meaning of 'anointing' as consecration to represent the Lord in respect of the Divine Good of Divine Love from His Divine Human, dealt with in 9474, 9954, 10019, at this point from the Lord as He exists in heaven and in the Church; for the subject is the influx and reception of Him there. Whatever represents the Lord also represents Him as He is present with people of the Church and with angels of heaven, and so represents heaven and the Church, since people who have the Church within them constitute the Church in general, and angels who have heaven within them constitute heaven in general. Not that those people regarded in themselves constitute the Church, only the Lord present with them does so. Nor therefore do the angels regarded in themselves constitute heaven, only the Lord present with them. For the Lord does not dwell in anything that is a person's or an angels's own, only in what is His with them. So it is that when the words 'the Church and heaven' are used, what is Divine and the Lord's with those who are there is meant. From all this it is evident how the statements that the Lord is the All in all of heaven and the Church and that the Lord Himself is heaven and the Church ought to be understood. This is also evident from the teaching known and accepted in the Christian world that all the good of faith and love comes from God and none at all from man, and that whatever comes from man's own self is not good. For this reason also no one has any merit or any righteousness by virtue of what is his own.

[2] These matters have been stated in order that people may know what is meant by 'the Lord as He exists in heaven and in the Church', thus what heaven and the Church are, and consequently in what way the altar and the anointing of it were representative of the Lord. All the objects that were going to represent the Lord and the Divine things that came from the Lord were anointed - the altar, the tent of meeting, the tables within it, the lampstand, the ark, Aaron himself, his sons, and their garments. And when they had been anointed they were called holy, not because the oil imparted any holiness but because when anointed they would represent the Divine things from the Lord, which alone are holy. The reason why oil was employed for this purpose was that oil was a sign of the good of love, and the Divine Good of Divine Love is the Divine Himself, for He is the Essential Being (ipsum Esse) of all things. So in order to represent that Good, consecration was effected by the use of oil. The Divine Himself, the Essential Being of all things, was within the Lord alone, for He was conceived from Jehovah; and everyone derives the being (esse) of his life, called his soul, from his father. From this it is clear that the Divine Good of Divine Love was within the Lord's Humanity as a father's soul is within his child. With the human being nothing possesses life except the soul. The body without the soul has no life; indeed the whole body is fashioned by the soul in its own image, to bring the soul into a condition suitably adapted to the functions it performs on the lowest levels of order, that is, in the world. These facts about the human being lead to the conclusion that the Essential Being within the Lord's Humanity was Jehovah, or the Divine Good of Divine Love, the Being of life, and that this Being makes everything which exists from it a likeness of itself. Thus the Lord, acting from the Divine [Being] that was within Him and so was His, also made His Human into the Divine Good of Divine Love.

[3] Furthermore the Athanasian Creed which hands down the faith accepted in the Christian world states,

As body and soul is one man (homo), so Divine and Human in the Lord is one Christ 1 .

Anyone therefore who knows about the union of soul and body in the body, and about the image of the soul in the body, can have some conception of the union of the Divine and Human within the Lord, and of the image of the one in the other. And from this he would recognize that the Divine, called the Father, and the Human, called the Son, were one, also that each was in the other, that is, the Father was in Him and He in the Father, according to the Lord's words in John 10:30; 14:10-11. But since there is no awareness at the present day of what the soul is, and scarcely any awareness that it is derived from the father, that the body is an image of it, and that the two are one, as prior and posterior are, or as being and manifestation of that being are, mankind has separated the Divine from the Human within the Lord, dividing them into two natures. As a consequence of this no other idea has been formed of the Lord's Humanity than of its being like anyone else's humanity. But in fact anyone else's soul from his father is finite and has evil within it owing to heredity, whereas the Lord's soul, being derived from Jehovah, was infinite and was nothing other than the Divine Good of Divine Love; and therefore His Human after glorification was not like anyone else's.

[4] For the same reason the Lord took up into heaven His entire Humanity that had been glorified, that is, had been made Divine by Him; He left nothing of it in the tomb, which is different from what happens with anyone else. The fact that the Lord glorified His actual body right down to the last and lowest constituents of it, which are its bones and flesh, the Lord also made plain to the disciples, saying,

See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see Me having. Luke 24:39.

And yet He came in through closed doors, and after He had revealed Himself became invisible, John 20:19; Luke 24:31.

These things have been stated in order that people may know that the Lord alone in respect of His Human was Jehovah's Anointed. He was not anointed with oil however but with the Divine Good of Divine Love, which 'oil' is the sign of and which 'anointing' represented, see 9954.

Footnotes:

1. Swedenborg does not use the exact words of the traditional version of the Athanasian Creed.

(References: Exodus 29:36)

  
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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.


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