The Bible


Luke 24:13-35 : The Road to Emmaus



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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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 #10655

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10655. 'You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread' means worship of the Lord and thanksgiving on account of deliverance from evil and from the falsities of evil. This is clear from the meaning of 'the feast' as worship and thanksgiving, dealt with in 7093, 9286, 9287; and from the meaning of 'unleavened bread' as things which have been purified from evil and from the falsities of evil, dealt with in 9992. Consequently 'the feast of unleavened bread' means worship and thanksgiving on account of deliverance from evil and from the falsities of evil. The fact that this was the meaning of that feast, see 9286-9292.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 9286-9287)

[2] As regards this feast, it should be recognized that the glorification of the Lord's Human, and so the remembrance of this and thanksgiving on account of it, is its proper meaning. The glorification of His Human and the subduing of the hells by the Lord have given mankind deliverance from evils and salvation. For the Lord glorified His Human by means of conflicts against the hells and the victories He always gained over them in those conflicts, the final conflict and victory being that on the Cross, when therefore He fully glorified Himself, as is also His own teaching in John,

After Judas went out Jesus said, Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him at once. John 13:31-32.

In the same gospel,

Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You. Now, Father, glorify Me in Your Own Self with the glory which I had with You before the world was. John 17:1, 5.

And in Luke,

Ought not the Christ to have suffered this and to enter into His glory? Luke 24:26.

'Glorifying the Son of Man' means the making Divine of the Human. All these things declared by the Lord had regard, it is self-evident, to His passion on the Cross.

[3] Through that final conflict, which was the passion of the Cross, He completely subdued the hells. This too is the Lord's teaching in John,

Jesus said, The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Now My soul is troubled. And He said, Father, glorify Your name. And a voice came from heaven, [saying,] I have both glorified it and will glorify it again. And Jesus said, Now is the judgement of this world, now will the prince of this world be cast outdoors. I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself. This He said, indicating the kind of death He was about to die. John 12:23, 27-28, 31-33.

Hell as a whole is what the term 'the prince of this world' or the devil refers to. From these verses it is evident that by the passion of the Cross the Lord not only overcame and subdued the hells but also completely glorified His Human. From this comes salvation to the human race, for which reason also the Lord came into the world, as He also teaches in John 12:27. It was for the sake of the remembrance of this that the feast of unleavened bread or the Passover was primarily established; and it was why He rose again at that feast.

[4] The reason why on account of deliverance from evil and from the falsities of evil is also meant is that all deliverance from evil comes about through the subduing of the hells by the Lord and through the glorification of His Human; without these there is no deliverance. For a person is ruled by the Lord by means of spirits from hell and angels from heaven. Unless therefore the hells had been altogether subdued, and unless the Lord's Human had been altogether united to the Divine Himself, and had thereby also been made Divine, no one could have possibly been delivered from hell and been saved; for the hells would have always prevailed, because the human being has become such that left to himself his thought consists of nothing other than that which belongs to hell. From this it is evident why it is that the same feast means worship and thanksgiving on account of deliverance from evil and from the falsities of evil.

(References: Exodus 34:18)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 10659

Heaven and Hell 86

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 201, 215, 301, 302

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 314, 401, 900

   Swedenborg Research Tools

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