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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.

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 #402

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402. 'A city that was built' means all doctrinal or heretical teaching founded on that heresy. This is clear from the Word wherever the name of any city occurs. In the Word 'city' never means a city but something doctrinal or else something heretical. For angels are totally ignorant of what a city is or what the name of any city is. They never do nor can have any city in mind, for their ideas are of spiritual and celestial things, as shown already. Their perception is solely of what is meant spiritually by cities, and the names of them. For example, by the Holy City, which is also called the Holy Jerusalem, they understand nothing other than the Lord's kingdom in general, or as it exists with each individual who has the Lord's kingdom within him. And the city of Zion or Mount Zion they understand in a similar way, the latter being the celestial degree of faith, the former the spiritual.

[2] And the celestial and spiritual itself is also described by cities, palaces, houses, walls, the foundations of walls, ramparts, gates, bars, and by the temple at the centre, as in Ezekiel 48, and in Revelation 21:15-end. In Revelation 21:2, 10, it is called 'the Holy Jerusalem'; in Jeremiah 31:38 ['the city for Jehovah']; in David, Psalms 46:4, 'the city of God, the holy place of the dwellings of the Most High'; and in Ezekiel 48:35, it is called 'the city, Jehovah is there'. And in Isaiah,

The sons of the foreigner will build up your walls. They will bend down to the soles of your feet, all who disapprove of you, and they will call you the City of Jehovah, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 60:10, 14.

In Zechariah,

Jerusalem [will be called] the city of truth, and Mount Zion the mountain of holiness. Zechariah 8:3

Here 'city of truth', which is Jerusalem, means the spiritual things of faith, and 'the holy mountain', which is Zion, the celestial things of faith. And whereas the celestial and spiritual things of faith were represented by a city, so all matters of doctrine were meant by the cities of Judah and Israel, each one, when mentioned by name, meaning some specific point of doctrine, though exactly which nobody can know except from the internal sense.

[3] As cities meant matters of doctrine, cities also meant heretical ideas, each one when mentioned by name meaning some specific heretical idea. But at this point solely the consideration that in general a city means doctrinal teaching or else heretical may be established from the following places:

[4] In Isaiah,

On that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt which speak in the lip of Canaan and swear to Jehovah Zebaoth. One of these will be called the city Heres. Isaiah 19:18.

This refers to man's knowledge of spiritual and celestial things at the time of the Lord's Coming. In the same prophet,

Full of tumults, a tumultuous city, an exultant city. Isaiah 22:1, 2.

This refers to 'the valley of vision', which is delusion. In Jeremiah,

The cities of the south are shut up, with none opening them. Jeremiah 13:10.

This refers to people who are in 'the south', that is, who dwell in the light of truth, but blot it out. In the same prophet,

Jehovah thought to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion. He causes rampart and wall to mourn; they have languished together. Her gates have sunk into the ground, He has destroyed and broken in pieces her bars. Lamentations 2:8-9.

Here anyone may see that nothing else is meant by 'wall, rampart, gates and bars' than matters of doctrine.

[5] Similarly in Isaiah,

This song will be sung in the land of Judah, Ours is a strong city, salvation will establish walls and a rampart. Open the gates that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. Isaiah 26:1-2.

In the same prophet,

I will exalt You, I will confess Your name. You have made the city into a heap, the fortified city into a ruin; let not a palace of aliens be built of the city for ever. Therefore a strong people will honour You, the city of terrifying nations will fear You. Isaiah 25:1-3.

Nor does this refer to any actual city. In Balaam's prophecy,

Edom will be an inheritance, and out of Jacob one will have dominion, and he will accomplish the destruction of the remnant of the city. Numbers 24:18-19.

Here anyone may see that 'the city' does not mean an actual city. In Isaiah,

The city of hollowness has been broken down, every house has been shut up so that none may enter in. There is an outcry in the streets over the wine. Isaiah 24:10-11.

Here 'city of hollowness' stands for hollowness of doctrine. In this and other places 'streets' means the things that constitute a city, namely falsities or truths. In John,

When the seventh angel poured out his bowl the great city was split into three parts and the cities of the nations fell. Revelation 16:17, 19.

That 'a great city' means something heretical, as do 'the cities of the nations', may be clear to anyone. The explanation is also given in Revelation 17:18 that the great city means the woman whom John saw, 'the woman', as shown already, being a Church of that nature.

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