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 #9412

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9412. 'And ate and drank' means being told about the good and truth of worship. This is clear from the meaning of 'eating' as being joined to and making good their own, dealt with in 2187, 2343, 3168, 3513 (end), 3596, 3832, 4745, 5643; and from the meaning of 'drinking' as being joined to and making truth their own, dealt with in 3089, 3168, 4017, 4018, 5709, 8562. The reason why being told about is also meant - that is to say, being told about good is meant by 'eating', and being told about truth by 'drinking' - is that spiritual food consists in every good of faith that is a source of wisdom, while spiritual drink consists in every truth of faith that is a source of intelligence, 56-58, 681, 1480, 3069, 3114, 3168, 3772, 4792, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5410, 5426, 5487, 5576, 5579, 5582, 5588, 5655, 5915, 8562, 9003. This explains why feasts, banquets, midday meals, and suppers were instituted among the ancients, to the end that such good and truth belonging to wisdom and intelligence might bind them into fellowship with one another, 3596, 3832, 5161, 7836, 7996, 7997.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4017-4018, 7996-7997)

[2] It also explains why banquets, midday meals, and suppers in the Word mean instances of being bound together in faith and love, as in Matthew,

Many will come from the east and the west and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 8:11.

In Luke,

Jesus said to the disciples, You will eat and drink at My table in My kingdom. Luke 22:30.

In the same gospel,

Blessed are the servants whom the Lord comes and finds watching. Truly, I say to you that He will gird Himself and make them sit down, and He Himself will come and minister to them. Luke 12:37.

In John,

The disciples asked Jesus, saying, Master, eat. But He said to them, I have food to eat of which you do not know. John 4:31-32.

In the same gospel,

Jesus said, I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. John 6:51.

Heavenly bread is plainly meant here. Heavenly bread consists in all the good of love and faith which comes from the Lord, 2165, 2177, 3464, 3478, 3735, 3813, 4211, 4217, 4735, 4976, 5915, 6118, 9323.

[3] The fact that being told about the good and truth of faith is meant by 'eating and drinking' is clear from the following places: In Luke,

Then you will begin to say, We ate in Your presence and we drank; and You taught in our streets. But He will say, I say to you, I do not know where you come from; depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity. Luke 13:26-27.

'Eating and drinking in the Lord's presence' stands for giving instruction from the Word regarding forms of the good and the truths of faith. 'Teaching in the streets' stands for preaching truths from the Lord's Word, for in former times preaching took place in the streets, because truths composing the teachings of the Church are meant by 'the streets', 2336.

[4] In Isaiah,

Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money on that which is not bread, and your labour on that which does not satisfy? Pay thorough attention to Me and eat what is good, that your soul may delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live. Lo, I have given Him as a witness to the peoples, a Prince and Lawgiver to the peoples. 1 Isaiah 55:1-5.

Here it is evident that 'drinking' and 'eating' mean being told things by the Lord, and that 'the waters', 'wine', 'milk', 'bread', and 'fatness' are forms of the truth and the good of faith which come from Him, for it says, 'Incline your ear, come to Me; hear, that your soul may live. Lo, I have given Him as a witness to the peoples, a Prince and a Lawgiver to the peoples'.

(References: Isaiah 55:1-4)

[5] In Ezekiel,

Behold, I am breaking the rod of bread in Jerusalem, so that they may eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and drink water by measure and with dismay, and may be in want of bread and water, and waste away on account of their iniquity. Ezekiel 4:16-17.

'Eating bread' and 'drinking water' stand for receiving instruction in forms of the good and the truths of faith, 9323. Something similar occurs in Amos,

Behold, the days are going to come, in which I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but for hearing the words of Jehovah. Amos 8:11.

'A famine of bread' and 'a thirst for water' are a scarcity and lack of the cognitions or knowledge of goodness and truth, see 3364, 4958, 5277, 5279, 5281, 5300, 5360, 5376, 5415, 5568, 5579, 5893, 6110, 8576. All this now makes clear what the meaning is of the words which say that the disciples' eyes were opened and they recognized the Lord when the Lord broke the bread and gave it to them, Luke 24:29-31. For in the spiritual world 'breaking the bread and giving it to them' means instructing them in the good and truth of faith, by means of which the Lord is seen. It also makes clear what the meaning is of 'the bread and wine' and 'eating and drinking' in the Holy Supper, and what the meaning is of the Lord's words to the disciples, after He had instituted that Supper, that He would not drink of that fruit of the vine until the day when He would drink it new with them in the Father's kingdom, Matthew 26:26-29. The reason why 'eating and drinking' means being told about the good and truth of worship is that after they had offered sacrifices they also ate and drank from them, and sacrifices represented all worship in general, 9391.


1. The Latin means nations but the Hebrew means peoples, which Swedenborg has in some places where he quotes this verse.

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