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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

 

Divine Providence #114

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114. 4. The Lord cannot rid us of the evils in our outer nature without our help. In all Christian churches the accepted teaching is that before we come to take Holy Communion we should examine ourselves, see and admit our sins, and repent by refraining from them and rejecting them because they come from the devil. Otherwise our sins are not forgiven, and we are damned.

Even though the English accept a theology of faith alone, in the prayer before Holy Communion they explicitly enjoin self-examination, acknowledgment, confession of sins, repentance, and taking up a new life. They threaten people who do not do so by saying that the devil will enter into them as he entered into Judas and fill them with all iniquity, destroying both body and soul. The Germans, Swedes, and Danes, who also accept a theology of faith alone, teach much the same in their prayer before Holy Communion, adding the threat that otherwise we will render ourselves liable to the punishments of hell and eternal damnation because of this mixture of the sacred and the profane. The priest reads these words with a loud voice to the people who come to Holy Communion, and the people hear them with a full recognition of their truth.

[2] However, when these same people hear a sermon about faith alone on the very same day, when they hear that the law does not condemn them because the Lord has fulfilled it for them, that on their own they cannot do anything good without claiming credit for it, and that therefore their deeds contribute nothing whatever to their salvation and only their faith does, then they go home totally oblivious to their earlier confession. In fact, they dismiss it to the extent that they are thinking about this sermon on faith alone.

So which is true, the first or the second? Two mutually contradictory statements cannot both be true. For example, one option is that there is no forgiveness of sins and therefore no salvation, only eternal damnation, unless we examine and identify and recognize and confess and reject our sins--unless we repent. The other option is that things like this contribute nothing to our salvation, because by suffering on the cross the Lord has made full satisfaction for people who have faith; and if we only have faith--a trust that this is true--and are sure that the Lord's merit has been credited to our accounts, then we are sinless and appear before God with faces washed gleaming-clean. We can see, then, that all Christian churches share the basic conviction that we need to examine ourselves, see and admit our sins, and then refrain from them; and that otherwise we face not salvation but damnation.

We can see that this is also divine truth itself in passages in the Word where we are commanded to repent, passages like these:

John said, "Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. Right now, the axe is lying at the root of the tree. Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." (Luke 3:8-9)

Jesus said, "Unless you repent, you will all be destroyed." (Luke 13:3, 5)

Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God: "Repent, and believe the good news." (Mark 1:14-15)

Jesus sent out his disciples who preached repentance as they went forth. (Mark 6:12)

Jesus told the apostles that they were to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all nations. (Luke 24:47)

John preached the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3)

Think about this, then, with some clarity of mind and if you are religious you will see that repentance from sins is the pathway to heaven. You will see that faith apart from repentance is not really faith and that people who are without faith because they are without repentance are on the road to hell.

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


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