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Why Emmaus

In watching the short movie “The Road to Emmaus” recently, I was reminded of the wonder of Jesus spending considerable time with two of His disciples on the day He rose from the dead (Luke 24). It was on this most unique of days that Jesus had gained victory over death and the grave. It is simply amazing to think, then, of our Lord walking alone with just two disciples as they struggled to make sense of all that had happened over the previous several days.

Here, on a little-known road to a little-known village, we find Jesus patiently unfolding to two of His little-known disciples the meaning of all the prophecies concerning Himself and the work of redemption He had just fulfilled. To our further amazement, we read that these two disciples did not come to recognize Jesus until He broke bread for them at the end of the day.

This account of the day Jesus was resurrected from the grave is rich with lessons about our Lord and the truly personal nature of His ministry, e.g. we see here how He takes time, even on the most remarkable of days, to provide ministry to individual disciples no matter how well-known or little-known they may be.

Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can trust that He can and will do the same for us today no matter how well-known or little-known we may be. For in the words of Paul, our Lord is not far from every one of us. As such, He is able to open to each of our understandings all that has been written about Himself and His ministry as revealed throughout the ages.

Consider, then, walking along with these two disciples as they journey with Jesus by selecting this link or the link provided on “The Road to Emmaus” webpage. You can further explore the meaning of Jesus’ message and ministry on the road to Emmaus that day by reading from the post “How may we know the true identity of Jesus Christ?” reprinted below. Because Jesus lives, the hope of being partakers of His glory is a sure and secure anchor to all those who believe in His name and resurrection. God’s richest blessings to each one, then, as we remember our resurrected Lord.

How may we know the true identity of Jesus Christ?

At the conclusion of his record of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, Luke includes an account that illustrates how we may know with confidence the true identity of Jesus Christ. In this account, Luke tells of how Jesus spent a significant portion of the miraculous day He rose from the dead with just two of His disciples as they walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

And behold, two of them went that same day
to a village called Emmaus,
which was from Jerusalem three-score furlongs.

And they talked together
of all these things which had happened.

And it came to pass,
that while they communed together, and reasoned,
Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

But their eyes were holden, or covered,
that they could not know him.

And he said unto them,

What manner of communications are these
which ye have one with another,
as ye walk and are sad?

Luke 24:12-16

During their time together Jesus’ disciples spoke with Him as if He were a stranger. They recounted with sadness the many things that had happened concerning Him, interjecting how they had trusted that it had been He who should have redeemed Israel.

And one of them,
whose name was Cleopas,
answering, said unto him,

Art thou a stranger in Jerusalem,
and hast not known the things
which are come to pass there in these days?

And he said unto them,
What things?

And they said unto him,
Concerning Jesus of Nazareth,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people;
And how the chief priests and our rulers
delivered him to be condemned to death,
and have crucified him.

But we trusted that it had been he
who should have redeemed Israel.

And besides all this,
to-day is the third day since these things were done;
Yea, and certain women
also of our company made us astonished,
who were early at the sepulcher;

And when they found not his body,
they came, saying,
that they had also seen a vision of angels,
who said that he was alive.

And certain of them who were with us,
went to the sepulcher,
and found it even so as the women had said;

But him they saw not.

Luke 24:17-23

In reply, Jesus chastened them for their unbelief, saying, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” He then expounded unto them in allof the scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Then He said unto them,

O fools, and slow of heart to believe
all that the prophets have spoken!

Ought not Christ to have suffered these things,
and to enter into his glory?

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets,
he expounded unto them
in all the scriptures
the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:24-26

When their journey had come to an end near the close of this most notable of days, they constrained Jesus to abide with them. Although He had spoken with them face to face along the way, it was not until Jesus blessed and broke bread with them at the evening meal that they knew Him. Then, after He was taken from their midst, they quickly returned to Jerusalem to tell the eleven and those with them that Jesus was indeed risen and had ministered to them.

And they drew nigh unto the village whither they went;
and he <Jesus> made as though he would have gone farther.

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.

And it came to pass,
as he sat at meat with them,
he took bread, and blessed,
and brake, and gave to them.

And their eyes were opened,
and they knew him;

and he was taken up out of their sight.

And they said one to another,
Did not our hearts burn within us,
while he talked with us by the way,
and while he opened to us the scriptures?

And they rose up the same hour and returned to Jerusalem,
and found the eleven gathered together,
and those who were with them, Saying,

The Lord is risen indeed,
and hath appeared to Simon.

And they told what things they saw and heard in the way,
and how he was known to them,
in breaking of bread.

Luke 24:27-34

Luke’s account of Jesus Christ’s activities on the wondrous day He gained victory over death and the grave reveals valuable lessons about our Lord and His ministry. Consider, for example, the personal way in which Jesus ministered to these two little-known disciples following His resurrection. He apparently spent a substantial amount of time with them, both in listening to their sad account of recent events and in opening the scriptures to them so they might come to believe all that had been spoken and written concerning Him.

The lesson: Jesus Christ is both personal and intentional (cf. Matthew 18:20). He is willing to spend personal time with each one of us (Acts 17:27), even on the most notable of days, and even when we fail to believe all that He has caused to be said and done concerning Himself. And although our Lord listens to us share our concerns and disappointments, yet He is intent on and able to lift us beyond our present views to a greater vision of Himself, His words, His purposes, His plans, and His ways.

This is indeed a valuable insight concerning our Lord and His ministry. Still, it does not fully answer the question about how we may confidently know His true identity. To arrive at our Lord’s answer to this question, we must also consider another lesson found in Luke’s account stemming from Jesus’ rebuke, “O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

Jesus Christ’s disciples had witnessed the miraculous fulfillment of many prophecies leading up to His resurrection. Yet, as a result of Jesus’ sufferings and death, waves of doubt and discouragement overwhelmed them and they failed to believe all that had been spoken concerning Him. Notwithstanding the perplexing events that confronted them, Jesus nonetheless plainly expressed His expectation that they should have believed all that had been spoken about Him by His prophets, including the prophecies concerning His resurrection.

Lest we too are considered by our Lord to be fools and slow of heart to believe, we must not simply learn lessons about Jesus Christ that gain us insights into His life and ministry (notwithstanding how ministering those lessons may be to ourselves and to others). We must allow Him to open all the scriptures to our understanding such that we may come to believe all that the prophets have spoken concerning Himself. In so doing, we give our Lord the opportunity to actually reveal Himself to us as He did when ministering to these two disciples, and we give ourselves the opportunity to truly come to know Him as did they.

Consider how Jesus accepted their invitation to abide with them at the end of their journey even though it appeared He would have gone farther. Then consider how at the evening meal Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. This was as an expression of His sacrificial covenant love last witnessed several nights previous during the Passover observance (Luke 22:7-20). In this gracious act of blessing and breaking bread, the eyes of Jesus’ disciples were opened and they knew Him. As they would later testify to the others, he was known to them, in breaking of bread.

These two disciples were blessed because they had constrained Jesus to abide with them when it appeared He would leave them at the close of their journey together. The blessing they would receive was fully realized as they sat at meat with Jesus and He blessed and broke bread for them. After He was taken from their midst, they remembered how their hearts had burned within them as He opened the scriptures to them in the way. Jesus’ words had ministered to them in a quiet but powerful manner as they had walked together. His words fed their hungering, discouraged souls with assurance and hope as well as with knowledge, insight, and understanding.

When they dined together, the connection was made (a parallel was drawn) between His ministering to them with His words in the way and His blessing and breaking bread for them to eat at the evening meal.

By ministering bread to them, bread which He had blessed and broken, Jesus emphasized once again our need to receive Him, as the Bread of Life, into our very souls (John 6:48). He reinforced the message that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life (John 6:29-58 with Matthew 26).

Then Jesus said unto them,

Verily, verily, I say unto you,

Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood,
ye have no life in you.

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood,
hath eternal life;
and I will raise him up
in the resurrection of the just at the last day.

For my flesh is meat in deed,
and my blood is drink indeed.

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood,
dwelleth in me, and I in him.

As the living Father hath sent me,
and I live by the Father;

So he that eateth me,
even he shall live by me

John 6:53-57

What does it mean to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ? How exactly are we to fulfill these words? Recall that Jesus Christ is God’s Incarnate Word. He is God’s Word made flesh.

And the same word was made flesh,
and dwelt among us,

And we beheld his glory,
the glory as the Only Begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Brethren, this is the testimony which we give
of that which was from the beginning,
which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled,
of the Word of life.

I John 1:1

Recall further how Jesus testified that His words are spirit and life.

It is the Spirit that quickeneth;
the flesh profiteth nothing;

the words that I speak unto you,
they are spirit, and they are life.

John 6:63

Briefly comprehended, because He is God’s Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ’s words are His flesh and blood (John 6:48-63 with John 1:14-16). Therefore, we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ by feasting upon His words. And in feasting upon His words, we receive wisdom, specifically the wisdom to live honorably and righteously before God.

Wherefore, I said unto you:

Feast upon the words of Christ,

For behold, the words of Christ will tell you
all things what ye should do

For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in
by the way and receive the Holy Ghost,
it will show unto you all things what ye should do

II Nephi 14:4,6

Thus it is written, “…man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus Christ is the bread of heaven, the bread of life that comes to us from our Heavenly Father (John 6). As the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ is every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God for us (cf. John 12:49,50). In Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). Therefore, we are complete (made perfect) in Him, and our understanding of His true identity is also made complete through our assimilating His words, His flesh and blood, into our very beings (Colossians 2:10 with Luke 9:44).

What may we conclude, then, from Luke’s account of Jesus Christ’s ministry to these two disciples? First, it reveals how He is known to His disciples in breaking of bread. Therefore,by communing with our Lord through feasting upon His words we actually come to know Him and His true identity (cf. John 17:3). In this way, Luke’s account directs us to the witness God gives of His living and abiding Word, His Only Begotten Son. This unique and specific witness is the greatest and most reliable witness we can receive of Jesus Christ. And it is the witness that is to dwell within us.

For there are three that bear record in heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost;
and these three are one.

And there are three that bear witness in earth,
the Spirit, and the water, and the blood;
and these three agree in one.

If we receive the witness of men,
the witness of God is greater;

For this is the witness of God
which He hath testified of His Son.

He that believeth on the Son of God
hath the witness in himself;

He that believeth not God
hath made Him a liar;
because he believeth not the record
that God gave of His Son.

And this is the record,
that God hath given to us eternal life,

And this life is in His Son.

He that hath the Son hath life;

And he that hath not the Son of God
hath not life.

I John 5:9-12

Jesus Christ and His disciples explained the reason for this indwelling witness. They testified that it is through receiving and abiding in this unique witness, meaning God’s indwelling Word, that we are born again into the kingdom of God (John 3:3-8 & John 14:6 with John 1:14).

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,

Except a man be born of water, and the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

That which is born of the flesh, is flesh;
and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.

Marvel not that I said unto thee,
Ye must be born again.

John 3:5-7

Being born again,
not of corruptible seed,
but of incorruptible,
  by the word of God,
which liveth and abideth forever.

I Peter 1:23

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth,
that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren,
let every man be swift to hear,
slow to speak, slow to wrath;

For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Wherefore lay aside all filthiness
and superfluity of naughtiness,

And receive with meekness, the engrafted word,
which is able to save your souls.

But be ye doers of the word,
and not hearers only

deceiving your own selves.

For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer,
he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass;

For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way,
and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty,
and continueth therein,
he being not a forgetful hearer,
but a doer of the work,
this man shall be blessed in his deed.

James 1:18-25

Note further that we receive this indwelling witness of Jesus Christ through the prayer of intercession Jesus Christ offers unto His heavenly Father on our behalf in response to our love for Him (cf. I John 5:1-4).

If ye love me,
keep my commandments

And I will pray the Father,
and he shall give you another Comforter,
that he may abide with you forever;

Even the Spirit of truth;
whom the world cannot receive,
because it seeth him not,
neither knoweth him;

But ye know him;
for he dwelleth with you,
and shall be in you.

I will not leave you comfortless;

I will come to you.

John 14:15-18

Now the Lord is that Spirit;
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is liberty.

II Corinthians 3:17

Our Lord’s promise – to pray that we may receive His Spirit – is to all those who obey His voice (John 15:1-17). For, as John has written, this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ
is born of God;

And everyone that loveth him that begat
loveth him also that is begotten of him.

By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God,
and keep his commandments.

For this is the love of God,
that we keep his commandments;

and his commandments are not grievous.

For whatsoever is born of God
overcometh the world;

And this is the victory that overcometh the world,
even our faith.

I John 5:1-4

So then faith cometh by hearing,
and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:16

In the context of Luke’s account considered above, our Lord’s promise is to all those who constrain Him to abide with them and feast upon the bread He blesses and brakes for them (meaning His words which are spirit and life). For by the voice of His Spirit, our Lord declares:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock;

If any man hearmy voice, and open the door,
I will come in to him, and will sup with him,
and he with me.

To him that overcometh
will I grant to sit with me in my throne,
even as I also overcame,
and am set down with my Father in his throne.

He that hath an ear,
let him hear what the Spirit saith
unto the churches.

Revelation 3:20-22

In the context of the New Covenant, our Lord’s promise is to all those who remember Him in the manner demonstrated by Him. We abide in Him to His honor and glory by partaking of bread as His broken body and drinking wine as His shed blood (Matthew 26 & John 13-17).

In summary, to know Jesus Christ and His true identity, we must have His Spirit dwelling within us (I Corinthians 2:9-16). Through feasting upon the words of the Incarnate Word of God, the Bread of Life, we may also come to testify with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus how our hearts burn within us as He speaks with us in the way and how He is known to us in breaking of bread. And with the psalmist, we may encourage others to come to know Jesus Christ by saying, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8).

Do you have the Son? He is able to feed your hungering soul and thereby give unto you eternal life (I John 5:9-12). Are you feasting upon God’s precious bread of heaven (II Nephi 14:4,6, John 6:29-63)? You may if you are willing, for He is not far from anyone of us (Acts 17:24-27).

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