Cleopas and his friend had been given something amazing. As they walked home from Jerusalem discussing the death of Christ…not to mention the strange rumors from the women about His resurrection…Jesus showed up. At first, they didn’t know it was Him. Somehow, that was something He had to reveal.
As He joined them on their journey, He went through the entire history of the nation of Israel, from Moses all the way through the prophets, showing how His coming was a fulfillment of the great rescue that God had planned all along. When they finally sat down and Jesus began to break bread with them, they were suddenly able to see that it was Him! Jesus revealed Himself. It was their Lord! But then He disappeared.
The men wasted no time. They got up and walked straight back to Jerusalem. Can you imagine their discussion and excitement on those seven long miles to the city? They had to tell the disciples that what the women said was true!
When they arrived, they met with news. The disciples told them, “‘The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon Peter!’” Now, none of the four Gospels tell us what Jesus said to Peter in that first meeting after his betrayal. It was an intensely private time between Jesus and His beloved servant. But can you imagine the grief of Peter and his repentance? Can you imagine his relief? He had a chance to cry out for forgiveness. How powerful it must have been for him to realize that in spite of the terrible thing he had done, the Lord Jesus had sought him out and pursued him. Of all the people in the world, after dear Mary, Peter was the first to meet with the risen Christ. What a tender Lord!
When the disciples were done telling Cleopas and his friend their great news, the travelers told the disciples about their meeting on the road with Jesus. What a rush of excited voices that must have brought. Jesus was alive!
Yet even as the men talked these things through in their wonder, they were aware of a possible danger. The Jewish leaders were not happy. Rumor had it that they were accusing the disciples of stealing Christ’s body. So the disciples took care to lock the door of their meeting place.
The men sat reclining at their meal; can you imagine how they compared the different stories that were floating around that remarkable Sunday? Can you imagine the questions they asked? So far, Jesus had shown Himself to four people. Why had He come to Mary first? And why did the women get to see the angels, but John and Peter only saw the open tomb and folded linens? What were the religious leaders going to do now? Would they try to punish the disciples to prove to everyone that the resurrection was a fraud? And, most importantly, when would they see Jesus next?
And then, right in the midst of their supper, the Lord Jesus appeared once again! “‘Peace be with you,’” He said.
What would you do? How would your respond?
The disciples were shocked. They thought He was a spirit. The ways of God’s eternal realm were invading the laws of earth and nature through Christ. For the disciples, this was strange and disorienting. The world they knew that seemed so concrete and permanent became an uncertain shadow next to the Greater Reality imposed by their infinitely more solid and powerful Lord.
Jesus said, “‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’”
As He said these things, Jesus showed them the scars in His hands and feet from the ruthless nails that had pinned Him to the cross. Then He showed them His side, where the spear had pierced Him. Though He was in His resurrected body, He still bore the marks of His great sacrifice.
The disciples were filled with joy, marveling at what could not be true, but was. It was an unimaginable hope! To show them that He was really there, risen in body as well as spirit, Jesus said, “‘Have you anything to eat?’”
The disciples handed Him some broiled fish. Jesus took it and ate with them. The truth was settling in, and they were filled with bright wonder. The One they thought they had lost forever was back!
Jesus explained, “‘This is what I have told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.’” The Lord had tried over and over again to warn them about what was coming, but they couldn’t grasp it until it happened. Even now, with His risen life in front of them, it was hard to understand. So He began to teach them, opening their minds so they could understand more fully, how the Old Testament had been pointing the way to Jesus all along. What a fascinating lesson to hear straight from Jesus’ own lips. Don’t you wish you could have been there?
The Lord went on:
“‘Thus it is written, “That the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promises of my Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”’”
Wow. What did Jesus mean? How in the world were they going to preach about Christ in Jerusalem with the wrath of the religious leaders following after them? And what did it mean to be to have power from on high?