Question: "What happened on the road to Emmaus?"
Answer: The events on the road to Emmaus are discussed in Luke 24. In this final chapter of Luke’s Gospel, we read of two disciples (Cleopas and one unnamed) of Jesus who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day that Jesus rose from the dead. As they traveled, a man joined them—the resurrected Jesus, although they did not recognize Him. The man asked, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” (Luke 24:17).
The two disciples were surprised that the man had not heard of the recent events that had Jerusalem in turmoil. They proceeded to tell the stranger of Jesus’ crucifixion and the report of His empty tomb. Jesus responded, “‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27).
So, as they walked, Jesus taught what the Old Testament had predicted about Himself. When they arrived in Emmaus that evening, the two disciples stopped to eat, and they asked Jesus to join them. He did, and as He broke the bread and blessed the meal, “their eyes were opened” (verse 31), and they recognized Him. Jesus then vanished.
Their response? Luke reports, “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen’” (verses 33-34).
On the road to Emmaus, Jesus gave a lesson on the prophecies of the Old Testament which were fulfilled in His death and resurrection. What a lesson that would have been! The Author of the Book explains His work, making connections from Scripture to the events they had recently experienced.
The disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ lesson was one of deep conviction of the truth of what He was teaching. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked?” they ask each other (verse 32). Their physical eyes were blinded to the identity of Jesus, but their eyes of faith were being opened as Jesus opened the Scriptures to them.
Following this account, Jesus appears to His other disciples, removing all doubt that He was alive. Jesus had promised that He would show Himself to those who love Him (John 14:21), and this is exactly what He does on the road to Emmaus.
The story of the disciples on the Emmaus Road is important for many reasons. It provides an emphasis on the Old Testament prophecies related to Jesus, evidence regarding an additional appearance of Jesus, and a connection regarding the many eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus. Luke 24 is often seen as a model of the journey that Jesus makes with many of us today, as He opens our eyes, points us to the Word, and reveals Himself along life’s walk as the resurrected Savior and Lord.