Cleopas had been among the excited troop of folks that had joined Jesus and His disciples in Jerusalem for the annual Passover celebration. Their holiday had quickly, and unexpectedly, turned from joy to quizzical disappointment.
Jesus, the One they believed was the Messiah had been crucified, a criminal’s death. How could it be? They were certain He would singlehandedly overthrow Roman rule, that He would assume the throne of David, that He would usher in a revival of Israelite power and prestige.
In the preceding months Cleopas had witnessed unimaginable miracles. The blind saw, the lame leaped, and the lepers were cleansed. With each miracle, Cleopas had become more certain the Jesus was no run-of-the-mill prophet or rabbi. Just days before, Cleopas had embraced Lazarus, a man who had spent four days in the grave when Jesus freed him from death’s domain, commanding him to walk out of the tomb, alive. Cleopas was so certain that Jesus was the Promised One, the Anointed One, the Lord.
But now… Jesus was gone. His dreams were dashed, dead. How could it be? Disappointed and defeated, Cleopas left Jerusalem and headed to his home in the village of Emmaus.
Along the way, Cleopas and his companion reviewed the confusing events. Jesus had been arrested, tried, beaten, and crucified. It was so wrong! They had wept with the Apostles and cowered in hiding, fearful that they might also be arrested and executed.
On the morning after the Sabbath, some of the women had gone to His tomb. They returned with a tale of an empty tomb and visions of angels. Part of their story turned out to be true, for a couple of the disciples went to the tomb and found it empty. With events going from bad to worse, someone had stolen his body! Who would do such a thing?
Later that afternoon, as they trudged along the dusty seven-mile path, they were joined by another traveler, a stranger. “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” the stranger inquired. He chided them, “ ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:17, 25-27).
When they arrived in Emmaus, Cleopas begged his new friend to stay and continue the conversation. “It was as he reclined at the table with them that he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him” (Luke 24:30-31). Jesus! Alive! … Jesus!
They had been blinded by disbelief and despair, but Jesus had come to open their eyes and their understanding. “Weren’t our hearts burning within us while he was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).
God is so good, so encouraging, so helpful. He meets us where we are. He comes home with us and reveals Himself! He says to us what He said to them… “Peace to you! … Why are you troubled? … And why do doubts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24: 36-38).
Oh, the greatness of His grace!