In the Breaking of the Bread: The Road to Emmaus
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-Tzu
Join me as we discover how two men found Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
Would you strap on your sandals, grab your favorite cloak, and take a walk with me down the dusty, crumbly, dirt road that led to a village called Emmaus?
Let us experience the journey with these two disciples as they walk side-by-side in the sun and with the Son.
As with all good stories, we must set the stage. It is important to add some context to the story before we start this journey through the pages of Luke 24:13-35.
The Gospel Account
Let’s go back a few verses and discover what was happening on this amazing day.
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!
Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again,’
Then they remembered his words.When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.
It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” Luke 24:1-11.
They did not believe.
The Road to Emmaus
“Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.”Luke 24:13.
I can only assume that, human nature, being human nature, the story of the crucifixion of Jesus would have been the talk of the whole town.
In present day, I imagine it being all over Facebook and trending on Twitter. Strange that the two men were talking about what had happened in the past and neither seemed to be talking about the miraculous news that they had been given earlier in the morning.
The tomb was empty and two angels appeared to proclaim that Jesus had risen. But remember, they did not believe. They remained in a state of discouragement and disappointment.
I am going to give these two men the benefit of the doubt for a moment.
It is easy for us, who know the truth, to become frustrated with their lack of faith. I can only imagine how difficult this time must have been for them, and for all who had followed Jesus.
How challenging it must have been for them to reconcile the events that had occurred just three days before.
The One they had loved was dead and lost forever. Now they were left alone, shocked, confused, and discouraged.
Who Jesus Was and Who They Thought He Should Be
Why were they discouraged? I believe that their discouragement and their disappointment manifested from a misinterpretation of what Jesus came to Earth to accomplish.
Many in that time felt that the Messiah would be a conquering King and a Redeemer who would free Israel from the tyranny of the Romans.
To redeem someone means to rescue them from a bad situation.
The disciples, like many who followed Jesus, didn’t understand that He had come not only to redeem Israel, but all of mankind.
Here is the disconnect: They were looking for a warrior and Jesus came as a servant.
God didn’t do what they wanted Him to, in the way they wanted Him to do it, and this left them discouraged.
We will always be disappointed and miss the truth when we superimpose our will over God’s.
For what Jesus fulfilled in his death and resurrection is so much greater than any idea or plan that a mere mortal could conceive.
Jesus Joins Them
As the wind blew and dust swirled around them, the travelers exchanged impassioned words and asked legitimate questions.
And then they both came to a stop as an unannounced man came to join them on their walk.
I picture the two men looking at each other, shrugging their shoulders, and beginning to walk again—not knowing WHO had joined them.
“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.”Luke 24:15-16.
How could the perfect, resurrected Jesus walk with them and they didn’t recognize Him?
We can assume from the text that this was an intentional divine intervention.
We cannot know the motive of Jesus at this point, we can only make assumptions as to this act of divine blindness.
Perhaps Jesus wanted us to see that He does walk with us during our darkest times, but sometimes we block out the signs and signals God is sending us.
He is walking right beside us, but we are looking at our circumstances through our human eyes and not our spiritual eyes.
Unbelief can be like a veil that prevents us from looking into the unseen.
These two men were certainly looking for an answer and what they didn’t realize was that Jesus was the answer.
This part of the story gives us a picture of what was meant in Matthew 18:20:“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.”
Oh this gives me such hope! There He was in the midst of them.
“He asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?” Luke 24:17.I can almost picture a smile widening on the face of Jesus in this moment.
One of the men, named, Cleopas, seemed annoyed that this stranger could be in Jerusalem and not know the hottest topic going around like wildfire throughout the city.
Hasn’t he looked at his Twitter feed? Jesus smiled again and asked innocently, “What things?”
Jesus Wants to Talk About Things He Already Knows
How desperately patient our sweet Jesus is when we tell Him things that He already knows.
As the two men began to recount the events of the last few days, Jesus listens attentively to them; without interruption, without correcting them.
Even when Jesus could still envision the hammer as it hit hard against the iron nail over and over; tearing through skin, tissue, and bone.
Even as the memory of the agonizing pain He had felt as His body pulled and stretched, suffocating Him until death remained fresh.
He listened. What a beautiful moment of grace personified.
How true is this for us when we come to Jesus in prayer and we cry out and tell Him what is happening in our lives.
When we share our pain, our frustrations, our heartbreaks, our fears, our problems—as if in His omniscience, He doesn’t already know what we are doing, thinking, and feeling.
But we know that we are called to talk to Jesus.
For me this exchange between Jesus and the two men reminds us that we are to pray not because God doesn’t see the mountain we are facing.
We are called to pray because He is the only one who can remove it.
Prayer is for us—not for Him. Prayer helps us to build our relationship with God, it helps us accomplish God’s work, it is a weapon of spiritual warfare, it is valuable to God.
But nothing you say to Him in prayer is a surprise. David said in Psalm 139:4: “Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
My friends, He so desperately wants us to talk with Him!
Jesus Takes the Men to the Word of God
Next, the men said to Jesus:“We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.” Luke 24:21.
This reference to the third day was most likely related to the Jewish belief that by the third day after one’s death, the soul has left the body and the chance of a resurrection was no longer possible.
Then the travelers told Jesus about what had happened that morning—how the women had told them about the empty tomb, the angels who proclaimed that Jesus had risen, how some had gone to the tomb to see it, but they didn’t see Jesus.
Obviously, the two men did not see the paradoxical nature of what they were saying.
“He (Jesus) said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah 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: 25-26.
Jesus did not perform some supernatural or spectacular event. He took them to the Word.
The Word who became flesh, the God of the Word took them to the Word of God.
Because the Word is what stands, what endures, what remains when everything else seems lost.
The flower will fade and grass will wither, but the Word of God will remain. In the beginning was the Word.
The Word created the universe and the Word holds the universe together.
The Word is true, honest, and objective. When everything is sinking sand, the Word holds.
Jesus didn’t just give a litany of all of the prophesies, He brought back to their memory all that had heard concerning Him—the Messiah.
Jesus showed them what we must look for as we read the Bible; we need to look for Jesus Christ on every page.
Seek Him and you will find Him.
It Wasn’t A Head Problem, It Was a Heart Problem
He could have talked to them for days about all that the Word had to say about Him, but their eyes would still have been closed.
Warren Wiersbe says it like this, “They did not believe all that the prophets had written about the Messiah.
As they read the Old Testament, they saw the glory but not the suffering; they saw the crown but not the cross.”
It was not a head problem, it was a heart problem.
And when there is a heart problem, there is only one place that it can fixed—in the Word!
As they approached the village, Jesus continued on as if He was going to go farther, and the two men urged Him to stay and dine with them as the hour was getting late and it was growing dark.
Jesus Joins Them For Supper
Jesus agrees to join them for supper and so they sit at the table and dine together.
“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them, Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Luke 24: 30-31.
I love this part of the story and I want you to see something very important.
Let’s set the scene again. Jesus and the two men are now off of the road. They are probably in the home of one of the men.
Jesus has agreed to dine with them. Remember what it says in Revelation 3:20? “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
The men had heard Jesus’s voice and they had let Him in. Now they would eat with Him and He would eat with them.
The scripture tells us that Jesus was at the table with them.
In some translations, it says that Jesus reclined at the table with them. It is important to understand the culture and tradition of the time.
In biblical times, people did not sit in chairs at a dining room table like we do in the West.
The tradition was to recline, to lie on one’s side, leaning on one elbow. It was much more intimate and casual than we are used to here in America.
So there they are, the three of them, reclining at the table over pleasant conversation. Perhaps there are candles or lanterns flickering and casting a soft glow over the house.
The two travelers were probably tired from their journey, still trying to process what had transpired on the road; still trying to understand all that the stranger had told them.
The scripture tell us, however, that their hearts were burning.
Why Were Their Hearts Burning?
Why were there heart burning?
Why couldn’t they let the unexpected interloper go yet?
Because the Holy Spirit was alive and active and removing their spiritual blinders. The scriptures had unfolded before them and possibly for the first time they were beginning to fully understand what they meant.
That is what the Holy Spirit does for us as we spend time in the Word of God.
The Holy Spirit ignites a fire that burns inside of our hearts to want more and more of what God has to say in His Word.
Although we are not told this in the passage, I can imagine that the two men, who began their journey in sadness, had begun to feel joy, peace, love, and maybe even hope.
And then…Jesus broke the bread.
It was not customary for anyone but the owner of the home to break the bread, but in allowing Jesus to take hold of this honor and give Him their bread, their eyes were opened and they knew it was Jesus.
Grace Millbrook says, “We must surrender our bread to Jesus. He can do more with it than we can! We must surrender totally to Him. Let Him into our lives, give Him charge over our bread, the rooms in our homes, cluttered or uncluttered, all must be turned over to Him. We have to show Him the parts of the house that we wouldn’t normally show anyone and give Him free reign . That is when their eyes were opened—in the surrender!”(gracemillbrook.com).
The Eyes of The Two Men Are Opened
“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 and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”Luke 24:33-35.
What we see in this story is the transformative power of Jesus on these two, discouraged and disappointed men.
We see how the Holy Spirit moved into their hearts and unfolded the Word of God. These men were changed; spiritual eyes opened for the first time.
They were able to tell the others the good news of the resurrection, to lift the spirits of the disciples, to give them hope and a promise.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit they were able to see the redemptive power of the cross, and the true purpose of God sending His only Son to die on the cross.
Jesus is alive! And they were able to see Him in the breaking of the bread.
My Prayer For You
My prayer for you is that as you are walking along your path in life, Jesus would come to walk with you.
I pray that as you bring Him your doubts, your worries, and your questions, that you allow Him to take you to the Word.
I pray that you would allow Him to come and dine with you, recline with you, and sit at your table; that you wouldn’t want Him to leave.
I pray that the eyes of your hearts would be opened and they would be burning as the Holy Spirit reveals the truth of who Jesus is, why He came to this earth, the redemptive power of what happened on the cross, and the miracle that transpired as He rolled the stone away and rose from the dead.
I pray that you would find Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
Blessings as you find Him on your road,