That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
Jesus walked with his disciples and disguised his appearance. Why? Did he want to know what they would say about him? Did he want to hear if they would gossip about him? Was he testing them? Was he just curious? We don’t know why he did this but, we can speculate that he wanted to take the temperature of his followers and disciples to see how they were reacting to his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Three days after his resurrection he must have been all the talk about the town. There couldn’t be much more interesting to talk about.
It is believed that Jesus remained on Earth for 40 days and the biblical narrative written by Luke in Chapter 1 of the Acts of the Apostles takes place 40 days after the resurrection. Acts 1 describes a meal at which Jesus commands the disciples to await the coming of the Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus felt he had unfinished business here on earth; he continued to appear to his disciples and continued to teach them and let them know of the Fathers plans to come.
1In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
The two followers were walking along the road, heading to Emmaus, deep in solemn and serious discussion, when Jesus met them. They could not recognize Jesus and saw him as a stranger. They did not, in fact, have faith in him, yet they were talking about him. The Lord, therefore, appeared to them but did not show them a face they could recognize. In this way, the Lord enacted outwardly, before their physical eyes, what was going on in them inwardly, before the eyes of their hearts. For inwardly they simultaneously loved him and doubted him; therefore the Lord was outwardly present to them, and at the same time did not reveal his identity. Since they were speaking about him, he showed them his presence, but since they doubted him, he hid from them the appearance by which they could have recognized him.
Jesus let them tell about their anxieties and pains; he let them grieve and mourn by expressing the root causes. Jesus emphatically listened to them, who poured out their crises and doubts, and used scriptures so that they could better understand “suffering and glory”. During the journey to Emmaus Jesus patiently guided the two disciples “from hopelessness to celebration” and also intended to nourish the two disciples’ faith to such an extent that they can see “his real presence in the breaking of the bread”.
So by hiding his true identity from them he allowed them to be themselves and express their true feelings. Through this action, the Lord wanted to communicate to His disciples that He is the truth, the way, and the life, and that His work of redeeming mankind had been successfully accomplished, and so they needn’t doubt, but should resolutely follow Him in their future path.