Opened Eyes, Burning Hearts: The Gospel of the Great 50 Days

We are approaching the Third Sunday of Easter, continuing to journey through the "Great 50 Days" of Eastertide, anticipating the annual celebration of Christ's ascension to heaven and his sending of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. 

For this week the Lectionary reading I have selected is from Easter Sunday (Evening): Luke 24:13-32, The Walk to Emmaus. I've included the text below and a painting entitled The Supper at Emmaus by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1601).

Following the text I've included some brief reflections and a prayer of renewal. May Jesus open our eyes to the beauty of the Gospel and may our own hearts burn with the joy and presence of the Holy Spirit this Easter season.

LUKE 24:13-32 (NLT)

The Walk to Emmaus
13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. 18 Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

19 “What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. 20 But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. 21 We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

22 “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. 23 They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! 24 Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. 30 As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”


(1) The Humor and Playfulness of Jesus

There is so much humor and irony in this text! We know that the two disciples walking the road to Emmaus were filled with confusion and sadness as Jesus appears to them. As they talked about the events of the past three days you get the sense that they are still not sure what to make of it all. Rather than reveal his identity, bring clarity and restore their hope, Jesus feigns ignorance! 

Cleopas remarks, "You must must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” Humorously (to us), Jesus replies, "What things?" As if Jesus doesn't know! 

In his wonderful book Beautiful Outlaw John Eldredge discusses this text with great insights regarding Jesus' playfulness in this passage. He concludes that the story must be interpreted in light of the utter joy of the resurrection. 

It is a wonderful window for us into the humor, joy, and playfulness of Jesus - not adjectives we typically use to describe the King of kings and Lord of lords! Yet, this text reveals it is clearly and plainly in the dialogue between Jesus and these two distraught disciples.

(2) Jesus is the Fulfillment of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during this conversation! Oh the commentary and connections Jesus must have made and pointed out regarding such texts as Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 53, and Psalm 22!! 

I can't help but think that during the 40 days before his ascension to heaven, Jesus must have had a number of conversations such as this with the disciples. It helps explain how Peter, for example, could stand up on the Day of Pentecost and give his sermon, quoting Old Testament passages such as Joel 2, Psalm 16 and Psalm 110, pointing out and explaining Jesus' fulfillment of these texts! 

In John 14 and 16 Jesus promised that he would send a second Advocate, the Holy Spirit who would "guide us into all truth." We can claim these promises and ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and have our hearts burn with the beauty and power of the Scriptures. Amazing!

(3) He Still Reveals Himself Through the Breaking of Bread

We have to acknowledge the mystery, in terms of the "why" and "how" of Jesus' sudden, revealed identity in the breaking of the bread. How did they suddenly realize who he was? Why did Jesus hide his identity for all that time? 

Where Scripture is silent, we must not spend too much energy speculating. I think the application for us is that Jesus still chooses to reveal himself to us in mysterious, yet very ordinary ways. His presence is found through the various means of grace - the breaking of bread, Word and prayer - just as it was with the two disciples years ago.


Lord Jesus Christ,
Open our minds to understand your word.
Open our hearts to know that you are with us.
Then send us out in joy
to share the good news
that you are risen indeed!
In your holy name we pray. Amen.


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