JESUS APPEARS ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
HE REPEATEDLY OPENS UP THE SCRIPTURES TO HIS DISCIPLES
THOMAS CEASES TO DOUBT
On Sunday, Nisan 16, the disciples are in low spirits. They do not grasp the meaning of the empty tomb. (Matthew 28:9, 10; Luke 24:11) Later in the day, Cleopas and another disciple leave Jerusalem for Emmaus, which is about seven miles (11 km) away.
As they walk, they discuss what has occurred. Then a stranger joins them. He asks: “What are these matters that you are debating between yourselves as you walk along?” Cleopas replies: “Are you a stranger dwelling alone in Jerusalem and do not know the things that have occurred there during these days?” The stranger asks: “What things?”—Luke 24:17-19.
“The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene,” they say. “We were hoping that this man was the one who was going to deliver Israel.”—Luke 24:19-21.
Cleopas and his companion go on to relate things that happened that very day. They say that some women who went to the tomb where Jesus was buried found it empty and that these women were eyewitnesses to a supernatural event—the appearance of angels who said that Jesus is alive. They report that others also went to the tomb and “found it just as the women had said.”—Luke 24:24.
The two disciples are clearly bewildered as to the meaning of what has occurred. The stranger responds with authority to correct their wrong thinking, which is affecting their hearts: “O senseless ones and slow of heart to believe all the things the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25, 26) He goes on to interpret for them many Scriptural passages pertaining to the Christ.
Finally the three arrive near Emmaus. The two disciples want to hear more, so they urge the stranger: “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is nearly over.” He agrees to stay, and they have a meal. As the stranger says a prayer, breaks bread, and hands it to them, they recognize him, but then he disappears. (Luke 24:29-31) Now they know for sure that Jesus is alive!
The two disciples excitedly comment on what they experienced: “Were not our hearts burning within us as he was speaking to us on the road, as he was fully opening up the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32) They hurry back to Jerusalem, where they find the apostles and others with them. Before Cleopas and his companion can give a report, they hear others say: “For a fact the Lord was raised up, and he appeared to Simon!” (Luke 24:34) Then the two tell how Jesus appeared to them. Yes, they too are eyewitnesses.
Now all are shocked—Jesus appears in the room! This seems unbelievable because they locked the doors out of fear of the Jews. Still, Jesus is standing right in their midst. He calmly says: “May you have peace.” But they are frightened. As they did once before, they are ‘imagining that they are seeing a spirit.’—Luke 24:36, 37; Matthew 14:25-27.
To prove that he is no apparition or something they merely imagine but, rather, that he does have a fleshly body, Jesus shows them his hands and feet and says: “Why are you troubled, and why have doubts come up in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:36-39) They are overjoyed and amazed but still somewhat reluctant to believe.
Further attempting to help them to see that he is real, he asks: “Do you have something there to eat?” He accepts a piece of broiled fish and eats it. Then he says: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was yet with you [before my death], that all the things written about me in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms must be fulfilled.”—Luke 24:41-44.
Jesus had helped Cleopas and his companion to understand the Scriptures, and he does so now for all those gathered there: “This is what is written: that the Christ would suffer and rise from among the dead on the third day, and on the basis of his name, repentance for forgiveness of sins would be preached in all the nations—starting out from Jerusalem. You are to be witnesses of these things.”—Luke 24:46-48.
For some reason the apostle Thomas is not present. In the following days, others joyfully tell him: “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas responds: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger into the print of the nails and stick my hand into his side, I will never believe it.”—John 20:25.
Eight days later, the disciples are again meeting behind locked doors, but this time Thomas is present. Jesus appears in their midst in a materialized body and greets them: “May you have peace.” Turning to Thomas, Jesus says: “Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your hand and stick it into my side, and stop doubting but believe.” Thomas exclaims: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28) Yes, he now has no doubts that Jesus is alive as a divine being who is Jehovah God’s representative.
“Because you have seen me, have you believed?” Jesus says. “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”—John 20:29.