That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. Luke 24:13-35
People who deny the resurrection have to deny the accounts of Jesus’ appearances after His death and burial. This would be a lot easier if Jesus had only appeared once to Mary. However in today’s verses we see that Jesus appeared to two of His disciples as they traveled from Jerusalem to Emmaus. How to explain the resurrection appearances of Jesus? The critic’s first defense is that they did not happen at all but were stories told by the disciples in order to start this new religion based on Jesus. The disciples made everything up argument fails for two reasons.
First, the Jewish concept of the resurrection had no room for a single person’s resurrections. Jewish belief in the resurrection pertained to the end times when all the righteous would be resurrected. We can see this belief in John’s recounting of the raising of Lazarus in chapter 11 of John’s Gospel. John writes “Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:21-25 ESV) Martha believed in a resurrection but as a Jew she believed the resurrection would happen at the end of the age.
Second, if the disciples had made up the resurrection story then why would they not recant something they knew to be false when faced with death? The Roman Empire did its best to stamp out Christianity. Every disciple with the exception of John faces horrible deaths that could have been avoided if they had only recanted. And of course if the story had been made up how do we explain the empty tomb?
Well, if that does not work how about we try to explain the resurrection as hallucinations? Once again if Mary had been the only person to see the risen Jesus then we might be able to write of her story as a hallucination. After all people do experience hallucinations and visions so maybe Mary under the stress of seeing her Lord crucified just though she had seen Jesus. A wish fulfillment and nothing else. But Mary was not the only one to see Jesus. In today’s verses we see that two additional followers of Jesus also not only saw Jesus but had a lengthy conversation with Him. Now we are starting to grasp at straws because people just do not share hallucinations at least not two adults who not only see the same thing but hear the same thing and converse with the same thing. We can turn to Paul and find that “Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” Here we stretch this hypothesis beyond credulity. And of course next we will see that Jesus made multiple appearances to the twelve.
All the evidence points to Jesus after being executed on a cross and laid in a tomb for three days was resurrected. It is a living person that Christians worship. Not an idea. Not a hallucination but a risen Lord, the Messiah and the Christ of God.
Have a blessed day,