On the Way to Emmaus

Luke 24.

This beautiful narrative at the close of Luke's gospel sets before us the gracious way of the Lord in leading "His own" into right thoughts of Himself, and instructing them in that which was His will and purpose for them. Two disciples of Jesus, distressed and disappointed, were leaving Jerusalem with their faces toward their own home. As they walked they talked of those things which had happened. The Lord drew near and inquired the cause of their sorrow. Readily they responded, and poured into His ear the whole tale of their trouble. Having won their confidence, and drawn from their lips a true confession of their state, He next proceeds to deal with their consciences. He reproves them for their slowness of heart and unbelief. "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?" The Lord then instructed them in the "things concerning Himself." Drawing nigh to the village whither they went, "He made as though He would go further," but they constrained Him to abide with them. In the house the Lord made himself known to them in the "breaking of bread," and vanished from their sight. Thereupon the two disciples return to Jerusalem and find their fellow-disciples gathered together. While in the act of telling "what things were done in the way, and how He was known to them in breaking of bread," the Lord came into their midst, speaking peace to their hearts, and unfolding His thoughts and intentions regarding them and their service.

The application of all this to us is very plain. Is Christ and His interest paramount with us, or are we seeking our own things as "citizens of earth"? Is it our desire to be here only and altogether for Him? What the Lord values more than all else is personal affection for Himself. Cleopas and his companion, with all their wandering, slowness of heart, and unbelief, had real affection for their Lord; indeed, the ground of their sorrow was evidently that they had lost Him, and consequently their hopes for themselves and Israel as a nation were altogether crushed. At such a moment the Lord drew near and soothed their troubled hearts with His kindly words of sympathy and tender grace. "A bruised reed shall He not break: the smoking flax shall He not quench." (Isaiah 42:3.) And He is the same today as then: let this be our encouragement. But His love is a holy love, and we need to learn that God will have "truth in the inward parts." If He blesses, it must be in a way consistent with Himself. There is no allowance or toleration of the flesh in any one of us with Him. It is not always pleasant or palatable to be told the truth about ourselves, but let us be assured His way is best. God is light, and if we desire to grow up in the true knowledge of Himself we must be willing to allow Him to divest us of all that is of ourselves as natural men, that thus there may be a condition of soul to take in the "things concerning Himself." It was so with the two disciples, and so it will be with us, for He ever abides the same. "Ought not Christ to have suffered" proved the death-knell to their hopes and expectations as to Messiah and present earthly glory for Israel. "The suffering" must precede "the glory," and the disciples, had they known their own Scriptures, should have been no strangers to it.

Have we thus been exposed to ourselves in the holy light of the Lord's presence? The death of Christ is the complete judgment before God of all that we once were, and it is our privilege to regard ourselves as of the "new creation, where all is of God." (2 Cor. 5:17-18.) This is the simple teaching of Scripture in reference to every true believer: the cross is the basis of it, and the Holy Ghost is the power by which we are led into moral suitability to it. All our possessions, as Christians, are in Christ, where He now is. We are nothing, and we possess nothing on this side of resurrection. It is to lead us into the consciousness of this that the Lord carries on His gracious ministry by the Spirit in our souls.

"He made as though He would go further." The Lord will be no intruder, but how He values the responsive affection that can say, "Abide with us"! This was the blessed effect of the Lord's ministry. The Lord, making Himself known in the significant act of "breaking bread," evidently sets forth the fact that His death had cut them off from all connection with Him as "after the flesh," and at the same time to draw their hearts after Him as "risen out of death." "That same hour they returned to Jerusalem."

May we be led into a deepening apprehension and enjoyment of these great realities, that thus there may be a larger response to Him and His love in our life and conduct down here; and also, that being set free from every hindering element, we might be morally suitable for the "gathered company," in the midst of which He is pleased to make Himself known. G. F. E.