Luke 24:28-43

The Road to Emmaus
Luke 24:28-43
Intro: Do you believe in the resurrection of the human body? Some believe this; others do not. Christians, of all people, say we believe that our bodies can and will be raised back to life one day in the future. It is a basic principle of the Christian faith. The ancient church creeds clearly state that Jesus rose again on the third day. The Nicene Creed ends by saying, “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” “We believe,” it says in the Apostles’ Creed, “in the resurrection of the body.” Yet most people do not believe this. In fact, according to a survey a few years ago by Ohio University, only one out of three Americans believe that after they die, their bodies will rise again. People have many reasons for not believing in the resurrection of the body: (a) some do not believe in life after death – “the only thing that is certain is the life we are now living” (b) others believe that life after death is a purely spiritual existence with no physical body or physical anything – “only soul & spirit return to God” (c) still others hope their bodies will be raised, but find it very hard to believe – “I’ve seen a dead body and it is so lifeless that after it returns to dust, resurrection just seems improbable, if not impossible.” It certainly seemed impossible to Jesus’ first disciples. In Mark’s gospel we read that the apostles both “would not” and “did not” believe (Mark 16:11, 13). In today’s text, Luke adds the unusual reason they had for not believing: “they still did not believe for joy” (Luke 24:41). What on earth could that even mean?

Luke 24:28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 
Luke 24:29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.


The conversation between Jesus and the two travelers is over, but the journey is not.

As they approach the village, Jesus gives the impression that He intends to keep going on His journey. “He indicated that He would have gone further” (v. 28). 

The two disciples prevail upon Him to stay with them, “for it toward evening, and the day is far spent” (v. 29). 

“constrained” = “prevail upon,” (forceful) “urge strongly,” “coerce,” “persuade (after begging)” 

Acts 16:15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.

People often sense the presence of God before they recognize or speak of it. These disciples sense something about Jesus that they cannot verbalize or identify. There is something other-worldly about this stranger. He’s different. We want to know Him even more.

The two disciples do not know who Jesus is, but they know they do not want to be without him.

Like the Christ of John’s Revelation, He enters and eats with them, and they with Him.

Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

It’s never been a verse about Jesus saving a soul – it has always been a verse about the hospitality of the church (more than one believer) enjoying the fellowship of our Lord!

Luke 24:30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 
Luke 24:31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

Jesus, the guest at table, now becomes host of the meal. 

He who seemed blind to events in Jerusalem (v. 18) now opens the eyes of the disciples. The disciples who lament not seeing Jesus (v. 24) now recognize Him!


He took bread…blessed…broke…gave…

Where have we seen this before?

Luke 9:16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. 

Luke 22:19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

All three tables share six elements in common, and in the same sequence: Jesus (1) took (2) bread, (3) blessed/gave thanks, (4) broke it, and (5) gave it (6) to them.

Although the elements are the same, the results are not. 

The effects of the three meals progress from satisfaction to recollection to revelation.

In the feeding of the five thousand, “all…were filled” (9:17); at the Passover, the apostles “remember Jesus” (22:19); in the Emmaus house “their eyes are opened and they knew him” (v. 31). 

Jesus satisfies the hungry; Jesus substitutes for sinners; Jesus shows Himself to disciples.

Was the meal with the Emmaus disciples a communion/Lord’s supper? It may sound like one, but it is missing the key element of the cup – there is no wine, only bread.

But the message is the same.

Although Jesus does not speak in the text, He communicates the very same lesson as at the Last Supper.

In the upper room at the Passover meal, Jesus broke the bread and said, “This is my body.”

In the Emmaus house, when He breaks the bread, the question on the minds of the two disciples is answered? Where did Jesus’ body go? 

Without saying a word – by doing something symbolic at the table with His hands, He communicated to them, “this is My body.”

At this meal, the two followers are finally able to see that this man who has been teaching them the Scriptures for hours is Jesus in His resurrected body!

Immediately, without eating the bread or speaking a word, Jesus disappears from their sight.

Luke 24:32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

Now they get it. Now they can refashion their memory and fill in the details of the days events with clear understanding. Now they realize why their hearts were so stirred and their minds were so stimulated as He interpreted the Scriptures for them.

illus: Their hearts “burned within” them. Did you know the fire of that first Easter afternoon is rekindled anytime that someone sees Jesus in the Scriptures? It leaps into flame when someone sees Jesus for the first time and trusts Him as Savior & Lord. It happened to the notably brilliant French philosopher Blaise Pascal. When he was asked what it was like to encounter Jesus Christ, he said the best word he could use to describe it was “FIRE.”  John Wesley, founder of Methodism, gave a similar description of his famous conversion to faith in Christ at a prayer meeting in London. As Wesley heard about the change God works in the heart through faith in Jesus, he said, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and assurance was given me that He had taken way my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

Luke uses the key word “open” as a powerful connector between their journey along the road and what was revealed to them in the house.

Before their eyes “were opened” (v.31), Jesus was “opening” the Scriptures to them (v.32).

Luke 24:33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 
Luke 24:34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 
Luke 24:35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.


Instead of spending the night in the village of Emmaus attempting to sleep on this earth-shaking news, the two followers get up at once and return the 7 miles to Jerusalem to alert the remaining apostles and other disciples to what they have seen and heard.

This was the kind of news that was simply impossible to keep to themselves. 

But they don’t get to speak first. The Jerusalem disciples already know. “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” they exclaim.

The Emmaus guys add all that had happened with the Lord along the road, and how He revealed Himself to them through the breaking of bread. 

They are the first witnesses who connect biblical prophecy with resurrection fulfillment. 

Luke is telling a story in which failure is followed by fulfillment, remorse by resurrection appearances, and absence followed by presence.

So, after this thrilling news that has their hearts rejoicing, what could possibly exceed this celebration?

Luke 24:36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 
Luke 24:37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.

Is it fair to say that Jesus showing up while they were discussing Him would top anything they had experienced or heard so far?

And they were frozen with fear thinking they were being visited by the walking dead. It was a natural reaction to the supernatural. 

Their first thought upon seeing the risen Christ was that they were seeing some kind of spirit or phantom. Spirits were considered less than real people – beings who existed in a shadowy world as empty shells of their previous selves. 

This thought continues to be popular today. 

Many who believe in life after death, imagine their next existence to be neither solid nor substantial. 

There is a strange tendency for people to think that the physical world is inferior to the spiritual world. The human body must be inherently evil, and our souls must escape it.

But the Gospel is not a ghost story. Our mortal bodies will be raised again. 

Even with all our physical weaknesses and sufferings and imperfections that come as a result living in a fallen world, our bodies still possess the blessing of God. 

It was as difficult for His closest associates to believe in the bodily resurrection as it is for anyone!

The first word uttered by Jesus when He appeared to His disciples was “shalom” or “peace.” 

Primarily, He said this word to let them know they did not need to be afraid. But the peace of Jesus is a deep and comforting truth for everyone. Also, this peace spread far and wide.

There was peace for Jesus Himself, because all his earthly suffering was over. 

There was peace for His disciples – their sorrow and grief could now cease knowing that their Lord was not dead after all. They also had peace with God because all their sins were forgiven through the cross where Jesus died.

At the same time, these men/women had a restored peace with Jesus. Only days before, they had completely abandoned Him at the time of His greatest trial. In cowardly fear, the apostles broke all their promises to stay with Him to the very end. 

Therefore, as amazing as it was that Jesus rose from the dead, it was equally remarkable that He went back to His disciples afterwards, and that when He did, He went in “peace.”

Wouldn’t the Lord Jesus have been justified in leveling a stern, “How could you?!?” rebuke to them for deserting Him?

“You know, you guys really let me down back there in the Garden of Gethsemane. And I can’t say I remember seeing many of you at Calvary either. Where were you when I needed you most?”

In fact, wouldn’t Jesus have been fully justified in choosing a completely new set of disciples? Instead, the Lord came to them as a peacemaker and a peace-giver.

Doesn’t He come to us the same way? Even after we have really failed Him, or broken our promises to be faithful and turned our backs on Him and His righteousness? Doesn’t He come to us, saying, “My peace I give to you”?

Our Lord does not wait for us to get our lives back together first or settle all our doubts. He does not wait for us to come crawling back to Him, begging for one more chance. 

No! Jesus comes to the sinners and the doubters with His arms wide open, offering peace.

Luke 7:50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

To make the peace stick, He offers them even more tangible evidence that it was really Him.

Luke 24:38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 
Luke 24:39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
Luke 24:40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 


“His hands and feet” – “See, here, I am the one who was crucified. It really is Me!”

James R. Edwards – The crowning effect of the resurrection is not a that—a mighty work of God, a victorious miracle of life over death; it is a who—the revelation of Jesus as the suffering Messiah, now glorified by God as eternal Lord.

Luke 24:41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 
Luke 24:42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 
Luke 24:43 And He took it and ate in their presence.

It seemed to the little group that all this was just too good to be true (“while they still did not believe for joy”). 

“I can’t believe it!” They really do believe it, but it is such good news that they almost can’t. “I can’t believe we won that game!” or “I can’t believe I passed that test!”

So, Jesus dispelled their disbelief by asking for some food which He proceeded to eat in their presence.

The original text is like an off-handed question, perhaps, “Do you have any leftovers?” The request is important to understanding Jesus’ bodily reality because Jews believed that ghosts/angels neither ate nor drank.

Remember earlier when we noticed that Jesus only broke bread in the Emmaus home, but there was no cup of wine so the Lord’s Supper parallel was incomplete?

What did Jesus break at the feeding of the 5,000 men/families? It was bread…and fish.

Christ’s final proof that His dead body had truly been raised incorruptible was eating something – He consumed some broiled fish in the same way that we who are physically alive might eat. 

Luke leaves no doubt that a miracle had occurred – one even more impressive and more profound than feeding more than 15,000 people with 5 small loaves of bread and two fish!


The more time spent with Christ…

…the clearer He will reveal Himself.

Revelation leads to testimony.

Testimony is reinforced by evidence.

Evidence points back to Scripture.

Scripture reveals Christ.