Text: Luke 24:13-35
The story of Jesus’ appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is arguably the most developed and the most beautiful of the appearance stories in the New Testament. Its plot revolves around the failure of the two disciples to recognize their fellow traveler. The suspense builds until the moment when the two recognize the risen Christ and he disappears from their presence. The Emmaus story is so full of wonderful material for theological reflection, preaching, and discussion that the natural temptation is to try to deal with too much at one time. I am resisting that temptation this morning knowing that this is a story that should not be read only at Easter each year, but one that we can and will come back to again and again.
First, I want to say a word about the place called Emmaus. Emmaus was a little-noted town. Three sites are candidates for its location. The best manuscript tradition says that Emmaus was located sixty stadia from Jerusalem. A stadium was 600 Roman feet, so sixty stadia would be about 7.5 miles. Other manuscripts read 160 stadia, or 19.5 miles. The longer distance would identify the site as Emmaus-Nicopolis. Three alternative sites lie closer to Jerusalem: el-Qubeibeh, Abu Ghosh, and Qaloniyeh; but there is no consensus as to which, if any, of these was the site of Emmaus. Perhaps the most important thing about Emmaus is that it doesn’t actually matter where it was located; what matters is what it represents.