The eDisciple

A weekly teaching email with insight into the stories and teachings of the Master.
When two disciples invite a mysterious stranger they met on the road to join them for the evening meal, they unwittingly invite the king to their table.
The Disappearing Dinner Guest

The Disappearing Dinner Guest

As the stranger discoursed on the scriptures, He opened the eyes of the two disciples. They saw the pieces falling into place. Surely their Master Yeshua had fulfilled the prophecies. Even His terrible, humiliating execution had been predicted long ago. How could they have failed to see it all before? Had He not often enough predicted that He must suffer in order to fulfill the scriptures? And now God had proven Himself faithful to His righteous Son and raised Him from the dead, as the scriptures indicated must happen.

The miles to their destination passed quickly as the stranger continued to speak. The afternoon sun dipped toward the horizon. They came to the village where they were to stay that night. As they turned aside from the main road, the stranger feigned as if He meant to continue further on His way that day. Likewise, when He walked over the waves, “He came to them … and He intended to pass by them” (Mark 6:48). In both stories, the Master made it appear as if He was going further than the disciples. In the story on the lake, the disciples invited Him to join them in the boat. In the story of the road to Emmaus, the two disciples invited Him to stay the night with them in their lodging. Yeshua did not presume to invite Himself into the boat or to invite Himself to lodge with the men. He gave His disciples the opportunity to extend the invitation to Him. He does not force Himself into our lives or invite Himself over for dinner.

In keeping with biblical models of hospitality, the two disciples begged of the stranger, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over” (Luke 24:29). In this case, they were not merely fulfilling their obligation to show hospitality to strangers. The stranger had lit their hearts on fire, and they wanted to hear more from Him. They could not bear the thought of breaking off from Him.

The stranger agreed to stay with them, and the two disciples prepared a meal. Although they had already left Jerusalem, only two days of the festival of Passover had elapsed. They set matzah (unleavened bread) on the table and reclined with the stranger.

The stranger took the matzah bread in hand, lifted His eyes toward heaven according to His unique custom, and made the blessing, just as the disciples had heard Him often do. At every meal on every day that they had been with Him, they had heard Him chant the same words with the same intonations and seen Him make the same motions. They had seen that same beatific look of recognition in His eyes as He raised His gaze to the heavens above. Before the word “Amen” could even leave their lips, their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. The stranger took a piece of the matzah into His mouth and vanished from the table. They stood up and looked around, but they did not see him.

The eDisciple

A weekly teaching email with insight into the stories and teachings of the Master.
He showed them the things concerning the Messiah in the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings, how the Messiah must rise again from the dead.
Messiah in the TanachA Wordle of the distribution of words in the Hebrew Bible, by Dav!dB (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Messiah in the Tanach

As the three men walked together, the mysterious stranger discoursed on messianic interpretations of “Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). That is to say, He explained messianic prophecies and depictions of His own suffering, death, and resurrection from the whole Hebrew Bible, i.e. the “Old Testament.”

Up until the mystical discourse on the road to Emmaus, Yeshua’s disciples continually failed to understand the Master’s predictions about His suffering and rising, “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9). Yeshua explained that, according to the prophecies, it was “necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter into His glory” (Luke 24:26).

Luke did not record the actual contents of the Emmaus Road discourse. Nevertheless, we can reconstruct some of it based upon obvious parallels to the story of Yeshua and texts cited by the apostles as messianic prophecies.

The Master discoursed on the Torah. He may have spoken of the promises God gave to Abraham regarding his heir, a promised seed that stood to inherit the land and through whom all nations are to be blessed. He must have discussed the significance of the sacrifice of Isaac who, according to Jewish tradition, actually died on Abraham’s altar and rose back to life. He could not have neglected the story of Joseph, the favored son rejected by his brothers. The mysterious stranger surely spoke of Moses whose death outside the promised land allowed Israel to enter under Joshua. The Torah contains many other topics for messianic discourse, including the sacrificial system with all its ceremonies and rites, which lend themselves so well to Yeshua’s suffering on behalf of others.

The Master discoursed on the Prophets. He reminded them of the prophecy in Daniel that says, “The Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Daniel 9:26). He must have reminded them of passages like Zechariah 12:10 or Amos 8:9 where the sun turns dark at midday and the house of Israel mourns over the one they pierced as one mourns for an only son. He certainly directed them to consider the servant of the LORD prophecies in Isaiah, particularly the potent prophecies of the suffering servant in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Several other pertinent prophecies could be cited.

The Master discoursed on the Writings. He might have turned their minds to any number of psalms, which describe the tribulations and triumphs of David and frequently speak of God’s deliverance from death and of His gift of life. The apostles reinterpreted the Psalms to apply them to Messiah the Son of David.

By the end of the discourse, the disciples understood how the whole Tanach could be understood to point toward Yeshua.

The eDisciple

A weekly teaching email with insight into the stories and teachings of the Master.
Disappointment and disillusionment are the real illusion. Joy is merely concealed, walking along with us in disguise.
The Concealment of Joy

The Concealment of Joy

As the stranger drew up alongside the two travelers, He inquired, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” (Luke 24:17). The two disciples stopped on the road to face the stranger. They looked sorrowful and downcast.

Cleopas assumed that the stranger was a Passover pilgrim like himself who had been to Jerusalem for the festival and was now returning home. The stranger’s Galilean accent indicated he was not a Judean. Cleopas asked the stranger, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” (Luke 24:18). The question implies that news about the crucifixion of Yeshua had circulated widely in Jerusalem, especially among the Galileans. What other topic of conversation could they possibly be discussing?

The Master played ignorant. “What things?” He inquired.

The two disciples related the recent events. They explained that Yeshua the Nazarene “was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people” (Luke 24:19).

Their description of Yeshua reflects their disenchantment. After the traumatic crucifixion, they had abandoned their messianic hopes in Him. They demoted Him from Messiah to the status of a “prophet mighty in deed.” Talmudic language speaks of miracle workers as “men of deed, (anshei ma’aseh, אנשי מעשה).” A prophet mighty in deed was a miracle-working prophet like Elijah or Elisha. They also described Yeshua as a prophet mighty in “word in the sight of God and all the people,” an idiomatic description meaning that He was a powerful teacher of Torah and truth, both in the opinion of God and in the opinion of men. Then they retold the tragic events that had befallen Him. They explained, “The chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him” (Luke 24:20). The disciples had no illusions about where to place the blame. Though the Romans had carried out the brutal crucifixion, the disciples held the corrupt Sadducean party under Caiaphas and Annas responsible. The chief priests and political-religious leaders with them had delivered Yeshua to the Romans for the death sentence. The disciples expressed their dashed hopes, “We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). They had hoped He was the Messiah who would usher in the final redemption and the Messianic Era. Their disappointment echoes a passage from Lamentations that seems prophetic of the Master’s death:

The breath of our nostrils, the LORD’s anointed (i.e., Messiah), was captured in their pits, of whom we had said, “Under his shadow we shall live among the nations.” (Lamentations 4:20)

Disappointment and disillusionment are the real illusion. Joy is merely concealed, walking along with us in disguise.

The eDisciple

A weekly teaching email with insight into the stories and teachings of the Master.
Most Jewish people do not believe in Yeshua’s Messianic claims or that he rose from the dead, but it’s not unusual for him to move among his people in disguise.
Messiah IncognitoA Youtube screenshot from the movie, Road to Emmaus.

Messiah Incognito

The two men on the way to the village of Emmaus had heard about the empty tomb earlier that morning. They heard the report of Simon Peter and John, who found the tomb empty. They also heard that some of the women claimed to have seen angels, but they did not know what to make of it all. They argued over the details, trying to piece the incongruous events together.

They were only a short distance from Jerusalem when the Master overtook them on the road. “He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country” (Mark 16:12). They mistook Him for another pilgrim leaving Jerusalem after the festival to return home. The resurrected body of the Messiah is human flesh and bone, but He may appear in any guise; the glory of the heavenly body is of a different nature than the glory of the earthly body. The risen Messiah moved among men and at times unrecognized by His own disciples. Mary Magdalene mistook Him for a gardener. The disciples fishing on the lake mistook Him as a stranger on the shore, and even as they ate with Him, they did not dare ask Him who He was. They intuitively knew it was the Master, but they did not recognize Him visually.

Some teachers suggest that the two on the way to Emmaus did not recognize Yeshua because they were stubborn and unbelieving. Some commentaries suggest that the devil blinded them to the Master’s identity. On the contrary, Luke says, “Their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him” (Luke 24:16). From a Jewish reading of the text, this means, “God prevented their eyes from recognizing Him.”

The two on the road to Emmaus, walking with the unrecognized Messiah, illustrate our Master’s unresolved relationship with most Jewish people since the resurrection. In accordance with some unsearchable wisdom, God has closed the eyes of His people in this regard and prevented most of the Master’s brothers and sisters in the flesh from recognizing Him.

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize the one who walked along with them. Yeshua walked along with them all the same. Israel’s failure to recognize or acknowledge the Messiah does not diminish His right to the title or authority over His people, nor does it exclude His presence from their midst. The story illustrates how the risen Messiah can conduct Himself incognito among His people.

The eDisciple

A weekly teaching email with insight into the stories and teachings of the Master.
The empty tomb of Yeshua wasn’t exactly empty. Find out what the first eye-witnesses encountered in the darkness.
The Empty Tomb that Wasn't EmptyA visual depiction of the a tomb with the stone rolled away. (Image © Bigstock)

The Empty Tomb that Wasn’t Empty

The ad hoc burial society consisted of Mary the mother of James the Less, Salome the mother of James and John, Joanna the wife of Chuza (Herod’s steward), and a fourth, unnamed woman. As the four women drew closer to the tomb, they remarked, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mark 16:3). They feared that the stone might be too heavy for them to move.

By the time they arrived, Mary Magdalene was already gone. The early morning light backlit the Mount of Olives, and the city walls cast a morning shadow over the garden of Golgotha. “Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large” (Mark 16:4).

The open tomb and absence of the guards seemed to imply that the authorities had moved the body to some undisclosed location. The women decided to investigate. In the phantom light of dawn the small portal before them opened into pitch black darkness. Gathering their courage, one at a time, they stooped down to enter through the three-foot tomb mouth, crawling and feeling their way into the total darkness. It took a few moments for each of the women to squeeze into the tomb where they stood in the work pit. One of them had brought a lamp along in order to illumine their work. Imagine their shock and surprise when the light of the little oil lamp fell upon a mysterious young man, sitting motionless in the darkness, seated on the right-hand funeral bench and dressed in a white robe. The heart leaps into the throat; the hair stands on end, and the knees buckle. With the subtle power of understatement, the Gospel of Mark says, “They were alarmed” (Mark 16:5). The angel said (with a straight face), “Don’t be alarmed” (Mark 13:7). It’s a nasty trick to play on someone, even if you are an angel.

The alarming, young man said to the women, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Yeshua the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.” With a gesture, he indicated the funeral bench on which Nicodemus and Joseph had left the body. The women’s eyes fell upon the Master’s abandoned grave clothes. They saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth which had been on His head.

The Hebrew word for “angel (mal’ak, מלאך)” means “messenger.” The messenger continued with his message, “Go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you’” (Mark 16:6-7).