Appearances in Galilee

N ow on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them,   but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?"   He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over 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 took place.   Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed 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 they did not see him." Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!   Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within  us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was  opening the scriptures to us?" That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch  me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as  you see that I have."  And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?"  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. 
                                                                                     Luke 24: 13-43

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Appearances  in  Galilee.

This  charming story is proper  to Luke. It  is  more  than  story  -  it  is  a  sophisticated  Eucharistic  catechesis:  a  'liturgy  of  the word'  followed  by  a  'liturgy of the Eucharist.'  The  conversation  between  Jesus  and the  two  disciples, in  which  they  discuss  recent events  and  he  answers  them,  is  a  clear  outline  of the early preaching  in  Acts.  Jesus  lived,  died  and  was  raised  from  the  dead,  a  fact  which  is  witnessed  in  the  scriptures  and  supported  by  the  testimony  of  the apostles.

The  description  of  the  situation  of  the two  disciples  is  poignant.  They  had  been  impressed  by Jesus  the  man; they  had  hoped for a  divine  intervention  while  he was  alive; their  hope  had  been  shattered  by  his  death. They  had obviously  remained  firmly  tied  to  a Jewish  expectation  of  the  Messiah.  After  Jesus  had explained  what the  scriptures really taught  about the  coming  Messiah,  they  gained  a  deeper insight  into  the  revelation  of  God  in  Christ.   In  the  plan  of  God  the  cross  was  the necessary road to glory:  'Was  it   not necessary that the  Messiah  should  suffer  these  things  and then enter  into  his  glory?'  24:26.   There  is  a  lot  of  ourselves  in  those  two  disciples. The  ragged  story  of  our  life  reveals its  full  splendour  only  when  viewed in  the context of  Christ.

But  the  disciples  did  not  really  recognise  Jesus  until  'the  breaking of the bread'  24; 31, 35. Luke's  readers  could not  have  missed  the point.  Not  only  was  'the  breaking  of the bread' already a familiar  designation  of the  Eucharist,  the  terms  describing  the  actions of  Jesus  at  table  -  he  took ...  blessed  ...  broke  ...  gave (v. 30)  --  are  explicitly  Eucharistic  language  see  22: 19.   Luke  is  telling  us  here  that in the Eucharist  we  experience  a  meeting  with  Christ.   We  share  a  meal with  Jesus  in  which  he  gives  himself  to  us.  The  risen  Jesus is met  when  and whenever  the  church  'breaks  bread.'

The  appearance  story  24: 36-43  has  quite  obvious apologetic  motifs: Jesus  shows  that  he  is the  same  person  whom  the  disciples had known prior  to  the  crucifixion  by  pointing  to  his  body  and  by  eating  before  them.  As  in  all  the  appearance  stories,  the  risen  Jesus  is  not  immediately  recognisable  v. 37;  a  gesture  or  word  is  necessary  before  the disciples recognise  the  Lord.  This  is  quite  a clever  way of  making the point  that  resurrection is  not  a return  to  earthly life;  Jesus  has  risen to  a  new  life  beyond death.  He is the same person - yet transformed.   Here  the  point  is  firmly  made  that the risen  Jesus  is no  'ghost'.   The  assertion  that  he  invited  touching  of  his  (wounded)  hands  and  feet  and  that  he ate  in  their  presence is, in  the apologetic  of the  time,  a  firm  Christian  rejection  of  any  challenge  to  the  reality  of  the  new  life  of  their  Lord.

Wilfrid Harrington



Quill Pen


This is the Story of Jesus drawn from the four Evangelists


Unfolding the Story of jesus

Gospel passages accompanied by a number of brief commentaries

Unfolding the story of jesus