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Luke 24:13-16 two of them were going to a village called Emmaus

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, July 3, 2019

On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now, on that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing this, Jesus himself came up and began to walk along with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.

The name Emmaus seems to come from the Hebrew Hamath, which means “spring.” We don’t know where it was, apart from Luke’s calculation of its distance away. Bethel would be about this distance away to the north, and the old Philistine border to the west, with a spot between Bethlehem and Hebron to the south. Any small village along this circle might have been named or nicknamed Emmaus at the time of the Lord’s resurrection. I am of a mind to leave the identity uncertain, but three locations have been proposed that deserve to be mentioned. The third listed seems to be the most likely.

1, Emmaus, one of the “strong cities in Judea” in 1 Maccabees 9:50. It is also referred to as “Emmaus in the plain” (1 Macc. 3:40). This city is mentioned often by Josephus and was later renamed Nicopolis. Today it is the village of ’Amwas. It is much too far to match the “sixty stades” (7 miles) of the accepted text, but a variant reading in quite a few manuscripts has the distance of “160 stades” (σταδίους ἑκατόν ἑξήκοντα rather than σταδίους ἑξήκοντα; manuscripts Aleph K N Ɵ 079 and some manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate), and the resulting 20-mile distance would be right for the road to ’Amwas. However, at this time it was not a “village” or kome (κώμη) as Luke describes it, but a fortified city.

2, Colonia (Qaloniyeh) is just about 4 miles west of Jerusalem on the main road to Joppa. In 75 AD Vespasian encamped 800 troops at this town which Josephus called Emmaus. However, it is only half the distance (30 stades) recorded by Luke. This village might be the Mozah of Joshuah 18:26.

3, El-Qubeibeh is seven miles west of Jerusalem on a northerly road. Christians since the crusades have thought this was the Biblical Emmaus, and the crusaders even named an old Roman fort Castellum Emmaus in 1099. An ancient Christian church has been discovered there.

While these two disciples walked, a man overtook them on the road (presumably from behind, having also walked from Jerusalem) and then slowed his pace to match theirs. They didn’t recognize him, and the text shows us that they were even kept from recognizing him.

His appearance to these two otherwise unknown disciples teaches us several truths:

1, The Lord God is concerned about all his children, and not just about a handful of the more famous apostles.

2, The Lord God wants us to know that the church is made up of individual Christians, not an undefined mob or crowd.

3, The Lord God wants pastors and missionaries to remember that the faith of every single one of God’s lambs is important and needs personal attention and shoring up from time to time.

4, The Lord God wants us all to remember that when one or two of God’s lambs need spiritual care, then that is the moment to go and give it.

5, The Lord God wants us all to understand that any Christian, no matter how mature or well-versed in Scripture, needs to hear the basic truths of God’s word again and again. Even a venerated pastor on his deathbed wants to remember that Jesus died for his sins; he doesn’t want to discuss an obscure point about semantics or the End Times.

6, God is glorified when the messenger fades into the background and the message of salvation takes first place. If Jesus Christ himself allowed himself to go unrecognized by these disciples on the day of his resurrection, I should never concern myself that someone forgets where they heard the message I preached. Rather, I should rejoice that they heard the message.

It’s a privilege to share God’s loving promises with God’s holy people. If you have the opportunity to be the one to share the gospel with someone, don’t shrink away from the moment. Be joyful that you’re the one there on the spot. The best messenger of the Lord’s truth is someone who believes it and takes it to heart. Share your joy. He is risen!

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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