Connections 04.26.2020: What Things?

Luke 24:13-24, 28-32

Cleopas and his companion know what has happened. They know the facts. They are talking about those facts as they trudge the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus on Sunday after their teacher died on a Roman cross on Friday.

As they walk and talk, a stranger joins them on the road. He asks them what they are talking about. Their reply is, I think, inadvertently humorous: “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” The stranger’s reply is, I think, purposely humorous: “What things?”

This is a humorous scene in the middle of a serious account. (As an aside, let me say that sometimes humor can help us get through the most difficult situations we encounter. We should be thankful for helpful humor in these very serious, not funny at all days.)

As things turn out, this “stranger” is the only one who really knows what has really taken place in Jerusalem in recent days.

The stranger asked “What things?”, and Cleopas and the other traveler answer his question. “The things about Jesus of Nazareth,” they say, and they then proceed to offer a succinct but accurate version of what Jesus did and what happened to him. They also express their disappointment in the way things had turned out: “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” Finally, they indicate astonishment and puzzlement over the events of that morning—some of the women said that they found the tomb empty and that some angels told them Jesus was alive, and some of the men also saw the empty tomb, but didn’t see Jesus.

The stranger, who is in fact the resurrected Jesus (which Cleopas and his companion won’t realize until Jesus breaks bread with them after they arrive in Emmaus), says, “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” He then explains to them what the Scriptures say about him (although Luke doesn’t tell us what Jesus actually says).

In that moment, only the resurrected Jesus could say what Jesus’ life, ministry, and death were all about and could explain what Scripture teaches about what Jesus accomplished and how he accomplished it.

In this moment, it is only in the light of Jesus’ resurrection that we can know who Jesus is, what Jesus means, and what Jesus does.

To recap:

  1. Cleopas and his companion asked the resurrected Jesus (without knowing who he was), “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”
  2. Jesus asked them, “What things?”
  3. They responded with an accurate account of what had happened.
  4. The resurrected Jesus told them what it all really meant.

Oh, there’s one more step:

  1. The resurrected Jesus still shows us what it all really means, and how we are to live in light of it.

So we will do well to stay as close to him as we can.

Discussion

  • Only Luke tells us the story of what happened on the Emmaus Road. Why do you think the early church decided to preserve four Gospels rather than just one? What do we gain from having four accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry?
  • What connection might there be between Jesus’ breaking of the bread and the two travelers’ recognizing him?
  • What can it mean for our hearts to burn as we read and study Scripture through the lens of the crucified and resurrected Jesus? How can he cause Scripture to come to life? How can he cause us to come to life?
  • Think of the experience these two disciples have on the Emmaus Road as a metaphor for our faith journey. What can we learn from their experience? How can we apply these lessons to our faith journey?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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