Their Eyes Were Opened
A Biblical Study for the Easter Season 2016
Based on the Gospel of Luke
The Third Week of Easter (April 10)
For this page in PDF format, click this title Easter 3
I. LISTEN to the audio interview or read the transcript below. The interview is based on these verses: “Now 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” (Lk 24:13-16)
The interview reflection: Tell a story about a time when Jesus was with you, but it was only in hindsight that you recognized that fact.
Listen to an interview with the Rev. Carol Morehead.
Or read (click on title) The Road to Emmaus in PDF format
II. READ and STUDY the Scriptural Passage:
Luke 24:13-27 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”
They stood still, looking sad. 18 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?”
19 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, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 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.
22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 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. 24 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.”
25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”
27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
Commentary on the Passage by the Rev. Dr. Jane Patterson
As you learned in the introduction to this study, the Gospel of Luke reached the form in which we have it around 80-85 CE. Over the decades between the crucifixion of Jesus and the final form of Luke’s Gospel, the stories of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection blended with ongoing lively experiences of the risen Lord by members of Luke’s church, deepening every aspect of the community’s understanding of the person and the mission of Christ. The story we are reading today invites us into the rich practice of conversation around the Jewish scriptures that the earliest Christians engaged in, as they encountered Christ astonishingly revealed there in every word.
The subjects of the story are described only as “two of them.” Perhaps that openness invites you to imagine yourself as one of the two, walking along a way in which you mysteriously encounter Christ. The phrase “two of them” also emphasizes the view that authentic encounters with Christ happen most often when we are engaged with at least one other person. The risen Christ appears most significantly in the community of faith engaged in lively discussion rather than in the lives of individuals.
In the passage, Jesus is described as a “prophet, mighty in word and deed,” the one the disciples had hoped would “redeem Israel.” Sometimes we hear Christians in our day emphasizing the fact that Jesus was not “just a prophet,” but this title is actually Luke’s most profound understanding of Jesus: he was God’s clearest prophet, sent to proclaim in word and deed the power of God to bring all Israel into reconciliation with God through courageous justice and mercy. At a time in Israel’s history when it seemed that the Roman Empire would prevent people from being able to live into God’s justice, Jesus called the people nonetheless to the steady, bold doing of God’s will. For his courageous proclamation, Jesus was executed by Rome. When we encounter these two disciples, they are weighed down with grief at what appears to be the end of Jesus’ mission. But the story is not over.
III. RESPOND to the following questions:
• Find the connections between the interview and the biblical story.
• Is there a connection between the interview and your story?
• What aspect of our society most cries out for God’s justice and mercy?
• One of the themes of all the Gospels is the consistency between the proclamation of Jesus and the Old Testament scriptural witness (“Moses and the prophets”). Is there a part of the Old Testament you would like to be more familiar with? Have you ever had the experience of finding Christ somehow revealed in your reading of the Old Testament?
• At the end of this time of study together: has the risen Lord been present in your conversation? Can you give words to the difference between encountering Christ when you are alone and encountering Christ when you are in a group?