WHEN JESUS was seen after he rose from the tomb, it was called an “appearance” because Jesus appeared to someone. His first appearance, as you have read, was to Mary Magdalene; his second appearance was to the other women; and his third appearance was to two men walking out into the country on that first Easter morning.
Those two men were not among the twelve disciples of Jesus; but they had believed in him as the Christ, the King of Israel. One of them was named Cleopas; the name of the other has not been given in the gospel by Saint Luke, where this story is told. The two men on that morning were walking out from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus, which was six or seven miles from the city. As they walked, they talked together of Jesus, of his death, his burial, and of a report which had just come to them, that he was living again.
While they were walking and talking, they suddenly saw another man walking with them. This stranger was Jesus, but they did not know him; just as Mary Magdalene did not know Jesus when first she saw him. He said to them:
“What is it that you are talking about, as you walk along?”
They stood still, with sorrowful faces; and Cleopas answered this stranger.
“What!” said Cleopas, “do you live all alone in Jerusalem, since you seem not to have heard of the things that have taken place there in the last few days?”
“What things do you mean?” asked the stranger.
“Why, about Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “Have you never heard of him? He was a wonderful prophet, to whom God gave power in his words and his deeds before all the people. But the chief priests and our rulers seized him, and gave him up to be sentenced to death, and crucified him. But it was our hope that he was to be the one to set Israel free from its enemies, and reign as our King. And now, this is the third day since he died, and this morning some women of our company have brought to us news that greatly surprised us. They went to the tomb at daybreak, and found it open, but did not find his body within it. They told us that they had seen some angels, who said that Jesus was alive! At once some of our men went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said, the tomb thrown open and the body gone; but they did not see Jesus.”
“0, foolish men, with hearts so slow to believe, after all that the prophets have said in the Holy Book!” said the stranger, who was the risen Jesus. “DO you not know that Christ was bound to suffer all these things before he could enter his glory as the Son of God?”
Then he began to show them in all the Old Testament books, how Moses in the law, and David in the psalms, and all the prophets in their writings, had foretold the things that should take place with Christ when he should come; and that all these things had come to pass with Jesus, showing that Jesus of Nazareth was in truth the Son of God and the King of Israel.
While they went on talking together, they drew near the village of Emmaus, to which the two men were going. The unknown Jesus seemed as if he was going further; but they urged him to stop.
“Stay with us,” they said to him, “for it is getting toward evening; the sun is already about to set.”
And Jesus went with them to the village and into the house. They sat down to supper; and the stranger took the loaf of bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. In that instant, their eyes were opened, and they knew who he was, Jesus their Master! But in that moment he vanished out of their sight.
“How our hearts burned within us,” they said to each other, “while he was talking to us on the road and explaining to us what is said in the Holy Book!”
Then they immediately rose up from the table, and went back in haste to Jerusalem. They found some of the disciples and others in the upper room at Jerusalem, where Jesus had taken his last supper with his disciples. Before Cleopas and his friend found a chance to tell their story, those in the room said to them:
“The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon Peter!”
Then the two men from Emmaus told how the stranger had walked with them on the road, and had told them many things out of the Old Testament; and how they had suddenly known that he was Jesus, while he was blessing and breaking the bread.
These were the third and fourth appearances of Jesus, the third to Simon Peter; but what Jesus said to him has not been written; and the fourth, to Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus.