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24. The Resurrection, Ascension
1But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came unto the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4And it came to pass, while they were perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel: 5and as they were affrighted and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7saying that the Son of man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8And they remembered his words, 9and returned from the tomb, and told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. 10Now they were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James: and the other women with them told these things unto the apostles. 11And these words appeared in their sight as idle talk; and they disbelieved them. 12But Peter arose, and ran unto the tomb; and stooping and looking in, he seeth the linen cloths by themselves; and he departed to his home, wondering at that which was come to pass. 13And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was threescore furlongs from Jerusalem. 14And they communed with each other of all these things which had happened. 15And it came to pass, while they communed and questioned together, that Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17And he said unto them, What communications are these that ye have one with another, as ye walk? And they stood still, looking sad. 18And one of them, named Cleopas, answering said unto him, Dost thou alone sojourn in Jerusalem and not know the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21But we hoped that it was he who should redeem Israel. Yea and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things came to pass. 22Moreover certain women of our company amazed us, having been early at the tomb; 23and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24And certain of them that were with us went to the tomb, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. 25And he said unto them, O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory? 27And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they were going: and he made as though he would go further. 29And they constrained him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. And he went in to abide with them. 30And it came to pass, when he had sat down with them to meat, he took the bread and blessed; and breaking it he gave to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32And they said one to another, Was not our heart burning within us, while he spake to us in the way, while he opened to us the scriptures? 33And they rose up that very hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35And they rehearsed the things that happened in the way, and how he was known of them in the breaking of the bread. 36And as they spake these things, he himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they beheld a spirit. 38And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and wherefore do questionings arise in your heart? 39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having. 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here anything to eat? 42And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish. 43And he took it, and ate before them. 44And he said unto them, These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me. 45Then opened he their mind, that they might understand the scriptures; 46and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; 47and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48Ye are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high. 50And he led them out until they were over against Bethany: and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53and were continually in the temple, blessing God.
The Disciples Going to Emmaus.
13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. 25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? 33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
This appearance of Christ to the two disciples going to Emmaus was mentioned, and but just mentioned, before (Mark xvi. 12); here it is largely related. It happened the same day that Christ rose, the first day of the new world that rose with him. One of these two disciples was Cleopas or Alpheus, said by the ancients to be the brother of Joseph, Christ's supposed father; who the other was is not certain. Some think it was Peter; it should seem indeed that Christ did appear particularly to Peter that day, which the eleven spoke of among themselves (v. 34), and Paul mentions, 1 Cor. xv. 5. But it could not be Peter that was one of the two, for he was one of the eleven to whom the two returned; and, besides, we know Peter so well as to think that if he had been one of the two he would have been the chief speaker, and not Cleopas. It was one of those that were associated with the eleven, mentioned v. 9. Now in this passage of story we may observe,
I. The walk and talk of these two disciples: They went to a village called Emmaus, which is reckoned to be about two hours' walk from Jerusalem; it is here said to be about sixty furlongs, seven measured miles, v. 13. Whether they went thither upon business, or to see some friend, does not appear. I suspect that they were going homewards to Galilee, with an intention not to enquire more after this Jesus; that they were meditating a retreat, and stole away from their company without asking leave or taking leave; for the accounts brought them that morning of their Master's resurrection seemed to them as idle tales; and, if so, no wonder that they began to think of making the best of their way home. But as they travelled they talked together of all those things which had happened, v. 14. They had not courage to confer of these things, and consult what was to be done in the present juncture at Jerusalem, for fear of the Jews; but, when they were got out of the hearing of the Jews, they could talk it over with more freedom. They talked over these things, reasoning with themselves concerning the probabilities of Christ's resurrection; for, according as these appeared, they would either go forward or return back to Jerusalem. Note, It well becomes the disciples of Christ, when they are together, to talk of his death and resurrection; thus they may improve one another's knowledge, refresh one another's memory, and stir up one another's devout affections.
II. The good company they met with upon the road, when Jesus himself came, and joined himself to them (v. 15): They communed together, and reasoned, and perhaps were warm at the argument, one hoping that their Master was risen, and would set up his kingdom, the other despairing. Jesus himself drew near, as a stranger who, seeing them travel the same way that he went, told them that he should be glad of their company. We may observe it, for our encouragement to keep up Christian conference and edifying discourse among us, that where but two together are well employed in work of that kind Christ will come to them, and make a third. When they that fear the Lord speak one to another the Lord hearkens and hears, and is with them of a truth; so that two thus twisted in faith and love become a threefold cord, not easily broken, Eccl. iv. 12. They in their communings and reasonings together were searching for Christ, comparing notes concerning him, that they might come to more knowledge of him; and now Christ comes to them. Note, They who seek Christ shall find him: he will manifest himself to those that enquire after him, and give knowledge to those who use the helps for knowledge which they have. When the spouse enquired of the watchman concerning her beloved, it was but a little that she passed from them, but she found him. Cant. iii. 4. But, though they had Christ with them, they were not at first aware of it (v. 16): Their eyes were held, that they should not know him. It should seem, there were both an alteration of the object (for it is said in Mark that now he appeared in another form) and a restraint upon the organ (for here it is said that their eyes were held by a divine power); or, as some think, there was a confusion in the medium; the air was so disposed that they could not discern who it was. No matter how it was, but so it was they did not know him, Christ so ordering it that they might the more freely discourse with him and he with them, and that it might appear that his word, and the influence of it, did not depend upon his bodily presence, which the disciples had too much doted upon, and must be weaned from; but he could teach them, and warm their hearts, by others, who should have his spiritual presence with them, and should have his grace going along with them unseen.
III. The conference that was between Christ and them, when he knew them, and they knew not him. Now Christ and his disciples, as is usual when friends meet incognito, or in a disguise, are here crossing questions.
1. Christ's first question to them is concerning their present sadness, which plainly appeared in their countenances: What manner of communications are those that you have one with another as you walk, and are sad? v. 17. It is a very kind and friendly enquiry. Observe,
(1.) They were sad; it appeared to a stranger that they were so. [1.] They had lost their dear Master, and were, in their own apprehensions, quite disappointed in their expectations from him. They had given up the cause, and knew not what course to take to retrieve it. Note, Christ's disciples have reason to be sad when he withdraws from them, to fast when the Bridegroom is taken from them. [2.] Though he was risen from the dead, yet either they did not know it or did not believe it, and so they were still in sorrow. Note, Christ's disciples are often sad and sorrowful even when they have reason to rejoice, but through the weakness of their faith they cannot take the comfort that is offered to them. [3.] Being sad, they had communications one with another concerning Christ. Note, First, It becomes Christians to talk of Christ. Were our hearts as full of him, and of what he has done and suffered for us, as they should be, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth would speak, not only of God and his providence, but of Christ and his grace and love. Secondly, Good company and good converse are an excellent antidote against prevailing melancholy. When Christ's disciples were sad they did not each one get by himself, but continued as he sent them out, two and two, for two are better than one, especially in times of sorrow. Giving vent to the grief may perhaps give ease to the grieved; and by talking it over we may talk ourselves or our friends may talk us into a better frame. Joint mourners should be mutual comforters; comforts sometimes come best from such.
(2.) Christ came up to them, and enquired into the matter of their talk, and the cause of their grief: What manner of communications are these? Though Christ had now entered into his state of exaltation, yet he continued tender of his disciples, and concerned for their comfort. He speaks as one troubled to see their melancholy: Wherefore look ye so sadly to-day? Gen. xl. 7. Note, Our Lord Jesus takes notice of the sorrow and sadness of his disciples, and is afflicted in their afflictions. Christ has hereby taught us, [1.] To be conversable. Christ here fell into discourse with two grave serious persons, though he was a stranger to them and they knew him not, and they readily embraced him. It does not become Christians to be morose and shy, but to take pleasure in good society. [2.] We are hereby taught to be compassionate. When we see our friends in sorrow and sadness, we should, like Christ here, take cognizance of their grief, and give them the best counsel and comfort we can: Weep with them that weep.
2. In answer to this, they put a question to him concerning his strangeness. Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things that are come to pass there in these days? Observe, (1.) Cleopas gave him a civil answer. He does not rudely ask him. "As for what we are talking of, what is that to you?" and bid him go about his business. Note, We ought to be civil to those who are civil to us, and to conduct ourselves obligingly to all, both in word and deed. It was a dangerous time now with Christ's disciples; yet he was not jealous of this stranger, that he had any design upon them, to inform against them, or bring them into trouble. Charity is not forward to think evil, no, not of strangers. (2.) He is full of Christ himself and of his death and sufferings, and wonders that every body else is not so too: "What! art thou such a stranger in Jerusalem as not to know what has been done to our Master there?" Note, Those are strangers indeed in Jerusalem that know not of the death and sufferings of Christ. What! are they daughters of Jerusalem, and yet so little acquainted with Christ as to ask, What is thy beloved more than another beloved? (3.) He is very willing to inform this stranger concerning Christ, and to draw on further discourse with him upon this subject. He would not have any one that had the face of a man to be ignorant of Christ. Note, Those who have themselves the knowledge of Christ crucified should do what they can to spread that knowledge, and lead others into an acquaintance with him. And it is observable that these disciples, who were so forward to instruct the stranger, were instructed by him; for to him that has, and uses what he has, shall be given. (4.) It appears, by what Cleopas says, that the death of Christ made a great noise in Jerusalem, so that it could not be imagined that any man should be such a stranger in the city as not to know of it; it was all the talk of the town, and discoursed of in all companies. Thus the matter of fact came to be universally known, which, after the pouring out of the Spirit, was to be explained.
3. Christ, by way of reply, asked concerning their knowledge (v. 19): He said unto them, What things? thus making himself yet more a stranger. Observe, (1.) Jesus Christ made light of his own sufferings, in comparison with the joy set before him, which was the recompence of it. Now that he was entering upon his glory, see with what unconcernedness he looks back upon his sufferings: What things? He had reason to know what things; for to him they were bitter things, and heavy things, and yet he asks, What things? The sorrow was forgotten, for joy that the man-child of our salvation was born. He took pleasure in infirmities for our sakes, to teach us to do so for his sake. (2.) Those whom Christ will teach he will first examine how far they have learned; they must tell him what things they know, and then he will tell them what was the meaning of these things. and lead them into the mystery of them.
4. They, hereupon, gave him a particular account concerning Christ, and the present posture of his affairs. Observe the story they tell, v. 19, &c.
(1.) Here is a summary of Christ's life and character. The things they are full of are concerning Jesus of Nazareth (so he was commonly called), who was a prophet, a teacher come from God. He preached a true and excellent doctrine, which had manifestly its rise from heaven, and its tendency towards heaven. He confirmed it by many glorious miracles, miracles of mercy, so that he was mighty in deed and word before God and all the people; that is, he was both a great favourite of heaven and a great blessing to this earth. He was, and appeared to be, greatly beloved of God, and much the darling of his people. He had great acceptance with God, and a great reputation in the country. Many are great before all the people, and are caressed by them, who are not so before God, as the scribes and Pharisees; but Christ was mighty both in his doctrine and in his doings, before God and all the people. Those were strangers in Jerusalem that did not know this.
(2.) Here is a modest narrative of his sufferings and death, v. 20. "Though he was so dear both to God and man, yet the chief priests and our rulers, in contempt of both, delivered him to the Roman power, to be condemned to death, and they have crucified him." It is strange that they did not aggravate the matter more, and lay a greater load upon those that had been guilty of crucifying Christ; but perhaps because they spoke to one that was a stranger they thought it prudent to avoid all reflections upon the chief priests and their rulers, how just soever.
(3.) Here is an intimation of their disappointment in him, as the reason of their sadness: "We trusted that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel, v. 21. We are of those who not only looked upon him to be a prophet, like Moses, but, like him, a redeemer too." He was depended upon, and great things expected from him, by them that looked for redemption, and in it for the consolation of Israel. Now, if hope deferred makes the heart sick, hope disappointed, especially such a hope, kills the heart. But see how they made that the ground of their despair which if they had understood it aright was the surest ground of their hope, and that was the dying of the Lord Jesus: We trusted (say they) that it had been he that should have redeemed Israel. And is it not he that doth redeem Israel? Nay, is he not by his death paying the price of their redemption? Was it not necessary, in order to his saving Israel from their sins, that he should suffer? Sop that now, since that most difficult part of his undertaking was got over, they had more reason than ever to trust that this was he that should deliver Israel; yet now they are ready to give up the cause.
(4.) Here is an account of their present amazement with reference to his resurrection. [1.] "This is the third day since he was crucified and died, and that was the day when it was expected, if ever, that he should rise again, and rise in glory and outward pomp, and show himself as publicly in honour as he had been shown three days before in disgrace; but we see no sign of it; nothing appears, as we expected, to the conviction and confusion of his prosecutors, and the consolation of his disciples, but all is silent." [2.] They own that there was a report among them that he was risen, but they seem to speak of it very slightly, and as what they gave no credit at all to (v. 22, 23): "Certain women also of our company made us astonished (and that was all), who were early at the sepulchre, and found the body gone, and they said that they had seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive; but we are ready to think it was only their fancy, and no real thing, for angels would have been sent to the apostles, not to the women, and women are easily imposed upon." [3.] They acknowledge that some of the apostles had visited the sepulchre, and found it empty, v. 24. "But him they saw not, and therefore we have reason to fear that he is not risen, for, if he be, surely he would have shown himself to them; so that, upon the whole matter, we have no great reason to think that he is risen, and therefore have no expectations from him now; our hopes were all nailed to his cross, and buried in his grave."
(5.) Our Lord Jesus, though not known by face to them, makes himself known to them by his word.
[1.] He reproves them for their incogitancy, and the weakness of their faith in the scriptures of the Old Testament: O fools, and slow of heart to believe, v. 25. When Christ forbade us to say to our brother, Thou fool, it was intended to restrain us from giving unreasonable reproaches, not from giving just reproofs. Christ called them fools, not as it signifies wicked men, in which sense he forbade it to us, but as it signifies weak men. He might call them fools, for he knows our foolishness, the foolishness that is bound in our hearts. Those are fools that act against their own interest; so they did who would not admit the evidence given them that their Master was risen, but put away the comfort of it. That which is condemned in them as their foolishness is, First, Their slowness to believe. Believers are branded as fools by atheists, and infidels, and free-thinkers, and their most holy faith is censured as a fond credulity; but Christ tells us that those are fools who are slow of heart to believe, and are kept from it by prejudices never impartially examined. Secondly, Their slowness to believe the writings of the prophets. He does not so much blame them for their slowness to believe the testimony of the women and of the angels, but for that which was the cause thereof, their slowness to believe the prophets; for, if they had given the prophets of the Old Testament their due weight and consideration, they would have been as sure of Christ's rising from the dead that morning (being the third day after his death) as they were of the rising of the sun; for the series and succession of events as settled by prophecy are no less certain and inviolable than as settled by providence. Were we but more conversant with the scripture, and the divine counsels as far as they are made known in the scripture, we should not be subject to such perplexities as we often entangle ourselves in.
[2.] He shows them that the sufferings of Christ, which were such a stumbling-block to them, and made them unapt to believe his glory, were really the appointed way to his glory, and he could not go to it any other way (v. 26): "Ought not the Christ (the Messiah) to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? Was it not decreed, and was not that decree declared, that the promised Messiah must first suffer and then reign, that he must go by his cross to his crown?" Had they never read the fifty-third of Isaiah and the ninth of Daniel, where the prophets speak so very plainly of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow? 1 Pet. i. 11. The cross of Christ was that to which they could not reconcile themselves; now here he shows them two things which take off the offence of the cross:—First, That the Messiah ought to suffer these things; and therefore his sufferings were not only no objection against his being the Messiah, but really a proof of it, as the afflictions of the saints are an evidence of their sonship; and they were so far from ruining their expectations that really they were the foundation of their hopes. He could not have been a Saviour, if he had not been a sufferer. Christ's undertaking our salvation was voluntary; but, having undertaken it, it was necessary that he should suffer and die. Secondly, That, when he had suffered these things, he should enter into his glory, which he did at his resurrection; that was his first step upward. Observe, It is called his glory, because he was duly entitled to it, and it was the glory he had before the world was; he ought to enter into it, for in that, as well as in his sufferings, the scripture must be fulfilled. He ought to suffer first, and then to enter into his glory; and thus the reproach of the cross is for ever rolled away, and we are directed to expect the crown of thorns and then that of glory.
[3.] He expounded to them the scriptures of the Old Testament, which spoke of the Messiah, and showed them how they were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, and now can tell them more concerning him than they could before tell him (v. 27): Beginning at Moses, the first inspired writer of the Old Testament, he went in order through all the prophets, and expounded to them the things concerning himself, showing that the sufferings he had now gone through were so far from defeating the prophecies of the scripture concerning him that they were the accomplishment of them. He began at Moses, who recorded the first promise, in which it was plainly foretold that the Messiah should have his heel bruised, but that by it the serpent's head should be incurably broken. Note, First, There are things dispersed throughout all the scriptures concerning Christ, which it is of great advantage to have collected and put together. You cannot go far in any part of scripture but you meet with something that has reference to Christ, some prophecy, some promise, some prayer, some type or other; for he is the true treasure his in the field of the Old Testament. A golden thread of gospel grace runs through the whole web of the Old Testament. There is an eye of that white to be discerned in every place. Secondly, The things concerning Christ need to be expounded. The eunuch, though a scholar, would not pretend to understand them, except some man should guide him (Acts viii. 31); for they were delivered darkly, according to that dispensation: but now that the veil is taken away the New Testament expounds the Old. Thirdly, Jesus Christ is himself the best expositor of scripture, particularly the scriptures concerning himself; and even after his resurrection it was in this way that he led people into the knowledge of the mystery concerning himself; not by advancing new notions independent upon the scripture, but by showing how the scripture was fulfilled, and turning them over to the study of it. Even the Apocalypse itself is but a second part of the Old-Testament prophecies, and has continually an eye to them. If men believe not Moses and the prophets, they are incurable. Fourthly, In studying the scriptures, it is good to be methodical, and to take them in order; for the Old-Testament light shone gradually to the perfect day, and it is good to observe how at sundry times, and in divers manners (subsequent predictions improving and giving light to the preceding ones), God spoke to the fathers concerning his Son, by whom he has now spoken to us. Some begin their bible at the wrong end, who study the Revelation first; but Christ has here taught us to begin at Moses. Thus far the conference between them.
IV. Here is the discovery which Christ at length made of himself to them. One would have given a great deal for a copy of the sermon Christ preached to them by the way, of that exposition of the bible which he gave them; but it is not thought fit that we should have it, we have the substance of it in other scriptures. The disciples are so charmed with it, that they think they are come too soon to their journey's end; but so it is: They drew nigh to the village whither they went (v. 28), where, it should seem, they determined to take up for that night. And now,
1. They courted his stay with them: He made as though he would have gone further; he did not say that he would, but he seemed to them to be going further, and did not readily turn into their friend's house, which it would not be decent for a stranger to do unless he were invited. He would have gone further if they had not courted his stay; so that here was nothing like dissimulation in the case. If a stranger be shy, every one knows the meaning of it; he will not thrust himself rudely upon your house or company; but, if you make it appear that you are freely desirous of him for your guest or companion, he knows not but he may accept your invitation, and this was all that Christ did when he made as though he would have gone further. Note, Those that would have Christ dwell with them must invite him, and be importunate with him; though he is often found of those that seek him not, yet those only that seek can be sure to find; and, if he seem to draw off from us, it is but to draw out our importunity; as here, they constrained him; both of them laid hold on him, with a kind and friendly violence, saying, Abide with us. Note, Those that have experienced the pleasure and profit of communion with Christ cannot but covet more of his company, and beg of him, not only to walk with them all day, but to abide with them at night. When the day is far spent, and it is towards evening, we begin to think of retiring for our repose, and then it is proper to have our eye to Christ, and to beg of him to abide with us, to manifest himself to us and to fill our minds with good thoughts of him and good affections to him. Christ yielded to their importunity: He went in, to tarry with them. Thus ready is Christ to give further instructions and comforts to those who improve what they have received. He has promised that if any man open the door, to bid him welcome, he will come in to him, Rev. iii. 20.
2. He manifested himself to them, v. 30, 31. We may suppose that he continued his discourse with them, which he began upon the road; for thou must talk of the things of God when thou sittest in the house as well as when thou walkest by the way. While supper was getting ready (which perhaps was soon done, the provision was so small and mean), it is probable that he entertained them with such communications as were good and to the use of edifying; and so likewise as they sat at meat his lips fed them. But still they little thought that it was Jesus himself that was all this while talking with them, till at length he was pleased to throw off his disguise, and then to withdraw. (1.) They began to suspect it was he, when, as they sat down to meat, he undertook the office of the Master of the feast, which he performed so like himself, and like what he used to do among his disciples, that by it they discerned him: He took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. This he did with his usual air both of authority and affection, with the same gestures and mien, with the same expressions perhaps in craving a blessing and in giving the bread to them. This was not a miraculous meal like that of the five loaves, nor a sacramental meal like that of the eucharist, but a common meal; yet Christ here did the same as he did in those, to teach us to keep up our communion with God through Christ in common providences as well as in special ordinances, and to crave a blessing and give thanks at every meal, and to see our daily bread provided for us and broken to us by the hand of Jesus Christ, the Master, not only of the great family, but of all our families. Wherever we sit down to eat, let us set Christ at the upper end of the table, take our meat as blessed to us by him, and eat and drink to his glory, and receive contentedly and thankfully what he is pleased to carve out to us, be the fare ever so coarse and mean. We may well receive it cheerfully, if we can by faith see it coming to us from Christ's hand, and with his blessing. (2.) Presently their eyes were opened, and then they saw who it was, and knew him well enough. Whatever it was which had hitherto concealed him from them, it was now taken out of the way; the mists were scattered, the veil was taken off, and then they made no question but it was their Master. He might, for wise and holy ends, put on the shape of another, but no other could put on his; and therefore it must be he. See how Christ by his Spirit and grace makes himself known to the souls of his people. [1.] He opens the scriptures to them, for they are they which testify of him to those who search them, and search for him in them. [2.] He meets them at his table, in the ordinance of the Lord's supper, and commonly there makes further discoveries of himself to them, is known to them in the breaking of bread. But, [3.] The work is completed by the opening of the eyes of their mind, and causing the scales to fall off from them, as from Paul's in his conversion. If he that gives the revelation do not give the understanding, we are in the dark still.
3. He immediately disappeared: He vanished out of their sight. Aphantos egeneto—He withdrew himself from them, slipped away of a sudden, and went out of sight. Or, he became not visible by them, was made inconspicuous by them. It should seem that though Christ's body, after his resurrection, was the very same body in which he suffered and died, as appeared by the marks in it, yet it was so far changed as to become either visible or not visible as he thought fit to make it, which was a step towards its being made a glorious body. As soon as he had given his disciples one glimpse of him he was gone presently. Such short and transient views have we of Christ in this world; we see him, but in a little while lose the sight of him again. When we come to heaven the vision of him will have no interruptions.
V. Here is the reflection which these disciples made upon this conference, and the report which they made of it to their brethren at Jerusalem.
1. The reflection they each of them made upon the influence which Christ's discourse had upon them (v. 32): They said one to another, Did not our hearts burn within us? "I am sure mine did," saith one; "And so did mine," saith the other, "I never was so affected with any discourse in all my life." Thus do they not so much compare notes as compare hearts, in the review of the sermon Christ had preached to them. They found the preaching powerful, even when they knew not the preacher. It made things very plain and clear to them; and, which was more, brought a divine heat with a divine light into their souls, such as put their hearts into a glow, and kindled a holy fire of pious and devout affections in them. Now this they take notice of, for the confirming of their belief, that it was indeed, as at last they saw, Jesus himself that had been talking with them all along. "What fools were we, that we were not sooner aware who it was! For none but he, no word but his, could make our hearts burn within us as they did; it must be he that has the key of the heart; it could be no other." See here, (1.) What preaching is likely to do good—such as Christ's was, plain preaching, and that which is familiar and level to our capacity—he talked with us by the way; and scriptural preaching—he opened to us the scriptures, the scriptures relating to himself. Ministers should show people their religion in their bibles, and that they preach no other doctrine to them than what is there; they must show that they make that the fountain of their knowledge and the foundation of their faith. Note, The expounding of those scriptures which speak of Christ has a direct tendency to warm the hearts of his disciples, both to quicken and to comfort them. (2.) What hearing is likely to do good—that which makes the heart burn; when we are much affected with the things of God, especially with the love of Christ in dying for us, and have our hearts thereby drawn out in love to him, and drawn up in holy desires and devotions, then our hearts burn within us; when our hearts are raised and elevated, and are as the sparks which fly upwards towards God, and when they are kindled and carried out with a holy zeal and indignation against sin, both in others and in ourselves, and we are in some measure refined and purified from it by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then we may say, "Through grace our hearts are thus inflamed."
2. The report they brought of this to their brethren at Jerusalem (v. 33): They rose up the same hour, so transported with joy at the discovery Christ had made of himself to them that they could not stay to make an end of their supper, but returned with all speed to Jerusalem, though it was towards evening. If they had had any thoughts of quitting their relation to Christ, this soon banished all such thoughts out of their mind, and there needed no more to send them back to his flock. It should seem that they intended at least to take up their quarters to-night at Emmaus; but now that they had seen Christ they could not rest till they had brought the good news to the disciples, both for the confirmation of their trembling faith and for the comfort of their sorrowful spirits, with the same comforts wherewith they were comforted of God. Note, It is the duty of those to whom Christ has manifested himself to let others know what he has done for their souls. When thou art converted, instructed, comforted, strengthen thy brethren. These disciples were full of this matter themselves, and must go to their brethren, to give vent to their joys, as well as to give them satisfaction that their Master was risen. Observe, (1.) How they found them, just when they came in among them, discoursing on the same subject, and relating another proof of the resurrection of Christ. They found the eleven, and those that were their usual companions, gathered together late in the night, to pray together, it may be, and to consider what was to be done in this juncture; and they found them saying among themselves (legontas it is the saying of the eleven, not of the two, as is plain by the original), and when these two came in, they repeated to them with joy and triumph, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon, v. 34. That Peter had a sight of him before the rest of the disciples had appears 1 Cor. xv. 5, where it is said, He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve. The angel having ordered the women to tell Peter of it particularly (Mark xvi. 7), for his comfort, it is highly probable that our Lord Jesus did himself presently the same day appear to Peter, though we have no particular narrative of it, to confirm the word of his messengers. This he had related to his brethren; but, observe, Peter does not here proclaim it, and boast of it, himself (he thought this did not become a penitent), but the other disciples speak of it with exultation, The Lord is risen indeed, ontos—really; it is now past dispute, no room is left to doubt it, for he has appeared not only to the women, but to Simon. (2.) How they seconded their evidence with an account of what they had seen (v. 35): They told what things were done in the way. The words that were spoken by Christ to them in the way, having a wonderful effect and influence upon them, are here called the things that were done in the way; for the words that Christ speaks are not an empty sound, but they are spirit and they are life, and wondrous things are done by them, done by the way, by the by as it were, where it is not expected. They told also how he was at length known to them in the breaking of bread; then, when he was carving out blessings to them, God opened their eyes to discern who it was. Note, It would be of great use for the discovery and confirmation of truth if the disciples of Christ would compare their observations and experiences, and communicate to each other what they know and have felt in themselves.