Cleopas: A Man from Emmaus

My name is Cleopas. I am an innkeeper in Emmaus. My business has been good for many years because of my location just off the main road from Jerusalem to Joppa on the Mediterranean Sea. Many travelers, coming from the coast, stop at my inn for the night then leave early the next morning for their business in Jerusalem.

My wife Mary and I regularly attend the local synagogue to worship Jehovah. Several months ago, an itinerant preacher named Jesus spoke at our synagogue. He read to us from our scroll of the prophet Isaiah. When He finished, He returned the scroll to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Jesus. From where He sat with His face in full view, He spoke where all could hear, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Not all believed, but it was clear to me that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Mary also believed. Over the next several months, when travelers returning from Jerusalem would tell us that Jesus was in Jerusalem, Mary and I would go there to listen to Him teach. Soon Mary and I were telling all of our customers about Jesus and His teachings. Many were more interested in business; still, the number of followers increased as we shared our faith in Jesus.

On a Thursday near the spring equinox, I felt mysteriously drawn to Jerusalem. When I shared my feelings with Mary, she explained that she too had heard a small voice from within calling her to Jerusalem. The next morning, well before sunrise, we left so we would reach the city early in the morning. As we arrived in Jerusalem, we came upon a great crowd moving through the city to a hill on the outskirts of town and we followed along.

Anguish overcame me as I could see that the Roman soldiers were preparing to crucify the Jesus we had come to know and love. When the soldiers nailed the spikes into Jesus' hands, I couldn't bear to look. Mary gasped then began to silently sob. I tried my best to comfort her, but I was in such a state of shock that I was of little help. We stayed at the cross until Jesus took His last breath.

Normally Mary and I would have returned to Emmaus the same evening because of the needs of our business, but this time the Spirit spoke to us saying we should stay two nights with the other disciples. For most of the next day, we prayed with a large group of disciples for understanding. Our minds could not grasp why Jehovah would let our Messiah be crucified.

On the third day, after a morning of prayer with the group, Mary and I began our walk home to Emmaus. As we walked slowly along, discussing the events in Jerusalem, a stranger approached and asked, "May I walk along with you?"

"Yes, welcome."

"What are you two discussing, and why does it make you look so sad?"

Mary and I looked at each other then stood still for a moment before I said, "You must be the only person visiting Jerusalem who does not know about the crucifixion of Jesus."

All the way to Emmaus, we shared with the stranger the happenings and our desolate feelings from the loss of our Lord. He, in turn, shared Scriptures with us. When we reached our inn, we invited our new friend to come inside for a rest and a bite to eat before He went on His way.

Mary poured some wine and laid a loaf of her bread before our guest then joined us at the table. As soon as she sat down, our friend picked up the loaf, blessed it, and broke off a piece for Mary and one for me. With the breaking of the bread, a miracle happened. It was as if our eyes had been covered, and now we saw clearly. We knew now that it was indeed Jesus we had been speaking with, but as soon as we recognized Him, He vanished from our sight. I asked Mary, "Was your heart burning within you as was mine while He was speaking to us on the road about the Scriptures?"

Mary and I knew that we must return to Jerusalem immediately so we could search out the eleven apostles and tell them the good news of the resurrection of Jesus. This time our journey was swift, and our hearts were light. As we went down the road together, I felt as though I could walk forever. When I glanced over at Mary as she walked stride for stride with me, I could see the same joy on her face that had been there when Jesus broke the bread. Joy overflowed my heart too as I realized that I serve a risen Savior.

Based on Luke 24:13-35.

Copyright 1997 by John C. Westervelt

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