March 13, 2022
“Now that same day, two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. Together they were discussing everything...”
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“Now that same day, two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. Together they were discussing everything that had taken place. And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus Himself came near and began to walk along with them. But they were prevented from recognizing Him.” Luke 24:13-16
There has been much speculation about Jesus’ appearance to the two gentlemen on the road to Emmaus. Among the questions raised are: Who were these men, and what does the town of Emmaus have to do with their story?
The battle of Emmaus was the turning point in the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid Greeks in 166 B.C. This was several generations before Jesus’ birth. The war began when the Greek King, Antiochus IV (Who called himself “Epiphanes,” meaning “manifestation of god”), issued decrees that forbade Jewish religious practices.
A young zealot named Judah Maccabee led a small band of Jewish rebels, who drove out a much larger and better-trained Greek army. Towards the end of the war, Antiochus Epiphanes sought to defile the Temple in Jerusalem, erecting a statue of Zeus. Legend says Antiochus sacrificed a pig on the altar, but scholars debate that.
After driving out the Greeks, Judah Maccabee, whose name means “Hammer of Judah,” purified the defiled Temple in Jerusalem, rebuilding the altar defiled by Antiochus. The re-consecration of the Temple is the backdrop for the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah.
So, what does Hanukkah have to do with Jesus’ appearance to the Emmaus road disciples?
Quite possibly, the Emmaus road disciples were hoping Messiah would have been a military leader who would redeem Israel by force. Their testimony to Jesus indicates such. (Luke 24:21) After Jesus’ resurrection, they were, perhaps, traveling to Emmaus, assuming Jesus would appear there, the location of the turning point in the last Jewish war against foreign oppressors…to gather His army. Regardless of the motive of their journey and their willingness to fight and die for God & Country, their understanding concerning Messiah’s role was wrong and thus evil. Seeking God’s will through Worldly counsel always leads you on a path away from God’s will.
“How happy is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the path of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful. Instead, His delight is in the Lord’s instruction.” Psalm 1:1-2
Jesus encountered these men who were walking away from Jerusalem and offered HIS counsel. They listened to and received His instruction. They sat at a table with Him as He served them a meal identical to communion. In response to His revelation, they were restored to Jerusalem by reversing the steps of Psalm 1:1.