day of the week after Sabbath: draws attention
to the importance of Sunday, the day of resurrection.
Luke’s theme for the public life of the Lord is
a journey up to Jerusalem, the city of God, the
place where great events happen, his passion,
death and triumphant rising again. These disciples
are going the wrong direction. They see only what
has been, and failure. In the ordinary course
of events, to believe in the resurrection of the
dead is a belief in what is beyond what is humanly
Some women from our
group: St Luke attaches great importance
to women throughout his gospel, which was in contrast
with prevailing attitudes in society and in the
Law—and in the view of these disciples.
Luke names one disciple as Cleophas. If this is
the same person as the Clopas mentioned in John
19:25, the second disciple may have been his wife
Mary, who was one of those who stood at the foot
of the cross, according to John.
The couple assumed that Jesus
was a fellow traveller who had overtaken them.
Remarkably, all the time he was with them it never
crossed their minds that he was other than a person
of flesh and blood like themselves This was because
they were sure miracles like resurrection did
not happen. Jesus was dead and nothing could persuade
them otherwise. Their expectation had been redemption
from domination in Jewish nationalist terms. Jesus
overcame their disillusionment by leading them
in a re-examination of how they understood the
Word of God.
The disciples recognised Jesus
by the way in which he broke bread. It is unlikely
that these disciples had been at the Last Supper,
so it may have been past memories of how Jesus
broke bread that clinched the issue, or, perhaps
less likely, an account of the Last Supper that
they had been told. For St Luke and the early
Church, of course, the ‘breaking of bread’ was
a shorthand expression for the Eucharist. The
couple now see Jesus as one who gives himself
The disciples rush back to Jerusalem
with their new story, forgetting their previous
caution about travelling by night. They are told
on arrival about Simon Peter whom the Lord has
again singled out.
The Emmaus account underlines:
meeting together on Sunday
listening to the Word of God
gathering around the table
the breaking of the bread
the recognition of the Lord
the renewal of commitment as disciples
going off to share the Good News.