How does Christ handle our sorrows? More deftly than the best surgeon of the heart. More carefully than the wisest teacher. And with greater forethought than any other leader. The empty tomb must have caused the disciples extreme pain and confusion. What’s more, Jesus knew that though He had returned from the grave, He’d soon depart again—which would cause them more concern. But He’d already handled this, too.
Illustration by Adam Cruft
After Christ’s crucifixion and entombment, His followers waited for the Sabbath to pass. Then some returned to anoint the body and, finding it gone, went to inform the others.
When we think God has failed us, it’s common to feel frustrated and confused—usually because we don’t know the whole story.
Cleopas and his companion left Jerusalem, perhaps feeling there was no longer reason to stay (vv. 13, 18). What does this suggest about their state of mind?
The pair were “talking and discussing” recent events (vv. 14-15). It’s comforting to ponder with other believers the things that trouble us, especially when experiences are shared. In that sense, the Emmaus road story—which reveals relationships centered on Jesus even before He appears—presents a timeless and reassuring picture of the church. What causes this special dynamic among believers? Is it present in your life? If not, ask the Lord to help you find fellowship.
When the two men associated their sorrow with “the things that happened,” Jesus replied, “What sort of things?” (vv. 18-19). Part of helping others involves asking questions so we’re able to understand their pain or needs. But it’s also a gift to simply let others speak. List some qualities you sense in the Lord’s question, such as concern, tenderness, or encouragement. Explain.
Spiritual blindness can be a ruinous, even deadly, affliction. But being unsure of what’s happening doesn’t always mean we’re in trouble. If we are carefully following God, He’ll use times of uncertainty or painful disappointment to test, instruct, and strengthen us. How did Jesus use the disciples’ blindness to teach them something crucial (v. 27)?
CONTINUING THE STORY
Jesus and the companions traveled together till they reached the disciples’ destination.
The men “strongly urged” Jesus to stay with them (v. 29). The Greek verb for “urged” means to constrain, to be powerfully persuasive, or even to force. The passage suggests that Jesus sometimes allows Himself to be prevailed upon. The disciples’ insistence led to an extraordinary experience with Christ. What can you conclude about the role of urgency in spiritual life?
The words the two used to plead for Jesus’ company were “abide with us” (v. 29 KJV). Make “Abide with me, Lord” a simple prayer and use it daily this week. Note what happens.
How does the men’s question—“Were our hearts not burning within us?” (v. 32)—further reveal the depth of Christian fellowship? What does it show about the power of Christ’s presence in times of pain?
Are you on an “Emmaus road” right now?
When we endure loss, disappointment, or confusion, the body of Christ is a comfort. And the presence of the Lord brings not only love and strength but also—when He deems the time right—the information we need to move forward with profound reassurance.
Consider how this study applies to your life.
The Emmaus road experience was followed by the ascension and Pentecost, which many churches celebrate this month. Though Jesus ascended into heaven, marking the end of His physical presence on earth, He provided Someone to comfort just as He comforted the disciples on that dusty road in Israel. Jesus’ last words recorded by Luke were, “I am sending the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). This “promise” is the Holy Spirit, of Whom the Lord had said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper” (John 14:16). Here is what our Savior says about this third member of the Trinity—and a gift of eternal comfort, companionship, and wisdom for us: The Holy Spirit is …
“With you forever” (v. 16). Take a moment to enjoy His presence.
Your “Helper” (v. 16), who’s with you to advocate and advise. Seek Him and share a difficult situation you’re facing.
The “Spirit of truth” (John 14:17). Ask Him to enlighten some area of confusion for you.
Your Teacher, who “will teach you all things, and remind you of all that [Jesus] said” (John 14:26). There are words of our Lord for every moment of life. Ask the Teacher to bring some to mind right now.
Notice how the Lord described the Holy Spirit in verse 17 (NKJV): In Greek, the word for “dwells” is a form of the verb Jesus’ followers used when begging Him to stay. He knows we need His abiding Presence. Pray daily, and His Spirit will comfort and stabilize you.