Walking and Talking on the Way to Emmaus
One of the scenes in the Gospels where I would most like to be a participant is Luke 24:13-33. Two people are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a seven-mile journey. One can tell by their postures and the pace of their steps, that they are deep in sorrow, nevertheless they were in deep discussion about the recent events of the crucifixion.
One person is named Cleopas, the other is unnamed. The grammar gives no indication of a masculine or feminine companion. In John 19:21 the wife of Cleopas was one of the women standing at the foot of the cross, and her name was Mary. This pair could easily be Cleopas and his wife. A stranger came up behind them who inquired about their conversation. How could anyone have missed news of a crucifixion, darkness at mid-day, voices from heaven, and an earthquake? They patiently recounted all the recent events.
Then he called them “Foolish!” (Luke 24:25). This is how he thanked them for the update! Not only did this stranger eavesdrop on their conversation; he did not respond with appreciation for answers to the question he himself asked. At that point, I think I would have suddenly pretended to forget something and turn down another road to lose the obnoxious stranger. The text says: “Their eyes were closed and they did not recognize Jesus” 24:16. Why did Jesus cause himself to not be recognized, and why did he pretend to not know of the events of which he was the centerpiece? That I do not know.
Somehow Cleopas and his companion (wife) persisted with the stranger and continued listening. Jesus, still disguised to them, explained everything concerning himself beginning with Moses. How would you like to hear several hours of explanation from the mouth of Jesus himself? We wonder why Cleopas and wife did not immediately write everything down.
Maybe they did, or at least told the information to the writers of the Gospels. Matthew is especially filled with Old Testament prophecies starting with Matthew 1:22: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet.” Where did Matthew, or the Gospel’s writer get this information? Cleopas and his companion may be a good start. And if his companion was his wife, who was also at the foot of the cross, a large contribution of the Christology of the Gospels was due to a woman.