Jesus and Food – Emmaus Bread

Jesus and Food – Emmaus Bread

Jesus and Food – Emmaus Bread.

“… And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and Jesus indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, ‘Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as Jesus sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.” (Luke 24:27-31; read the whole story in Luke 24:13-35).

Late on Resurrection Sunday, two disciples were walking from Jerusalem to a village named Emmaus. One disciple was named Cleopas, and the other one is not named, though many suspect that his companion was Mary his wife. Both were fervent disciples of Jesus and fully believed in Him. But they were distressed and confused because of the many events of the last three days. They were deep in conversation, commiserating about what appeared to be great disappointments, and suddenly a stranger appeared with them as they were walking along the road. Scripture says that “Their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.

The two disciples were perplexed and troubled, and they even gave signs of giving up hope. Why else would they be walking away from their only source of support and encouragement? They had received the news that, from the solid witness of trustworthy women, Jesus’ body was no longer in the tomb! Those witnesses had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Why did Cleopas and his companion choose now of all times to leave Jerusalem? They knew of His crucifixion, they knew of a possible resurrection, and they decide to leave for home? Perhaps they were preoccupied with Jesus’ death. Perhaps their faith was shaken by the recent events. Perhaps they had limited their vision of Jesus to that of political Messiah, and not a spiritual one, a Messiah that would free Israel from its enemies. They seemed to suggest that in their conversation while they walked.

After listening to the disciples grapple with Jesus’ death and missing body, Jesus couldn’t contain Himself any longer. He told them that they were being foolish, that their faith was too small. He told them that the prophets in Scripture were clear about the suffering of the Messiah and how the Messiah would only enter glory after He endured suffering. At this point, Jesus walked them through the Hebrew Bible, explaining to them all the ways Jesus fulfilled the Scripture. Jesus conducted a personalized Bible Study on the road to Emmaus! What a privilege for them! Later, Jesus told them that He had shared with them everything written about Christ in the law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.

We are shown here the only way to understand the Word, the only way to take Scripture in and digest it for soul food… Jesus has to be the One who opens up the Bible. We learn to depend on the Spirit of Christ to open it up, anoint the words, and feed us with it. Teachers of Scripture who are not anointed by God will give us stale bread and lifeless food. Whenever we are reading the Bible for ourselves, we are to ask Jesus to anoint the words and open the Word for us, just like He did on the road to Emmaus. Luke couldn’t have put it any better. “He opened their minds to understand the Scripture.” (Luke 24:45).

After the supernatural Bible Study on the road, Jesus was still with them as they neared their destination, the village of Emmaus. He pretended, for some reason, that He was going to continue on past Emmaus, but the disciples asked Jesus to remain with them in their house for the night. Good Jewish hospitality at its best. The disciples used beautiful, picturesque biblical language in the way they implored Him to stay… “Abide with us.” Jesus agreed to remain with them, and they sat down soon to eat at the dining table. Jesus promptly took the bread and blessed it, probably reciting the traditional Jewish blessing: “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who brings forth bread from the earth.” As Jesus was breaking the bread, their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus. In His glorified body, without earthly physical limitations, Jesus then simply disappeared.

In this scene we find what became later to be known as the domestic church. This setting in Emmaus reveals the home to be the place where Jesus is present, where the dining table becomes the altar. This idea has Jewish roots, because in Jewish circles “a man’s home is his Temple, the table an altar, the food his sacrifice, and himself the priest.’ (Dr. David Stern). It is easy to accept this biblical idea as we read through the Hebrew Bible, in which so many of the holy days were centered on celebrating the festivities in the home, with the children being taught the Faith in a domestic context. Much has been said about the appearance of Jesus at the table in Emmaus as being a foretaste of the Eucharist, Communion. “When the two disciples urged Jesus to stay with them, Jesus afterwards responded by giving them a way to stay in Him, by entering into a profound communion with Jesus through the sacrament of the Eucharist.” (John Paul 2).

Cleopas and his companion were overjoyed after recognizing Jesus in their home. They had seen the risen Jesus, and they wanted to tell the 11 disciples about their experience. So they rushed back to Jerusalem to do so. Little did they know at this point that Jesus would soon make another appearance, this time with all the disciples. This time, Jesus would eat some broiled fish!

One early biblical manuscript claims that Emmaus was about 7 miles from Jerusalem (Luke 24:13). Another early manuscript though claims that Emmaus was few miles further down the road. Archeologists are leaning towards the latter view, because they have unearthed ruins from what they believe is the biblical Emmaus, about 12.5 miles from Jerusalem. There is now an official hiking trail that extends from Jerusalem to Emmaus Nicolopis, where there is an established church named Church of the Breaking of the Bread. This church is standing on the spot that is purported to be the House of Cleopas. Oh, for a chance to walk that trail!