The Bible records a story that happened two thousand years ago on the day that Jesus was resurrected. It’s an account of two individuals on the road from Jerusalem to their hometown of Emmaus, and about a stranger they met. Here’s their story.
We left Jerusalem, about midday
Avoiding travellers along the way.
Taking the road alone, dusty and dry,
Trying to escape that prying eye.
We argued as we walked, what could it mean
Of Jesus, and the miracles we’d seen?
Of stories we’d heard, of places we’d been,
How a lamb could atone for one’s own sin.
Half in fear, half in hope,
Rehearsing His life, trying to cope.
First we whispered, then we cried
You see, we were there when Jesus died.
Then a stranger joined us unaware—
His presence fresh, like a gust of air.
We gave no thought, where he was from
And took no interest in how he’d come.
At first he spoke not yet a word,
But listened carefully, as we conferred.
As we discussed the day’s events
And all that Jesus was up against.
The stranger then spoke, as in dismay,
“Why do you dispute along the way?”
Stunned, we said, “Didn’t you see the throng,
The trial, the crucifixion, the terrible wrong?”
Discouraged beyond reason, our minds in a haze,
Cleopas asked, “Where’ve you been the last three days?
Did you just arrive? Are you a visitor in town?
Have you not heard the news buzzing around?”
“What things?” the stranger said, his face unseen.
Cleopas replied, “About Jesus, the Nazarene!
He was powerful in action, in speech before God;
A man of His word, without deceit or fraud.
“But then, the priests, the leaders of our land
Sentenced Jesus by popular demand.
They nailed Him to a cross, He was crucified;
It was there on that tree, He actually died.
“We grieve, for we hoped that He was the One
Who would redeem Israel, when things were all done.
Instead, He was buried in a tomb—it’s now the third day;
It seemed all over, so we planned to travel this way.
“But then, today, some women we know astounded us.
They arrived at the tomb early to avoid any fuss.
They went with spices, as is custom to do
And found not His body or anyone else they knew.
“They claimed to see a vision of angels there
Who said Jesus was alive, and don’t despair.
Men went to the tomb to take a look;
They found Him not and returned rather shook.”
And then the stranger spoke, as one would grieve.
He spoke of things we knew, things we believe,
But he cast a fresh light on heart and mind;
Rebuked us for being so deaf and blind.
He said, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe
All that the prophets have spoken, you see.
Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things
And enter His glory as is fitting with kings?”
Then starting with Moses at the front of the scroll
He taught through the Prophets, he spoke to the soul.
He explained God’s Lamb, using all of Scripture
And helped us see Jesus in the overall picture.
Finally, we came to Emmaus, our native hometown.
It was late in the day, the sun almost down.
It seemed the stranger was travelling on
So we urged him, “Stay the night until the dawn.”
As we ate our meal, he broke the bread;
In an instant, we saw Jesus, no longer dead.
Our eyes were opened, but then He was gone—
The One to whom our hearts had been drawn.
“Were not our hearts burning?” we both exclaimed,
“As we travelled the road and Jesus was named?”
The Scriptures made sense as never before
And something inside came alive with a roar.
We left the same hour, in the city to find
The followers of Jesus, in a new frame of mind.
Simon uttered words unheard before,
“Jesus I’ve seen! He’s alive evermore!”
Then, we told of the One we’d met that day
And the message He gave us as we travelled the way.
We told of seeing Jesus, alive from the dead
And how we knew Him in the breaking of bread.
And as in our excitement we spoke of His being,
One stood in our midst, of whom we were speaking.
Jesus appeared, the One raised from the dead;
We were torn with terror and almost fled.
But then Jesus spoke, “Peace be with you,” He said,
“Why are you troubled? Why do you dread?
Look, my hands, my feet; it’s me you see
With flesh and bones, from death now free.”
Then He opened our minds to understand
How Scripture showed that it was planned.
That Moses, the Prophets, the Psalms declared,
Messiah must die, to a lamb compared.
And from that day, there arose in our breast
A powerful fury never laid to rest:
To tell all others, “Jesus lives today!”
God came as a Lamb, our sin-debt to pay.
Copyright © 2016 by John R. Cross
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