At some point during that first Resurrection Sunday, two of the disciples, a Cleopas and one other, leave Jerusalem for the village of Emmaus. Jesus follows them and overtakes them on the road and overhears them talking about the things that had happened to Him over the last few days. He stops them and asks what they are talking about, and they can’t believe there’s anyone who has been in Jerusalem (as they presume Jesus has come from) who hasn’t heard about the death of Jesus. Jesus pretends not to know, so Cleopas tells how He had been condemned by the chief priests and rulers to be crucified, how His disciples had hoped that He was the promised Messiah who would redeem Israel, and how the women told the story of seeing angels at the tomb but no body.
Jesus responds by saying they don’t understand the Scriptures very well, or they would see that the Messiah would have to suffer before being glorified. He then proceeds to explain how that is so from all the Scriptures that had been written to that point. This is important, because it shows that God’s plan from the beginning was for Jesus to die on the cross to atone for the sins of all who trust in Him for salvation. It wasn’t a Plan B or a mid-flight adjustment to try to fix a mistake. God is sovereign and cannot make mistakes because He is all powerful and knows all things.
When they get to Emmaus, Jesus appears to be heading past it, but Cleopas and his companion ask Him to stay with them because the day is nearly done, and they want to share a meal with Him. He agrees, and after He blesses the food and starts to hand it to them, their eyes are opened to who He is. And then He vanishes. It has been suggested that the reason they recognize Him at that moment is because they could see the nail wounds in His wrist as He hands them the food. You can imagine the sleeve of His robe pulling up as He stretches His hand out.
Why does Jesus suddenly disappear as soon as the disciples are allowed to recognize Him? I think it has a lot to do with why He appeared to these two in the first place. Certainly, they needed to be told how to read the Scriptures more accurately, but I also think Jesus was going around and finding all the disciples who were trying to leave Jerusalem and getting them to turn around and head back. He eventually tells them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, which is hard to do when everyone has started going in different directions.
These disciples understand the implications of Jesus appearing to them and head back to Jerusalem, probably after finishing their meal. They get back to tell all of the other disciples what they had seen and heard, only to find out Jesus had already appeared to Simon.
Let us always be quick to share the good news that You are alive today, and that this fact has ultimate, eternal significance.