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The Road To Emmaus

So a quick disclaimer: much of what follows is common knowledge depending on how much scripture you've studied, but this was all new to me and it blew my mind when I first came across it. That's why I wanted to share it, in hopes that if you're someone who hasn't heard any of it before, then maybe all this will be new to you and will blow your mind...and maybe even deepen your faith. So without further ado...

I love learning about OT and NT allusions, cross-references, and parallels. The most recent set I came across are from the Road to Emmaus story found in Luke's Gospel.

The first allusion/parallel can be seen when the two people (who by many are purported to actually be a couple, Cleopas and his wife Mary) walking on the road to Emmaus to meet Jesus. Notice we're told that their eyes "were kept from recognizing Him [Jesus]" (Luke 24:16); in other words, their eyes weren't opened.

What other couple do we know whose eyes weren't opened? Adam and Eve. If that sounds like a stretch, consider the fact that both couples' eyes also wind up eventually being opened, but only after they eat. Hold that thought.

The couple on the road to Emmaus start telling the yet-to-be-recognized Jesus the events of what happened, right? They speak of having had hope (past tense) but they no longer do because they lost Jesus (he was crucified) and it's been three days since His death. The next parallel/allusion can be found in Jesus's response...

He says to them that "it was necessary" (Luke 24:25; Luke uses the Greek word dei) for the Christ to suffer these things to happen. Here's why that matters.

Luke also uses that exact same word (dei) when he writes what Jesus said when speaking to another couple—his parents—who had thought they lost Him, but they found Him three days later in the temple. Jesus's response to them was to tell them "it was necessary" (Luke 2:49) that he be in His Father's house.

Also of note: Joseph and Mary were going to Jerusalem to find Jesus because they think they lost Him. Cleopas and Mary are leaving Jerusalem because they think they lost Jesus.

And—although to be fair, this one could go without saying—in both instances, Jesus is gone for three days.

Next, the Road to Emmaus story happens on the first day of the week. This is relevant because it's meant to allude to the creation story. How/why?

Well, just as God created light on the first day of the week during creation, here on the first day of the new creation Jesus is the new light because He has risen from the dead. He ushers in not only a new day, a new week, but a new creation.

Another one: here we have Jesus walking with a couple in the new creation just as God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve in the old creation.

Next: remember when we were told their eyes weren't open? Well, Mary & Cleopas eventually come to recognize Jesus and we're told their eyes were opened (Greek word dianoigó; Luke 24:31). This happens when Jesus breaks the bread. But wait—what does breaking the bread have to do with their eyes opening? Think back again to Adam and Eve.

Adam and Eve's eyes were opened (to guilt and shame) after they had taken the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Here, Mary and Cleopas's eyes are opened (to the face of God, to glory, to hope, to love) when they take the bread—Jesus's body—which is the fruit from the tree of life (the cross).

And this is less of a parallel and more of a sidenote: notice the gospel says after they recognized Him, Jesus disappeared from their sight (Luke 24:31). Now, those last three words—from their sight—might at first seem redundant. After all, where else would he disappear from if not from their sight, right? But God doesn't waste words, and this is not a redundancy.

These words actually serve as a subtle but significant qualifier to the fact that he disappeared. See, simply disappearing would mean He's not there; saying that He disappeared from their sight though doesn't mean he's not there; it means they can't see Him. And where he is if he's still there but just not able to be seen?

He's in the bread, in the eucharist!

Last but not least, the road to Emmaus and the table at Emmaus are the two things we do during mass. We hear (open) the scriptures of Israel just as Jesus opened the scriptures (Luke 24:32 uses the Greek word dianoigĂł, the same word that is used for the opening of the eyes) for Cleopas and Mary. And then we break the bread just as Jesus broke bread with his disciples.

I hope you found all that as interesting and awesome as I did. Stay tuned for more!

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