Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 113a, 1897

The Walk to Emmaus


December 29, 1897 [typed]

From Ms 113, 1897. Previously unpublished.

On the day of Christ’s resurrection the disciples had everything to fill their hearts with rejoicing. But this day was not to all a day of rejoicing. To some it was a day of confusion, uncertainty, and perplexity. The women brought tidings that angels had appeared to them assuring them that Christ had risen from the dead. They affirmed that they themselves had seen Jesus alive. But still the disciples doubted. Their apparent unbelief in the testimony of the women shows how low their faith had sunk. Their hopes had died with Christ; and when the news of his resurrection was brought to them, it was so different from anything they had anticipated, that they could not believe it. It was too good to be true, they thought. They had heard so much of the doctrines and the so-called scientific theories of the Sadducees that their belief in the resurrection was vague. They scarcely knew what the resurrection from the dead could mean. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 1

From eye-witnesses some of the disciples had obtained an account of the events of Friday. Others beheld with their own eyes the scenes of the crucifixion. In the afternoon of the first day of the week, two of the disciples, restless and unhappy, decided to return to their home in Emmaus, a village about eight miles from Jerusalem. Sad, discouraged, and hopeless, they pursued their evening walk, talking over the scenes of the trial and crucifixion. Their voices were full of mournful weeping. Never had they been so utterly discouraged. Hopeless and faithless, filled with gloomy forebodings for the future, they were walking in the shadow of the cross. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 2

They had not advanced far on their journey when they were joined by a stranger. But so absorbed were they in their gloom and disappointment that they did not observe him closely. They were reasoning in regard to the lessons that Christ had given, which they seemed unable to comprehend, and they continued their conversation, expressing the thoughts of their hearts. As they talked of the events that had lately taken place, their grief could not be restrained, and they wept. Jesus longed to comfort them. He saw their grief, and understood the conflicting, perplexing ideas that brought to their minds the thought, Can this man, who suffered himself to be so humiliated and so cruelly treated, be the Christ? He knew that their hearts were bound up with his love, and he longed to take them in his arms and wipe away their tears, filling them with joy and gladness. But first he must give them a lesson they would never forget. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 3

“What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” he asked. “And one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?” They told him of their disappointment in regard to their Master, “how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.” With hearts sore with disappointment, and with quivering lips, they said, “We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel, and besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done.” [Luke 24:17-21.] 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 4

Why did not the disciples remember Christ’s words, and realize that events were to be as they had been? Why did they not believe that the last part of his disclosure would be as verily fulfilled as the first part—that on the third day he would rise again? This was what they should have remembered. The priests and rulers did not forget this. On the day after Christ’s crucifixion they went to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that this deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.” [Matthew 27:63.] Why did not the disciples remember these words? 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 5

“Then said he unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” [Luke 24:25, 26.] The disciples wondered what this stranger could know, that he should speak with such earnestness, tenderness, sympathy, and hopefulness, and why his words should penetrate to their very souls. For the first time since the betrayal in the garden, they began to feel hopeful. They looked earnestly at their companion, and thought that his words were just the words that Christ would have spoken. They were filled with amazement, and their hearts began to throb with expectation, hope, and joy. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 6

Beginning with Moses, the very Alpha of history concerning himself, Christ expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things regarding his life and death. Many today discount Old Testament history. They advocate the idea that the New Testament takes the place of the Old, and that therefore the Old Testament is no longer of any use. But Christ’s first work was to begin with the Old Testament to prove that he was to come to this world, and pass through the experiences that had taken place in his incarnation. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 7

Christ gave his disciples a correct idea of what he was to be in humanity. The expectation cherished by the priests, of a Messiah that was to take the throne and exercise kingly power in accordance with man’s ideas, had misled the disciples, and Christ saw that it would interfere with a correct apprehension of his descent from the highest to the lowest position that could be occupied. Christ desired the ideas of his disciples to be pure and true in every specification. They must understand as far as possible in regard to the cup of suffering that had been apportioned to him. He showed them that the awful conflict which they could not understand, but which they would one day understand, was the fulfillment of the covenant made before the foundation of the world was laid. Christ must die as every transgressor of the law, if he continues in sin, will die. All this should be; but it would not end in defeat, but in glorious, eternal victory. The Saviour told his disciples that every effort must be made to save the world from sin. His followers must live as he lived, and work as he worked, with intense persevering effort. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 8

Thus Christ talked with the two disciples, opening their minds that they might understand the Scriptures. The disciples were weary, but the conversation did not flag. Words of life and assurance fell from the Saviour’s lips. But still the eyes of his hearers were holden. They did not suspect who their companion was. They did not think that the subject of their conversation was walking by their side; for Christ referred to himself as though he were another person. They thought that he was one of those who had been in attendance at the great feast and was now returning to his home. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 9

Thus the travelers proceeded, making their way over the rough places in the road, while the One who was soon to take his position at the right hand of God, and who could now say, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” walked beside them. [Matthew 28:18.] During the journey the sun had gone down, and before the disciples reached their place of rest, the laborers in the fields had left their work. As they were about to enter their house, the stranger appeared as though he would continue his journey. But the disciples felt drawn to him. Their souls hungered to hear more from him. “Abide with us,” they said; “for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” Without making any excuse Christ responded to the invitation. “He went in to tarry with them.” [Luke 24:29.] 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 10

Had the disciples failed on this occasion to press their invitation, they would not have known that their travelling companion was no other than the risen Lord. Christ never forces his company upon any one. He interests himself in those who he knows need him. But if they pass along, indifferent and careless, never thinking of the heavenly guests, or asking him to abide with them, he too passes on. Thus many meet with great loss. They do not know Christ any more than did the disciples as he walked and talked with them by the way. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 11

The disciples and their guest enter the house, and the simple evening meal is prepared. It is placed before the guest, and he stretches forth his hands to bless the food. Why do the disciples start back in astonishment? Their companion spreads forth his hands in exactly the same way as their Master used to do. They look again, and lo, they see in his hands the print of nails. Both exclaim at once, It is the Lord Jesus. He has risen from the dead. They rise to cast themselves at his feet and worship him. But he has vanished out of their sight. They look at the space which has been occupied by One whose body has lately lain in the grave, and say to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” [Verse 32.] 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 12

But with this great news to communicate, they cannot sit and talk. Their weariness and hunger are gone, and full of joy they immediately set out again on the same path by which they came, hurrying to tell the tidings to the disciples in the city. The moon has set, but the Sun of Righteousness is shining upon them. Their hearts leap for joy. In some parts the road is not safe or secure, but they climb over the steep places, slipping on the smooth rocks. They do not know, they do not see, that they have the protection of Him who has just travelled the road with them. With their pilgrim’s staff in hand, they press on, desiring to go faster than they dare. They lose their track, but find it again. Thus sometimes running, sometimes stumbling, they urge their way forward, their unseen companion close beside them. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 13

The disciples feel as though they are in a new world. Christ is a living Saviour. They no longer mourn over him as dead. Christ is risen, Christ is risen, they repeat over and over again. This is the message they are carrying to the sorrowing ones. They must tell them the wonderful story of the walk to Emmaus. They must tell them who joined them by the way. They carry the greatest message ever given to the world—a message of glad tidings upon which the hopes of the human family for time and for eternity depend. Christ has risen from the dead. He who is the antitype of the sheaf of the first fruits, has come forth from the grave. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 14

Entering Jerusalem the disciples go to the upper chamber where Christ spent the hours of the last evening before his death instructing his disciples. It is late, but they know that the disciples will not sleep until they know for a certainty what has become of the body of their Lord. They find the door of the chamber securely barred. They knock for admission, but no answer comes. All is still. Then they give their names. The door is carefully unbarred, but as soon as they have entered, it is fastened, to guard against spies. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 15

The two travelers find all in surprised excitement. The voices of those in the room break out into thanksgiving and praise, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon.” [Verse 34.] Then the travelers, panting with the haste with which they made their journey, tell the wondrous story of how as they were journeying along full of hopelessness and discouragement, they were joined by a stranger. With wonder and hope filling their hearts, they relate how he opened the Scriptures to them, and how they invited him to abide with them. They tell how as their guest extended his hands to bless the food placed before him, they recognized him. Their eyes were indeed opened. They saw the marks of the nails, and rose up to worship their risen Lord, but he vanished out of their sight. 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 16

They have just finished their story, and some are saying that they cannot believe it; for it is too good to be true, when, behold, another person stands before them. Every eye is fastened upon the stranger. No one has knocked for entrance. No footstep has been heard. The disciples are startled, and wonder what it can mean. Then they hear a voice that is no other than the familiar voice of their Master. Clear and distinct the words fall from his lips, “Peace be unto you.” [Verse 36.] 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 17

“Then,” John writes, “were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus unto them again, Peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, even so I send you. And when he has said this, he breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” [John 20:20-22.] 12LtMs, Ms 113a, 1897, par. 18