Emmaus, what’s that? Why is it important?
It was after Joshua (Jesus is the Greek transliteration of Yeshua) had been put to death – he had been on public display during the three days and three nights process and everybody of the community knew he was dead! We find two disciples were walking towards Emmaus, a small village in Greater Jerusalem.
They were obviously not happy so Joshua joined up with them and started walking with them. You can read the whole account in Luke 24. To make conversation Joshua askes them why the were so sad? That’s what people did in those days, they walked everywhere and they talked a lot: weather, politics, etc.,
The disciples were surprised that this fellow traveler did not know and therefore assumed that he had just arrived, from another country perhaps (Luke 24:18). The events of the last few days were certainly the talk of the town, and the many pilgrims who had come from far to celebrate the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Joshua persisted and asked which events they were talking about. They replied that Joshua of Nazareth had been put to death. They further added that “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” (vs. 21)
Surely they should have been somberly happy, after all Joshua “had died on the cross and paid for their sins” – they could now look forward to going to heaven (paradise as Joshua said to the criminal executed with him)? That is the interpretation one jumps to with today’s traditional Christian beliefs as your guide. But that was not their understanding at all.
They have been taught the good news by Joshua that the coming kingdom of God was near. That had been the focus of the teaching as God had directed. God wanted people to be excited because of the positive he was doing rather than the negative he was also going to do to correct Satan’s doing.
And Joshua did this faithfully! But God had made clear to him that he had to be the “passover lamb that takes away the sins of the world”. It was only in Matthew 16 that he felt the need to teach his disciples about his death. In Mat 16:16, when Joshua had asked Peter who he thought he was, Peter replied “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Joshua was the anointed one, the one who would rule the Kingdom and he commended Peter for that. Because of the overuse of the word messiah, many people think it is a fancy way of saying savior, they think the words are synonyms.
They understood that Joshua was anointed to be the king i.e. he would “redeem” them. What motivated them and was the foundation of their faith in God, was a not a need of salvation because of a fear of going to hell, instead it was the excitement of being alive with Joshua and being part of the just government in God’s Kingdom. From then on Joshua began to teach them that he would be killed in Jerusalem (vs 21). This was a foreign concept to the disciples, so much so that Peter objected leading to this correction “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Mat 16:21) Joshua correctly identified that Satan was the reason why he was going to have to suffer and die in Jerusalem, but he had set his mind steadfastly to do “the concerns of God”.
Redeem means to buy back; to free from captivity especially by paying a ransom. So no more Romans, Greeks, Babylonians etc.! And now he was dead. A dead king cannot rule a kingdom, so yes, they were really, really sad!
Joshua was really excited at that stage, he just experienced dying and being in the grave for three days and three nights just as father had said it would happen – he could hardly wait to help these disciples to get their excitement back. The were not part of his inner circle of disciples but he had noticed them in the crowd. So then Joshua explained to them “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)
Side note, they had not bibles or smartphone apps with them, they had memorized much of the scriptures so all a teacher (rabbi) like Joshuawould have to do is say a few words and the learners (disciples) would know the rest and would say it in their heads or even aloud. That would help to strengthen the confidence level of that memory circuit and burn it in as we discussed in the previous post.
What Jesus was doing was going over prophecies they were already familiar with but putting them together in a way that they had not done before. Joshua was building a subroutine, a block of known facts, in a way that made sense – their confidence level in the validity of those memorized Joshua suddenly went through the roof! Quite literally their hearts were burning within in them.
Now they were no longer sad, in fact they were so happy in a way new optimism makes one, when it cancelled deep pessimism that they had there because of the death of Joshua and then and there decided to turn around and walk all the way back to Jerusalem to tell the others.
“They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (vs 32)
That was quite a turn around!
What exactly did Joshua show them? We will be going over those prophecies in other posts soon, but in summary the kingdom that God had planned from the beginning to counter the negative effects of Satan, was still very much a go and that he, Joshua, is the king. But as God had explained to Joshua, the plan required that Joshua had to be the passover lamb that would take away the sins or the world.
Yes they were excited again. Joshua, the king was back. They now understood the Kingdom more fully.