“But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him … And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself … Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight”
(Luke 24:16, 27, 31).
The risen Christ Jesus reproached His two disciples who were returning from Jerusalem to Emmaus. He said that they were foolish and slow of heart to believe the Scriptures. That foolish slowness to believe was the cause of their grief and frustration on the glorious day of Christ’s resurrection. In raising Him from the dead God openly declared Jesus to be the righteous One, who had defeated the devil and sin for God’s people. Should the people, then, not be glad and celebrate on that day? Had the Lord not told His disciples that He would rise from the dead on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and had the women not told them that they had seen Him, not in a vision, but in reality?
They did not believe the Scriptures. That is why they did not celebrate yet.
However, the Lord, who died for His congregation, also rose for her. Being our highest Prophet and Teacher, He opened the Scriptures again for the disciples. From Moses and all the Prophets, He showed to them that the Christ had to suffer death in order to be true High priest. From the whole Old Testament, He made clear to them that the Christ had to give His blood as the true blood of the covenant that would take away the sins of His people, and that in that way He would go into the glory.
It is remarkable that Christ did not work faith in the hearts of these two disciples by making them recognize Him, like He did with the women and would do with the apostles. For the women were His witnesses on that day and the apostles had to be the eye and ear witnesses for the church of what they had heard and seen of the Word that became flesh.
That the Lord kept the eyes of these two men from recognizing Him was for two reasons. In the first place, it was to point out to them the seriousness of their unbelief. But the second, and main reason, must have been to give firm ground to their faith: the firm ground of the Scriptures.
The Lord Himself had lived and died by the Word of God, the testimony about Him and His work. The faith of His congregation in Him had to be based on the same infallible and authoritative Word of God. To recognize the living Jesus without knowing the Scriptures could cause doubt later on: Was it really the Lord Himself? Had it not been a vision? Christ said in the parable of Lazarus that, if people will not believe Moses and the Prophets, they also will not believe if someone would rise from the dead and preach.
So we see in our text that our risen and living Lord is still the same careful Lord. Teaching His two disciples meant teaching His congregation of all ages. When the two disciples rightly knew the Scriptures and believed them, the Lord opened their eyes, so that they recognized Him. Then that day became a feast for them. A day of great joy in the Lord, the living One, the Saviour.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”. Believe the Scriptures.
Prof. J. Geertsema in Lasting Food – A Book for Daily Family Worship, Premier Printing, Winnipeg, 1975, p. 374.