Hiking the Emmaus Trail

Sermon October 14, 2018 PastorBryon


Former heavy-weight boxer James (Quick) Tillis is a cowboy from Oklahoma who went to Chicago to fight in the early 1980s. When he arrived in the Windy City he stepped off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under by arms in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears Tower. He put his suitcases down, and looked up at the Tower and said to himself, ‘I’m going to conquer Chicago.’ “When he looked down, the suitcases were gone.”

Life has a tendency of going in the wrong direction sometimes, doesn’t it? And when we allow ourselves to become anxious or discouraged it’s easy to lose sight of Jesus. The early disciples experienced discouragement when after three years of walking with Jesus and basking in his presence it all came to an abrupt end with his crucifixion. Even though Jesus warned them, even though scripture foretold it, they still missed the mark and when things didn’t turn out the way they wanted or expected, it turned their lives upside down.

We have before us this morning one of the most vivid and insightful accounts of Christ’s appearances after His resurrection. Luke is the only one of the four gospel writers to include this story. It is a story that reveals to us not only something about who we are, but how Jesus opens our eyes to see Him for who He is and about how we can come to know Him.

The trail to Emmaus is both a literal and a spiritual hike. On one hand it recounts the story of two disciples who, after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, walk seven miles from Jerusalem to their village of Emmaus. On the other hand, it outlines for us the hike we all take from not recognizing Jesus, to understanding what the Scripture says about Him, to recognizing Him for who He is, and finally to our passionate witness of what we have experienced.

Scripture: Luke 24:13-35


13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”


18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”


19 And He said to them, “What things?”


So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”


25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

The Disciples’ Eyes Opened


28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.


32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

Background Information

  • The road from Jerusalem to Emmaus was 7 miles
  • Two disciples are mentioned but only one by name (Cleopas)
  • This was the third day after the crucifixion.

Three things this scripture teaches us

  1. Discouragement and anxiety can blind us from God’s truth

Although Jesus warned the disciples what was to come none headed his warning. They now found themselves discouraged, anxious and confused as to what they should believe about Jesus. The two on the road to Emmaus demonstrated their discouragement in that scriptures stated they were reasoning with one another about the events that had taken place over the last three days or they were arguing. Further, when Jesus appeared he asked them what they were discussing and asked them, why they were sad.

Their response is an example of their confusion and failing faith. They didn’t share about the Crucified Christ who foretold of his crucifixion and resurrection. They said they thought he was going to be the Messiah who would free their people. They also didn’t share how this righteous man was wrongfully and unjustly accused and murdered.

Verse 16 says, “But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.” Their discouragement and lack of faith kept them from seeing Jesus.

  1. God’s ways are not our ways

They had a preconceived idea of who Jesus was, what He had come to do, and how He should do it. But when things did not turn out like they thought they should, they dismissed the whole thing as a mere failure, as misplaced hope and trust.

While God always has a plan, we are not always privy to that plan. When things don’t turn out like we expect, instead of giving up and admitting defeat, perhaps we would be wise to see things differently, to see if maybe God is up to something we simply do not understand.

We need to be careful not to make the same mistake, to discount what God has done simply because we cannot explain it or understand it. While God often uses natural things to accomplish His will, He also does things we can neither explain nor understand. These two disciples knew something had happened, but it was beyond their level of faith to see things as they truly were.

  1. Jesus seeks us out

Although the disciples knew who Jesus was, they did not recognize Him. They knew a lot about Him. They had been witnesses to all those things that had happened in Jerusalem. They had heard, no doubt, on many occasions the things Jesus had testified about Himself. Yet, they were not able to recognize Jesus when they met Him. But that’s okay because Jesus is persistent and stuck with them as their faith increased. Jesus pursued them!


Today you may be experiencing discouragement, anxiety, and failing faith. Maybe you think God has abandoned you or he hasn’t heard your prayers. Maybe you know exactly what the scripture says and you know what God expects of you but there’s this gap between your head and your heart and you just can’t get past your discouragement, fear, anxiety. There’s this phase in the Bible that repeats again and again, “Wait on the Lord”.

You may ask, what should I do while I wait on the Lord? Walk in obedience.

Remember Galatians 6:9 teaches us to not grow weary in doing good because in due season will shall reap if we do not lose heart.


God is standing ready to reveal himself to you today. He is pursuing you. Slow down and turn your focus on him.

Remember his promise to us in Isaiah 40:31

31 But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.



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