The Passover had occurred just days ago and  such a Passover as had never been before  because the one and only true lamb had  been slain for the sin of the world to take away its  tragic consequences.

John had proclaimed Jesus to be the “Lamb of  God”, but John was dead and the disciples of Jesus  were scattered just as the Lord had said when he  cited to them the words from Zechariah, “I will  smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered”  (13:7; Mark 14:27).

Their hearts were heavy beyond consolation.  What could they say to one another when all their  hopes had been dashed to the ground; the one who  they loved was dead, secure in a tomb. He could not  hear Peter’s sobs of repentance, his utter shame, nor  could he hear them struggle to understand – “we  trusted that it had been he which should have  redeemed Israel.” The darkness that had shrouded  Jerusalem three days earlier had not lifted from the  despairing disciples.

Two left Jerusalem to begin the walk to a very  small village called Emmaus, about three score  furlongs, or in our measure about 11 kilometres  from Jerusalem. They had left not knowing  what momentous happenings were unfolding in  Jerusalem.

“Abide with us: for it is toward evening”

The shadows of evening were lengthening as a  stranger joined the two and began to converse. Why  did Jesus join the two travellers? Why not go to his  mother whose soul had been pierced through with  the Roman sword as foretold by the aged Simeon;  or why not go to the eleven apostles?

The Scripture is not profuse with unnecessary  words; it deals with important facts but does not  always give us the reasons behind these facts, so  we try to piece together what little we have and  assemble the scenario.

Luke tells us there were two disciples, one was  named Cleopas, the other unnamed. Why not tell  us the name of the second? Perhaps it was a woman,  perhaps the wife of Cleopas for they obviously  lived together (Luke 24:29) – “Abide with us”, and  perhaps it was such a well-known couple it was not  necessary to name her.

Who was Cleopas?

The first fact we have is that he was husband of one of the Marys (John 19:25): “Now there stood by  the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister,  Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.”  It is a tragic picture of souls united in love and grief,  a sorrow that no words can be found to describe.

Now relationships in the Scripture are not  always as clearly defined as we are used to outlining  them and the term “sister” can be loosely defined to  be sister or sister in law. It would be inconceivable  to have named two actual sisters Mary, as Mary the  mother of Jesus and her sister Mary as in John 19:25.  The likelihood is that she was a sister-in-law, wife of  one of Mary’s brothers or a sister to Joseph, a very  loving close relation of Mary, highly spiritual having  been brought up to await the coming of Messiah.

They then, Cleopas and Mary, appear to be uncle  and aunt to Jesus. Perhaps they had filled a gap in  the daily life of Jesus, being ones whom he could go  and talk with in the absence of Joseph, now dead.  They could share with Jesus their wisdom knowing  how Joseph would have encouraged his stepson. I  imagine they were key personnel in the ecclesia in  Jerusalem, the parent images to whom the members  could turn.

Other texts give the name of Cleopas to be that of Alphaeus, father of James, one of the twelve; so  he was interwoven with the life of Jesus.

Walking with Jesus

The Scripture tells us that “some have entertained  angels unawares” (Heb 13:1) but sorrow turned  to joy when it was discovered that Cleopas had  entertained the risen, immortal Jesus unknowingly!  “Did not our heart burn?” was the only possible  response as the words of Scripture were unfolded  in the absolute truth of their meaning.

Mourning to joy

Jesus opened up the Scriptures, “beginning at Moses  and all the prophets” to show them “the things  concerning himself ”. The Psalms are, as it were, the  diary of our Lord’s life written aforetime. He had  now lived it out as foretold in Psalm 31:5, having  committed his life into his Father’s hand, and Who  had now redeemed him from the power of the grave.

“And he vanished”

The evening had come on but the dark held no fears. Without a moment’s thought they set out to walk  the eleven kilometres to Jerusalem. Their Lord, he  which “should have redeemed Israel”, was risen;  this must be proclaimed first to the small ecclesia  and then the world!

Jesus had in the meantime appeared to the  apostles but it seems to me that Cleopas was the  key figure to bring the straggling ecclesia together  and establish them. James, the half-brother of our  Lord, who later became the key figure in Jerusalem  did not in the earliest stage fill this role, and some  of the apostles had returned to Galilee as the Lord  had commanded. So it may be that the Lord’s  appearance to Cleopas was necessary that he might  bear witness to the risen Christ and the one spoken  of in all the Scripture.

Walking with the Lord Jesus today

Do we walk day by day with our Lord by our side?  We do whether we know it or not, but do we choose  to do so? He has led the way and we must follow,  as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of them  that preach the gospel of peace”.

He is risen and, like the two who walked with  Jesus to proclaim this news, we likewise must go  out with joy to tell the whole world, “He is risen”!