It’s fun to watch these two men change as they find out and figure out Jesus is alive. The story begins with them leaving Jerusalem. Not only is the Passover over, and they need to head back to their day jobs, but the Hope for Redemption of Israel, the Desire of Nations, is dead. Who can believe it? And they are just churning from it all, both emotionally and verbally. They are disquieted and unnerved because their expectancy has been crushed.
In slips Jesus, known to the reader but unknown to the characters in the story. We feel like eavesdroppers, secretly hearing what they’re thinking and feeling. They are noticeably upset and downcast, disoriented and disconnected. We hear about their excitement of a prophet in their midst, powerful in the things of God. We hear about the brutal and unjust atrocity of the crucifixion. We hear the cry of their heart and their hope that He was going to redeem them all. We hear, ironically, they have even heard unbelievable tales about Jesus’ resurrection, but they’re not ready to buy into it. But who can believe it? C’mon. Resurrection?
Jesus now schools them. First of all, the whole of Scripture talks about Jesus, not just a few messianic prophecies. He lets them know that circumstances don’t matter; appearances don’t matter. What matters is the truth of the Word of God. He is moving them from suffering to glory just as he walked that same path, but on a different plane. But there’s more. When he breaks bread with them, it’s like a revelation of God. He might as well have started glowing. He reveals himself, shares himself with them, as if he’s restoring fellowship to a prodigal son, journeying to a far and wayward land. It was a mystical moment of divine glory.
Suddenly their eyes are opened. It sounds a lot like Genesis 3.7, except instead of being opened to evil they were opened to good, and to God. They went from disillusionment to delight at the speed of illuminating light. Instead of broken with disappointment, their hearts burned like a bush on fire but not consumed. It’s as if creation, the exodus, the monarchy, and the prophets—the whole history of Israel—was coming alive before their very eyes.
And then he was gone, but he left behind two men who were radically changed in their heart, mind, soul, and strength. Genesis has been reversed; sin has been undone; the joy is real.