Who are these guys and why are they going to Emmaus? Recent archeology puts Emmaus at 19 miles from Jerusalem (160 stadia), not seven (60 stadia). This agrees with some of the oldest texts. Early scribes dropped the one hundred stadia, perhaps because it seemed incredible that someone was trying to walk that far, in sandals, without GPS or an MP3 player. These dudes were motivated. Even though the women were saying, “Jesus lives,” they were hitting the road, hard. I guess witnessing a crucifixion does that. Especially when you are afraid of being tarred with the same brush.
So, who were these two guys, running away from Jerusalem? It says that they are disciples. The Bible officially names twelve men and none of them are named Cleopas. When Jesus named the twelve guys, Matthew, James, etc… there’s this dude in the back jumping up and down saying, “Pick me!” It kind of reminds me of when I was a kid and picked teams for baseball. Actually, from the beginning, there seems to be a larger group traveling with Jesus than the famous twelve. We read earlier in Luke 8, about women who not only traveled with Jesus, but picked up the check at the restaurant. In Luke 10, Jesus picks 72 disciples to go out and preach and heal. When he picks the 72 disciples, Cleopas is, once more, back there jumping and saying, “pick me.” He gets picked for number 71, he says ‘Yes!’ So, Cleopas is a disciple and a friend, but he isn’t a member of the inner circle. He’s close enough to Jesus to get worried when Jesus is arrested, but not one of those twelve that Leonardo photographs in the upper room, sitting all on one side of the table.
There is also this other disciple, what’s his name? The name of the other guy is“Bill.” I think part of what Luke is asking us to do, is to insert our own name into this passage. Because, we are friends of Jesus. Right? Are we disciples like Cleopas and Bill? Are we close enough to worry if Christians start to be persecuted? We may not be on Jesus’ payroll, but we are guilty by association.
I think in every church, the number of disciples is more than 12, but less than the membership role. You don’t automatically become a disciple by joining the membership role. What does it take to be like Cleopas, or Martha, or Mary Magdalene, or Rufus?
As I preach this passage this week, I’m going to be challenging people to think about their own discipleship and how it is working for them.