“Why do you look so sad?” The stranger asks.
“Sad?” Cleo replies. “You don’t even begin to understand sad! Have you been living under a rock that you don’t know what just happened?”
“Tell me,” the stranger urges, “it is good to voice your grief.”
“Several years ago, my son Jacob told me that he has been following this teacher from Galilee, named ‘Yeshua.’ So my wife, Mariam, and I decided to check him out. We became persuaded that this man is God’s anointed Savior of Israel. There were lots of things he did we could not understand, but his teaching had unsurpassing power. He could heal the sick, raise the dead and even control nature!”
“Did you see all these yourself? And did you believe he was the Messiah?” the stranger queries.
“Oh Yes! I believed he was the Messiah alright. But unlike my wife and son who follow him around, I need to do my business and make a living. I live in Emmaus, and when I heard he was going to Jerusalem for the Passover, I took time off so I could listen to him. And things happened so fast. A week before the Passover, Yeshua came into Jerusalem on a colt and we all believed he was the fulfillment of prophecy. This was right under the Roman noses too! With all the crowds, the Roman soldiers at the Antonia Fortress either did not notice or did not care that Yeshua was welcomed as a king. Maybe they just didn’t understand ‘Hosanna’ or what we were doing.”
“Then it call came crashing down.” Cleo continues, “The Sanhedrin arrested him, and charged with him with blasphemy. They then accused him of treason before Pilate the Procurator. Even wicked Pilate did not want to crucify Jesus. But you know, after Pilate’s previous mess, he could not antagonize the Sadducees too much. So he crucified Yeshua. Now we are just without hope.”
“I was so sure he would redeem Israel from the humiliation of Rome and those rascal Sadducees. I don’t know what to expect on how he would do it, but there was no question in my mind that he was God’s appointed Messiah to save us. Well, whatever he was supposed to do is just not happening now. He is dead. This really leaves us nowhere. ”
“Is this the sad end to the story?” asks the stranger.
“Well, ‘Yes’ and’ No.’ My wife and some of her friends went to the tomb and said his body was gone, and that he is alive; and my son and his other disciples also said as the women did. But that is just a cruel thing to do to me. I mean, I am already crushed and they want to give me false hope.”
At this point, the stranger turns to Cleo and says sternly, “Even if you don’t believe those who saw him alive, you could at least believe what Scripture says: that the Messiah has to suffer all these things and then enter glory!”
“Here, let me explain to you, starting with the books of Moses.” And with this, the stranger explains how Scripture prophesies that Messiah has to suffer for the sins of the world and bring about the spiritual and global kingdom of God.
As the stranger speaks, Cleo’s heart warms. Can it be true that he did not see these wonderful promises of God before? The stranger did not just speak words of truth to his mind, he spoke joy to his soul.
When they reach Emmaus, the stranger wants to walk on, but Cleo would have none of it. This stranger has truth. He must hear more.
“Please join us for dinner,” Cleo says.
At dinner, the stranger blesses the bread and breaks it. Now Cleo sees the resurrected Yeshua! He did not recognize him, but now his eyes are open. This is Yeshua himself!
Oh joy! What is this?
And Yeshua disappeared!
Oh joy! Oh joy! Cleo and his companion dash around the house, not knowing what to do and what to say. Yeshua has indeed risen from the dead! That is impossible that it has happened!
“We need to get back to Jerusalem and tell the others!” the companion says. Cleo agrees.
Grabbing some bread to eat along the way, they dashed off. As quickly as his old legs would carry him, Cleo and his companion hurries back to Jerusalem and tells them what happened.
“Yeshua is risen from the dead!” Cleo announces boldly to the disciples meeting secretly in the night. “I had lost hope, and did not believe Mariam or you all, but Yeshua himself explained the Scriptures to me.”
Cleo had lost hope in Yeshua because he imposed his wrong expectations on the Messiah. Yeshua had to realign his expectations to conform to Scripture. Then show Cleo that he has indeed risen from the dead. Instead of Cleo’s expectations, Yeshua has done so much more and will accomplish so much more.
Yeshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus.
When we lose hope, the resurrected Jesus gives hope. His hope is not based on some wishful thinking. His hope aligns our hearts to what God wants, and by his power over death, shows us there is a resurrection, and that there is no problem too difficult for him to handle.
We are at peace when our hope is in the true promises of Jesus
The above reconstruction is based on the following connections: Cleopas is also Alpheus, father of James, one of Jesus’ disciples (Matt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Ac 1:13). Clopas is a variant spelling. His wife was Mary who was at the cross during the crucifixion (John 19:25), and visited Jesus at the tomb (Mk 16:1; Luke 24:10).
Note: The ESV is used unless indicated otherwise.