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May 15, 2020

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Bible Gem 1312 - Breaking the Bread – the last Last Supper (Luke 24:28-31a)

November 3, 2019


As they approached Emmaus the time for talking had come to end. On this likely three hour journey it is hard for us to know how long they had been talking. Jesus joined them midway through the  journey, so we don't know at what part of the journey their conversation started.  But at this stage of the story they are almost there, almost to their destination of Emmaus. It was [pros hespera] - "toward evening” and the day was almost over. These two expressions together add weight to the fact night was coming quickly. Now is the time when it is dangerous to continue the journey. To continue the journey would mean travelling on uncertain paths or trails in the dark as well as subjecting yourself to attacks by robbers and thieves or wild animals. It is not a good time to keep going. Not only that but it is time for the evening meal. Jesus didn't have a home to go to in Emmaus; we know of no connections that Jesus had there. So where was He going to go? Furthermore, what was Jesus' purpose in going to Emmaus. We know the two disciples lived there in Emmaus. We also know Jesus didn't live there. I suspect Jesus purpose in going to Emmaus was to talk with these two disciples and through them to all disciples everywhere. So now what?


As they come into Emmaus at dusk Jesus acted as though he was going further but the two disciples beg him to stay the night with them. It could well have been as some suggest that the second disciple was Cleopas’ wife. If however they were two friends then it seems the one stays the night with the other so they can be together with Jesus. It all seems so simple and straight forward except for the [prospoieo] - "to act as though", "to pretend” or "to give the impression that . . .” AND [parablazomai] to urge, persuade, entreat or beg. To prevail upon someone to do something, almost against their will. But was it against Jesus will? The first verb indicates to us Jesus was play acting and feigning that He was going to continue His journey when in actual fact His desire was to stay with them. To leave now and continue His journey would make no sense. They haven’t recognised who He is yet. The job is not finished. If He leaves now they simply had an interesting talk with a stranger on the way home. Many want to weaken the strength of this verb which at the heart means to pretend or to act in a way contrary to reality. If they had not invited Him to stay the night what would He have done? Would “this stranger” simply have continued the journey – and to where? Or is this simply a polite cultural way of getting oneself invited to dinner? 


“Well I ought to continue my journey so I guess I will leave you now.”

“Oh no please, stay the night with us, it's late and it's dinner time. Stay.”

“But I really should keep going and I don’t want to impose.”

“No, you are not imposing at all. We insist you stay the night. It is late and it is now dangerous to continue your journey (if you are passing through Emmaus). You can’t keep going now. STAY.”


They therefore urge Him to stay with them. Why? Was it for Jesus benefit or was it for their benefit or alternatively was it out of cultural appropriateness? I suspect these two were so taken with all "this stranger” had been telling them that they wanted to hear more. There was something about this man that was compelling and attractive. Hence they BEG Him to stay the night with them.  How could Jesus refuse when He had nowhere else to go and when His work with these two was not yet finished? This part of the story has to be brought to a conclusion – for our sakes if not for these two travelling companions. 


And after He was reclining at the table with them as was the custom (see Gemz 1020) He took the bread

                                  blessed it

                                  broke it

                                  gave it to them.


Jesus had done this a number of times during the gospel story but interestingly He was not the head of the house whose role it was to break the bread and bless it and distribute it to his guests. Has the host asked Jesus to break the bread on their behalf after hearing all He had to say on the way there? Or did Jesus simply take control of the situation and act (again) as the host and pronounce the normal Jewish prayer and blessing over the food. The verb used here is different from the one used in Luke 22:19  


He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then He broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying . . .  


καὶ λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασε καὶ   ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς    λέγων· 

     Taking  bread blessing          broke   and  gave     to them saying 


Luk 24:30  

καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ κατακλιθῆναι αὐτὸν μετ᾿ αὐτῶν λαβὼν τὸν ἄρτον

                             reclining                                    taking        bread


εὐλόγησε,    καὶ κλάσας ἐπεδίδου αὐτοῖς. 

gave thanks       broke     gave


The point here is that we don’t have exactly the same words being used. So the disciples are not hearing the standard words and recognising the words and then recognising Him because of the words spoken. In the act of giving it to them, not because they heard THE WORDS, their eyes were opened. What is going on here?


I think I have reached an appropriate place to pause and leave the moment with you. Meditate on this scene until the next Gem before we continue our investigation. If they were not recognising the words spoken, what is it they are “seeing” with their spiritual eyes? What was going on here? Did they see the holes in His hands as He gave them the bread? Did He have a particular mannerism when He broke the bread which reminded them of something they had seen Him do before? But what was it they were remembering because these two had not been part of the scene in the upper room. That’s upper room and not Upper Room. These two were not with the disciples at the actual Last Supper; neither are they JPCC partners and frequent the Upper Room. 


Think about it.   



You have to know the past to understand the present. Carl Sagan


Just as unbelievers can know about Jesus without knowing him, many believers know Jesus but don't practice his presence. Rick Warren


What You Believe About Someone Causes You To Draw Near Them; What You Know About Them Causes You To Remain Near Them. Robb Thompson


Don't ever trade your pursuit of Christ for the pursuit of knowledge about Christ. Ian




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