Cleopas and friend were walking to Emmaus that first Easter evening, discussing the events of the day. They were headed seven miles away from Jerusalem, the center of all the action. Luke 24:13-35 goes into an extensive explanation of this encounter. There must be something that caught Luke’s attention. It seems that Jesus goes out of his way to appear to unlikely people, for example Cleopas and friend and later to Saul who becomes the apostle Paul. Again Jesus is not recognized as he comes alongside these two. Perhaps they were not that familiar with Jesus’ ministry and had joined the followers of Jesus later. I wonder if they are headed in the wrong direction as there was “no room in the inn.” They might be Roman by ethnicity as the name Cleopas is not very Jewish. In any case, they are emmersed in their discussion. Jesus takes time for them.
I like the explanation that these two might have been Roman and that Cleopas might have been a woman as “a” is a female ending in Latin. Cleopatra would be another version of this name. Most scholars agree that Luke’s intended audience was the Gentiles, the non-Jews, you and me. If so, this story then goes out of its way to show how even the Gentiles were included in the resurrection accounts and their confusion was a concern to Jesus.
Jesus goes to Scripture, explaining to them how his life and resurrection fulfilled Scripture. That would further support God’s interest in not just the Jews but also others who are not as familiar with prophecy. It would include most of us. Many of us would claim we were walking the wrong direction, away from formal religion or church experience, when Jesus appeared to us. As a young adult, I loved the poem about the Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson. He pictures the resurrected Christ as one who “chased me down the labyrinths of my mind” until cornered, I turned to God.
Perhaps like Mary Magdalene, we warm to Christ’s approach to us as he calls our name. But perhaps you are like these two people, headed away from the action but discussing all you have heard but not understood. Jesus still cares and comes to us and is willing to explain and answer our questions. What direction are you headed today? Do you need the warmth of knowing Jesus calls you by name or do you need the help to explain the questions that cloud you mind and sight. Jesus can meet us on whatever road we travel today. We may not recognize him walking beside us but he is there, trying to explain and reach out to us. Thank you, Lord.