Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
See the notes at Mat 28:1-11.
"Two of them." Two of the disciples. The name of one of them was "Cleopas," Luk 24:18. Many have supposed that the other was Luke, and that he omitted his own name from modesty. Others have supposed that it was Peter. See Luk 24:34; Co1 15:5. There is no evidence to guide us here. Dr. Lightfoot has shown that "Cleopas" is the same name as "Alpheus," who was the father of the apostle James, Mat 10:3.
Emmaus - In regard to the locality of Emmaus, it seems quite probable that it is the same village which is referred to by Josephus ("Jewish Wars," vii. 6, Section 6), who states that, after the destruction of Jerusalem, Titus gave "Emmaus," distant from Jerusalem threescore furlongs, to 800 of his troops, whom he had dismissed from his army, for their habitation. Dr. Thomson ("The Land and the Book," vol. ii. p. 307, 540) regards it as the present Kuriet el 'Aineb, which Dr. Robinson identifies with Kirjath-jearim. Of this place he says: "Kuriet el 'Aineb itself would be the proper distance from Jerusalem, and being on the road to Jaffa, and on the dividing ridge between the plain and the mountains, the Roman emperor might have deemed it an advantageous post for a colony made up of his disbanded soldiers, who could keep in check the surrounding country. Certain it is that in these later ages the occupants of this place have controlled the whole adjacent region, and for many a generation exercised their lawless tyranny upon helpless pilgrims.
"It took just three hours' moderate riding from Kuriet el 'Aineb to Jerusalem: first, a long descent into Wady Hanina, which passes between it and Soba; then a similar ascent, succeeded by a very steep pass, and a very slippery path down to Kulonia. At this place are some heavy foundations of church, convent, or castle by the road-side, which may be of almost any age, and also gardens of fruit-trees, irrigated by a fountain of excellent water. Kulonia is on a hill north of the road, and appears in a fair way to become a ruin itself before long. The path then winds up a valley, and stretches over a dreary waste of bare rocks until within a mile of the city, when the view opens upon its naked ramparts and the mysterious regions toward the Dead Sea."
Threescore furlongs - Sixty furlongs, or about seven or eight miles. It is not certain that these were apostles, but the contrary seems to be implied in Luk 24:33. See the notes at that verse. If they were not, it is probable that they were intimate disciples, who may have been much with the Saviour during the latter part of his ministry and the closing scenes of his life. But it is wholly unknown why they were going to Emmaus. It may have been that this was their native place, or that they had friends in the vicinity. They seem to have given up all for lost, and to have come to the conclusion that Jesus was not the Messiah, though they naturally conversed about it, and there were many things which they could not explain. Their Master had been crucified contrary to their expectation, their hopes dashed, their anticipation disappointed, and they were now returning in sadness, and very naturally conversed, in the way, of the things which had happened in Jerusalem.
Communed together - Talked together.
And reasoned - They reasoned, doubtless, about the probability or improbability that Jesus was the Messiah; about the evidence of his resurrection; about what was to be done in the present state of things.
Jesus himself drew near ... - The disciples were properly employed. Their minds were anxious about the state of things, and they endeavored to arrive at the truth. In this state of things Jesus came to solve their doubts, and to establish them in the belief that he was the Christ; and we may learn from this that Christ will guide those who are sincerely endeavoring to know the truth. They who candidly and seriously endeavor to ascertain what is true and right he will direct; and often in an unexpected manner he will appear, to dissipate their doubts and to scatter all their perplexities. "Our" duty is sincerely to strive to ascertain the truth, and to do his will; and if his people do this, he will not leave them to perplexity and wandering.
Their eyes were holden - This expression is used merely to denote that they did not "know" who he was. It does not appear that there was anything supernatural or miraculous in it, or that God used any power to blind them. It may easily be accounted for without any such supposition; for,
1. Jesus appeared "in another form" Mar 16:12 - that is, different from his "usual" appearance.
2. They were not "expecting" to see him - indeed, they did not suppose that he was alive, and it required the strongest evidence to convince them that he was really risen from the dead.
What manner of communications ... - What is the subject of your conversation? What is it that has so much affected your minds? They were deeply affected in the recollection of the death of Jesus; and, as became all Christians, they were conversing about him, and were sad at the overwhelming events that had come upon them.
Art thou only a stranger? ... - This is an expression of surprise that he should be unacquainted with an affair that had made so much noise, and that had been attended with so remarkable circumstances. The word "stranger" here denotes one who had come to reside at a place only for a "time," not a permanent inhabitant. Many Jews came up from all parts of the world to Jerusalem, to keep the Passover there. They appear to have taken Jesus to be such a stranger or foreigner. The meaning of this verse may be thus expressed: "The affair concerning which we are sad has been well known, and has made a great talk and noise, so that all, even the strangers who have come up to remain there but a little time, are well acquainted with it. Art thou the "only one" of them who has not heard it? Is everybody so well acquainted with it, and thou hast not heard of it? It is a matter of surprise, and we cannot account for it."
A prophet - A teacher sent from God. They did not now call him the "Messiah," for his "death" had led them to doubt that, but they had no doubt that he was a distinguished "prophet." The evidence of that was so clear that they "could" not call it in question.
Mighty in deed - Powerful in working miracles, in raising the dead, healing the sick, etc.
In word - In teaching.
Before God and all the people - Manifestly; publicly. So that "God" owned him, and the people regarded him as a distinguished teacher.
Sec the notes at Mat 26:59-66.
We trusted - We hoped and expected.
Should have redeemed Israel - That he was the Messiah, who would have delivered the nation from the Romans.
Besides all this - It is to be observed that Cleopas states things just as they occurred to his own mind. There is little connection. His mind is confused and distracted. There were so many things that were remarkable in Jesus; there was so much evidence that he was the Messiah; their hopes had been so suddenly dashed by his death, and the succeeding events had been so wonderful, that his mind was confused, and he knew not what to think. The things which he now stated served to increase his perplexity. The expressions here are perfectly natural. They bespeak an agitated mind. They are simple touches of nature, which show that the book was not forged. If the book had been the work of imposture, this artless and perplexed narrative would not have been thought of.
Today is the third day ... - Jesus had foretold them that he would rise on the third day. This they did not understand; but it is not improbable that they looked to this day expecting something wonderful, and that the visit to the sepulchre had called it to their recollection, and they were more and more amazed when they put all these things together. As if they had said, "The third day is come, and we have not seen him. Yet we begin to remember his promise - the angels have informed us that he is alive - but we do not know how to put these things together, or what to make of them."
Certain women - See Mat 28:1-7; Joh 20:12.
A vision of angels - An appearance of angels, or they had seen angels. See Joh 20:12.
Certain of them which were with us - Peter and John. See Joh 20:2-9.
O fools - The word "fool" sometimes is a term of reproach denoting "wickedness." In this sense we are forbidden to employ it in addressing another, Mat 5:22. That, however, is a different word in the Greek from the one which occurs here. The one there used implies contempt, but the one employed in this place denotes "weakness or dulness." He reproached them for not seeing what he had himself so clearly predicted, and what had been foretold by the prophets. The word used in the original does not imply as much "reproach" as the word "fool" does among us. It was not an expression of "contempt;" it was an expression denoting merely that they were "thoughtless," and that they did not properly "attend to" the evidence that he must die and rise again.
Slow of heart to believe - Not quick to perceive. Dull of learning. They had suffered their previous opinions and prejudices to prevent their seeing the evidence that he must die and rise from the dead.
All that the prophets have spoken - Respecting the character and sufferings of the Messiah. See the notes at Luk 24:27.
Ought not Christ ... - Ought not the "Messiah." Was there not evidence that he would do it? and was it not indispensable that he should, in order to fulfil the prophecies? The "necessity" of his suffering these things referred to "here" was that it was foretold that he "would." The reason why it was predicted, and why it was necessary that it should occur, was that it was proper that God should manifest his justice, and do honor to his law, and secure the due regard for his government, while he pardoned the guilty.
Beginning at Moses - At the "writings" of Moses, or at the beginning of the Old Testament; or rather the word "beginning" should be separated from what follows, denoting simply that he "commenced" his discourse, and not that he began at the prophets as well as at Moses; thus, "And commencing his discourse, or replying to them, he expounded from Moses and the prophets," etc.
All the prophets - The books of the Old Testament generally.
He expounded - He explained or interpreted it to them. Probably He showed them that their notions of the Messiah were not according to the Scriptures. "They" expected a temporal prince; they were perplexed because Jesus had not assumed the regal power, but had been put to death. He showed them that according to the prophecies he ought to suffer, and that his "death," therefore, was no argument that he was not the Messiah.
In all the scriptures - In all the "writings" of the Old Testament. They were called "scriptures" because they were "written," the art of printing being then unknown.
The things concerning himself - Concerning the Messiah. It does not appear that he "applied" them to himself, but left them, probably, to make the application. He showed what the Scriptures foretold, and "they" saw that these things applied to Jesus of Nazareth, and began to be satisfied that he was the Messiah. The most striking passages foretelling the character and sufferings of Christ are the following, which we may suppose it possible our Saviour dwelt upon to convince them that, though he was crucified, yet he was the Christ: Gen 3:15; Deu 18:15; Gen 49:10; Num 21:8-9; Isa 53:1-12; Dan 9:25-27; Isa 9:6-7; Psa 110:1-7; Psa 16:1-11; 22; Mal 4:2-6.
He made as though he would have gone further - He did not "say" he would go farther, but he kept on as if it was not his intention to stop, and doubtless he "would" have gone on if they had not constrained him to tarry.
Constrained him - They urged him, or pressingly invited him. They did not yet perceive that it was Jesus, but they had been charmed and delighted with his discourse, and they wished to hear him farther. Christians are delighted with communion with the Saviour. They seek it as the chief object of their desire, and they find their chief pleasure in fellowship with him. The two disciples felt it a privilege to entertain the stranger, as they supposed, who had so charmed them with his discourse; and so those to whom the gospel is preached, and who love it, feel it a privilege, and not a burden, to show kindness to those who bear to them the message of salvation.
Abide with us - Remain with us, or pass the night in our house.
Sat at meat - Reclined at the table, or while he was at supper.
He took bread and blessed it ... - This was the office of the master of a feast, and perhaps this first attracted particularly their attention. Though he was in "their" house, yet he acted as "master" of the feast, as he used to do with them before his death. Perhaps, also, as he "gave" them the bread, they observed the "prints" in his hands, and they knew that it was Jesus. This was not a "sacramental," but a common supper; yet our Saviour sought a blessing on the food, and thus set an example to all his followers to acknowledge God in their daily gifts, and to seek his benediction in all their enjoyments.
Their eyes were opened - The obscurity was removed. They saw him to be the Messiah. Their doubts were gone, and they saw clearly that he was risen, and was truly, as they had long hoped, the Saviour of people. It is not meant that they were before "blind," but that they did not know until then who he was.
He vanished out of their sight - He suddenly departed. It does not appear that there was anything miraculous in this, but, during their surprise, he took the opportunity suddenly to withdraw from them.
Our heart burn within us - This is an expression denoting the deep interest and pleasure which they had felt in his discourse before they knew who he was. They now recalled his instruction; they remembered how his words reached the "heart" as he spoke to them; how convincingly he had showed them that the Messiah ought to suffer, and how, while he talked to them of the Christ that they so much loved, their hearts glowed with intense love. This feeling was not confined to them alone. All the followers of Jesus know how precious and tender are the communications of the Saviour, and how the heart glows with love as they think or hear of his life, and sufferings, and death.
He opened to us - He explained to us the Scriptures. See Luk 24:27.
This narrative shows us,
1. How blind people may be to the plainest doctrines of the Scriptures until they are explained to them. These disciples had often read or heard the Scriptures, but never, until then, did they fully understand that the Messiah must suffer.
2. It is proper there should be those whose office it is to explain the Scriptures. Jesus did it while on earth; he does it now by his Spirit; and he has appointed his ministers, whose business it is to explain them.
3. If people attempt to explain the Bible, they should themselves understand it. They should give their time and talents to a suitable preparation to understand the sacred volume. Preaching should consist in "real," and not "fancied" explanations of the Scriptures; the real doctrines which "God" has taught in his word, and not the doctrines that "men" have taught in their systems.
4. Here was convincing evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. This was but one of many instances where Jesus convinced his disciples, contrary to their previous belief. In this case the evidence was abundant. He first satisfied them from the Old Testament that the very things which had happened were foretold; he then dissipated every doubt by showing "himself" to them and convincing them that he was truly the Christ. There was no chance here for deception and juggling. Who would have met them and talked with them in this way but the real Saviour? Who would have thought of writing this narrative to help an imposture? What impostor would have recorded the dulness of the disciples as to the plain declarations of the Old Testament, and "then" have thought of this device to prop up the narrative? Everything about this narrative - its simplicity - its tenderness - its particularity - its perfect nature - its freedom from all appearance of trick - shows that it was taken from real life; and if so, then the Christian religion is true, for here is evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.
The same hour - Though it was late, and they had stopped, as they thought, for the night, yet such was their joy that they hastened to tell it to their companions and friends. This was natural and proper, and it shows how quick and ready they who have found the Saviour are to tell it to others. Compare Joh 1:41-45. Young converts to Christ "should hasten" to tell their joy, and should not shrink at self-denial to proclaim to others what God hath done for the soul, Psa 66:16.
"My lips and cheerful heart, prepare.
To make his mercies known:
Come, ye that fear my God, and hear.
The wonders he hath done.
"When on my head huge sorrows fell,
I sought his heavenly aid;
He saved my sinking soul from hell,
And death's eternal shade."
The eleven - The eleven apostles. Judas was now dead. This shows that the two that went to Emmaus were not apostles.
Saying - The eleven said this.
Hath appeared to Simon - To Peter. It is not known precisely when this happened, as the time and place are not mentioned. Paul has referred to it in Co1 15:5, from which it appears that he appeared to "Cephas or Peter" before he did to any other of the apostles. This was a mark of special love and favor, and particularly, after Peter's denial, it showed how ready he was to pardon, and how willing to impart comfort to those who are penitent, though their sins are great.
Jesus stood in the midst of them - This was when the apostles were assembled, and when they had closed the doors for fear of the Jews, Joh 20:19. It was this fact, as well as his sudden and unexpected appearance, that alarmed them. The doors were shut, and the suddenness of his appearance led them to suppose they had seen a spirit.
Peace be unto you - This was a form of salutation among the Hebrews denoting a wish of peace and prosperity. See Gen 43:23. It was especially appropriate for Jesus, as he had said before his death that he left "his peace" with them as their inheritance Joh 14:27, and as they were now alarmed and fearful at their state, and trembling for fear of the Jews, Joh 20:19.
Why are ye troubled? - Why are you alarmed or frightened?
And why do thoughts ... - The word "thoughts" here means "doubts" or suspicions. It is used in this sense also in Ti1 2:8. The doubts which they had were whether he was the Christ. He reproves them for doubting this; for,
1. The Scriptures had foretold his death;
2. He had himself repeatedly done it; and,
3. They had now the testimony of Peter that he had seen Jesus alive, and of the angels that he was risen. After all this evidence, Jesus reproves them for doubting whether he was truly the Messiah.
Behold my hands ... - Jesus proceeds to give them evidence that he was truly the same person that had been crucified. He first showed them his hands and his feet - still, pierced, and with the wounds made by the nails still open. Compare Joh 20:27. He told them to handle him and see him. He ate before them. All this was to satisfy them that he was not, as they supposed, a spirit. Nor could better evidence have been given. He appealed to their senses, and performed acts which a disembodied spirit could not do.
Handle me - Or touch me; feel of me. Compare Joh 20:27.
And see - Be convinced, for you could not thus handle a spirit. The object here was to convince them that his body had really come to life.
For a spirit ... - He appeals here to what they well knew; and this implies that the spirit may exist separate from the body. That was the view of the apostles, and our Saviour distinctly countenances that belief.
Believed not for joy - Their joy was so great, and his appearance was so sudden and unexpected, that they were bewildered, and still sought more evidence of the truth of what they "wished" to believe. This is nature. We have similar expressions in our language. "The news is too good to be true;" or, "I cannot believe it; it is too much for me."
Any meat - This word does not mean "meat" in our sense of it, but in the old English sense, denoting "anything to eat."
Honey-comb - Honey abounded in Palestine, and was a very common article of food. Bees lived in caves of the rocks, in the hollows of trees, and were also kept as with us. The disciples gave, probably, just what was their own common fare, and what was ready at the time.
These are the words - Or this is the "fulfillment" of what I before told you respecting my death. See Luk 18:33; Mar 10:33.
While I was yet with you - Before my death. While I was with you as a teacher and guide.
In the law of Moses - The five books of Moses - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Among the Jews this was the first division of the Old Testament, and was called the "law."
The prophets - This was the second and largest part of the Hebrew Scriptures. It comprehended the books of Joshua, Judges, 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, which were called the "former prophets;" and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve smaller books from Daniel, to Malachi, which were called the "latter prophets."
The psalms - The word here used probably means what were comprehended under the name of "Hagiographa," or holy writings. This consisted of the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and the two books of Chronicles. This division of the Old Testament was in use long before the time of Christ, and was what he referred to here; and he meant to say that in "each of" these divisions of the Old Testament there were prophecies respecting himself. The "particular" subject before them was his "resurrection from the dead." A most striking prediction of this is contained in Psa 16:9-11. Compare it with Act 2:24-32; Act 13:35-37.
Opened he their understanding - Enabled them fully to comprehend the meaning of the prophecies which foretold his death and resurrection. They had seen him die, they now saw him risen. Their prejudices were now, by his instructions, and by the facts which they could no longer call in question, removed, and they no longer doubted that he was the Messiah, and that all the "facts" in the case which had before confounded them could be easily accounted for. Hence, we may learn:
1. That "facts," or the farther disclosure of truth, will yet remove the "mysteries" that we now see in religion.
2. That our prejudices and our preconceived opinions are one cause of our seeing so many mysteries in the Bible. If a man is willing to take the plain declarations of the Bible, he will commonly be little perplexed with mysteries.
3. That God only can open the mind so as fully to comprehend the Scriptures. He only can overcome our prejudices, open our hearts, and dispose us to receive the ingrafted word with meekness, and with the simplicity of a child. See Act 16:14; Jam 1:21; Mar 10:15.
4. The design of God's opening the understanding is that we may be acquainted with the Scriptures. It is not that we may be made wise above what is written, but that we may submit ourselves wholly to the Word of God.
It behoved - It became; it was proper or necessary that the Messiah should thus suffer. It was predicted of him, and all things have happened as it was foretold.
Repentance - Sorrow for sin and forsaking of it. It was proper that the "necessity" of repentance should be preached among all nations, for all were sinners. See Act 17:30.
Remission of sins - Pardon or forgiveness of sins. It should be proclaimed that all people should repent, and that those who are penitent may be pardoned.
In my name - By my command it should be proclaimed that people should repent, and by my merit that they may be pardoned. Pardon is offered by the authority of Christ to all nations, and this is a sufficient warrant to offer the gospel "to every man."
Beginning at Jerusalem - This was the dwelling of his murderers, and it shows his readiness to forgive the vilest sinners. It was the holy place of the temple, the habitation of God, the place of the solemnities of the ancient dispensation, and it was proper that pardon should be first proclaimed there. This was done - the gospel was first preached there. See Acts 2. Paul also, in his travels, preached the gospel "first" to the Jews, the ancient people of God, offering them pardon through their own Messiah; and, when "they" rejected it, turned to the Gentiles, Act 13:46.
Are witnesses of these things - Of my life, my sufferings, my death, and my resurrection. How solemn was their office - to "testify" these things to the world, and, in the face of suffering and death, to go and proclaim them to all nations! In like manner, "all" Christians are witnesses for Christ. They are the "evidences" of his mercy and his love, and they should so live that others may be brought to see and love the Saviour.
The promise of my Father - The promise which the Father had made to them "through" the Saviour. See Mat 10:19; Joh 14:16-17, Joh 14:26. The promise was, that they should be aided by the power of the Holy Spirit. He also doubtless referred to the promise of God, made in the days of Joel, respecting the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. See Joe 2:28-29, compared with Act 2:16-21.
Endued with power from on high - The power which would be given them by the descent of the Holy Spirit - the power of speaking with tongues, of working miracles, and of preaching the gospel with the attending blessing and aid of the Holy Spirit. This was accomplished in the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. See Acts 2.
To Bethany - See the notes at Mar 16:19. Bethany was on the eastern declivity of the Mount of Olives, from which our Lord was taken up to heaven, Act 1:12. Bethany was a favored place. It was the abode of Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus, and our Saviour delighted to be there. From this place, also, he ascended to his Father and our Father, and to his God and our God.
While he blessed them - While he commanded his benediction to rest upon them; while he assured them of his favor, and commended them to the protection and guidance of God, in the dangers, trials, and conflicts which they were to meet in a sinful and miserable world.
They worshipped him - The word "worship" does not "always" denote religious homage. See the notes at Mat 2:11. Compare Luk 14:10. But here it is to be remarked,
1. That they offered this worship to an "absent" Saviour. It was "after" he left them and had vanished out of their sight. It was, therefore, an act of religion, and was the "first" religious homage that was paid to Jesus after he had left the world.
2. If "they" worshipped an absent Saviour - a Saviour unseen by the bodily eye, it is right for "us" to do it. It was an example which we "may and should" follow.
3. If worship may be rendered to Jesus, he is divine. See Exo 20:4-5.
Were continually in the temple - Until the day of Pentecost - that is, about ten days after. See Acts 2.
Praising and blessing God - Chiefly for the full proof that the Messiah had come; had redeemed them, and had ascended to heaven. "Thus the days of their mourning were ended." They were filled with happiness at the assurance of redemption, and expressed what every Christian should feel - fulness of joy at the glad tidings that a Saviour has died, and risen, and ascended to God; and an earnest desire to pour forth in the sanctuary prayers and thanksgivings to the God of grace for his mercy to a lost and ruined world.