road of life

This story by Luke about Paul reminds me of Luke’s other story about meeting Jesus on the road.

And behold, that very day two of [the disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, [which is] about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things that had occurred. And while they were conversing and discussing together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them. But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognize Him.

And He said to them, What is this discussion that you are exchanging ([a]throwing back and forth) between yourselves as you walk along? And they stood still, looking sad and downcast. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered Him, Do you alone dwell as a stranger in Jerusalem and not know the things that have occurred there in these days? And He said to them, What [kind of ] things? And they said to Him, About Jesus of Nazareth, Who was a Prophet mighty in work and word before God and all the people–And how our chief priests and rulers gave Him up to be sentenced to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He Who would redeem and set Israel free. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things occurred. And moreover, some women of our company astounded us and [b]drove us out of our senses. They were at the tomb early [in the morning] But did not find His body; and they returned saying that they had [even] seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive! So some of those [who were] with us went to the tomb and they found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see. And [Jesus] said to them, O foolish ones [sluggish in mind, dull of perception] and slow of heart to believe (adhere to and trust in and rely on) everything that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary and [c]essentially fitting that the Christ (the Messiah) should suffer all these things before entering into His glory (His majesty and splendor)? Then beginning with Moses and [throughout] all the Prophets, He went on explaining and interpreting to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning and referring to Himself.

Then they drew near the village to which they were going, and He acted as if He would go further. But they urged and insisted, saying to Him, Remain with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. So He went in to stay with them. And it occurred that as He reclined at table with them, He took [a loaf of] bread and praised [God] and gave thanks and asked a blessing, and then broke it and was giving it to them When their eyes were [instantly] opened and they [clearly] recognized Him, and He vanished ([d]departed invisibly).

It seems to me there are parallels. Both times the resurrected Jesus meets people on the road shortly after a death (by execution) — on the way to Emmaus it was Jesus who was killed; on the way to Damascus it was Stephen. In each case Jesus is initially unrecognized by the people or persons met. For the disciples Jesus is recognized in the breaking of bread in Paul’s case Jesus tells him outright who he is and gets further affirmation/confirmation from the Christian prophet who visits with him — so in each case the role of community life in understanding extraordinary events (like resurrection appearances) is affirmed.

The disciples literally turn back — they turn from their path and return to Jerusalem to witness to what they have seen. In Paul’s case he continues his physical journey but with a different intent — and he too witnesses to the resurrection when he arrives at Damascus.


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