Were Not Our Hearts Burning Within Us? Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus


Praise be to you, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In your great mercy you have given us new birth into a living hope
     through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! (1 Pet. 1:3)

I receive your Holy Spirit, the Resurrection-Spirit-of-life within me,
     and I attune myself to your work of awakening hearts, including my own,
     to experience your transforming love.

In Jesus’s name I come, amen.

Luke 24:13–19, 25–27, 30–32

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied . . .

. . . He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

. . . When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”


It is the first Easter day. The stirrings, the whispered conversations, the wide-eyed looks of shock and disbelief, the to-ing and fro-ing and post-resurrection scene after scene and the Easter grapevine . . . are all just getting started.

On this bright day, Resurrection day, we meet two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. We know that one is named Cleopas; the other’s name is left a mystery. (Some have welcomed that mystery throughout the millennia; we are given a perfect opportunity to imagine ourselves in the position of the unnamed disciple in the story).

It is a seven-mile walk, and the conversation is focused and pained. The crucifixion is fresh on their minds, and reports have begun to circulate that the battered and pierced body of Jesus was not only absent from the tomb—some of the female disciples were telling stories that angels declared he was alive!

After the last three years of miracles, and sightings of the impossible-made-real, one might think anything is possible.

But pain and suffering of the soul can lead one to doubt, and a tone of disappointment is clearly heard in the song of lament and confusion their spirits are now singing.

In v. 17, we read that their faces are downcast, shadowed by sorrow and gloom. Sadness, disappointment, confusion, seem high—faith that a miracle-of-miracles has occurred seems dreadfully low.

And it is here that Jesus companions them on their journey. It is here that Jesus companions us—when information is partial at best and hope feels like a luxury.

They don’t recognize Jesus, or, as the passage says, they were kept from recognizing Jesus. Their sight may have been limited by the Lord himself, by their ignorance of the true story behind the story of their people Israel, or even by their own grief-laden minds.

No matter the reason, we know that the disoriented spirit can often suffer from a form of inner blindness, an inability to see what is right and true and beautiful in front of us. The brain masks the obvious, and we are propelled into our worst stories, catastrophizing outcomes and beginning to believe that our worst fears are being realized.

It bears noting that all doubt is not stubborn, rigid unbelief. Sometimes, as may have been the case here, doubt is simply the soul seeking better answers than it has known before.

Jesus is patient with the seeking and unsure. He listens, without interruption. The Emmaus Road disciples share as we all should, honestly and without hiding their bewilderment. He listens as they get the story they have come to know out in the open.

Then, Jesus speaks.

Put yourself, for a moment, in the place of the unnamed disciple—what would it have been like to have the resurrected Jesus explain the whole story of the Scriptures, pointing to himself and the promises of God fulfilled in him, all the way through? The moment was wonder-filled enough for them to describe their hearts as “burning within” them.

Hope must have begun to stir their spirits as they listened. They must have never heard, truly heard, the gospel like this before—a gospel that included the suffering of the Messiah before entering his glory—told by the resurrected Messiah himself! Faith may have started to rise like the sun that morning, gradually—yet inevitably.

We know the next part of the story. For the disciples on the Emmaus Road, it took the sight and sound of bread breaking, being given to them by Jesus, for their eyes to be opened.

And opened they were.

Uncertainty is not always the opposite of faith; it is often the precursor to faith when the heart is soft and listening. Jesus knows that sometimes we need answers as we struggle with bewilderment and doubt—but sometimes we need an encounter with his presence far more.

The risen Jesus companions you—accompanies you—on the long and sometimes troubling road Home. And just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, a long listening in his presence can open our eyes to see that he has been right there with us all along.


 Risen Lord of the Burning Heart, it is your presence that leads us to true sight, true hearing, of the answers you give along the challenging journey home. We are grateful for your patience, your companionship, and the breaking of our seasons of blindness as you reveal your heart to us once again. In Jesus’s name, amen.


 Can you identify a time when you felt disoriented or uncertain? How did Jesus meet you in your uncertainty, or, if that season is the present, how do you sense him meeting you now? Is your heart open to what he might be saying?

For the Awakening,
Dan Wilt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. I see in this passage of scripture the contrast between walking by sight as apposed to walking by faith. Prior to their encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus, the two disciples were definitely walking by sight. As Jesus shared the truth of the scriptures about himself, they sensed their “hearts burning “ within themselves. This is when their faith was being renewed. I believe this was due to the operation of the Holy Spirit as He prepares our hearts to receive the truth through the inspiration of God’s word. Later as Jesus broke bread with them, they were able to perceive His “real presence “ just as He does when we participate in the Holy Eucharist.

  2. Revelation is when spiritual eyes open and an inner awareness of the presence and identity of the living Jesus burns within a human heart. Revelation occurred when Peter proclaimed to Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” It happened when the resurrected Jesus walked the road to Emmaus with two broken hearted disciples who didn’t recognize Him until the moment that He took a loaf of bread and broke it in two. Revelation happened when Paul took the road to Damascus to persecute and arrest Christians there, but on the way was transformed when he saw a light and heard the risen Jesus call His name.

    Almost 2,000 years later, revelation happened to me. I went to a Christian meeting in a college dorm and heard two people tell how the risen Jesus had changed their lives. In an instant Jesus became real to me and has been my constant companion and the joy and desire of my heart ever since.

    There’s no high like the Most High! Jesus is the Most High God, the Creator of the Universe in human flesh! When that revelation burns within you, you will never be the same!

  3. When speculation becomes a Jesus revelation, life changes. Our spirit unites with the Holy Spirit, and we transform into a new creature as Christ comes alive in us. The dirt road humanity trots on has stirred the dust where the Son is hazy at best. Humanity is lost as individuals seek different genders, sexual orientations, money, control, and power as their identity hoping to find purpose and peace.
    Until they stop and let the dust settle so the Son can shine upon them, they will remain lost. Being lost but thinking you are not is a sad, confusing place to be. Until they learn and acknowledge they are not human beings but a spirit with a soul, having a human experience, they will continue searching for their identity in that humanness.
    Most know but don’t live as they know. They quickly express that when a loved one dies, “They are in a better place.” Their body is here, so who’s in a better place?
    Their spirit, their true identity. And the spirit comes alive when Christ comes alive in us.
    Stop. Let the dust of the world clear. Let the source of joy and peace shine on you. Stop searching, and believe. For then you will know beyond doubt that you are a child of God.

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