The Walk to Emmaus® gets its name from the story in Luke 24:13-35, which provides the central image for the three-day experience and follow-up. Luke tells the story of that first Easter afternoon when the risen Christ appeared to the two disciples who were walking together along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Like Christians and churches who are blinded by preoccupation with their own immediate difficulties, these two disciples’ sadness and hopelessness seemed to prevent them from seeing God’s redemptive purpose in things that had happened.
And yet, the risen Christ “came near and went with them,” opening the disciples’ eyes to his presence and lighting the fire of God’s love in their hearts. As they walked to Emmaus, Jesus explained to them the meaning of all the scriptures concerning himself. When they arrived in Emmaus, Jesus “took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them,” and their eyes were opened. They recognized him as Jesus, the risen Lord, and they remembered how their hearts had burned within them as they talked with him on the road. Within the hour, the two disciples left Emmaus and returned immediately to their friends in Jerusalem. As they told stories about their encounters with the risen Lord, Jesus visited them again with a fresh awareness of his living presence.
However, the story of Jesus’ resurrection does not conclude with the disciples’ personal spiritual experiences. Jesus ascended to the Father, and the disciples became the body of the risen Christ through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were sent forth by the Spirit to bear witness to the good news of God in Jesus Christ. They learned to walk in the spirit of Jesus, to proclaim the gospel to a disbelieving world, and to persevere in grace through spiritual companionship with one another.
The Walk to Emmaus offers today’s disciples a parallel opportunity to rediscover Christ’s presence in their lives, to gain fresh understanding of God’s transforming grace, and to form friendships that foster faith and support spiritual maturity. While Emmaus provides a pathway to the mountaintop of God’s love, it also supports pilgrims’ return to the world in the power of the Spirit to share the love they have received with a hurtful and hurting world.
—from What Is Emmaus? Copyright The Upper Room.