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Grown-Up Bible Stories

The Stranger

A major religious celebration had just ended. Countless Jewish people were heading home from the holy city of Jerusalem. They’d been celebrating the Passover, the annual feast commemorating God’s historical deliverance of their people. Many people traveled by foot in those days. The slow means of travel allowed for socializing as groups of neighbors walked along together.

One couple, however, walked sadly and alone. They didn’t walk like people heading home from a holiday. For that matter they didn’t walk like people returning from a holy day. They looked more like people whose faith had been crushed. It had been, and their greatest hopes lay in ruins.

Another pedestrian overtook them. His face probably held some familiar features, but he wasn’t from their village. They didn’t recognize him at all.

This stranger was friendly enough. He asked, “What are you talking about as you walk along so sadly?” [This and following quotations are not necessarily exact unless accompanied by a Bible reference.]

They said, “Are you a stranger to Jerusalem that you don’t know what’s been going on?”

What’s been happening?”

There was this powerful prophet. His name was Jesus of Nazareth. He was so amazing that we believed He was to be our great national deliverer, the Messiah. Our rulers had Him executed. He’s been dead for three days. To make matters worse, some of the others who believed in Him claimed that He is alive, but they haven’t actually seen Him.”

Their words were simple enough, but behind them was the faith disaster of a lifetime and beyond. Jesus had obviously been a man of God. He literally never did anything wrong, and His whole life had been filled with love and compassion for others. His teaching had been powerful and challenging. He’d spent thirty-three years proving Himself worthy of God’s deliverance, yet when jealous religious leaders had convinced the Roman occupation government to execute Him, God hadn’t delivered Him. The Romans had used one of their most brutal executions, crucifixion, in destroying Him. Jesus had hung up in public, gasping and bleeding until dead. Just before He died, He managed to cry out: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” His very last words: “It is finished.” And now it was finished. Their faith had died on a cross.

The stranger couldn’t be expected to know the depth of their grief. He only had their brief statement. But even those few words seemed to upset him. “You fools!” he said. “You are too slow to believe what God has said through His prophets.” Then he began quoting verse after verse from the Jewish Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament.) Before he was done, he’d painted a picture of the Messiah unlike any they’d ever imagined. If he was right, then the Messiah should have died to take the punishment for the sins of mankind. If he was right, those women who claimed to have seen angels weren’t so crazy. The Messiah really should be expected to rise from the dead. The picture he painted was at once convincing and beyond imagination. It cast the events of the last few days not as the destruction of faith but the natural outcome of God’s great plan to deliver humanity from its own evils.

The historical record in Luke’s gospel doesn’t state whether this couple were comforted by the impromptu Bible lesson or simply astounded. In any event, they and their new companion were getting close to the town where they lived. The stranger seemed determined to continue on alone. But the grieving couple talked him out of his plan. Hospitality to travelers was a national tradition. Besides, bandits often took advantage of the rugged terrain along the lonely road. It was best for a traveler to find housing with a respectable local for the night. They really wanted him to stay over and continue his trip the next day.

Their new friend consented. They entered their village, Emmaus, and came to their home. The house would have been a small, simple stone structure. It is likely that steps led to a fenced-in rooftop patio; although, we don’t know the actual details.

As they began the evening meal, their guest took the bread and broke it in the fashion of the day. Then, he offered a prayer over it. As He prayed, something happened. It was as if a spiritual force had been limiting their eyesight and now was suddenly lifted. The man’s familiar features blended with the sound of His praying voice. And they knew! The Messiah had indeed risen from the dead and was praying in their home! Jesus Christ was no longer a dead man with a missing body. He was alive again and amazed that they didn’t expect Him to be!

Before they could react further, Jesus vanished out of their sight. Yet, it wasn’t a strange, ghostly experience, only the natural out flowing of resurrection power.

Night or otherwise, they left for Jerusalem. They had more than a rumor for their friends. They had news!


One of the things that seemed to bother Jesus was people’s failure to come to the obvious conclusions His life and their faith demanded. They weren’t supposed to think His boat could sink in a storm. They should know Him better than that. They weren’t supposed to doubt that He could rise from the dead. They should know Him better than that. Jesus maintained that He represented God so thoroughly that people should rely on Him automatically. Anyone who knew Him and watched Him work had no excuse for doubt.

Now it is true that the resurrection from the dead is a huge step of faith. We’ve many years of experience to suggest that it doesn’t happen. Except it did happen once, and the One who rose insists that if we’ll but believe on Him it will eventually happen to us as well. The challenge remains in whether or not we will let our own built-in hopelessness override the demonstrated nature of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is who He revealed Himself to be in A.D. 30, then it is sheer folly not to recognize His power over death. If Jesus is who He still reveals Himself to be, then it is beyond folly not to accept His power over death for one’s own.

How about you? Are you experiencing the power of Jesus Christ in your life today and living in hope of His resurrection power for your future?

And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:24-26)

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. (Mark 16:14)

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:45-47, happening after the events depicted in this story)

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25-26)

To learn how to experience Jesus' resurrection power in your life, click here: How to Have a Relationship with God.

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How to Have a Relationship with God

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