Fools! – On the road to Emmaus

In “When is a Hebrew youth not a Yiddishe fool?,” I discussed the Yiddish word nar/naar. The word means “fool”, and never “youngster” or “youth”. Yiddish borrowed the Hebrew word na-ar “youngster” and changed its meaning to “fool”. I want to talk about fools; not about fools for Christ, but fools about Christ.

Luke 24:13-28  describes the time when Jesus, on the day of His resurrection, met the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The one disciple’s name was Cleopas; the other’s name is unknown.

First a little background to the passage:

We meet two of Jesus’ disciples who embody the basic state of mind of the disciples on the day of the resurrection. They were completely disheartened. What a great disappointment it was to these disciples that the One they called Lord had become a public laughing stock nailed to a cross. All of them were ashamed of Him, had forsaken Him, had run away to hide in fear and despair.

Let us now read from Luke 24:13-28.

13That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles[c]from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. 18 Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” 19 “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. 20 But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. 21 We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

22 “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. 23 They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! 24 Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.” 25 Then Jesus said to them, “You fools! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. 30 As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

Here is the key verse:

25. You fools!You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.

In the original Greek of the NT, there are different words for the English word “fool”, each with a different meaning, As a result, much of the richness of the original Greek is lost in the English translation of the NT.

Here are three examples: two from other parts of the Bible, and the third from our main text in Luke 24– the road to Emmaus text (v.25 above).

First example” 1 Cor 4: 9:

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10We are fools for Christ.

Fools” for Christ in this context means that we are not fools in Jesus’ eyes but in the world’s eyes.

Now for our second example, Matthew 5:22:

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment….but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Here the word “fool” means morally worthless, dishonest , a crook. The Greek word for “fool” in this context is moros. If you call a person a moros in this context, you are pouring scorn on his heart and character, and according to Jesus, if you say this to somebody, you are in danger of hell fire.

Now let us go to the “fools” in our story in Luke 24:

25 Then Jesus said to them, “You fools! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.

Fool” in the Emmaus story does not mean morally worthless, dishonest , a crook as in our previous example. “Fool” in the Emmaus story means, “unwise”, lacking in understanding. And one should add that this lack of understanding is self-created, that is, one only has oneself to blame for this lack of understanding.

To recap: we have looked at three different ways the word “fool” is used in the Bible”

1. a fool for Christ, which is good in God’s eyes.

2. calling someone a fool, which deserves hell fire, and

3. a fool who lacks understanding, as is the case of our two disciples on the Emmaus road.

Let’s see how Jesus deals with these two foolish disciples:

Let us now retrace the steps of Jesus and the disciples and accompany them on the walk to Emmaus. We go back to the beginning of the walk: Luke 24:13-14:

13That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles[c]from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened.

What were these two disciples talking about?

1. Everything that had happened to Jesus, namely, His suffering and crucifixion.

2. They were also talking about what they had heard in the upper room from the women who had been at the tomb of Jesus. These women had reported seeing two angels that told them that Jesus has risen from the dead.

These two disciples – as was the case with all the other disciples who were with them at the time – “did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsens” (Luke 24:11).

15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him.

God was content to keep them in ignorance for a little longer. Jesus then asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” (v.17a).

Was Jesus asking them to reveal their thoughts? Obviously not. He knew exactly what they were thinking. He wanted them to talk.

The disciples then 17b. stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19a “What things?” Jesus, who is still in disguise, continues to pretend ignorance.

19b “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

They then tell the stranger (Jesus) how they had hoped that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel. But the saddest thing was that he was crucified instead. They also described how some of their women had been told by angels that Jesus was not dead but was alive. But when some of their companions went to verify their story, they didn’t see Jesus.

The disciples thought it ridiculous that Jesus could have risen from the dead.

The question is: “Why were the disciples so unbelieving that Jesus had risen from the dead?” Didn’t Jesus tell them very clearly before His crucifixion that he would suffer, die and rise again? Let us go to the relevant passage in Luke 9, where Jesus predicts His suffering, death and resurrection:

18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” 19They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life. 20 But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christof God. 21Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Mark’s Gospel contains more detail than Luke’s account of Jesus’ prediction of His death and resurrection. In Chapter 8:9 of Mark, As the disciples were coming down from the mountain after the transfiguration of Jesus, “Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.”

Now, one would think that these disciples were very familiar with people rising from the dead: remember, there were several occasions that Jesus had raised people from the dead, the most notable being the resurrection of Lazarus, who had been dead four days. One wonders what the disciples were thinking when these resurrections occurred. Did they also discuss on those occasions what rising form the dead meant, as they had done on this occasion we are referring to here, namely, after the transfiguration, when Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead (Mark 8:9).

And then we read in Mark Chapter 9 that: Jesus “spoke clearly about this [His suffering, death and resurrection. Peter took Jesus to one side and began to scold him. Jesus turned and looked at his disciples. He scolded Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You are not thinking about the things of God. Instead, you are thinking about human things” (Mark 9:32-33).

Jesus “spoke clearly” to His disciples about His suffering, death and resurrection. Peter scolded Jesus for saying that He was going to die. Jesus, in turn, scolded Peter, and called him “Satan”. (Where else in Luke do we read “Get behind me, Satan!”? In the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4:8).

Jesus must have been very disappointed in all of His disciples, because when He rose from the dead, they still stubbornly refused to believe Jesus?

With regard to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus had to go back to the drawing board and start from the beginning This time, Jesus does not only have to explain clearly to the two disciples– as He did before His crucifixion – he has to take them by the hand and walk with them through chapter and verse.

And so: Luke 24: 27…beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Let’s look at one of the scriptures that Jesus explained to the two disciples.

Isaiah 53 – “The suffering servant”.

3 He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. 4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

I chose this passage, because it sums up what the scriptures are about, namely sin, the wrath of God, forgiveness, the suffering and love of God. It contains all the elements of the Gospel. What is missing is the name of the suffering servant – Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 53 is an accurate description of the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus. The staggering thing is that it was written several hundred years before the crucifixion. May we never cease to be astonished and thrilled by (the fulfilment of) prophecy.

The Jewish annual calendar of readings includes the whole of Isaiah except Isaiah 53.The Jews have stopped up their ears and closed their eyes to this devastating prophecy. (See another explanation for its omission).

If you’re fortunate enough to get to read Isaiah 53 to a Jew without telling him that it is from the OT, he’ll assume you’re talking about Jesus Christ, and that the passage is from the NT. (Most Jews, or anyone else, whether religious or not, know enough about the life and death of Christ to recognize Him in Isaiah 53).

What do we understand about the resurrection of Christ? Owing to the fact that we have the NT scriptures, we should have far less excuse than the two disciples on the Emmaus road. With our NT in hand, we have much more information of the resurrection than these two disciples.

For example, besides Christ’s own words, we also have the eyewitness accounts of the many who saw Christ after His resurrection. So, if we were to ignore this evidence, we would be more than thick-headed; we’d be hard-hearted as well. God has much more time for blockheads than for hard hearts.

Let’s look at some of these eyewitness accounts of the resurrection:

Acts 1:3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Acts 2:32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.

Corinthians 15:3 What I received I passed on to you. And it is the most important of all. Here is what it is. Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. 4 He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be. He appeared to Peter. Then he appeared to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than 500 believers at the same time. Most of them are still living. But some have died. 7 He appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, he also appeared to me.

In the light of all these eyewitness accounts, we have far less reason to be like the foolish disciples on the Emmaus road who had forgotten what Jesus had told them before his crucifixion, namely, that He would die and rise again: They just weren’t listening: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” Luke 8:8.

What Jesus means by “He who has ears, let him listen” is “let him listen with “all ears”, with total attention, and let it sink in. In other words, don’t just acknowledge His words but receive it – deep in your soul – Shma Yisroel

We think of Paul’s scolding of the Corinthians. Even after the many visitations of the resurrected Christ, Paul had to admonish some of the Corinthians for their unbelief in the resurrection.

Cor 15:12 We have preached that Christ has been raised from the dead. So how can some of you say that no one rises from the dead? 13 If no one rises from the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, what we preach doesn’t mean anything. Your faith doesn’t mean anything either.

So, no matter how much evidence there is, there are those who may acknowledge it, but not receive it. The evidence goes into the head but not into the heart. The Emmaus disciples were fools of the head, not of the heart. It is the foolishness of the heart that is the greater sin.

The Sword of the Word may draw blood but the Word may still not penetrate the heart. The reason is that many do not have the stomach for truth. They want to get a message FROM scripture, not get the message OF scripture. Their question is: “How can I fit Christ’s life into my life?” rather than “How can I fit my life into Christ’s life?” They don’t want the whole body of truth. Where can we find the whole body of truth? It is to be found in and through the broken body of Christ.

We have completed the walk along the Emmaus road. Let’s go into the house of the two disciples, where we will partake of the “body broken for us” (Luke 22:19). Only when the Body of Christ is broken, and our hearts with it, can our eyes be opened.

As they sat down to eat,he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him (24: 30-31).

The Hebrew word chochom means ‘’wise’’; the Yiddish meaning of the word can mean ‘’wiseacre,’’ ‘’smart -ss,’’ in sum, a fool. All human beings are born fools because they are born sinners; our minds and hearts are corrupted. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were no exception. How did they rise from their stupor? It required an act of God, a raising from the dead, requiring the same power, perhaps more, that raised Jesus the Christ from the dead. I say more, because a born again sinner has been raised from spiritual death.



16 thoughts on “Fools! – On the road to Emmaus

  1. bography thank you for this post! It is interesting, that even though Messiah has already performed many miracles and healings (signs) that now in His resurrected body He conceals His real identity and patiently reviews the prophecies of Messiah from the Torah and the prophets with His doubting Jewish disciples who are weak in faith.

  2. Dear Bog,
    I enjoyed your entry too. It is one of the favorite reading that I receive during Easter time. I tried to follow the discussion on rosh pina project but I got lost in the language. I still have no idea of what chacomin means and perhaps I don’t wish to know either 🙂
    But I would like to share something with you that has to do with the Broken Body. Years ago even if I believed, I was quite ill. I couldn’t get better. It was a spiritual illness too rooted to uproot with my personal will or my personal belief. Somehow all the different paths of my past and present experiences converged in a place where I could get closer to Communion more often and through time I found myself healed. All my previous tentative that tried to get me to that point, my plead to God and so on had failed before. Now we could argue that it is a placebo effect the one given by the Holy Communion in a Catholic church as the Body of Christ but if this is the effect of a placebo it is actually the cure too. After I found myself after some years cured without even been completely immediately aware of it, I realized that the necessity showed in some Saints’ stories about their desires to receive daily Communions became something that I understood on a personal level. I have now this ‘very personal’ belief that every time I receive Communion and I do it as it is given me, as the Body of Christ, a very very small particle of His healing and His love is transfused to me. I have to be humble and be there as it is asked to me without discussing it, only be the recipient and letting it reach me as it is and as I am. On this note of receiving it as I am, I want to hide and reveal something else. Now I don’t want to relieve too much but there is an entry in your blog that I am quite familiar with, in a physical sense, because it is part of my reality and it is peculiar to me that I started writing on your blog, something that I don’t think I had done more than few times, before I recognized the coincidence. All the ways take us to the same place (or Rome if it is not too much to say 🙂 As it was suggested on Rosha pina, be more lenient. Everything is as it is supposed to be and even if in your or my life time it is not going to get in the right order, it will do not worry 🙂

  3. Raf,

    I enjoyed your regurgitation of so many of the classical codification of errors known as Christian apologetics!

    I particularly relished your “Isaiah 53 is an accurate description of the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus”. As I have shown you personally many times before, the suffering servant subject of Isaiah’s fourth servant song is the same one identified throughout the Book fo Isaiah, which never once mentions Jesus:

    * Isaiah 41:8–”But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen…”
    * Isaiah 42:24–”Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers?”
    * Isaiah 43:1–”But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”
    * Isaiah 44:1–”Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:”
    * Isaiah 44:21–”Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.”
    * Isaiah 45:4–”For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect…”
    * Isaiah 49:3–”Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

    Over and over again, throughout Isaiah, G-d’s suffering servant is identified, as the Jewish people–never as Jesus. That’s why it is so foolish to insist the suffering servant in Isaiah is anyone other than the Jews.

    • By the way, if you want to see an accurate description–the original on which the “new testament” narrative of a human demi-god dying on a cross to save the world is a copy–look no further than Budha, who ascended to Nirvana after bearing his cross.

      • I think that Gamaliel have given us good advice. He said , ‘’if it (belief in Yeshua) is from God, you won’t be able to stop them, and you may even discover that you are fighting against God!” So they were convinced by him’’ (Acts 5:39).

        As you probably know, half the Jews in America have never heard of Gamaliel. If only they could hear of him, and become convinced that he existed, that may be a small step towards inducing them to study the Torah, and eventually believe in the God described in it.

        If it is not too much trouble for you, how would you go about trying to convince them that Gamaliel existed? If you could convince them, it might make your work – and perhaps also mine – so much easier.

      • I don’t think that Gamaliel said what you said he said. You gave a quote from the Greek Christian “new testament”. But do you have any credible source for the statement and the attribution? Also, why do you suppose that the quote begins with “if” and requires your parenthetical insertions? (I have my own theories, but we’d enjoy hearing your explanation.)

          • Raf,

            There is no doubt about Gamliel’s existence; he is remembered by Jews in their history books.

            Jesus is unknown in the Jewish tradition.

            Let’s not debate the historicity of Gamliel’s existence since neither of us doubt it.

            Let’s instead focus our collective energies on resolving the question of why any reasonable person would conclude that Jesus existed when there are no surviving contemporary reports about his alleged supernatural feats, only Paul’s late memo about a dream he had in which Jesus came to him and told him about miracles he performed in front of crowds. I say it’s not rational to believe Paul’s dream is true. What basis do you have for concluding it is rational to believe such a dream when no witness people, no historical reports, no artifacts can be found to support it?

            • I must conclude that historiography doesn’t exist in the Jewish tradition. Or is there Jewish historiography? I know there’s Jewish music, but not really, because it is a hybrid of many influences.

    • Dear Christians, the Jew (?) Anonymous has born your iniquities, and by his (her?) stripes you have been healed.

      See the following posts on the topic to show that the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 cannot be Israel:

      • Dear Christians,

        After you’re done reading articles purporting to be able to explain why the exact opposite of the Bible is true, turn back to the pages of the Book fo Isaiah and consider what the text actually says about whom G-d’s suffering servant is. See Is. 41:8, 42:24, 43:1, 44:1, 44:21, 45:4, 49:3, etc.

        And if you’re still confused, and if you still think that the suffering servant might actually be Jesus and not the party identified over and over again throughout Isaiah as G-d’s servant, then do a word search on “Jesus”. Hint: you won’t find it, not in Isaiah, and not anywhere else in the whole of the Jewish Bible.

        • Anon, don’t be so frantic.

          I assume you accept the authority of the Talmud. If so, where in the Hebrew Bible will you find the following?

          “Terrible as it may sound, it is certainly the teaching of Rabbinism, that God occupied so many hours every day in the study of the Law. Compare Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Deut. Xxxii. 4 … Nay, Rabbinism goes farther in its daring, and speaks of the Almighty as arrayed in a white dress, or as occupying himself by day with the study of the Bible, and by night with that of the six tractates of the Mishnah. Compare. also the Targum on Cant. v. 10.”

          But my question doesn’t directly address yours. Let me answer you with something Jesus said in the very article you are reading above – “Fools!..”

          Luke 24:25-27
          “Jesus said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

          You are jumping up and down on a branch – the BRANCH – screeching that He does not exist.

          • Raf,

            Isaiah never mentioned Jesus at all, and the suffering servant is actually identified by the prophet as none other than Israel.

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