The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread.
They were still talking about all this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they could not believe it, and they stood dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.
Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.’
As Cleopas and his companion recount their encounter with the risen Lord to the disciples, Jesus appears among them. His appearance is not met with joy. Rather there is a sense of consternation and alarm for they “thought they were seeing a ghost.” Aware of their trepidation and unease Jesus tries to reassure them that it is he, not a ghost, by inviting them to touch his body and by eating before them.
As with the two men on the road to Emmaus Jesus was to reveal that he was the Risen Lord, the Messiah, the fulfilment of prophecy. To do this he needed to “open their minds to Scripture” (24:45). Scripture of course revealed that Jesus was to be betrayed, crucified, die and ultimately rise from the dead after three days. Like Matthew, Luke went to great lengths to show that some key events in the life of Jesus were foreshadowed in Scripture. This was especially important for the early Christian communities as there was some disbelief and scepticism in the Resurrection.
Luke’s resurrection account reminds us of St Augustine’s assertion that “the New Testament is foreshadowed in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New.” As Christians therefore we must not only read and reflect upon the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but also take the time to immerse ourselves in the richness of the Hebrew Scriptures so that like the two men on the road to Emmaus “our hearts may burn within us” as the Scriptures are revealed to us.