Why Did Jesus Chastise the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus?

The story of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to two disciples on the road to Emmaus is a well-known and beloved passage in the Bible. Yet, it’s easy to overlook the fact that in this encounter, Jesus actually chastises these two followers for their lack of faith and understanding. Let’s take a closer look at why Jesus felt the need to rebuke his own disciples.

The Context

Before we dive into the specifics of this particular encounter, it’s important to understand the broader context of Jesus’ ministry and message. Throughout his time on earth, Jesus had repeatedly told his disciples that he would be crucified and then rise from the dead on the third day (Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, Luke 9:22). However, even though he had spoken plainly about these things, his followers still struggled to fully comprehend what he was saying.

This lack of understanding is evident in the events leading up to the Emmaus road encounter. Just days before, Jesus had been arrested and crucified.

His disciples were devastated and confused – they had believed that he was going to be a political savior who would overthrow Roman rule and establish a new kingdom for Israel (Luke 24:21). Now that their leader was dead, they didn’t know what to do or what to believe.

The Encounter

It’s against this backdrop that we find two of Jesus’ followers walking along the road to Emmaus. As they walked and talked about recent events, a stranger appeared alongside them – it was actually Jesus himself, although they did not recognize him at first (Luke 24:16).

Jesus asked them what they were talking about, and they replied with surprise – “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (Luke 24:18). They proceeded to tell him about Jesus of Nazareth, their hoped-for Messiah who had been crucified and buried.

At this point, Jesus could have simply revealed himself to them and cleared up their confusion. But instead, he chose to challenge their lack of faith and understanding.

“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” he said to them (Luke 24:25).

Jesus then proceeded to explain the scriptures to them, showing how all the Old Testament prophecies pointed towards him as the Messiah who would suffer and die before being raised from the dead (Luke 24:26-27). It wasn’t until later, when they sat down to eat together, that Jesus revealed his true identity to them – and even then, he quickly disappeared from their sight (Luke 24:30-31).

The Lessons

So why did Jesus chastise his disciples on the road to Emmaus? There are several possible reasons:

  • They were slow to believe – despite everything Jesus had told them beforehand, they still struggled to accept what had happened.
  • They didn’t fully understand scripture – even though they were devout Jews who knew the scriptures well, they needed Jesus’ guidance to see how it all fit together.
  • They were focused on their own agenda – rather than seeking God’s will for their lives, they were more concerned with political power and prestige.

Whatever the specific reasons may be, it’s clear that Jesus wanted his followers (both then and now) to have a deeper understanding of who he was and what he came to do. He wanted them to trust in him even when things didn’t make sense or when circumstances seemed bleak.

As we reflect on this story today, let’s ask ourselves – are we like the disciples on the road to Emmaus? Do we struggle with doubts or misunderstandings about who Jesus is and what he has done for us?

Are we more concerned with our own agendas than with seeking God’s will? If so, let’s take heart from the fact that Jesus is patient and loving, even when we fall short. Let’s ask him to reveal himself to us in new and deeper ways, so that we too may experience the joy of recognizing him in our midst.