His resurrected body was not bound by the limitations of time and space. Did He not walk through walls and only moments later eat solid food? These are contradictions to the foolish, however to those being saved they are the sweet fragrance of mystery.
An examination of Luke 24:13-53 (Acts 1:1-11)
24:13 And behold, two of them were going that very day--Yom Rishon, resurrection Sunday, the second day of the omer—to a village named Emmaus, which was about eleven kilometers from Jerusalem--probably to the west.
Some have foolishly argued a discontinuity in the chronology of the following events, an opposing argument is beyond the scope of this commentary. Suffice to say, had Yeshua been nothing more than a normal human being devoid of deity there would be no need to pay any heed to these events. But to the contrary, we believe He is Emmanuel—G-d with us—and that His resurrected body was not bound by the limitations of time and space. Did He not walk through walls and only moments later eat solid food? These are contradictions to the foolish, however to those being saved they are the sweet fragrance of mystery. The Scripture rightly notes that, “A fool says in his heart, ‘there is no G-d.’”
Before going any further we should discuss the Jewish religious observance of Sefirat ha-omer—the counting of the sheaves—which proceeds the first fruits offering commanded in Scripture. This will give us a frame of reference for the wider Jewish religious consciousness of the time and a view into the hearts of Yeshua’s Talmidim—disciples.
The counting of the omer is commanded in Leviticus 23:15-16. The days of the omer are numbered from the day that the first barley sheaf is brought as a wave offering before HaShem. The count lasts for 49 days until seven sets of seven days have been completed, the 50th day is Shavuot—Pentecost.
At the time of these events there was a dispute between the Saddusim—Sadducees—and the Perushim—Pharisees—over which Sabbath the command in Leviticus referred to. The Perushim—who, for the most part, controlled the Sanhedrin and had the widest influence over the common Jewish people—believed that the Sabbath in question was the first day of Pesach—Passover, sighting the use of the word Shabbat in reference to all of the L-rd’s holy convocations. The Saddusim on the other hand believed that the Sabbath referred to, was the weekly Sabbath and therefore the omer should begin the day after that, on Yom Rishon—the first day of the week.
Most scholars agree that because the Perushim had the controlling stake in the Sanhedrin and daily Synagogue and village life, that their view was the one followed at the time of Yeshua’s ministry. It is however interesting to note that according to the Saddusim, the day of Yeshua’s resurrection was in fact both Yom Rishon—the first day—and Yom Ha-bikkurim—the day of first fruits, the first day of the omer. Ironic, given that the Saddusim did not believe in an afterlife, spirits, demons, miracles etc. In this particular case I find myself agreeing with their interpretation of the Torah, Yeshua is after all the first of many brothers—spiritual. I believe that further investigation of this disagreement would convince most unbiased students of the authenticity of the claim. However, with regard to the majority it seems clear that the nation of Israel would have brought their first barley sheaves to the Temple the day following the first day of Pesach and thus the current narrative is understood to have taken place on the second day of the counting of the omer, that is one day after the first fruits wave offering on the first day of the week Yom Rishon—resurrection Sunday.
The Rabbis taught that Pesach was the commemoration of Israel’s physical freedom from Egypt and that Shavuot was the promise of Israel’s spiritual freedom in the giving of the Torah. Therefore the counting of the omer became a journey of hope and repentance among many observant Jews. To this day prayers are said in anticipation of the coming feast of Shavuot. Each day a common brakha-blessing is said, followed by a specific blessing that identifies the number of days of the omer. All this is practiced in the light of the coming spiritual freedom which is to be poured out from heaven in fire text, that is, the very Torah/Word of G-d.
The blessings—which have been said for generations—are as follows:
Barukh ata AdoShem, Elohaynu melekh ha olam, asher kideshanu, bemitzvotav vetzivanu al sefirat ha-omer.
Blessing comes from You L-rd of G-d, Who sanctifies us by His mitzvot and has commanded us concerning the counting of the omer.
This is followed by the recitation of the day. In this case because the events take place on the second day we will count accordingly:
Haiyom sheni ba’omer.
Today is two days of the omer.
Finally each day the following prayer is said:
Harachaman hu Yachazir lanu, Avodat beit ha-Mikdash li’mekomo, bimhayra be’yameinu. Amen, Selah.
O compassionate One, may He return to us, the Temple to its place, speedily and in our time. We agree in contemplation.
It is startling to discover that up until this present day, Jews from all over the globe are symbolically anticipating the revelation of G-d’s Torah at Shavuot each year as we count the omer in hope for what is to come. This same hope-filled feeling would have been present in the hearts of the Jews of Yeshua’s time when counting the days following His execution. With this in mind, lets address the events that occurred later in the day of Yeshua’s resurrection--Haiyom sheni ba’omer.
14 And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
These two Talmidim—disciples—were not part of the eleven, however there is no reason to exclude them from the seventy which Yeshua had previously sent into the towns and villages of Israel. By doing this Yeshua was symbolically setting up His own Sanhedrin, one that would truly seek to be light to the nations according to the symbolic Hebrew number seventy which represented the nations. Cleopas (v18) may have been traveling with his wife or son. Emmaus—though its location cannot be known for certain—is only a few hours walk west of Jerusalem, it is therefore reasonable to assume that they were returning home for routine maintenance of their property and or to recover supplies to take back to the other disciples who were now meeting behind closed doors in Jerusalem and elsewhere.
They were discussing the events surrounding Yeshua’s death and were clearly disillusioned and broken up over all that had occurred.
The words, “Yeshua Himself” are here used for the first time. Luke takes care to emphasis that Yeshua is not appearing as a ghost/spirit or in some other incorporeal form. It is Yeshua the resurrected man—in a transformed but clearly physical body. After all, we believe in the physical resurrection of the dead at the last day. We Jews always have and we always will. G-d is more than able to reconstitute and transform particles. Even modern science confirms that nothing ever really ceases to exist, particles simply change, they don’t disappear, they are not annihilated, they do not cease to exist. This is true from a theological perspective also. “In Him all things exist and have their being.” (Colossians 1:17) G-d is eternal, therefore all things are eternal, some unto life, others unto punishment.
It is interesting to note that while they were prevented from recognizing Him—whether by G-d or the evil one the outcome is the same, G-d is in control—they readily accepted a strangers company on their journey. It was common practice at the time to travel in larger groups so as to ward off robbers. They probably recognized Him as a fellow Jew, this is emphasized by their willingness to listen to His teaching. It is possible He wore the robes of a rabbi and thus held their attention accordingly. It is also possible that being good Jews, they were grateful for the opportunity to discuss/debate religious matters.
17 And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” 19 And He said to them, “What things?”And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. 22 But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning,23 and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive.24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.”
Perhaps we can read it this way, “Are you willing to let me in to your conversation?” Yeshua knows what they are discussing, He is giving them an opportunity to overcome their incredulity. Their response is to look sad, despondent. They are clearly deeply grieved by all that has taken place.
Cleopas is astounded by Yeshua’s seeming lack of knowledge of recent events. It makes sense to ask if He is visiting, after all, Pesach is an Aliyah feast and not all who attended would have stayed close enough to the city to be aware of all that had taken place.
Yeshua asks, “What things?” They respond by explaining Yeshua as a prophet sent by G-d and unjustly crucified. It is pointed out that both the yoke—word—of His teaching and the Halakhah—right action—were G-d honoring. It is the majority opinion of the Talmidim, Yeshua was a prophet but He was still not yet understood to be G-d with us. They also mention His home town so that the perceived traveler might have some context regarding the local nature of this prophet.
They mention only the role of the Chief Priests and rulers of the Jewish people, not because the author is an anti-Semite, but because they are Jews speaking to a fellow Jew and are incredulous at the ungodly actions of their own leaders. They then affirm their shared disappointment at the fact that Yeshua did not rise up as King of Israel and physically redeem them from Roman oppression. This is what they were focused on for Pesach, the physical redemption of Israel. Now as they begin the counting of the omer and look toward spiritual redemption, Yeshua Himself arrives to open the way before them.
The third day is mentioned here as a reminder of the Jewish belief that the soul stays with the body for three days before departing. If they were expecting another resurrection miracle prior to now, it seems obvious they had given up on that hope. It is also possible—but less likely, given their general disbelief—they were recalling that Yeshua had said He could rebuild the Temple within three days etc.
Finally they explain the missing body and emphasis their bewilderment.
25 And He said to them, “How foolish you are and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
It is interesting to note that while Yeshua is very harsh with His rebuke toward them they say nothing to refute Him but listen to His explanations from the Tanakh—Scriptures. This may well be evidence of His attire and the weight of His Torah knowledge. They may well have perceived Him to be a Teacher or prophet. Or they may simply have had little energy left to argue.
28 And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. 29 But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them.
Yeshua was now in His resurrected body, both outside and within time and space, being that He knew He was going to stay with them, His seeming to continue was therefore an act.
They must have been encouraged by His words of explanation because they strongly urged Him to stay the night.
30 When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the matzah—and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.
Remember that this is taking place 4 days after the beginning of Pesach and the feast of unleavened bread. The bread here is without yeast, just as it was at the Pesach seder, Yeshua shared with His Talmidim before He died. Notice that they recline at the table—a custom associated with the remembering of Israel’s freedom. The fact that Yeshua has been given the honor of saying the brakha—blessing, Ha-motzi—shows that Cleopas—the probable head of this household—has conferred the rite upon Him, another sign of the fact that they were already respectful of His nature. Yeshua does what He had done several days prior, He passes the broken matzah to them.
31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.
“Their eyes were opened.” This is both a spiritual revelation and a practical observation of Messiah resurrected among them. Then, being unfettered by time and space, Yeshua disappears. He doesn’t become incorporeal, He simply exists elsewhere, He is the physical-spiritual unity born of the seeded body of His burial. There is no need therefore for a timeline showing a consistent chronology of His post resurrection appearances.
32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” 33 And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the matzah.
Proof of the fact they had already been inspired by Yeshua on the road they confirm the burning excitement within them and immediately travel back to Jerusalem, by this time in the dark with no regard for their own safety. They were now convinced of the resurrected Messiah Yeshua.
36 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Shalom Aleichim—Peace be to you.”
“He Himself.” Again, this is the present, physical, resurrected and transformed person of Messiah. Shalom Aliechim—Peace Himself is with you.
37 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it before them.
Luke confirms the former statement in much the same way that a Hebrew poet repeats and expands on ideas. He shows Yeshua as a present being in action by recording His physical injures and the consumption of solid food. Yeshua appears among them, from other accounts we know that He came through a locked door, then He eats fish, He’s no ghost/spirit.
44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Torah of Moses and the Nevi’im—Prophets—and the Tehillim/Ketuvim—Psalms—must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Again we are reminded that Messiah is spoken of throughout the Hebrew Scriptures as both a suffering and victorious Messiah. Yeshua once again opens the minds of His Talmidim, even with Him present they still require revelation: this is why He will send what the Father has promised, the Ruach ha-Kodesh—Holy Spirit. He then commands them to stay in Jerusalem, this is important because during the counting of the omer between Pesach and Shavuot many Jews would have returned to their own towns and then come back to Jerusalem for the Aliyah festival of Shavuot. Yeshua wanted the Talmidim to stay together and be together in one place for the promised spiritual redemption of Israel.
INSERTED to show chronology - ACTS 1:1-11
[1:1 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”]
Luke 24:50-53 50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy,53 and were continually in the temple praising God.
Finally after 40 days of physical appearances to His Talmidim, Yeshua leads them out to Bethany at the foot of the Mount of Olives and there He shows Himself as High Priest over a renewed Jewish Priesthood. He lifts up His hands just as Aaron the High Priest did in the desert and He blesses them with the Priestly blessing;
“May Adonai bless you and keep you,
May Adonai make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you
May Adonai lift up His countenance upon you and give you His deep Peace”
Here Yeshua confers His Priesthood upon a Holy people, a royal nation, and a people belonging to G-d, that they might declare the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into His wonderful light.
They have now counted 40 days of the omer together and in 10 days’ time they will receive the living Torah from Heaven in tongues of fire, the Ruach ha-kodesh, the Torah written on their hearts.
They worshipped Him, finally understanding that He is G-d with us. Not a separate god. G-d is three persons but He is not three separate persons, He is echad—One!
He departed from them going up into the heavens, why? He could simply have disappeared as before but His purpose here was to give a kinetic sign to His Talmidim, one they could recognize as being a signal from G-d. Just as Moses went up the mountain to receive the Torah so Yeshua went up to dwell at His Father’s right hand in unity, thus The Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son would be sent in unity as the Ruach Ha-kodesh to dwell intrinsically in the very beings of His servants, first for the Jew and also for the nations. The Spirit would descend upon the mountain just as Moses descended with the Torah, The Spirit would descend and teach every believer those things which Yeshua had passed on from the Father by revelation—the opening of their minds. Now Yeshua would always be among them to open their minds and each believer would be transformed by the renewing of their minds in the washing of the Word, the living Torah--Yeshua Himself.
They stayed in Jerusalem worshipping in the Temple. They were Jews, worshipping as Jews who had received their own Messiah. They continued to be Jews and they awaited the fulfillment of the promised Ruach ha-Kodesh. In 10 days time they would stay up all night on the evening before Shavuot, studying Torah and the scroll of Ruth as was their custom, praying and worshipping G-d along with all of Israel gathered together in Jerusalem. At the culmination of their study the heavens would open, the smoke would descend on the mountain of the L-rd dividing into many tongues, sounding like the wind blown through the shofar in a multiplicity of languages and the Spirit fire would fall, writing the fire text on the hearts of Jews from all over the known world. In the past, at Sinai three thousand had died in disobedience, here in Jerusalem three thousand would be reconciled to G-d through obedience to G-d through Messiah Yeshua.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.