On the Way to Emmaus
Christ Jesus, in his brief earthly career, made extensive use of parables to teach the multitudes the spiritual facts which underlay his mission. However, he found it necessary to expound the spiritual signification of those parables, even to his nearest followers, so lacking in spiritual perception was the age in which he lived. Today, through Christian Science, there is a wider appreciation of the import of his parables and their application in the everyday affairs of mankind.
Many other recorded events in the Bible also carry messages of practical import to perplexed humanity, their spiritual significance made apparent in the light thrown on the Scriptures by the teachings of Christian Science. Thus the journey of two of Jesus' disciples from Jerusalem to Emmaus, as recorded in Luke's Gospel, is revealed in its deeper significance as aglow with an inspired message of hope for today.
These two disciples, on the third day after the crucifixion, had turned their backs on Jerusalem. The depth of their despair is graphically portrayed in their words, "We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done." Staggered by the crushing blow of the crucifixion, their hopes of a redeemed Israel shattered, it seemed that at this moment not a vestige of their faith remained. The coming of the "third day" served only to confirm their worst fears, and not even the message of the women at the sepulcher had brought them any gleam of hope. Their discipleship ended, their Master gone, hopelessness and despair apparently darkened their thoughts at the commencement of this journey to Emmaus. These feelings they poured upon the stranger who joined them on the way, the stranger who seemed to know nothing of the startling events of the last three days.
In the course of human existence, many individuals at some time or other face bitter disappointments, despair, despondency, a sense of the ending of every hope, a state of mind sometimes described as disillusionment. It is under such conditions that the human mind turns from "Jerusalem," which our Leader, on page 589 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," defines in part as "mortal belief and knowledge obtained from the five corporeal senses; the pride of power and the power of pride; sensuality; envy; oppression; tyranny." This turning point reached, the individual becomes conscious of the presence of the Christ, Truth, ready to silence mortal thought and bring comfort and healing. The Christ-spirit challenges human thought, brings to the surface latent error, often causing one to reiterate the woes which dominate one's thought and experience—those woes which, however, are unknown to God, infinite divine consciousness, the creator who made all that was made and saw that it was good.
"Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?" asked one of the disciples; and in response to their outpouring of hopes and fears and failure, the stranger—Jesus—rebuked them for their lack of spiritual understanding. And he then expounded to them the Scriptures. "And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us.... And their eyes were opened, and they knew him."
Our Leader says on page 275 of Science and Health: "The true understanding of God is spiritual. It robs the grave of victory. It destroys the false evidence that misleads thought and points to other gods, or other so-called powers, such as matter, disease, sin, and death, superior or contrary to the one Spirit." It is the true understanding of God which the Christ, Truth, unfolds in our consciousness on our own journey from "Jerusalem," bringing comfort and cheer to sad and downcast hearts, lifting them above a material sense of things into the realm of Spirit, God, wherein eternal harmony abides.
Let us make no mistake, however. The truth which comforts us at the hour of our greatest need demands a response, a proof of our sincerity. When the solution of problems seems long delayed, it may prove profitable to take stock of our mental journey to estimate our progress, and determine the stage we have reached. Are we still pouring out a recital of the woes of the material senses, or have we risen in spiritual understanding to the point constraining the Christ-spirit to abide with us?
Through spiritual attainments the Christ, Truth, abides in our consciousness, and we then see that the Christ is ever present, that sin, disease, and death are without power or reality, and that their seeming power is the result of a false state of consciousness over which we have God-given dominion. This was the truth which dawned on the consciousness of the disciples in the breaking of bread at the close of the journey to Emmaus. Despondency and despair vanished, and firmly convinced of the triumph of Life over death, they hastily returned to Jerusalem to tell the glad tidings to the other disciples.
Mrs. Eddy further defines "Jerusalem," on page 589 of Science and Health, as "home, heaven." Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you." This kingdom is the consciousness that God is absolute and eternal, and that His laws are good. When Christ, Truth, rules in our consciousness, the effects of that rule are apparent in improved health, and improved conditions in business and the home.
All at some time make this journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. All of us suffer in varying degrees under the same delusion of the power of evil and the helplessness of good. Constantly confronted with the evidence of the material senses, we need earnestly to work to contradict this evidence and realize the supremacy of good. This is the struggle we are called upon to undertake. Though we shall find loving help along the way, none can relieve us of the responsibility of working out our own salvation. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 576): "This kingdom of God 'is within you.'—is within reach of man's consciousness here, and the spiritual idea reveals it. In divine Science, man possesses this recognition of harmony consciously in proportion to his understanding of God."