Jesus must have given the Emmaus travellers the greatest Old Testament exposition in history – to a congregation of two! It was then that the jigsaw of the types, shadows and symbols of the Old Testament revelation began to come together. He would have reminded them that right back at the Fall of Mankind the apparently victorious Satan, in the form of the serpent, was told that the seed, the offspring of the woman “will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:15). What a wonderful anticipation of Jesus at Calvary.
And so was foretold the story of the cosmic struggle between death and life, of the pattern of death and resurrection in the Old Testament revelation. It’s clearly visible in the life of Abraham, sacrificing his dear and only son Isaac and getting him back again; of Joseph, preserved to become the benefactor of his brothers who tried to destroy him; of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt after having been saved from the angel of death through the sign of the blood of the Passover lamb.
Jesus would have recalled his own teaching of how the Israelites escaped physical death in the wilderness from a plague of serpents when they looked trustingly to a great bronze serpent which Moses raised on a pole, pointing out that he too would be lifted up on the Cross, “that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life in him” (John 3:15). Jesus would surely have taken the now speechless disciples through the Suffering Servant of Jehovah passages in Isaiah. He would have recounted how the nation of Israel, taken into exile and brought back again to rebuild Jerusalem, was a symbol of the greater redemption through personal salvation through faith in him.
Here was proof that Jesus had fulfilled that which had been prophesied over the centuries; that these Old Testament anticipations of his passion and triumph of life over death, proved that he was indeed the Messiah. The two disciples couldn’t have expected that sharing their problem with the stranger on the Emmaus road brought them towards a solution. But there was more to it than that. Christ wasn’t there besides them simply to help them to find solutions – he was in the problem itself. Jesus told his two listeners, “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things …”