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Dust on the Emmaus Road

May 9, 2022 | Kathryn Green

Parched and barren, the road stretches out long. The horizon is empty—no sign of anyone. Just like his tomb. I gaze at my feet as little clouds of dust puff up with every step I take, away. It is too much effort to lift my head and look forward. Dust to dust.


Once, hope blossomed in my arid soul. I, even I, was going to see God’s promises come to life! At least, that was what I thought. But then, like those little puffs of dust, hope vanished. Dust to dust.


A flurry of sound behind! What if we aren’t alone out here? Fear wrings my heart, and I whip around to scan the road. My head whirls like the dust devil that stings my eyes as it wheels past. Dust to dust.

My sudden movement almost makes me crumple to the dust. Grief weighs on me like a dead body. Oh, the irony. There is no body. Those women found his tomb empty. What does this mean? I’ve been wracking my brain all day. I feel like death warmed over. Dust to dust.


Was it only four days ago that we walked together and talked? Everything he said was so sure. He really knew. He didn’t make the Law heavier like other teachers I had heard. Somehow, his teaching was light. Not like a corpse…

He knew. And he cared—about me. Dust to dust.


“Cleopas!” “Remember how he said…” I can’t bring myself to repeat his very words.

“Did you hear him tell Peter…” My question dies on my lips.


But he’s gone. Dust to dust.


What is that I hear? The road is empty. Those can’t be footsteps behind me! It’s just dust—everywhere you look. … “Cleopas, stop!” I gasp through my dust-caked throat. “A stranger is overtaking us.” We stop dead in our tracks.


Little clouds of dust puff up from his feet as he comes toward us. We should know everyone on this road. Who can he be? I try to summon a smile to hide my cringing heart as the man draws near. “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” he asks. My quivering smile fails. Can he be serious? He’s coming from Jerusalem. How can anyone come from there and not know what has taken place?!

“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Cleopas exclaims in bewilderment. “What things?” asks the man again, and resumes walking. Cleopas and I stumble along after him.


Who are you? I wonder. The whole world knows what has taken place in Jerusalem lately, don’t they? What other news could there be?!


“Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see,” Cleopas grinds to a halt.


I slowly draw in my breath. I can’t believe Cleopas just told him about the empty tomb! What if this man is really one of the Jewish authorities? He might arrest us for hiding the body when we don’t even know where it is!


“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” the stranger says.


Foolish? How can he call us foolish? Jesus is dead, and now we can’t even find his body!


And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

“Cleopas, we’re getting near to the village and this man looks like he will go further. Ask him to stay with us!”


What will we do if he won’t stay? How does he know so much about our beloved teacher? What if he, too, vanishes like our teacher?

“Do you hear what he is saying? My heart feels so odd—I feel warm and excited and almost hopeful—all at the same time. Quickly, urge him to stay with us.”


“Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent,” Cleopas finally says as we approach our doorway. … The stranger enters with us.

Now we can have a whole meal with him and really discuss these things. My heart surges up within me. What else will he explain to us, I wonder? I feel an inexplicable tension building as the meal is prepared and served.

Look, he is taking bread just like Jesus used to do. He is blessing it. How can we have been so blind to what God’s Word tells us? It’s so plain when this man explains it. He is giving the bread to us.

I gasp. What is this explosion in my heart?! This is no stranger, for I recognize him! “Jesus.” … “Cleopas, it is Jesus!” I cry.

“Where has he gone?!” Cleopas exclaims as we sit, dumbfounded. “What just happened?” we ask the empty room.

“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Cleopas murmurs.

I jump up and run for the door. “Let’s return to Jerusalem and tell the others!” I call back to Cleopas. “This is urgent news! The tomb really IS empty. But Jesus is not like a puff of dust that vanishes as quickly as it comes. He is alive!”

Kathryn Green

Social Media Coordinator, Enrollment Counselor

Kathryn brings a wealth of intercultural experience to the YTI team, with a background that includes serving in overseas missions and teaching in […]

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