And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about three score furlongs.…
I. NOTICE SOME OF THE FEELINGS WHICH MUST HAVE BEEN IN THE HEARTS OF THOSE WHO PRESENTED THIS PRAYER.
1. Grateful interest in a spiritual benefactor. When a soul has become truly alive to God, and to eternal things, there is no tie so pure and deep as that which binds it to the scenes and instruments which opened its view to the higher life. It is when Churches and families and friendships are held together by such ties as these — by helping one another in the way of God and life eternal — that they are united and strong, that they can feel there is no nightfall which has any right or power to part them, and that they must turn in at the journey's close, and dwell together in the same abiding home. One of the enjoyments of that home will be to review and renew the intercourse of the journey, and to discover how the ties were deeper and the benefits higher than our hearts at the time understood, and how these sojourning associations were preparing the way for the unending union of souls. And Christ desires to have a personal share in these ties of grateful affection. He is the Author of spiritual light and life to all who receive it, but here He becomes also the direct instrument — He is the channel as well as the fountain — teaching us that His heart lies hidden behind every other heart that is made a source of blessing to us, and also that He wishes to attach us to Himself as "a man speaketh to his friend."
2. A desire to have such conversation continued. He who has had such fellowship in the thoughts of God on the way will desire to have them also in the house at nightfall. He cannot surrender them at the setting of any earthly sun, but will pray as these disciples did, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening."
3. The last feeling we mention in the hearts of these friends of Christ was the presentiment of something more than they had yet seen or heard. They had gratitude to the speaker, they had love to the theme, but they felt that there was still a mystery behind. They had learned much, but their heart told them they had not learned all. The sense of a great presence hovered near them; a great truth floated before them ere yet it disclosed itself to their eyes. They fear to ask Him of it; they shrink from whispering it to themselves; but there is a beam of light in the stranger's look which promises to lead to fuller revelation, a tone of hopeful confidence in His words that reminds them of a voice which once before spoke from the gloom. What if now, amid a severer storm and out of a denser darkness, that beloved form should step forth again, and the words be heard, "It is I; be not afraid"? Such a hope of a risen Saviour, and that this was He, unuttered even to themselves deep down in their soul, and fighting with fears as once their ship did with waves, was surely present in their hearts when they urged this request: "Abide with us, for it is toward evening."
II. SOME OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THIS REQUEST MAY BE OFFERED BY US. It may be said to be suitable to the whole earthly life of every Christian. The Church of Christ, and every member of it in this world, is pursuing this Emmaus journey — travelling from the death of Christ on to the house where He shall give the manifestation of His resurrection. We feel that He who sustains us on the way, and drops into our soul great desires and deep presentiments, will answer them when we reach the heavenly house, and show us there things which eye hath not seen, neither hath it entered into man's heart to conceive. Our life is now hid with Christ in God, but "when He who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory," and therefore we hold Him fast to the close. "Abide with us." Next, it is suitable to those who are suffering under some special despondency of spirit. It is then we need to cling to Him most, and then that He is accustomed to reveal Himself. It is His "to lighten men's darkness, lest they sleep the sleep of death." If He seems to be passing by, constrain Him. "Abide with us, for it is toward evening." "I will not let Thee go until Thou bless me." Oh, faithful heart, thou hast wrestled and overcome. Another time suitable for presenting this request is in approaching the evening of life. Last, we remark that this request is suitable to those who live in an age of the world such as ours. It would be unwarrantable to say that this is the evening of our earth's history, and that we are close upon the second coming of Christ. The world has probably much to look on yet before the final end. But there are various days and nights in God's dispensations, and one of these evenings seems now creeping in upon us. There is a cold vapour of materialism spreading over the minds of many, chilling their conviction of a living God who made and superintends His world. There is only one duty and one source of safety for any man who wishes to have a life that rises above the most barren materialism; it is to seek a close and personal contact with the Saviour as the life of His Spirit, to know Christ as the risen Son of God, who quickens dead souls. These evening shades and doubts and trembling fears, that settle down ever and again on the world's way, are permitted, to compel us to this — to urge us to seek His fellowship with a closer access, and to constrain Him to enter the house with us and reveal Himself in such living power that we, for our parts, can never doubt His truth any more. We need not fear for the gospel of Christ, whatever dangers threaten it. Calvary has still its Olivet; the shades of the Cross, the ascension glory; and every night of trouble in its history, a brighter day-dawn.
(J. Igor, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.