And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about three score furlongs.…
There are here several points of very great interest. We have a striking illustration of our Lord's method of teaching, which was to give more when that already given had been duly received. We have also a most emphatic warning as to the danger of losing golden opportunities, or of letting slip through ignorance or procrastination the means of acquiring great accessions of knowledge and grace. These truths will open before you as we proceed: at present we need only announce, as the general object of our discourse, the showing you how near the disciples were to the losing the manifestation of their Master, forasmuch as though "He made as though He would have gone further," and how certainly they would have lost that manifestation, had they not been enabled to say with perfect truth, in the words of our text — "Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?" Now, you may all see, if you study with any attention the record of our blessed Saviour's ministrations, that He required a peculiar state of mind in those to whom He taught truth, withholding it where likely to be despised or made an instrument of injury, but imparting it where He saw that it would be reverently and profitably received. It was evidently a principle with Christ, as indeed He expressly announced, to give more where what had been given had been duly improved, so that fresh communications were made to depend upon men's use of past. He did not pretend to open truth after truth, just as though His whole business had been to furnish to the world a certain amount of revelation, whether they would hear or whether they would forbear; but He watched with great attentiveness the reception of truth, and He added or withheld according as that reception did or did not indicate Jove for truth and a readiness to obey its demands. And the importance to ourselves of observing the course which Christ pursued upon earth lies mainly in this. We have no reason to suppose that such course was followed only in the days of His public ministrations, bug rather, that it was universally characteristic of God's spiritual dealings. You will never make way with the Bible by going to it in a spirit of speculation, carrying to it the same feelings as to a treatise on some branch of human science. It is not indeed now, as it was when our Lord personally taught; when the letter, so to speak, of Scripture might be variously distributed, according to men's various dispositions and capacities, but it still is, that the letter, though equally accessible to all, is not equally illuminated to all; and by keeping altogether to Himself the power of illuminating the page, so that He can leave that a parable to one which He clears from all mystery to another, God can cause that now, as much as in the days of the Redeemer, the amount of knowledge shall be proportioned to certain moral qualities and acts. You may be sure that it is as true now as ever it was, and in as large a sense, that "whosoever doeth the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine"; for there are innermost meanings in Scripture which will never be reached through learning and ingenuity, but which open before the humble and prayerful inquiry; so that passages on which criticism is vainly turning all its strength, and to which it can attach none but an obscure and unimportant sense, reveal to many an uneducated and simple.minded Christian the counsels of God and the glories of eternity; so that it still depends on your love for truth, and on your willingness to act on it so fast as discovered, whether you shall grow in the knowledge of heavenly things; just as it was in the days of the Redeemer, when a parable was employed to veil truth from the careless, or a miracle concealed, to withhold evidence from the obstinate. But never think that an unaided intellect can master scriptural difficulties, or that unimproved knowledge can be a good thing. There is a certain point up to which Divine teaching will advance, but there will pause, in order that it may be ascertained whether you prize what you have learned, and are sincere in the desire to learn more. And all this was imaged by the conduct of Christ with reference to His disciples. This "making as though he would have gone further," was but an instance of that cautiousness of which we have spoken as characteristic of His ministry. He just wanted to have evidence whether truth were duly loved; for on His finding that evidence depended, according to His universal rule, His continuing His instruction. There are many, we are thoroughly persuaded, who often miss the manifestation of Christ through the indolently letting slip some presented opportunity; nay, we doubt whether there be any man who is brought within hearing of the gospel unto whom there have not been moments in which he has stood upon the very threshold of the kingdom of heaven, in which it has depended upon his immediately obeying some impulse or hearkening to some suggestion whether the door should fly open or remain closed against him. The mind of the unconverted man, stirred through some secret instrumentality, has felt it proposed to it that it should take into its chambers a Guest who might discipline the passions and remodel the character; but then it has been questioned whether the proposal should be instantly closed with, or longer time given for deliberation, and because the latter course has been adopted — because, that is, the disciples when at Emmaus have parted from their Teacher in the street, and gone alone into the house, the golden opportunity has been lost, and there has been no manifestation of Christ to the soul. You may not be thoroughly aware of it, but we should wish you to be assured, that religion is of such a nature that eternity is very frequently dependent on a moment. You can never be certain that an impulse will be repeated or a suggestion renewed; so that in parting from the Teacher who has awakened some serious emotion, in place of taking Him with you into your dwelling, that the emotion may be deepened, you are perhaps letting go your last likelihood of salvation, and shutting yourselves up to indifference and impenitence.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.