The Disappearing Dinner Guest

When two disciples invite a mysterious stranger they met on the road to join them for the evening meal, they unwittingly invite the king to their table.

Illustration of a man hiding his appearance.

As the stranger discoursed on the scriptures, He opened the eyes of the two disciples. They saw the pieces falling into place. Surely their Master Yeshua had fulfilled the prophecies. Even His terrible, humiliating execution had been predicted long ago. How could they have failed to see it all before? Had He not often enough predicted that He must suffer in order to fulfill the scriptures? And now God had proven Himself faithful to His righteous Son and raised Him from the dead, as the scriptures indicated must happen.

The miles to their destination passed quickly as the stranger continued to speak. The afternoon sun dipped toward the horizon. They came to the village where they were to stay that night. As they turned aside from the main road, the stranger feigned as if He meant to continue further on His way that day. Likewise, when He walked over the waves, “He came to them … and He intended to pass by them” (Mark 6:48). In both stories, the Master made it appear as if He was going further than the disciples. In the story on the lake, the disciples invited Him to join them in the boat. In the story of the road to Emmaus, the two disciples invited Him to stay the night with them in their lodging. Yeshua did not presume to invite Himself into the boat or to invite Himself to lodge with the men. He gave His disciples the opportunity to extend the invitation to Him. He does not force Himself into our lives or invite Himself over for dinner.

In keeping with biblical models of hospitality, the two disciples begged of the stranger, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over” (Luke 24:29). In this case, they were not merely fulfilling their obligation to show hospitality to strangers. The stranger had lit their hearts on fire, and they wanted to hear more from Him. They could not bear the thought of breaking off from Him.

The stranger agreed to stay with them, and the two disciples prepared a meal. Although they had already left Jerusalem, only two days of the festival of Passover had elapsed. They set matzah (unleavened bread) on the table and reclined with the stranger.

The stranger took the matzah bread in hand, lifted His eyes toward heaven according to His unique custom, and made the blessing, just as the disciples had heard Him often do. At every meal on every day that they had been with Him, they had heard Him chant the same words with the same intonations and seen Him make the same motions. They had seen that same beatific look of recognition in His eyes as He raised His gaze to the heavens above. Before the word “Amen” could even leave their lips, their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. The stranger took a piece of the matzah into His mouth and vanished from the table. They stood up and looked around, but they did not see him.

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