Go back to normal view
(JOHN 9: 13-38)
13 ¶ They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.
14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.
16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.
17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.
19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?
20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:
21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.
22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.
24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now
Who is Cleopas?
Whoever he is, he’s as upset as the 12-turned-11.
by Jeffrey M. Gallagher
April 28, 2017
The Emmaus story is one we know well, but it does raise some interesting questions.
First of all, who is Cleopas? He’s not one of the 12. We know that because he’s not listed in Luke’s list of disciples--along with the fact that when he leaves Emmaus to return to Jerusalem, he finds the 11 there (no Judas, of course). So who is he?
His story comes right after Peter has gone to the tomb and found it empty, so Cleopas must be in the inner circle--word hasn't had time to spread farther. And Luke says that “two of them” are going to Emmaus--disciples were instructed to go out by twos. So are there more than 12 disciples? Is this another band of followers?
Whoever he is, he’s as upset as the 12 become 11.
And who’s with Cleopas? His wife? Perhaps. But Luke, of all the Gospel writers, would likely have made it known that there was a female disciple. On the other hand, there almost had to be. All those men journeying without any women? Could they really handle things on their own? And would they really have left their kids and spouses at home? Isn't saying they left everything behind just a literary device to suggest that they did, in fact, give up a lot to follow? They couldn’t have left everything, right? AND ARE THEY GOING BACK TO THEIR OLD LIFE AND KIN AND BELONGINGS??
When Cleopas and his companion return to Jerusalem, the 11 are there with their companions. Spouses? Friends? More disciples? Luke never tells.
And where do they go? Emmaus, of course. But we don’t know where that is. Yet interestingly Cleopas and his companion seem to have arranged for a place to stay, since they urge Jesus to “stay with us.” Do they live in Emmaus? Is this another place the gospel has spread--another place that is going to be devastated by Jesus' death? Are Cleopas and his companion going back to life as they knew it? Would the next day mean fishing or tax collecting, since following Jesus didn’t work out so well? It’s worth some reflection.
As is the phrase “came near”: “While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near.” This should call to mind another phrase: “The kingdom of God has come near.” Jesus just said these very words a few chapters earlier, when he told the disciples to go out in twos. And Cleopas and his companion are doing that! So now they just need to remember that when they are welcomed and cure the sick, the kingdom of God comes near, God’s hopes and dreams for the world come near, the Messiah comes near. They need to remember this--but they don’t. They forget or misunderstand, just like we do.
And yet it is to the two of them--the two he has come near to who still don’t understand--that Jesus eventually reveals himself. This should give us hope. For when we don’t remember or don’t understand, God may be poised to reveal God’s self to us as well. And God may come near as many times as needed, until we finally see and understand.
For more commentary on this week's readings, see the Reflections on the Lectionary page. For full-text access to all articles, subscribe to the Century.
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The E100 Bible Reading Challenge is based around 100 carefully selected Bible readings (50 from the Old Testament and 50 from the New Testament) designed to give participants a good understanding of the overall Bible story from Genesis to Revelation. The 'E' stands for Essential and each of the Essential 100 readings ranges from a few verses to a few chapters.
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