Luke 24:30-31 NIV describes Jesus' meal with two disciples after the resurrection:

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.

The account here in verse 24:30 sounds very similar to Jesus' actions in Luke 22:19. I was surprised to find, however, that Darrell Bock quickly denies the connection.

This meal is not a reenactment of the Lord’s Supper since there is no wine and nothing is said over the elements (against, among others, Nolland 1993b: 1206).

Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51–24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1919). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Unfortunately that's all he seems to have to say on the subject (at least in this commentary), and it hardly feels to me to be a knock out argument. And, of course, his is just one side. What are the arguments here? Does Luke intend Theophilus to pick up an echo of the Last Supper meal?

3 Answers 3


Argument from Passover

The Last Supper was the Passover meal, which required the eating of unleavened bread:

Luke 22:7,8 (ESV)

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”

Exodus 12 and 13 prescribe a week of eating unleavened bread with the Passover meal at the end.

This suggests the meal in Emmaus was with leavened bread rather than the unleavened bread prescribed for the holy week of Passover, because it takes place several days after the Passover week was completed. This argues against reenactment, although not conclusively.

There are other occasions in which Jesus broke bread with the disciples. One notable example recorded for us is Matthew 4:19 (Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand).

Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.

This suggests it was customary for Jesus to say a blessing at the breaking of bread (not just unleavened bread) and is similar to the meal in Emmaus:

Luke 24:30 (ESV)

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.

In this view, it is the combination of blessing and breaking bread which caused the men to recognize Jesus, not necessarily a Passover reenactment.

Argument from Disfiguration

This is another line of reasoning which seems sound (and a bit romantic, too!), though some might think it is grasping.

These disciples did not recognize Jesus at first, and the question is, why?

The answer given is that Jesus was disfigured. Scripture support is offered as follows:

Isaiah 50:6 (ESV)

I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
from disgrace and spitting.

Isaiah 52:13-15 (ESV)

Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;

If these passages can be taken as Messianic prophecies (there is especially good evidence for the second one), then it can be extrapolated that the beating Jesus took left him disfigured beyond recognition (he had his beard pulled out, was marred beyond human semblance).

Compare these to Luke 22:63,64; Mark 15:19; Matthew 26:67,68

This can explain why Mary didn't recognize him (in the same way as the men at Emmaus).

John 20:17 (ESV)

Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

The reason they may have recognized him in the breaking of bread is the revelation of his scars when he raised his hands to bless the bread. This would have been a telltale sign. The nail prints would have functioned the same way they did for (doubting) Thomas:

John 20:27,28 (ESV)

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”



But at least a couple other reasons why Jesus could have been "known to them in the breaking of the bread."

  • Thank, Don - Mary also neither physically recognized him at the grave after resurrection (Jn 20:14) much less the disciples at the seashore (Jn 21:4), who were not sure that the man was Jesus. (His nail marks later were the tell-tale signs that he was in fact Jesus according to Jn 20:27.) When Apostle John sees him in the Revelation, he describes Jesus as appearing as someone who was slaughtered (Rev 5:6). In other words, while our sins are forgiven and washed away, we will have eternity to look upon Him and see the scars that brought us all to heaven in order to worship and adore him forever.
    – Joseph
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 12:26
  • @Joseph, Thanks for your input! To me, the concept that Jesus will forever bear the scars he received to save me is a beautiful and profoundly poetic one. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!
    – DonJewett
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 17:03

It's unclear what Jesus' intention was, and although the textual parallel in those two passages is undeniable:

Lk 22:17 λαβὼν               ἄρτον     εὐχαριστήσας         ἔκλασεν καὶ    ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς
Lk 24:30 λαβὼν τὸν           ἄρτον     εὐλόγησεν καὶ        κλάσας         ἐπεδίδου αὐτοῖς

...plenty of other events have nearly the same construction:

Mt 14:19 λαβὼν τοὺς πέντε    ἄρτους .. εὐλόγησεν καὶ        κλάσας         ἔδωκεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς
Mt 15:36 ἔλαβεν τοὺς ἑπτὰ    ἄρτους .. εὐχαριστήσας         ἔκλασεν καὶ    ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς
Mt 26:26 λαβὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς      ἄρτον καὶ εὐλογήσας            ἔκλασεν καὶ    δοὺς τοῖς μαθηταῖς 
Mk  6:41 λαβὼν τοὺς πέντε    ἄρτους .. εὐλόγησεν καὶ        κατέκλασεν ..  ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς
Mk  8: 6 λαβὼν τοὺς ἑπτὰ     ἄρτους    εὐχαριστήσας         ἔκλασεν καὶ    ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς
Mk 14:22 λαβὼν               ἄρτον     εὐλογήσας            ἔκλασεν καὶ    ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς 
Lk  9:16 λαβὼν δὲ τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους .. εὐλόγησεν αὐτοὺς καὶ κατέκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς
Ac 27:35 λαβὼν               ἄρτον     εὐχαρίστησεν ..      κλάσας
1Co 11:23 ἔλαβεν             ἄρτον καὶ εὐχαριστήσας         ἔκλασεν

So there's nothing particularly parallel about them.

  • 1
    Nicely pulled together, though I draw the opposite conclusion: combining (most of) λαμβάνω, *δίδωμι, κλάω, ἄρτος, εὐχαριστέω/εὐλογέω gets you either (a) the miraculous feeding stories; or (b) the last supper; ... plus two "outliers": Lk 24:30 (Emmaus meal), and Acts 27:35 (Paul before ship-wreck). And for both of these latter verses -- and both by Luke -- readers have long felt a resonance with or intimation of (need it be more than that?) the "last supper". Bock's wording and its implication skews things: quite a ponderous reading, IMO! Anyway - thanks.
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 19:58

Most commentaries seem to conclude that it at least it was indicative of the Last Supper, if not a re-enactment of it.

I tend to agree with Darrel Bock(if I understand him correctly), that this was not a re-enactment of the Last Supper:

The Last Supper(what we tend to look at as the institution of the Lord's Table) was in fact the Passover.(Luke 22:11)

And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?

The Passover was to be celebrated with Unleavened bread and wine, which constituted the main elements of the Feast. The Blessings of the Bread and Wine are at the beginning of any Passover meal,"Blessed are you, Lord our G_d, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine." When the Unleavened Bread is blessed,"Blessed are you, Lord our G_d, King of the Universe, who brings us bread from the earth".

The important verse, which distinquishes the Emmaus Road meal from the Last Supper is this:(Luke 22:18)

For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come

There have been numerous commentaries regarding this issue; some say His Return on the Road to Emmaus was the sign of the Kingdom of God coming, and they use the fact that He did eat at the Upper Room visitation:(Luke 24:41-43)

And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

But nowhere does it record He drank wine; in fact He tells them,(Luke 24:49)

"And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high".

signifying that the Kingdom of God that He refered to hadn't come yet.

In regards to the Unleavened Bread, which was to be eaten for 7 days during the Feast;(Luke 12:16)

for I say to you, that no more may I eat of it till it may be fulfilled in the reign of God.

Jesus is offering a blessing over a normal meal, on the 1st day of the week. While it is significant that it is "The Lord's Day", He is recognized in the way He "broke the bread", something He did in His 2 multiplication miracles(Matt. 16:9-10), there is no indication that He did any more than offer a tradition Jewish blessing over the Unleavened Bread. It was in the "Breaking" that He was recognized.


  • In the passage at hand (Luke 24:31), Jesus is praying (giving thanks), and breaking the bread. After Pentecost, the believers prayed and broke bread (without any mention of wine or cup) in Acts 2:42 and Acts 2:46. Even the Apostle Paul "breaks bread" on the first day of the week with other disciples as part of fellowship with no mention of any cup of wine (Acts 20:7). Could the events of Luke 24:31 (where no mention of the cup of wine occurs) therefore have been the celebration of the Lord's Table in light of the Book of Acts? In other words, can we celebrate the Lord's Table without wine?
    – Joseph
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 12:34
  • @Joseph The Catholic Church did that for centuries, out of convenience and the mistaken assumption that the priest acted in behalf of the laity in drinking the cup.
    – Tau
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 15:03
  • I am just asking you to look at Acts 2:42, Acts 2:46, and Acts 20:7 and provide me your feedback (with no regard to creedal or doctrinal statements from any denomination). Thx
    – Joseph
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 15:30
  • @Joseph "Klesis", or the act of "breaking" of the bread does call one to the "invitation to a feast", or better yet, "the divine invitation to the salvation of God", hence most commentaries DO see it as "The Lord's Supper". The question is, "When did it go from being celebrated at "Pesach" to a weekly/daily occurance?" The admonition of Paul in 1 Cor. 11:20-34 suggests from the early church that it was a weekly occurance, simular to the Sabbath prayers which blessed the bread and wine. Since the early disciples were Jews, this tradition would have certainly carried over.
    – Tau
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 2:43
  • @Joseph (cont.) Therefore, we can concluded(safely) that at the "Lord's Table" celebrations there was the "klesis" to celebrate communion, and not merely "prayers before meals". The OP's question, however, dealt with the specifics of Jesus's "klesis" after His Resurrection, and we have His admonition that "I will not eat(nor drink) from this cup until the Kingdom of God come." Since He was 'hiding His identity' it is safe to say He didn't 'break' His statement without an explanation.
    – Tau
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 2:54

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