Cleopas and Whatsisname


Well, I have to say I felt kind of cheated today. The Sunday for the story of Cleopas and the road to Emmaus (Luke 24 [middle third]) comes around only once every three years and this time the Revised Common Lectionary by-passed it completely in favor of the final third of the chapter. Luke 24 is a very rich account of the first Easter, starting with the empty tomb, then Cleopas, and finally the Eleven have a surprise dinner guest, which was what our pastor spoke on (and did a really nice job).

But may we take a moment to focus on Cleopas? Because that's what I really, really want to do.

It seems that on that very first Easter afternoon, two men, followers of Jesus, were walking away from Jerusalem toward Emmaus, presumably their home. And as they walked, they were trying to sort out all of the events of the past week and especially the last couple of days. Suddenly another man joins them and, seeing that they are more than a little bit downhearted, asks them, "What's up?" They are surprised that he doesn't know what must be the weekend's Top Story, and so they tell him all about Jesus's ministry, trial, and crucifixion, ending with the rather preposterous story about His having overcome the grave and appearing, that very morning, to a handful of women. 

Cleopas and Whatsisname don't recognize this man as Jesus, and they listen intently as He interprets the Scripture for them. They get to Emmaus and invite him to come to their place for dinner and possibly to stay the night. And at dinner, this guest says grace, breaks the bread ("This is my body"), reveals himself and disappears.

Now, we haven't talked about this before, but, y'know, ever since I read this story for the first time, I've been convinced that Cleopas and his nameless pal, listed as among the disciples but not part of the Big Twelve Eleven, close friends and associates of Jesus, are a gay couple. Please don't try to tell me otherwise. 

"Wait a minute," you might ask. "You mean to tell me that you think that Jesus, on the day of Resurrection, showed Himself to these two gay guys, Cleopas and Whatsisname, before the other, better-known disciples?"

Well, yes. Doesn't that sound like something He would do?


Yes! Especially after appearing first to women, in particular Mary Magdelene. Why put her in such an important role if not to suggest a completely new way of life?
Quiltdivajulie said…
Fascinating - clearly this was never a focus in the church where I grew up, in fact your telling is the first time (blushing) that I've heard the story. You are amazing in the ways you make us ponder and think!
Barbara Anne said…
Totally! As I read long ago on a crewel work picture, "ALL (caps mine) God's children have a place in the choir"! Women, gays, gender neutral folks, and everyone else, too, safe and welcome as it should have always been.

Thank you for your common sense insight!!

Nann said…
I looked up Luke 24 to reread it and found an essay from Christian Century ( which concludes, "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."
I don't think their sexual preferences matter to the story. (Gender would be more striking, as you said, a woman traveling down the road with Cleophas would have been commented on.)

Zion, Illinois, was founded as a theocratic experiment. Many of the streets have Biblical names, including Emmaus. It's pronounced EMMYus. I joke that you know you've lived here a long time when you read Luke 24 and immediately think of the EMMYus road episode.