The Belt of Truth 2

Cleopas is only mentioned once in Scripture. He and an unnamed friend are walking to the village of Emmaus. It was the morning of the Resurrection and you’d be forgiven for expecting Jesus would be in Jerusalem, reassuring His disciples. They’re in disarray, they’re suffering from the betrayal of Judas, they’re frightened and uneasy. You’d think He’d go to His closest friends first.

But no. He headed off for a village more than ten kilometres away, intent on a rendezvous with Cleopas. Who is completely unaware he’s got a divine appointment.

Not long previously, Jesus had spoken with Mary Magdalene. At least we know a little of her background. However, we’ve never even heard of Cleopas before in the gospels and we’ll never hear of him again.

So what’s the significance of this event for Cleopas himself? Why did Jesus choose him?

If you’ve stuck with me in this blog for a while, you’ll probably guess that I think it’s something to do with his name. You’re right. I do.

Cleopas is the male version of Cleopatra. It means either glory of the fatherland or keys of the fatherland or perhaps both.

Now keys are necessary at thresholds. They open and close doors. Hebrew thresholds of the first century had all the usual elements of a threshold—keys, door, lintel, doorposts, hinges, sweep—plus a couple of extra aspects we don’t normally have today. They had a threshold stone or cornerstone; they sometimes had a servant especially assigned to door-keeping; and of course they had a mezuzah. This is a container to fulfil the command of God in Deuteronomy 6:9, ‘You shall write them [the commands of God] on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.’

Threshold events in Scripture tend to mention the presence of these important features, either literally or symbolically. The Resurrection of Jesus happens to be the pre-eminent threshold event post-Creation, so we should expect it to conform to the pattern God has established.

The name of Cleopas speaks out both his identity and his destiny: he is to possess the keys of a kingdom.

For the Jews, keys were symbolic of authority and, as I have pointed out in the previous post, of truth.  Cleopas came into the calling of his name when he was handed keys of understanding by no less an authority than Jesus Himself.

As a result, there could have been no one in the early church with greater authority as to how particular prophecies should be interpreted. The authority Cleopas wielded, the truths he revealed, the keys to unlock the words of the prophets had been given to Him by the Truth himself.


1 Comment

  1. Interesting post Annie. Love how Jesus often does what to us is the unexpected.

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