Jesus’ return home part III – The reconstruction of Jesus’ first day back home: Luke 24:13-35, John 21:1-13 and Luke 24: 37-42

After the discussion of the Emmaus narrative in Luke in part 1of this short series and the story of the appearance of Jesus at the Sea of Galilee in John in part 2, below I will make a reconstruction of the combination of both fragments supplemented with Luke 24:36-42, the verses that immediately follow the Emmaus story in Luke. In this reconstruction I replaced Jerusalem by Tiberias in Luke 24:13 and 33, I changed the distance from 60 or 160 stades that occurs in the ancient manuscripts to 16, the real distance between Hammath and Tiberias in Luke 24:13 and I replaced ‘the eleven’ by ‘his friends’ in Luke 24:33. It might not be a coincidence that the changes I suggest in the Lukan part are concentrated in verse 13 and 33. In John 21:11 I eliminated the ‘153 fishes’, because this is clearly a later mythologizing addition. Verses stemming from a later interpolator are removed and are indicated in the text as follows: [(verse number(s)]. I determinedly translated the Greek word κυριος in John 21:7 as ‘master’ instead of ‘Lord’.


Luke 24 [12 has been left out by Nestle-Aland as an early addition] 13 Two of them were on their way to the village called Hammath, sixteen stades from Tiberias 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” [19b-27]  28 They drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, 29 but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Now their eyes were opened and they recognized him. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Tiberias; and they found his friends and those who were with them. [34]  35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

John 21 1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing. 4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus love said to Peter, “It is the master!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the master, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, about ninety meters off. 9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come, and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the master.

Luke 24 [36]  37 They were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” [verse 40 has been left out by Nestle-Aland as an early addition] 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.


These combined stories recount Jesus’ arrival in his home region, his conversation with two acquaintances who do not recognize him, the latter’s hospitality, their recognition of Jesus when he acts like a priest as in earlier days, after which they go and inform Jesus’ closest friends. This happens on day one. The next morning Jesus goes to the shore of the Sea of Galilee and finds his friends fishing there. Jesus gives instructions on where exactly to throw out their nets, and after a good catch he is recognized by his friends. Jesus says to his companions they should not doubt. He is not a ghost but a man of flesh and blood. Jesus has brought bread with him. Reunited they eat the bread and some freshly caught and prepared fish for breakfast.

It looks as if the middle part of the story has been eliminated from Luke and used in John. When we place it back between the Emmaus story and the apparition story in Luke 24, an impressive unity arises that reports on Jesus’ return home. We can date this story to September 70 CE.