Why doesn’t Jesus just tell these disciples from the start who he is and that he’s been raised from the dead?
I believe it’s very consistent for the man who teaches with parables and genuinely respects the people he teaches, to begin with their experience; he takes an indirect, but effective approach. Just as a parable begins with what people know and moves them to another level, Jesus begins with what these two people know: their disappointment and fears.
He doesn’t leave these two unchallenged, but recalls what the scriptures say, about the Christ having to suffer these things and enter into his glory.
It is precisely these passages in God’s Word that defy our logic; we hope to bypass them, because we don’t see how they can work. We’re not ignorant of them, we just can’t compute them. So Jesus leads them, step by step, through the correlation between scripture and their own disappointments.
Should they have known better? Hadn’t Jesus predicted as much about himself? That’s not the point.
Does Jesus lose his temper or patiently walk them through these hard sayings? He understands what a difficult proposition this is to accept and how counterintuitive a suffering and dead messiah would seem to anyone. He also understands that their disillusionment is not irrelevant: harness it, acknowledge its hold on us, and it could lead to a deeper trust, a deeper faith, a capacity for the paradoxical nature of the truth. I suspect there is no other way for us contingent human beings.
Present to them through God’s Word, when he breaks bread with them, they can finally recognize who he is and that he’s been with them all along. In fact he’s with them now more deeply and effectively than ever before.
Isn’t that the point? That they discover him for themselves? Can we ever forget such a hard-won discovery?