Because I’m a writer, I must look for a Bible story’s details that will make the scene real. Readers can easily get a positive feeling from the text, but they don’t always sense what is really going on. Worse yet, sometimes they get the wrong idea.
I usually like free wording, but the New Living Translation misidentifies Simon in Luke 24:34 as Peter. Other translations don’t make that mistake. Simon was a common name in first-century Israel. Except for Luke 5:10, which identifies Simon as the fisherman, whenever he mentions Simon in the books of Luke and Acts, he is referring to someone other than Peter.
In summary, here’s what happened in Luke 24:13–35:
After the resurrection, two of Jesus’ followers, Cleopas and Simon were headed home to Emmaus when Jesus joined them, appearing as a stranger. While they walked, Jesus explained how his suffering and death fulfilled the words of the prophets. Finally, when they ate together, the two men’s eyes were opened so they could recognize the man they knew so well. The resurrection promise was true. They were seeing Jesus, alive, but then he was gone.
After the two rushed back to see the disciples in Jerusalem, Cleopas spoke first, trying to convince them that Jesus was alive. He told everything that happened, but they still didn’t believe him. The word of one person wasn’t good enough.
By Jewish law, truth was established in “the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15),” which explains why it was so important for him to say that his companion, Simon, saw Jesus too.
Here’s what the King James version of Luke 24:34 tells us that Cleopas said: “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”
That information, while true, won’t show most readers why that statement was so relevant. That’s why my wording in Eyewitness: The Life of Christ Told in One Story reads this way: “It’s true,” Cleopas said. “The Lord Jesus has risen. It’s not my word alone. Simon was with me, and he saw him too.”