The Supper at Emmaus — a popular theme in Christian art — represents the story, told in St. Luke’s Gospel when after the Crucifixion, two of Christ’s apostles invite an apparent stranger, whom they have just met, to share their meal with them. When he blesses and breaks the bread, they realize that their guest is, in fact, the Resurrected Christ. St. Luke names one of the apostles as Cleopas, but he does not identify the other. “And their eyes were opened and they knew him and he vanished out of their sight.” Behind them, the innkeeper gapes uncomprehendingly.
Caravaggio has chosen to represent one precise moment, namely that fraction of a second after the two apostles have realised that they are witnessing a miracle of unimaginable power. He freezes that moment, renders it permanent and enables us to take our time, to consider the miracle and to experience for ourselves that sense of shock and astonishment that was felt by the two apostles.