Where are you in the walk to Emmaus?

 

given on Sunday, April 12, 2015

Scripture reference: Luke 24:13-35

The Walk to Emmaus

13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. 18 Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

19 “What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. 20 But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. 21 We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

22 “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. 23 They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! 24 Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. 30 As they sat down to eat,[b] he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.[c]

35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread.

Reflection

Easter Sunday’s scripture ended with pieces of this same scripture. And once all the excitement of Easter quiets down, and Monday begins another typical week, the significance of the empty tomb fades. Luke’s record of the walk to Emmaus begins much the same as we begin our weeks.

If we started walking down the road going home after a busy week at the festival, we probably would be passing others along the road, too. Just a friendly nod or hello could lead to a conversation while walking.

How does this compare to a day at the State Fair and you decide it is time to head home? Granted we probably would not be walking, but in our cars we would be talking about what we had done and what we had seen. We might get on our phones to text or to call friends about how the fair was.

The walk to Emmaus was like this for the early disciples, and they casually fell into a conversation with Jesus not knowing who he was. Can you imagine that conversation:

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. 18 Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

What would you have been saying about the events of the last three days? Would the conversation be about the huge crowds for Passover? Some discussion could have been focused on the friends, the families, and even the strangers who crowded around the temple.

Of course the conversation surely included all that happened with that trial. Were you surprised or disappointed in the events of the trial and the crucifixion? Maybe you feel angry. Or maybe you are quiet, just listening to others and numb to what was going on around you.

Today, we still walk the road to Emmaus, at least figuratively. We get up every morning to start our daily routines. We work with family and friends, and we talk. We discuss the events that affect us each day. Television anchors report news that causes us to ask questions or to argue. The news we discuss causes us to question our own thoughts.

Where are you on the walk? Do you still believe that Christ was born, that he died on the cross, and he arose from the grave or do you find yourself questioning your own faith? Do you continue the walk?

The walk for the men continued. A few women, too, joined them and the conversation centered on the events of the past few days. Remember, Jesus was walking with them, unrecognized:

23 They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! 24 Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

The group walking was bewildered. They had hopes that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and now the events of Passover have left them confused and uncertain.

How do you feel right now?   If you were among those walking to Emmaus, what emotions do you think you would be feeling? Would you still God had sent Jesus to save you or would you feel like Jesus was just another man?

Then Jesus said:

“You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?”

Imagine the surprise. Here was this guy walking in the same direction as you and you have no idea who he is. You politely include him in your party and in the conversation, now he challenges you. And then he starts talking.

What would you think? This guy is talking about all the prophets, he apparently knows all the Old Testament psalms. He has knowledge that goes far beyond your own knowledge and some of the stories are the ones you have heard told recently. How could this guy know all of this? No one could possibly know all that.

The walk to Emmaus was seven miles. The conversation filled the time and the journey was almost over. Still these earliest believers in Christ did not recognize who this stranger was. Yet, they were now home and the stranger acted like he was going to go on farther along the road.

Seven miles, if a walker made 20 minutes a mile, the walk would have taken over two hours, but add to that their supplies for a week and the possibility of a full family. The day was almost gone, so the walkers asked the stranger to stay with them rather than continue walking. Would we do the same thing today especially since the identity of this walker is unknown?

The walker agreed to stay and sat down with them for supper:

30 As they sat down to eat,[b] he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

Imagine the surprise! Do you think you would have trusted your own thoughts? Would you have run out of the house and started shouting the news? Would you have been frozen in your seat unsure whether to say a thing or not?

This family stayed at the table for a bit and then started figuring out what had just happened:

“Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem.

Reading Luke’s story of the walk to Emmaus, I wonder if I would have recognized Jesus. I wonder whether I would have had the confidence to race back to Jerusalem—another seven-mile journey late in the day. I wonder if I would have had the nerve to share the story when so many who did not believe.

The walk to Emmaus story gives us a peak into the daily life of the earliest Christians. We see their confusion, their fear, and the surprise when they realize the stranger was indeed Jesus. Their faith drove them to tell the story, to confirm the story as fast as they could.

Jesus had died on the cross, but he walked the road to Emmaus right there beside these earliest believers. They witnessed the greatest story ever told and they returned to Jerusalem to make sure others knew the story.

Easter is over, life has returned to the weekly routines, but the mystery of faith was no mystery to those who walked beside him on that road to Emmaus. Where are you along the road to Emmaus? Do you know, first handedly, theatJesus is our savior? Do you race out to tell others of his saving grace? Or, do you go home, resume the routine, and keep the story to yourself?

Closing Prayer:

Dear God,

The thrill of Easter has dwindled with the week.

The spring routines resumed with the warm days.

Yards were mowed, fields were prepped and planted,

And the spring storms arrived with rain and winds.

Every year, we remember the events of Holy Week,

But we fail to share the story with others.

Open our hearts to know Jesus personally.

Let our life journey’s walk be filled

With the stories and the people of Jesus.

Help us share the story along our walk

So others learn of your transforming love. –Amen

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