April 24, 2011
There was certainly enough for the two travelers to talk about on that long walk home from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Everybody had been talking, and, in fact, everyone was still talking. The apparent ignorance of the stranger who joined them mid-way on the journey seemed odd to say the least. How could he not know?
But obligingly, Cleopas and his companion reviewed the events—the man, Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet mighty in word and deed, had been delivered by the priests and Pharisees into Roman hands; he had been condemned, crucified, and buried; their hopes of a coming triumphant Messiah had died with him.
It was now three days since this had happened, they said sadly.
Then they added: But today there’s another twist to the story. Some of the women followers of Jesus went early to the tomb this morning. They came back reporting that the guarded tomb was open and empty and that an angel who was sitting there told them Jesus was risen. Some of the men went to see what had happened, and found things just like the women had said, but they didn’t see Jesus himself.
Then, carefully, the stranger began to teach them from Moses and the prophets about the Messiah whose suffering as well as his triumph had been foretold. The stranger was teaching about himself, of course, for it was Jesus, who, unrecognized, had joined them on the road home to Emmaus.
It was evening when they arrived at the village. When he acted as though he were going to travel further, Cleopas and his companion encouraged the stranger to eat and stay with them. He accepted their invitation. And it was when, at the table, that the stranger broke the bread and blessed it that their eyes were opened. They recognized Him—This is Jesus!!—and then He vanished from their sight.
The failure of Cleopas and his companion to recognize Jesus earlier on the road was not simply human ignorance or lack of faith. Luke says specifically that they were initially kept from recognizing Him (Luke 24:16). I think there is a vital reason for this.
Think of what the Risen Christ did—He walked incognito, an anonymous stranger traveling down that dusty road, teaching every step of the way from the Word, making clear the design and purpose of God, revealing Himself from the scriptures. It was through the scriptures and then through the blessed and broken bread that they were permitted to see Him as He was—the Risen Messiah who had done what He had promised to do, and more.
Humanly, I am comforted. Like those followers on the road to Emmaus, I too may know Him. I know that on my life journey He may join me in a form I may not initially recognize. However, when I search for Him through scripture and join Him at His table in the breaking and the blessing of the bread, my eyes too can be opened. There I can see our Risen Lord.
I am grateful with those who met Him on the Emmaus Road that Jesus meets me where I am, and permits me through scripture and the mystery of the broken bread to recognize Him.
He is risen! He is risen,indeed!
See you next week.