Posted on Sun, Apr 30, 2017
April 30, 2017
Third Sunday of Easter
The Road to Emmaus
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things1 that have taken place there in these days?’ 19He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ 25Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
We can’t help but read today’s Gospel text but only as “Easter People.” Why? Because we know what happened in Jerusalem, we know why the tomb was empty and why the women couldn't find Jesus’ body, and most importantly, we know what will happen when these two guys on the road to Emmaus sit and break bread together with Jesus at the end of the day.
I find myself reading the text as if I am like Jesus, playing the game along with them. “What happened in Jerusalem? I have no idea what happened, please tell me! Tell me all the details!” And then as they go on telling the story, and Jesus knows what happens much better than anyone else, we have that face expressing, “Really? tell me more!” Because we can’t wait for them to experience the end of the story, which we know so well, and the moment when they will be so surprised after telling the story back to the one who fulfilled the story face to face with Jesus.
We read the story knowing about God’s good and present salvation revealed in Jesus walking with them, and the good and future salvation that will be awaiting them when they dine together.
For Easter People, the text is almost humorous as well as wonderful! How could they have missed the meaning of Jesus crucifixion? Especially after the women came back and told them that Jesus’ body was gone? How could they not put two-and-two together and see that the one they put their hopes in was very much their Messiah telling them the truth, fulfilling the scriptures and suffering and dying to prove to them the amount of grace and mercy God has for God’s people?
But imagine how these two men feel. They knew the story, Jesus even told them three times! Everything happened in front of their eyes as Jesus foretold, but they still couldn't see the story of salvation being fulfilled right before their eyes. They were filled with hope, but their hopes were dashed. They had great expectations for their people as well as for themselves, but their expectations were unfulfilled. And now as they are walking away from Jerusalem, the city that God blesses over and over through the eons, they are sad and feeling lost… walking away from that Holy City… the amazing part of the story is that JESUS IS WALKING WITH THEM, even or especially in their despair…
1 Peter is about a people who are considered, “resident aliens,” the newest of the Christians, the People of “The Way,” who are now moving and living in Asia Minor, far from the place of their faith, Jerusalem. They are often victims of terror or persecution but because of their new faith in Jesus and therefore without any power to protect them or support them… all they have is their faith, and their trust in God given to them through their active faith in a crucified and resurrected Christ. And that is the biggest difference between these people and the the two men walking to Emmaus. Peter’s words of encouragement speak to people with a faith born of the cross, the death and resurrection of Christ, but the two men on the road to Emmaus have yet to believe in their resurrected Christ. Their moment we call, Kairos, will come shortly in the breaking of the bread.
How often are we like the two men on the road to Emmaus? Even though we know the story of the prophets, we even know the end of the story and the empty tomb, yet our hearts and mind stray and we are deceived into thinking we are alone and God is nowhere to be found. We have books, bibles, prayer groups, service projects, and even a sanctuary, but our minds seem to convince us that our faith is meaningless or is nowhere we can see or feel it… there is nothing more further than the truth. Never during our week of work, study, service or play does Jesus leave us! Not for one second. Rather, Jesus is walking right next to you, sometimes screaming into our ears, “Listen! I am here! Do not believe you are alone, meaningless or anything less than my most precious child!!!”
I pray that we do hear that voice, and our feet carry us to this holy place EVERY WEEK. It is our heart that brings us here. Just like the two men, it is their heart that is hurting and longing for the message of Jesus to be true, that their beloved Messiah has risen from the dead. It is our heart that brings here to worship because our heart needs to unload all the garbage and baggage we have accumulated through the week. We need to confess our frailty as being human, AND then we need to hear with our own ears the Good News that everything Jesus promised is true! Those stories, hymns and prayers that speak about the faithfulness of God are true, and they help us carry the Good News with us into the world through our words and actions. The stories, hymns and prayers that proclaim Jesus walks us with us at all times of our lives even into eternity, they are true.
Yes, it is our hearts that long to break bread with Jesus, because we are human beings and we need to be with our Savior and Creator. And we have been Created by a loving, merciful and wonderful God. It is not surprising that it is our heart that longs to come to the table to break bread, share in the wine and see Jesus face to face in the faces of our blessed Church Community.
And you aren't the first people that felt this way… you see, there were these two guys on the road to Emmaus…. have you heard this story? You’ll have to wait until next year… Amene.
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