Second Sunday of Easter – April 23, 2017
As Christ-followers we have more in common with these two travelling disciples than we would think. The two disciples, perhaps two men, perhaps a man and a woman, maybe his wife, the text doesn’t say at all, these two were on their way to the town called Emmaus, only seven miles west of Jerusalem, where Jesus had just risen from the dead.
An interesting observation is that they were walking towards the sunset. The story is filled with mystery. The suggestion has been made that walking westward is the very reason that they didn’t recognise Jesus. The sun was sinking, and the setting sun so dazzled them that they did not know their Lord. However it may be, in a sense, Christian believers walk in the direction – so to speak – of the sunrise and not towards the sunset. Our faith, how fragile it may be, takes us toward the sunrise, not towards the night that is falling. We are heading towards a dawn that is breaking. This is what, in their sorrow and disappointment, the two on their way to Emmaus had forgotten.
The whole story of Luke’s gospel is about travelling and of being on the road. Luke’s narratives and those of Acts, as of next week, also written by Luke take us on the road frequently. A journey brings Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. A road is the narrative setting for the parable of the Good Samaritan. A road leads the prodigal back home to his father. Jesus sets his eyes toward Jerusalem in 9:51 and travels there until 19:28.
You six young people who have just professed your faith, will also be journeying “on the road” so to speak. There will be times when things don’t always work out the way you want them to, and you might be dazzled and not able to recognise Jesus travelling with you. You might hear the stories of Jesus, you might be reflecting on the stories, but the presence of Jesus could just not be all that obvious.
The two disciples on their way to Emmaus had their hopes dashed. Their dashed hopes are voiced in verse 21: “… we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel…” Had hoped. We invested our hopes in this Jesus, but He was not whom we had hoped He would be. In response, Jesus outlines for them the meaning and significance of his own death, starting from Moses and the prophets. It was “necessary” that Jesus would suffer, die, rise, and be lifted up into “glory.”
The story takes one more twist. As they approach their destination, the two disciples notice that Jesus seems to be planning to keep walking. Where was He headed? Again, Luke leaves us in the dark! They urge Jesus to stay with them. They offer hospitality to one whom they believe is a stranger. They offer to be hosts to this travelling companion and “new” friend.
But as soon as the table is set, Jesus flips around the expected social roles. He becomes the host by blessing the bread and sharing it. Now, remember, they still don’t know that they are dining with Jesus once again; they don’t realise that their dashed hopes are restored in the resurrected body of this “stranger.”
But when Jesus does the most Jesus thing of all, everything changes.
In Luke, eating is a radical act because it breaks down cultural boundaries. In Luke, the resurrected Jesus shares that bread once again with his followers. And in feeding them, Jesus opens their eyes, helping them see that Jesus was with them the whole time.
I trust that as we all will take into account how unpredictable life can be. Those days when it feels like we are swimming upstream, we often stand still and look sad. When we don’t get what we want, we stand still and look sad. Dreams may fade and our efforts may fail, when they do we stand still and look sad. We stand still and look sad even though the resurrection has occurred and Jesus is with us.
We have celebrated Easter and the resurrection of the Lord. The lines, “We serve a risen saviour,” and “He lives!” have echoed off the walls of the sanctuary. Though life may be hard and filled with disappointments, those are no reasons for us to stand still and look sad. Jesus has conquered death and is with us. Jesus has turned our mourning into dancing.
Let’s be encouraged by the Good News, throughout life’s journey.
Copyright 2017 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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