A Days walk to Emmaus

April 30, 2017

Summary

This morning we read about two of Jesus’ disciples walking and talking their way from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. You can be sure that they didn’t need the rhythm of their feet to keep their words flowing, for the depth of their conversation was in direct relation to the gravity of all that had happened in those previous days. From reliving the horrors of Jesus’ arrest, torture and execution by the Romans, to the news brought that morning by the women, that the tomb was empty and angels had proclaimed to them that Jesus was risen from the grave. The events of the previous days and the news that morning had definitely left all of the disciples, including these two, very confused.

Should they be walking around in sorrow, or should they hold their heads high in hope? They just didn’t know what to do or think, but there definitely was a lot to talk about, and so

the miles were passing very quickly under their sandals as they talked upon their way to Emmaus.

Now what is interesting for us in this story, is the question of why the disciples did not recognize Jesus when he started to walk with them. I wish I could give you a definite answer, but I cannot. Perhaps Jesus truly closed their minds to the possibility of recognizing him, or perhaps since they were not expecting to see him, they just did not even truly look at him, or perhaps their conversation was so intense, they were truly walking in their own little bubble down the road, I don’t know. Yet though they did not recognize him, they did share with Jesus all of what had happened, and were even trusting enough of this stranger, to share with him about their hopes founded in the news of the empty tomb.

Then this stranger surprises them by explaining to them according to the prophecies, what was required of the Christ. You can imagine their nodding heads as he spoke, and maybe the glimpses of a grim smile as he explained what was foretold, and maybe there was a faster rhythm to their pace as their hearts started to burn within them, as their hope in Jesus was renewed.

Yet, they still do not recognize him.

Their recognition only comes once they have sat down to eat together in Emmaus. When Jesus takes the bread, breaks it, and gives it to them, then, in an instant, and fully, they see who he is, and they believe.

And in the same instant Jesus disappears.

What in the world is happening here, and as importantly what does it mean for you and me?

I think that Jesus is revealing himself to his disciples in such a way that they are being challenged to realize who he truly is by the renewal of their hope. You see, Jesus knows that the most important part of their faith is hope. Without hope there can be no faith.

The writer of Hebrews says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope fore and certain of what we do not see.”

So, before revealing himself as their Lord and Savior, he needs their hearts to start burning again with hope. Their hope needs to be like a raging fire within them, like a grass fire that cannot be contained.

I have often heard and read of the phrase, ‘burning like a prairie fire’. Well, twenty years ago, this week, I was helping to take down an old abandoned log sauna building, on a farm in Northern Minnesota. That spring, the snow had been gone for a few weeks, and the rains had not yet come and everything was dry. Well, mid-morning we had stopped our work to brew up coffee on a camping stove. But when the match was dropped to the ground after lighting the burner, it was not completely extinguished, and lit the grass it landed in on fire, and so, we had ourselves a Prairie Fire.

What surprised me most was how quickly the fire spread. One moment it was a single wavering tongue of flame, and the next it was a blazing fire spreading through the long, dry grass consuming everything in its path. From the moment that match hit the grass that flame could not be contained!

And that was the kind of hope that Jesus kindled within the hearts of the disciples, as they walked down the road to Emmaus that day. It was a hope that came to fruition in that moment of recognition of Jesus. It was a hope that since that day has never been contained or snuffed out upon the earth. It is a hope that rages still within the hearts of women and men, boys and girls around the world.

Are the flames of that same hope, that faith still lit within your own heart? Do they flicker? Burn? Rage?

Do you look to recognize Jesus upon the roads of life? Do you prepare yourself to encounter him when you come to worship and receive Communion? Do you crack open your Bible and read the words that tell the of truth of life?

Open yourself up to Jesus. Let him fuel your hope and strengthen your faith. Though sometimes he may be unrecognizable as you walk the roads of your life, trust that he will find ways to sidle up to your side and tell you again who he is, and how he loves you. Then may your hearts burn within you, as you recognize his presence in your life.

Then try and share the flame, that others’ hearts may burn within them, that Jesus’ love may continue to rage across the world, alight in the hearts of all whom come to faith.

Jesus’ hope, and his love are for you, and for all people, so, walk on in faith, and share the story of Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

Amen.

Bible References

  • Acts 2:36 - 41
  • Luke 24:13 - 35

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