Lessons from the Road to Emmaus
Christians around the world, and all-around social media, have spent a lot of time in the past months talking about the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection. During the week leading up to Easter we talked about the familiar stories; about Jesus arriving in Jerusalem for the Passover, Judas’ betrayal, the Last Supper in the upper room, prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. But that’s not where the story ends! If your reading stopped at the resurrection you are missing. There was a remarkably interesting encounter on …The Road to Emmaus.
With rumors of the empty tomb still spreading, Jesus appears in disguise to a pair of his followers. The scripture does not say that these men were disciples, just followers. Perhaps no different than you or I. “That same day…” this was the day of resurrection. They received the news of the resurrection and perhaps had witnessed the crucifixion themselves? These men were headed to Emmaus with very heavy hearts. Passover was over and they most likely were traveling home. Each one thinking about what had just happened. Clearly, they were bothered by the events of the day.
How often do we find ourselves in similar stress over events in our own lives? We talk about it, much like we talk about what is going on in our world today with the Coronavirus. Fear and doubt often consume our conversations and our thoughts. These men too were consumed by the past week’s events. Their hearts were broken over the loss of their teacher and leader. There was a lot of, “What are we going to do now?” statements floating around with all the rumors. The scripture tells us that “As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;”. Jesus takes the initiative to come to these men who are lost in their situation and consumed by the events of their lives. He began to walk beside them. The Bible tells us that they did not recognize Him. Look at these verses, see how they apply to us today. Today you may be in a tailspin and life could feel like it is crashing down around you, but Jesus is still here. Jesus is willing to come to you. And it is just like Jesus to ask the question, “What’s going on with you today?”
Jesus reveals his care and deep devotion for these followers, these ordinary men. Jesus showed up! He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” How could this man not have known what was going on? The two men answered Jesus with a gloom and doom answer saying, “a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,”. Have you ever been in your quiet time and God has spoken to your heart and said something like, “Child, what is wrong?” and you look up to the heavens and say something like, “God? Have you not been paying attention?” I know there are times when we think God is far away, or is just not paying attention to our lives, because of what is happening. Just like us, these men go on and on about all the gloom and doom and sadness of the day. Their view was of an EARTHLY kingdom. Their religious leaders had shattered their vision of the coming kingdom by putting Jesus to death on a cross. These men had lost all hope. Perhaps even began to doubt. You can tell by their words that they did not believe that Jesus had risen. They believed something had happened, but it was more than likely the body had been stolen… they were miserable with grief perhaps consumed by confusion and uncertainty.
Jesus had heard enough of the melancholy banter from these two men and he chastises them for their unbelief. Jesus knew these two men. He knew them by name because they had been his followers. He knew that they had heard His teaching to the disciples that he would have to die and be raised again… and yet these men had not “heard” a word Jesus had taught. So many of us are like these men still today. We hear the words, we read the scripture firsthand and yet… we struggle with doubt.
Jesus goes into detail of what the Old Testament offers about the Messiah, and at the end of the day they were getting to Emmaus and it was getting dark… these men obviously interested in what Jesus was saying… invite Him to join them for the evening. Jesus went into their house, stayed with them, and that night at supper he prayed for the meal and broke bread … and all of a sudden, their eyes were opened to who He was. Just like these men, when we least expect it, Jesus is going to meet us on the road we are traveling. Are we going to recognize Him? Are we going to hear His voice? Jesus said his sheep know his voice.
These men were shocked by the fact that Jesus had been traveling with them…and they began to think about the trip… about what they were feeling as Jesus had been speaking to them during the trip. Their minds and hearts were now illumined by a holy intervention… Jesus had personally unlocked their hearts! What a source of joy, but also a sense of shame because they did not believe as they should have believed.
So many times, something happens, and we realize God was with us all the time! We are thankful and rejoice, but we should also feel ashamed because we did not pick up on the signs that God had been working all along! Even in the darkest of hours, God is at work… there is NO time when God has turned His back upon us! We may not know about it; we may not recognize it, but God is always at work. He loves and cares for His children.
Full of excitement the two men literally ran back to Jerusalem to tell what they had experienced. What they had thought had been rumored by the women of their group, was now confirmed as TRUTH. Are we excited about this TRUTH? Are we “looking” for God’s presence in our lives? Jesus will always bring us back to the TRUTH of the situation. When we invite Jesus to abide with us; in our homes, in our lives… He is going to REVEAL Himself to us. No matter how dark the day, no matter how terrible the situation, He will meet us on our road to Emmaus. Rejoice because of His presence!
(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)